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Saturday, 23 May 2015

Because we haven't had one for a while...

..oh hello dress blog.  Dilemma time.  Well, it's not really but at least it's a focus (otherwise researching dresses online is like searching for a needle in a haystack - seriously, where do you start?)  

So the issue is... do you go expensive or do you try and find a bargain?  

Yesterday was the tale of two dresses.  Both bargains.  One is a fairy tale and the other has turned into a nightmare.  One from M&S and one from Topshop.  Both under £50 but even at that price, I would still expect buttons not to fall off a dress after one wear.  And I know I can sew them back on but frankly, I don't think I should have to.  

Yes Topshop - looking at you.  Plus, on closer inspection of the dress (which I may just have hung back up after wearing - slut that I am), it is absolutely creased to boogery on the lap.  Which to me, just screams cheap dress.  So it's now a cheap faulty dress that is going back.  And I'm rather gutted about that as I was going to wear it last night.  It filled a great hole in my wardrobe that I wouldn't be surprised to hear other people have too. 

The "not quite warm enough for a Summer Dress" shaped hole.  When you want to wear a dress.  This is coupled with the "too much white flesh on show"  issue and so fake tan is needed.  But with the copious amounts of bare flesh, brings the massive margin of error for cocking up the fake tan.  The more there is to tan, the more there is to make a mess of. 

You can hide your legs under a table for the majority of the evening but the arms - and god forbid the shoulders and back - which are at eye level, need to be spot on.   And the first couple of times you apply your tan, I find is like making the first couple of pancakes.  They never quite work out as well as you'd hoped...... 

Sleeves are your friend.  The advantage of these is that they are also the best bingo wings disguiser ever.  I actually don't mind my arms but the two kettle bell sessions that I did last week haven't exactly made a dent in gravity's sagging from having done nothing for the past year.  Give me a couple of weeks (so it may be months...) though and you can call me Popeye.  In the meantime, I am resorting to the quick and easy option of sleeves.

Which leads me back to last night.  Topshop dress was thrown on the floor in disgust (swear words may have been uttered.  I really REALLY like the print and the shape but for nearly £50 the quality is just not good and I am sick and tired of being expected to accept "disposable" fashion by the High Street) and I nearly threw on some jeans.  But I then spied my good old M&S navy and blue dress that in fact I have only worn once. 

Well.  Total and utter result.  This was less than £30 in the sale and it's the sort of dress that restores my faith in the more reasonable end of the market.   It is pure polyester but of the crepe variety which means it honestly doesn't look or feel cheap at all.  It does mean that it doesn't crease in the slightest and hangs beautifully.  And yet again, everyone thought it was DVF and couldn't believe it was M&S.  Teamed with my blue and black Reiss sandals I was really pleased with my outfit. 

But I have hardly any dresses with sleeves.  And I have lots of occasions coming up in June that I need dresses for.  I am sorted if it's warm - some really great options to wear but if it's on the chilly side and I don't get round to perfecting my fake tan (this actually means me not being so lazy and doing the whole regime properly.  Exfoliate you lazy fool) I am going to want some dresses with sleeves.  

Seeing as I was so pleased with my M&S one (pic at the bottom - yes it is M&S) I thought I'd return to the scene of the crime and see if there were any other gems.  The one good thing about M&S is that they don't make their dresses too short. (Warehouse and Mango...... there are women of a certain age who buy a lot of your clothes and don't want to flash their lady bits at the world every time they bend over).  And the quality is nearly always spot on, especially for the money.  Ok so that's three things. 

Starting with one I have high hopes for. 

Animal Print Shirt Dress from M&S £39.50 in three lengths  I've ordered this with the 20% off (MAY15EM till the 25th May) as in my head it will look great.  I think the sleeves might be too short though and there is a teensy risk with a shirt dress that you look like a Coach driver ..... it should arrive tomorrow so I'll report back.  I also ordered it in the long and that might be granny length.  I'm going to go and order it in the regular length as well.  




The other dress I ordered as, whilst I loathe the styling here, I think this could be a fantastic little dress to have in your wardrobe for the odd dinner out.  And for £16 it would be rude not to try it.  I'm thinking it could go perfectly with my blue and black Reiss sandals.  I think this is very XCos

Tile Print Shift Dress was £45 now £16




Ditsy Spotted Shift Dress from Autograph £55



Now this I think is quite interesting.... slightly concerned that in the flesh it might look like it should be worn over a bikini but in my head, it could actually be quite cool in a Marant boho style?  (I'm slightly hungover....)  This barely scrapes in under the heading of "sleeves"... Maybe one for later on in the Summer.

Mirror Embroidered Yoke Dress  £39.50  I think fab with gladiator heels but just as great during the day with flat glads. 




This isn't really normally what I'd go for and I'm not sure if it's the one but there is definitely something about this one that is growing on me.  Maybe it's that I don't normally do florals..... 

Oriental Floral Kimono Tunic £45



Now the other place that has some great options that you won't find elsewhere on the High Street (always nice to know you're not going to run into someone wearing the same thing) is Atterley Road. 

And in my current obsession with fabrics not creasing, this polyester crepe mix sounds ideal.  It's also unusual to find a black dress for the Summer.  This would also take you through to the Autumn with ankle boots.  Perfect addition to your wardrobe.  Personally I'd prefer a strappier sandal.

Black Crepe Shift Dress from Atterley Road £48   I would love this to be the same fabric as my jumpsuit from Kin by John Lewis.  It's amazing.  Totally uncreasable and comes out of the washing machine drier than when it went in with not an iota of ironing needed.  Don't suppose anyone has tried it?



Another option also at Atterley Road.  Now this is more dressy in my book but if you are looking for a dress purely to wear in the evenings, then this would make the grade for me.  It may well be the shoes that make it super special though, it does have to be said.  They are gorgeous (ponyskin if you look closely...).  And I do have a blog on evening shoes in the making, fear not. 

Atterley Road Black High Neck Dress £48



So moving onto a variation on a theme - black and white.  Yes, I know this is hardly reinventing the wheel but it works.  For me anyway.  I have black shoes.  I have black sandals.  I have black blazers.  Oh and I have black bags.  It makes sense to buy dresses that go with the majority of things I already have so I don't have to then start buying a whole new tranche of accessories.  (yes it was me who typed that.  Clearly it doesn't stop me buying more accessories....) 

Hence, this black and white number from Whistles caught my eye.  And there is 20% off on Whistles at John Lewis at the moment.  It would be rude not to have a look.... 

Whistles Louisa Dress £88 Mosaic black and white 






Same style again in the Bloomsbury Print also now £88







However this one would be my choice.  Especially as I am in mourning for my TS shirt dress. 

Whistles Shibori Spot Shirt Dress now £88  But not in my blasted size and it's £110 everywhere else.  This is not going well....



Still need to look at a couple of places.  Cos and The Finery are always good but certainly with the former, their delivery is so slow (the perils of being part of the H&M stable)   
So my M&S dresses are arriving instore tomorrow.  And I also have to go and pick up the suede skirt which I may have returned and re-ordered with the 20% off making it £160 - far more palatable.  I did panic earlier actually when I went to order it and it had sold out in every size bar an 8.  But they now have restocked in most sizes. 

Here I am in the outfit from last night - out for a dinner party, having plumped for the saviour of the M&S shirt dress from a couple of months ago. 

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Shirt dress - M&S 
Blue and black sandals - Reiss
Black clutch bag - Tory Burch 

Do we think it's worth spending that little bit more on a dress or can you truly find bargains at the lower end of the High Street?  Tomorrow I'll be exploring options at the other end of the scale and pondering whether or not it's a good idea. 

Hope you are all having a great Bank Holiday weekend.  We have spent the day playing football in the garden with the puppy.  Certainly not something I ever thought I'd be writing.  Me, garden, football?  Why, yes.

Friday, 22 May 2015

So I would have assumed this was a no brainer...

.. but before I tell you what it is, let's all have a deep intake of breath as I say... Swimsuits. 

Ugh. 

Is there anything on the planet more tedious to buy?  Actually having said that, you can throw bras and gym kit into the ring if we're talking about dullarama things to buy, but if we're talking purely the depressing aspect of tedious, jeans come a close second but nope, swimsuit shopping sucks.  Big time.

And to make matters worse, I fear that this is the year I will have to throw in the towel on the bikini.  Maybe if I were jetting off somewhere super warm and wouldn't be chasing after children and a dog ie Mauritius with kids club on tap therefore affording me the opportunity to lie on my sunbed and not have to move.   But I have officially got to the age where moving in a bikini is a Bad Idea.  Nothing quite moves together anymore.  There are parts of me that follow in slow motion - mostly my muffin which does the mexican wave as I walk.  Hence I'm waving the white flag, admitting defeat and have decided a one piece swimsuit is the way forward. 

Especially as this year, we shall be spending two separate weeks on the Suffolk coast and a one piece will be far more useful than a bikini.  Primarily as I spend the majority of the time sitting on a beach watching small people in the sea so a one piece and a pair of shorts, with a lovely top to throw on afterwards to either go to the pub or get coffee and cake is the ideal solution. 

I absolutely know that I'm not the only person who has this sort of holiday - whether it be here in the UK or anywhere for that matter - and I'm certainly not the only person who has said sayonara to the bikini. 

Therefore I would have assumed that a one piece, with detachable straps as no one wants marks, is a no brainer?

Well.  To be fair, there are lots of print and colour options around but I'm after black.  I would love a white one but I am fake tan queen and throw a white swimsuit into the mix and that is nothing but a recipe for disaster. 

So black it shall be and when I was out looking for dog blankets the other day in Matalan (found amazing ones by the way, if anyone is interested....), I saw a pretty darn fabulous one.

Perhaps the fact that it's sold out at Matalan bar in a size 8 (and if you're a size 8, you're probably skipping around the beach in a bikini held together with dental floss) is evidence of the fact that a bandeau bikini with detachable straps is a really really good idea.  You want the support for when you're moving about but when sitting still you don't want to get tan marks.  Surely that's an obvious?  

Bandeau Swimsuit £18






Now I want plain black (yup getttig fussier by the minute) But clearly that's just me..... I am going to carry on looking but in the meantime, I may have to suck it up and go for a colour. 

Ok so when I say *colour*, closest I would get to that would be black and white (which I appreciate doesn't remotely fit the criteria.)  Not sure about spot though.... and alas, I don't think my boobs are big enough to fill these cups.

Underwired Swimsuit from Next in black and white spot £22



Also available in a cobalt... again I'm not sure if this is me. 



More colour at M&S - maybe I just need to get with the colour programme......love this one (but I just want it in black)  And don't forget there's 20% off at M&S until the 25th May (and off everything) with the code MAY15EM. 

Secret Slimming Ruched Bandeau Swimsuit £28





If we're talking flattering though, I think this one would win top marks.  Again, whether or not you could have it bandeau style without the whole lot rolling down and ending up round your waist (not entirely the look I had in mind.... ), I'm not sure. 

Monochrome Swimsuit from Next £25



Now this is black but I didn't particularly want a disco swimsuit (is it that hard to make a plain black swimsuit?  Well, apparently so...).  And again, I am slightly concerned about the whole lot ravelling down by my navel on standing up.... I don't even have any boobs to hold the darn thing up.  

Pour Moi Shimmer bandeau swimsuit £40




Could I stand tiny tiny marks in this one as it's so sweet?  Plus I'm liking the secret slimming bum lifting aspect.....  Not sure if you could take the straps down on this one or the whole lot might fall down with them. 

Secret Slimming Textured Colour Block Swimsuit £35 from M&S 




Truth be told though, if I were going to break my white cherry, then I think it would definitely be for the Topshop Ruched Spot Swimsuit .. .which admittedly I would prefer without the spots.  But I was way too slow on the uptake and that one is long gone.   

Ruched Spot Bikini £36



Actually this is the one I really like but I fear, being tall, that my nipples would be peaking over the top.  Which is enough to make anyone vomit a tiny bit into their mouths, merely at the thought.  This one looks skimpier than the others for some reason (to be fair, the other Topshop one also looks like it's cut for a 12 yr old.  Sob)  It also says to size up.  Which is a great motivational idea.  Said no-one ever.

Double Scallop Trim Swimsuit £36



However finally - after a couple of hours of research (don't say I never do anything for you... she says having done it purely for herself), I may have come up with a two decent options.  Definitely ones to try first and am looking forward to comparing and contrasting the two.  

Bodysculpt Bandeau Bikini at George at Asda £10 (yes, A TENNER)  They have loads of other colours online.  At this price, I could even get into colour...  Or there's a navy... (which is a colour in my book. *clutching at straws*)




John Lewis Control Bandeau Swimsuit £55





Can we have bets now as to which one will be better?  And we do realise that by me buying one of these, it does mean that it will pour with rain All Summer.  I apologise now... (on the upside, if I can't find one that fits, we will be basking in sunshine from this weekend till mid October) 

Finishing with a couple of outfits from this week.  Not hugely exciting but that's because I have been somewhat busy.  With the new puppy.  Our miniature Australian Labradoodle who has taken up so much of my time (anyone who's ever had a puppy is now nodding their head and sniggering) 

So since I haven't been able to blog for a couple of days, as an apology, here's a peak at her.  And no, this isn't a toy.


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And far less exciting now, the outfits. 

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Navy and white jumper - Whistles
Navy military coat - Zara
Jeans - Zara
White Stan Smiths - adidas
Tan bag - Prada

And then totally cheating as one with the dog as well.  The best accessory ever.

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Logo Tee - Captain Tortue
Pale grey cargo trousers - hush
Black tuxedo blazer - hush
Black oversized buckle sliders - Zara

I am ever so slightly exhausted after my 5am wake ups with the puppy but am over the moon that she is at least sleeping through.  Oh and peeing on a puppy pad. I am the font of all things interesting at the moment.  Not.... 

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

A day out

So as I may mentioned a week or so ago, I was invited by Me+Em to come down to the photo shoot for their A/W15 collection - not, can I very hastily point out, to be a model of any sorts but to participate in an article for their blog. 

It's things like this (along with all the comments, feedback and emails), that make doing the blog worthwhile.   I've been a fan of Me+Em for a couple of years now and have been more than impressed with the clothes I've bought from them, the quality and the customer service (top tip - if they've sold out of something in your size online, it's always worth ringing one of their stores as they are able to send it out to you) as well as the opportunity to buy something just that little bit different from elsewhere.  My two favourite items - my black swing dress and my layering shirt I've never seen anywhere else and they get worn again and again. 

When they asked if I'd like to come and do some "street style" shots for their blog, well - a day out in London and the chance to play dress up with a whole host of their clothes and be able to have a sneak peak of their A/W15 collection?  Obviously I was going to jump at the chance. 

And what a lovely company and what great people.  What gorgeous clothes and, though I say so myself... what lovely photographs.  

So what did I wear... well here's the article with links and me looking very un me.... (clearly a souped up version of me that I wish I could be on a regular basis.  Note to self - new camera might be a good idea.... and I might have to sack my small children which would make them happier than happy things) 

Check out what a good camera and a good photographer (and amazing clothes...) can do. 

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My favourite things that I tried on (after the Givenchy sandals...) were definitely the blazers and the shirts.  Oh and the jeans.  And I was rather partial to the maxi dress as well.....

And two codes I've got for you - MAYCL1 will give you 15% off your order with free returns.  And MAYHF2 will give you £30 off a £150 spend.  Go forth and shop.

Slim flare jeans in faded blue (also available in a darker wash online) £118 - these are true to size, so take your normal fit.



Double layer shirt in white £88  (this is amazing - I will be living in this.)




The Ruched V Maxi dress in indigo £118  Can be ruched up or down depending on how tall you are.  I have mine ruched down as you can see but it works just as well with more volume on the top half (so ruching up!) 




So the Dart Detail Blazer in the Soft White £168  This is just stunning.  The perfect white fitted blazer - ideal for over wide legged trousers and jeans and all those waisted dresses that it's so hard to find a jacket to wear with.




And the Fitted Blazer in navy £168  The ultimate classic.  Every wardrobe should have one.






Other things that are on my wish list are the trousers that I love the idea of matching with the jackets above - a great alternative to a dress for those special Summer occasions. 

Tailored Crop Trousers in navy £98 - these would look as fab with a pair of sandals or sneakers.  And they go in the machine




Stripe V Neck Box Tee £35  A great variation on a breton. 




Also loving this in the black - so so useful for every day but would work just as well in the evenings. 



The other great option that I've recommended numerous times to friends who are looking for a smart out to dinner or even a black tie dress that they want to be able to wear on other occasions as well, is the ruched dress.  They also do another v neck version online.  Both equally as stunning.

Cowl Neck Ruched Dress £98



And an indigo version 




Other dresses that are on my radar are the keyhole swing dresses but which is better - the blush or the navy?

And don't get me started on these shoes.  I have been salivating over these shoes this season from the Me+Em pics and nearly blew a gasket when I saw they were there to try on.  I can't quite describe my disappointment at finding out they were Gucci.  SOB.  However I am seriously on a mission to find a replacement - blog on the way, fear not. 

Key hole swing dress £165 Oh how I adore this dress.



And in the navy



And I don't have an outfit of today - well I do but I'm not going to post it as I look so so horrifically rough as opposed to these rather fabulous pics.  Got absolutely nailed by the rain - I categorically refused to give in to the elements today which meant I was the loser as I was the one who got drenched....... 

So I'm finishing instead with my fave picture of the lot.

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Clearly I have to replicate this entire outfit.  Absolutely loved it all and handily I already have the trainers - these aren't mine, these were from the shoot. 

Oh and finishing on just a slightly amusing note.  So I turn up and am presented with rails of stunning clothes.  Which are for me to look at but are mostly there for the model.  And yes, you've guessed it, they're all tiny sizes!  Actually I'll be honest (and a mini yay) the jackets in a size 10 are a perfect fit.  But I did almost weep when the biggest jean size was a 26.  So I am actually shoehorned into these jeans which are amazing but I definitely need the 27 if I want to be able to breathe in them (my normal size...)  The shirt is a small and again, I am breathing in and would probably go for the medium.  But the dress was a small and was a perfect fit.

On the upside, giddy that I could actually do a size 26 up without passing out but the bigger size would mean I could happily eat in them without busting a seam. 

As a thank you for coming up to London and giving my time for their blog, I was invited to choose a couple of pieces from the collection.  I'm definitely going for a navy and a cream blazer.  And top of my shopping list is the shirt and the jeans.   

Would love to know what's making your shopping list?  

Finally a huge thank you to the team at Me+Em for a great day.  Was a true privilege to be associated with such a fabulous brand. 




Monday, 18 May 2015

When you find something in your wardrobe that you love...

.....but had sort of forgotten about.  Me.  Today.  

Firstly can I get the moan out of the way - clearly I'm going to start chuntering on about the weather.  Dear climate, it's May.  The odd shower is permissible.  Pouring rain, sideways winds and single digit temperatures are not.  They are totally unacceptable. 

However on the upside, it did give me thought to think about what on earth I was going to wear today.  We are on puppy countdown so I had a day of trying to get my head around a puppy and what on earth it needs (clearly I have absolutely nothing....) and a trip to see the  Orthoptic Consultant at the hospital for my 10yr old (who has been discharged after five hard, long years of patching.  Go her!) 

What did I find to wear - well, happy days, my print cigarette trousers from a couple of seasons ago.  And there in lies the beauty - I have had these for ages now and have worn them both during the day and out at night.  They are the perfect things to have in your wardrobe to dress up and down and are just that little bit different.  You don't wear them often but they come in infinitely handy when you just can't face putting jeans on again.  They've also saved my bacon on a number of occasions when the fake tan just isn't happening but again, you don't want to go out in just bog standard trews.  These gems have come to my rescue on more than one occasion.

I also had spied some great ones last week in M&S (starting with the stripe ones I had on the blog yesterday) but also some great tile print numbers - and not forgetting the obligatory animal print of course.  These were all of a looser nature than the ones I have - tapered at the bottom but a comfortable, easy to wear, every day trouser which would work with a casual tee and sandals or sneakers.  Or a collar and jumper, I often wear a blouse, with heels or ballet flats for a smarter edge.  

But starting with very similar though, these more expensive ones at Whistles.  Now on no analysis do I recommend wearing these with a cropped top - for reasons which I feel are entirely self explanatory. 




Personally though, I'm thinking the M&S ones are easily easily as good for a fraction of the price. 

The picture here doesn't do these justice at all - they are way better than here, they really are.  They have a contrast strip down the side of the leg which is just so unM&S - really rather cool, I promise.




Ditto, these ones.  Totally Baum und Pferdgarten and not M&S in the slightest.  These would be top choice. 





Floral 7/8 Cropped Trousers £39.50 These are a floaty fabric as opposed to a structured fit - also at M&S.


Also some at ASOS and I love these from Only (I also love the matching top....) 



And whilst we're on the subject of matching tops - this set from Oasis would be all sorts of useful.  (the more I look at these, the more I love them...)



Clearly I have been looking at too many prints now as I am rather taken with these..... again, I would swerve like Ayrton Senna that crop top but with a white tee and a denim jacket?  Oh I love. 




Moving onto cigarette pants now and these are my favourite sort of look.  I love the versatility of these - easy to wear on all occasions exactly like the looser tapered versions above.  

Dorothy Perkins have some great floral options.  These are also a great price if you're not sure you'll get loads of wear out of them, or want to just try them out.  

For summer - some fantastic paler shades.  They all have 24% off for a limited time.




Another Summery pair.  I would say both these and the yellow ones above are easily smart enough to wear for a special occasion - a great alternative to a dress. 








Topshop also had a great selection.  I remember them doing an amazing lime floral print pair of joggers the other year that I still kick myself for not getting.  This year though, their paisley trousers are probably most similar to my ancient Zara ones. 

Paisley Print Cigarette trousers from Topshop £39  I think you can also see how they can be worn all year round with the addition of a roll neck.  Substitute for a tee in the Summer or a white shirt and you're off. 



However my pick of the bunch is from... yet again, M&S.  They really do have some absolute gems if you look hard enough.  These are amazing.  Absolutely amazing.  The fact that the print is virtually identical to a DVF print from last year is neither here nor there of course....

Bold Floral Tapered Leg £29.50 also available in three leg lengths.


So are you a print trouser fan?  I have to say, I have tried on so so many and it's a very personal thing.  I will say that some work and some don't.  But I love the ones I have - in fact I had forgotten how much.  Here I am in them today.



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Print cigarette trousers - Zara
White collar - Cos
Navy merino wool jumper - Uniqlo
Navy dress coat - H&M
Camel bag - Prada
Cracked leather Stan Smiths - adidas

And my outfit from yesterday - trip to the sister in law's for lunch with the whole family (there are a fair few of us..!) 

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Khaki jumpsuit - Topshop
Camel knitted blazer - Whistles
Ponyskin mules - Anthropologie
Black Diego bag - Alexander Wang

Tomorrow, I have more doggy duties to undertake but as I have two long hours to kill at football, I'm sure I can come up with something to bring you.  Not that I don't love watching my small boys play footie and hawk them nonstop for 120 minutes........