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Thursday, 23 October 2014

The one thing I cannot master

Shoes to wear in the Winter with a dress - for the evening. 

Ok so that's not entirely true - I do have a trusty (read old) pair of Zara suede ankle boots which, for the past FIVE years, I have been saying I must replace.  They are perfect, well they are nearly perfect.  They're too high.  And it's not so much the verging on tranny territory that bothers me.  Alas no, I drink way too much to let that bother me after the first five minutes of being out. 

No, it's a sad fact I've had to come to terms with but it's Old Age that is the problem here.  Not my height, or the shoes, no it's my knees.  And my feet.  And my back.  Oh god I want to sob writing this - it's all catching up with me. 

I know people said "ooh everything starts falling apart at 40".   They were telling the truth.  Not only can I have one Big Mac Meal and put on half a stone (actually I don't have Big Mac Meals, I am a Big Tasty convert.  The fact they have double the calories of a BM, oh and I always super size it, is perhaps more the issue), I can't drink on two nights in a row anymore and I can't stand up in a bar for longer than an hour without wanting to cry. 

If I wear vertiginous heels, my knees honestly feel like they're going to give way.  

So rant over - I'm not going to get maudlin about this.  When the going gets tough, the tough go shoe shopping. 

Except that I've been trying to do this for the last number of years and have failed miserably (hence I keep knackering my joints by wearing those ridiculous shoes)  

I thought I'd mastered it last year with some from John Lewis but they weren't quite right.  Ditto the ones from Mint Velvet which I *may* have bought and returned x 3.  (honestly - embarrassing or what?)  In fact, they were in the sale for about £40 and even then I didn't get them as they were Not Right. 

So...................................... What am I looking for?  Well.  The issue I have with dressy dresses is that there is a fine line between dressed for a wedding and just a casual dressy (you know what I mean) night out.  And if I dig deep and am truly honest - I don't want to feel too grown up. 

Saying that at the ripe old age of 41 is clearly ridiculous.  Not even faintly ridiculous - it's well and truly moronic. 

But I've put it out there now and with dainty heels and a dress, I feel like a frumpy mum.  In my head I'm not 41, I'm still 28.

And then of course, I have the mutton issue..... Oh look, talking myself round in circles here, let's see if there are any other there that will finally fit the bill. 

Shoes that aren't too ladylike.  Something with a bit of "edge" to them (typed with my poncey hat on yes).  Not an ankle boot, not even necessarily a shoot.  Normally I'd say suede as I think leather in something more substantial can look too heavy.  To go with a dress, even a skirt and top, for a Christmas night out, dinner party, Christmas Day.  Clear as mud eh?

I have been putting this off (procrastinator, moi?) but the other day I saw these on the Wallis website and thought - hell they could work.  They are the perfect balance to me of shoe and boot.

Black Leather Asymmetric Cut Shoe Boot was £95 now £85.50

I also spied these on the Wallis site which would do a great job of livening up a plain little black dress and would also be fab with jeans or trousers. 

Black Glitter Buckle Shoe Boots was £39.50 now £35.55

At Mint Velvet they do have some this season - I adore the styling here, as you can see they work so well for during the day as well as purely for evening wear. 

Black Lenni Blocked Boot from Mint Velvet £129

These are perhaps more bootie than I'm now veering towards but they are a bargain and not as vertiginous as some. 

Black Junette by Nine West was £125 now £39

However these are top of my list and I've ordered them after trying them on instore today and finding only THREE pairs left in black - in titchy tiny Cinderella sizes or at the other end of the spectrum.   Nothing like everything been sold out to ensure that I HAVE to have it. Duh. 

I have had these on before but did I heed my own advice and buy them?  Did I heck as like and now I have to shoehorn my foot into a 6 (I did try it on today...) as opposed to a 6.5. (this isn't going to end well, is it...?)

Suede Elasticated Autograph boot £59.00  BUT there is a 20% off Discount at M&S (yes again..) with the code OCT14EM (usable as often as you like) OFF EVERYTHING! 


If you're not after a pointed toe then these are perhaps more wearable - again a good heel height, ideal for both trousers and dresses. 

Lower again with a bit of texture detail on the heel. 

If you like the mock croc heel there is a higher (much higher) pair from ASOS. 

Another stunning high pair from Dune - these are simply divine but alas, I fear too high for me. (oh dear lord I sound ancient)

At ASOS there are also these Ted Baker ones which are a work of art to be honest.  Not cheap but good art is never cheap.... And they're not too high.  

I am determined not to overthink this.  (famous last words.....)  But it's something I'm never happy with, so I'm just going to order the M&S ones and be done with it.  Now here's hoping they arrive for Saturday for my Christening... GAH!  Anyone else still looking for a pair of shoes for nights out or have you mastered it years ago?

Outfit from yesterday - this is pre my quick change into my "watching cross country gear". I may have news on the warm weather front.  I have done my research, I may have a winner......  I will be back....


White jersey layering shirt - Me+Em
Black thin knit jumper - Cos
Black Tuxedo jacket - Hush
Patch skinnies - Mango
Leopard print loafers - Zara

And today - another inbetweeny outfit.  I am loving the navy.


Navy merino jumper - Uniqlo
Navy dress coat - H&M
White leather tennis shoes - Zara
Print trousers - Zara
Camel bag - Prada

Today I had a lovely lunch with a gorgeous friend and a fantastic mooch around the shops.  And I may have managed to tick off another item on my list of obsessives.... From a shop that I don't normally shop in.  I have done definitely, but I can't think of one thing I own from there.  However I did a big trying on session of things that caught my eye and there are some goodies and some baddies.  Guess which shop?!  I'll give you a clue - it's a pretty cheap treat - what's not to love?

Monday, 20 October 2014

I can't put it off any longer

I fear we may even be in weeks of single figures till Christmas.   And whilst to most of us, that means a list of chores and jobs to do as long as your arm (god, even thinking about doing a Christmas food order is making me feel queasy, let alone the run up to and the aftermath of the cooking) - anyone started Christmas shopping?  (no I haven't so you can all stop hating me for either mentioning the C word.  I am disorganised with a capital D you'll be pleased to hear)

However let's just benchmark the onslaught of grief for a moment (I'm sure that most of you are far less lackadaisical than me and therefore it's not half as stressful - you would think I would learn, wouldn't you?!) and take one element of pain away.  The Dress. 

As much as I am a (new) fan of dresses in the Summer, the Christmas season is really when The Dress comes into its own. 

Even if you don't have a host of glamourous parties (that'll be me), I'm sure that everyone has a family get together, Christmas Drinks, Mum's night out, Work do and of course there is then Christmas Day itself. 

Which means that it's pretty easy to justify a treat for yourself in the form of a new dress.  Oh I know to some it's ridiculously shallow but a new outfit that you feel great in, to me is the ultimate pick you up.  And when the Christmas chips are getting you down, a pick me up is always an early gift from Santa. 

And is if by magic, I've also realised that this weekend, I have my Godson's Christening.  It'll be a wonderfully casual affair combined with his birthday party afterwards so I don't need a smart smart dress. 

Which could be said for lots of Christmas occasions actually.  There is that line in the sand between full on Christmas glitz and a dressy but not overly dressy number.  (that be said, there are definitely ones you could wear for both, just by changing up your accessories)  Fear not, I will be covering all bases but starting with some really wearable dresses.  Hold that sequin thought for the minute.

It also needn't cost the earth.  Dorothy Perkins seem to permanently have a discount code (a 25% thingy flashed up when I went onto their site) and we're starting at a good price anyway. 

Starting with a shirt dress - my discovery of the Summer. 

Black Yoke Shirt dress from DP £28   This would work teamed with flats, heels or ankle boots, depending on how dressy the occasion. 

A longer shirt dress now - this could be great again with some ankle boots or shoots.  Or even knee high boots.  Bring back the 70's. 

Paisley shirt dress from DP £38

Gorgeous print shift dress - I like the idea of this during the day with opaques and loafers, brogues, any sort of sneaker or ankle boots. Ideal for work and play.  

Teal blue shadow flora shift dress £32

Now this looks very Marni and therefore Cos to me - a classically simply dress - easy to dress up with jewellery or just let the classic shape do the talking.  Less can sometimes be more. 

Grey roll sleeve shift dress from DP £30

Another simple jersey number - again, with a necklace this would be great.   Or wear on its on for a nod to Scandi chic. 

Grey Drop Waist Dress £20

Another drop waist dress at Hush which I can absolutely vouch for, is the Quilted Dress 

Quilted Dress from Hush in Aubergine £49 - but don't forget your 10% off in October using OCTEVENT (plus 20% off nightwear at the moment with the code)

Or a classic black £49 pre discount 

From Hush and also in the aubergine is the stunning Sophia dress in cupro.  Feels exactly like a suede silk but apparently it can be handwashed.  

Sophia Dress £69

So I was having a think about where I'd previously found reasonably priced dresses and whilst I was earlier having a look for lights (yes, our house renovation is never ending...) and was on the BHS site - lightbulb moment (oh lord pardon the pun) - dresses. 

This one is perfect for a casually dressy affair.  Add heels for a smarter edge. 

Black Printed longline tunic dress from BHS £30

Black Zip Shoulder ponte dress from £35  (not sure I'd wear these shoes with it to be honest, I like to wear something slightly funkier - boak at the word I apologise - with dresses.  These would be my trouser shoes)

I've definitely had this one on the blog before - it's a Wallis one I've found at BHS but it's so fabulous and it's now in the sale for £25.  I LOVE this. 

Animal Print Shirt Dress now £25 was £38

Another shirt dress - this looks like it's a fake wrap dress - much more flattering than the tie yourself ones in my opinion (and this is true for everyone).  A classic shape brought up to date with a modern mix of colours. 

Black/Blue check shirt dress was £30 now £21

I found another fake wrap dress at Coast - a friend recently tried this on and it is beyond beyond flattering.  The colours may not be for everyone but I'm quite drawn to these. 

Coast Estra Print Dress £85

Now if you know me at all, you know I can't do red but I absolutely love it on other people.  This dress is very reminiscent of a Baukjen one at a fraction of the price.  They also have this in a black and a cobalt online. 

Red Flippy Ponte Dress £20 from BHS

The cobalt colour is also available in a drop hem sleeveless version.  Tell me you'd think this was from BHS?  I didn't think so - amazing isn't it. 

Cobalt Drop Hem Dress £30

If you're looking for something a bit more unusual and perhaps vintage is your thing, then this is the one for you.  I simply adore this - it's not me at all (for a start, still scarred by years of wearing bottle green as my school uniform - a colour you will never see me wearing) but I think it is just so chic and perfect for a myriad of dressier occasions.  

I also think this would be better on someone slightly shorter (the model is 5ft10) as I think the style works better as a proper midi - not knee length as it is here (it's called a Midi dress which to me is definitely below the knee).  I'd also like to see it with a slightly higher heel.  

Green High Neck Slink Dress £70 (the use of the word slinky, may I just mention, is theirs, definitely not mine)

This one however, I would call slinky.  I have been reliably informed that these dresses are super flattering.  They are amazing on those who have curves and give those who haven't that extra shape.  A beautifully neutral colour and style actually that could be dressed up and down as the occasion saw fit. 

Damsel in Dress Arundel dress in grey £129 This is slightly more but considering how versatile it is, I think it's worth paying that extra sometimes. 

If there is one colour though, that I am obsessed with this season, it's yellow. (ok so that's this week, obviously next week it will be something else) 

But call off the dogs - I wasn't "actually" looking for a dress (I was going to be really good and wear something that I already had).  And then I saw this. 

Panelled Shift Dress £46  It isn't perhaps the most Christmas of colours but this yellow against black, grey or navy to me is totally sublime.  I have a host of coats (literally about 10 she says with a teensy tiny hint of embarrassment.  To be honest, it may be more...) and shoes and boots that this would go with.  I also can, off the top of my head, think of 5 occasions where I could wear it. 

This one looks as it it could be Whistles to me but at Warehouse prices. 

Shadow Floral Slinky Dress £38

Speaking of Whistles, I wouldn't normally put them in the league of reasonably priced (ok they're not super super expensive, but it's rare you can get a dress for under £100)  But at the moment, there appears to be 30% off some Whistles at John Lewis. 

Which makes some of their dresses much much more affordable. 

This one would be super useful to dress up or dress down. 

Whistles Zip Detail Dress now £66

So does anyone else have anything coming up that they need a smart dress for?  I've got a couple of dinner parties which will definitely be dress worthy, the Christening on Saturday and I may have another girl's lunch in London before the end of November (you have all been warned....!) 

Finishing with my outfits from yesterday and today.  Unseasonably warm but I'm loving this inbetweeny weather.  Probably my favourite season actually - the inbetweeny season!


White loose tee - Hush
Grey Baxters - Topshop
Check coat - Kew
Yellow scarf - Hush
White leather tennis shoes - Zara
Grey cross body satchel - Whistles 

And today - feeling really rough - chores at home, none of which I really got done and then a glam trip to the supermarket, school run and the running around after the children with their after school activities.  I literally sat down at 8pm this evening, having not stopped doing stuff since 3pm.  Dinner in the oven, The Husband home at 9.30 and relax. (actually there's still washing to be taken out of the machine. GAH)


Mon Cheri sweat shirt - JCrew
Straight leg jeans - Earl
Navy dress coat - H&M
Leopard print skate shoes - Next
Whiskey Marcie Medium Satchel - Chloe 

Come on Tuesday - how bad can you be...?

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Hands up who's not outdoorsey?

It's taken me 41 years to accept that I'm not.  I'm really really not.  The sort of outdoors I like is sitting on a sunlounger by a pool or a beach (and even then I'm not a massive fan of sand) or with a glass in my hand sat down at a table.  Actually it may just have dawned on me that I'm not so much not a lover of the outdoors but inherently lazy. 

However I somehow appear to have spawned sporty boys (oh and for the record when it comes to sport or exercise... errr yes, definitely inherently lazy) and the reality is that my Sunday mornings for the next gazillion years are going to spent watching them play rugby. 

Now before someone asks, yes I have considered the point that this could be a fantastic bonding opportunity for all the boys of the family and I could spend quality time with my number one girl.  Believe me - this was the plan.  Who wouldn't this be the plan for?!  But I have two boys and you need one parent per child pitch side for training. 

However I shall look on this as an opportunity (and to be honest, I am rather enjoying seeing how much my 6 year old loves playing rugby and even the daughter has taken to chilling out with her kindle in the club house - I should point out it hasn't rained yet.....) to acquire new boots and a new coat. 

The issue is that these need to be practical and I suck at buying practical clothes.  There's a lot of style over substance going on in my wardrobe......

However I REFUSE to believe that it's necessary to look like you've been plucked from Base Camp at Everest.  Oh I know, you veterans of the rugby sidelines will be chortling at my naivety and predicting how long it takes me to cave and head screaming into North Face. 

Well. I have been heard to say that my children get their stubborn streak from The Husband but as I'm typing this, I'm getting ready to add Donkey along with Sloth to my middle names.  However I am very good at admitting I am wrong and admit it I will do if I cock up on this. 

But hopefully I won't.. (never let it be said I'm not a glass half full person).  I honestly think (and yes, I will concede I may be deluded here but I always managed fine on ski-ing holidays.  Admittedly I did have a North Face coat.  Eats words) that with the right layering underneath and the right boots, I can find something that won't have people yelling "where's your sherpa?" when I rock up. 

The timely reason for this blog is that it is yet another discount weekend.  20% off all coats at M&S and 30% off coats at Mango (although this appears to be now "selected" coats - cheeky monkeys - those marked with a circle or a star aren't included.)

Starting with M&S and I so so nearly bought this one last year.  I tried it on the other day instore and either my arms have grown, they're skimping on their sizing or it was just too short last year as well but I am GUTTED to say the proportions of this are wrong on someone with arms like an orangutang (ie me). However I may have to try it again...... I will try it again, it was too good not to try again.

Down Filled Hooded & Belted coat with Stormwear now £79.90 was £99  This is honestly an amazing coat (says she with no technical expertise whatsoever)  I'm a 10 to 12 on top and I tried on the Medium which was fine around the middle, if not a bit on the big side (but perfect for layering). I have quite a few friends who have the Burberry ones and I would defy you to be able to tell the difference.  Detachable hood. 

Also comes in a whole host of colours.

The one above is the mid length one which even on me was fine but I have to say I was and still am tempted by the super long one.  You can't get nearer to wearing a duvet cover pitchside than you could wearing this. 

Hooded & Padded Coat with Stormwear was £120 now £96  So this is waterproof as well. 

Other options which I didn't see instore (as, dear M&S, these were not in the extensive COAT section.  Obviously.  One is expected to go to the Coat Section and try on a selection of coats, but then meander round the huge shop and look at every section to hunt out all the other coats you've snaffled away a la Easter Bunny.  You're like a Coat Bunny)

Per Una Premium Down & Feather filled belted coat with stormwear now £119.20 was £149

Have to say I think it's all a bit Maxmara in the putty colour.  Rather lovely (I don't plan on rolling round in the mud, so this would pass as practical?)

I won't say again how much this isn't me this colour, but I love it on other people and this is definitely an ace way of making something very practical slightly more fashion forward (did I actually just type that last bit?!) 

Premium Down Filled Feather Quilted Coat with Stormwear was £129 now £103.20 in Berry

Premium Down & feather filled in 3 in 1 down coat £159.20 was £199 (can't quite work out why this is 3 in 1......

But moving onto Mango which somehow I don't expect to offer the same practicality as M&S.  Which is the most ridiculous assumption ever.  A bit like assuming that all Clarks shoes will be super comfy.  (they're not by the way) 

And whilst we're on that subject, my bestie has a Zara one she bought in Madrid years ago (the classic - oh I'm going to Spain so it must be hot.  Oh maybe not so much.  "necessary coat purchase made".  You can see why she's my mate, can't you?!) and that is definitely more substantial and warmer than one would think. 

So I have high hopes for these from Mango.  All prices are pre 30% off  - code is 5MNG

Feather down long coat £99.99

Hood and belt are detachable as you can see here in the black 

Love this one but think that the proportions would work better on someone who's on the shorter side. 

Quilted Hooded Coat £79.99 pre discount

Not many parkas here on this blog (ok no parkas) but a waxed/coated one with a great furry warm lining, could definitely be on the cards. 

Faux Shearling lined Park from Mango £119.99 pre 30% discount

And to be honest, that's probably all there is on the Mango site that even I admit would serve the warmth purpose.  Oh what to do.... Well I still have some other ideas up my sleeve - am thinking that our Scandi neighbours manage to survive on a daily basis in the cold whilst not looking like they've raided Millets, so this is where I shall be heading next. 

They do have some fantastic other coats though, including the wrap around one I featured earlier in the season (ie a matter of weeks ago, duh) and other gorgeous classic numbers.  I do have another coat suggestion up my sleeve (ha ha) which I'll explore shortly.

However I may just snaffle the M&S one, the full length duvet number, as it will also be an amazing dog walking job (not on the cards yet but just in case....) I'd hate for them to sell out again like they did last year (even though last year it was £99 and it's now £120 full price.... hmmmmm) 

Don't even get me started on boots.  I shall be starting my research on this tomorrow.  Warm wellies are probably the way forward, seeing as apparently we spend most of the Winter knee deep in mud.  Note to self - it might be a hell of lot easier and cheaper to persuade the smallest son that tennis is his game......

So finishing with outfits from yesterday and today. 

Yesterday - expertly taken by the 10 year old.  Charging around yesterday buying tile adhesive and underfloor webbing (I kid you not) but managed a sneaky trip into TK Maxx for a teensy splurge (only one thing) which I'll bring you tomorrow.  The round robin of swimming and tennis for the kids after school and then chilling with The Husband and wine in the evening.


Breton top - H&M
Saxby jeans - ASOS
Navy waffle blazer - Next
Indira necklace - Stella & Dot
Taupe Jalouse boots - Ash
Whiskey Medium Marcie bag - Chloe 

And today it was the turn of The Husband to take the photo.  Trying to tell me something?  Very relaxed day with the boys and The Husband, the daughter was at dance rehearsals all day so went along to basketball training and then a late lunch at Wagamamas. 


White shirt - Autograph Men's (creased within an inch of its life after wearing it for just two hours.  I HATE white shirts) 
Bat sweatshirt with leather shoulders - Zoe Karssen
Grey Baxter jeans - Topshop
Black ponyskin skate shoes - Next 
Black Faridah Hobo bag - Marc by Marc Jacobs

Tomorrow Rugby is at the Astro turf so I can wear trainers.  This has made my Saturday night.  WOOO HOOOOO.  No damp grass shoe dilemma.  It has come to this....... Where did it all go wrong.....?!  In both Friday and Saturday nights this week which is very unusual for us and I'm loving it.  Not a hint of a hangover - quality time spent last night as The Husband got home early and we had family Uno night with wine and crisps (fear not, the kids had juice).  Tonight, Thai meal all ready to rock, another round of Uno en famille (the more I drink, the funnier it is apparently....) and tomorrow morning I shall feel like a spring chicken. Maybe this is the way forward....! 

Hope everyone has a great weekend.  As I'm at "such" a loose end, I'm going to do a sneaky Mango order later - knitwear here I come. xx