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Sunday, 5 July 2015

Envy = panic

Envy of the dress variety.

This pretty much again happens every time of the year - I see dresses that I've seen in store and thought - nah - on another person and suddenly think OH MY LORD I NEED THAT DRESS. 

Of course the reality of it is that I don't and the reason I bypassed it originally was, on second inspection (it's amazing how quickly I can google a dress when I need to), valid.  What looks great on another person doesn't necessarily work on me. 

The first dress I saw was on an amazing lady I met on Saturday when I had the absolute pleasure of judging the Young Fashion Designer Of the Year for the South.  I was incredibly honoured to be asked and it was honesty the most fun I've had in ages.  The standard of talent at GCSE, AS and A Level was more impressive than I would ever have expected.  I felt just like a giant version of May Martin.  Especially as I was accompanied by the winner from last year - George Chaffey who made a fantastic young Patrick Grant. (skip that last bit of you don't watch The Great British Sewing Bee although if you don't you should as I think it's actually better than the Bake Off one.  Compulsive viewing!)

So the dress in question was worn by one of the other judges and it was another & Other Stories one.  This one, which is now sold out.  It actually looked a lot better on her than it does on the model here.  She was much more petite and it was a much better length on her.  So actually on me, it would have looked pants.  PHEW.  However is that going to stop me charging up to London this week "to see"??

The other dress was last night at a party for a friend's birthday when another friend was wearing the most stunning maxi dress (khaki with a print on..... sleeveless, tie at the neck) which I haven't in fact seen before.  From M&S.  Now I clearly have spent the best part of today trawling through the M&S website to see if I can find it.  Can I heck as like?  

However I did unearth a whole load of dress gems that are new in at M&S and full on floral and print is the current story.  Which suits me right down to the ground.  I am having a full on dress revival and think a couple of others to add to my stash (because it's been at least a fortnight since I've bought a dress - to be fair, I have worn both of them twice already which isn't bad at all) would be fair game.

And the beauty of most of these that I did find, is their versatility.  The ultimate dress me up dress me down frocks at truly great prices (the price thing does go a bit off piste towards the bottom of the blog, I'm warning you now....)

Firstly one that I would happily wear on the school run with sandals.  (I would lose the fascinator.  Probably)

Floral Tunic Dress from M&S £39.50

Another shift dress - this time without sleeves.  

Cotton Rich Floral Placement Dress from M&S £39.50

Now this one I think is a lot more Temperley than M&S...

Butterfly Print Maxi Dress from M&S

Whilst we're on the subject of resemblance, I think this bears more than a striking one to the DVF shape and print. 

Geometric Print Shirt Dress from M&S £59 If you look closely the print of this is white, pale pink, black and KHAKI. Whoop de whoop.

Another oversized floral print which is very much more Sportmax or DVF than M&S.  I love the idea of trying this one.  

Easy Care Oversized Rose dress £39.50

Ditto this print - Round Neck Floral Shift Dress from M&S £65

Full on floral full length and a bargain price at Phase Eight.  

Phase Eight Julia Floral Maxi Dress was £89 now £49

Another slightly more subtle number from M&S - I've seen this a number of times in store and it's a great extra to have in your wardrobe.  Perfect for work, the school run, out for dinner or even to a wedding. 

Ditsy spotted shift dress from M&S £55

From subtle to totally in your face but some great reductions at Selfridges, including this rather bright but rather amazing number from Maje. 

Abstract print silk dress from Maje was £369 now £184.50

More bell sleeves at Mango - this is just simply heavenly and perfect if you're shorter as Mango short dresses are notoriously crotch flashing for tallies.

Printed Dress was £40.49 now £20.24

Also adore the red 

Another one I swear I've never seen on the Mango website

Flowy Printed Dress was £31.49 now £15.74

And in the red shade  - sorry, that should be vermillion....

New season now at Mango - but still a great price and perfect for the warmer weather.  So long as you're petite.

Floral Print Flowy Dress from Mango £35.99

However I do have hopes that this one will be slightly longer  (that'll be Bob Hope or no hope of course)

Flowy Shirt Dress from Mango was £26.99 now £13.49

From the mostly very short to my newly beloved midi dresses and obviously I can't possibly do a blog on any form of dress without including a Self Portrait one. 

This one.  I need.  And it sneaks in under the banner of "print dresses" because... because it just does and I need to look at it again and again and again.

Self Portrait Fringed Midi Dress £240 - remember, these do go in the machine and size up a size.

Moving onto more purse friendly options - this one I tried on earlier in the season and did love but wasn't entirely sure it was me.  However it's an amazing dress and the best bit is - machine washable.  Get in there.

Ted Baker Ravina rose dress was £159 now £80

More amazing floral at FCUK and a bargain again at £52 in the sale. 

FCUK Freida Dress was £130 now £52

Sort of midi - well it would be on most people... I wouldn't have thought this length of dress would work but I think it looks great in this pic.  However that could be because she is an 18yr old model... hmmmmm.  However I love the zip detail, the pattern and the colourway.

Textile Federation for ASOS Shirt Dress with zip detail £45

I have also been spending every free minute drooling over the (limited) more wintery clothes that there are out there and this dress from FCUK is top of my wishlist.  

Sundown Jersey Paisley Maxi Dress from FCUK £80

Love the print of this - I think with a plain coat over - simply perfect.  

Paul by Paul Smith Jersey dress £135

And here I am proving that I can't get enough of my dresses at the mo. 

This is from yesterday for the judging.  I stupidly didn't realise (duh) that I'd be on my feet all day.  However these old favourites from LK Bennett were surprisingly comfortable.


Porcelain dress - & Other Stories
Tan peep toe shoe boots - LK Bennett
Whiskey Medium Marcie Satchel  Chloe

And last night out at a friend's birthday party.


Yellow dress - Whistles
Yellow, tan, black & snakeskin sandals - Zara
Snakeskin clutch - Michael Kors 

Anyone else on a total dress fest at the mo?  Having had my legs out for the past couple of weeks, they're got a bit (a *bit*) of colour to them and so I don't have to rely solely on the fake tan (my bed sheets are thanking me) so I'm on a frock roll.

I hope everyone else has had a good weekend.  I'm trying to work out when I can get to London this week to fling myself down Regent Steet and grab the dregs of the sales.  See?  Total panic.  I'm such a predictable fool.

Friday, 3 July 2015

It's a left field one from me

That's because it's a beauty one.  An exceptionally rare one for me as I don't remotely proclaim to be an expert in this area at all.  I have an embarrassingly pathetically stocked beauty stash.  It's tiny.  

I do get sent the odd thing but genuinely, it takes something very impressive to drag me away from my old favourites.

I'm always being asked what I do use for various things and I've promised a couple of people that I would do a round up of my favourite beauty products.  There are some new additions but mostly these are my very own Hall of Fame products. 

Starting with one that is new in - shampoo and conditioner.  This was recommended by the wonderful Caroline Hirons (a true Beauty Goddess) and it's as good as all the shampoos and conditioners that I used to use which were 3 times as much.  And the best thing - a totally SLS free product. 

OGX Hydrate Defrizz Kukui Oil Shampoo £6.99 from Boots but on 3 for 2 at the mo. 

And the conditioner again £6.99 but on offer at Boots.

Again new - a new oil treatment product which is the best I've used.  Now this isn't cheap (I nearly threw up when I saw how much it was when I went to pay) but I reckon this will last me till my kids go to uni.  It's huge and you use the tiniest amount.  And genuinely do only use the tiniest amount as the only solution to using too much is to rewash your hair.  (been there, done that, sworn)

Moroccanoil Treatment £31.95 from Feel Unique

Whilst we're talking of luxury products - my next new product is one that isn't cheap.  I won this on the raffle at a school function and I love it.  It came with a milk bath product thingy which I have to say I don't rate in the slightest but the exfoliator is Amazing.

Elemis Sp@Home Skin Nourishing Body Scrub £29.50  This is the biggest treat ever (I'll be totally honest, I didn't realise how much this was and I will be using it slightly more sparingly in the future.... it needs to last at that price!) 

It did remind me that my favourite exfoliator that I haven't bought in ages but I used to adore was the Incredible Spreadable Ginger Scrub from Origins.  However this is £25 (I swear it wasn't that much....) so hardly a comparative bargain.  But I've never found a cheaper one that really works as well.  Any suggestions?

Has anyone tried the Champneys Spa Treatment Salt Scrub? £12 and on 3 for 2 (so you could have three of these for less than one of the above....)  I used to use the Sanctuary one, also from Boots but it was only *ok* and I couldn't stand the fragrance.  All recommendations gratefully received please. 

The last new product that I adore and can't get enough of are more stick on nails.  Or should I say glue on, as I use a nail glue as opposed to the tabs you get in some of them.  I promise you, these don't harm your nails at all - at the very least compared to the gels which (and it didn't matter which brand I tried - I really did try them all) trashed my nails. 

Broadway Nails - Natural Deceptions from Superdrug £7.65 I file these so that they're round as I'm not a fan of the curved nails.   These are short and subtle.  Pure elegance as opposed to Made in Essex specials.

Finishing with some of my beloved favourites that I couldn't live without and in Summer that is first and foremost my products of the fake tan variety. 

Top fake tan for me is the Cocoa Brown Mousse at £7.99 from Superdrug  As good, in fact I think perhaps better as it fades more evenly, than St Tropez and less than half the price.  One thing I would say is don't wash it off after an hour or even three hours.  I have heard of people having a problem with it not being dark enough if they've done that.  I put it on in the morning after a shower and go - I don't bother washing it off at all (yes MING alert - I do eventually obviously....but just not a couple of hours later).

And for my face, there is nothing better than the Chanel facial self tanner which I have used for more years than I can remember.  It's amazing.

Chanel Soleil Identite in Intense Bronze.  Cheapest place I've found it is from All Beauty at £27.   It lasts for absolutely ages and I would say is probably my top beauty product.  It genuinely makes your face look like it's been airbrushed - it has scarily magic capabilities.

I recently had an eye flare up of my eczema due to using a whole load of different cleansers I was asked to try and the only way it went away was going back to my tried and tested eye make up remover and cleanser.  I now refuse to use any other cleanser on my face.  There is nothing that comes close to either of these in my book. 

Lancome Bi Facil Eye Make up Remover £19.95 at All Beauty (cheapest place I've found it)

And the simply perfect, nothing can come close - Emma Hardie Moringa Balm £38

So what do I have on my list of must try things? 

Firstly, I've stopped using the Revitalash as I had read some disconcerting things about it but have heard better things about the Mavala Eye-Lite which also claims to lengthen lashes.  The fact it's approx a sixth of the cost is also rather appealing.  And it gets great reviews. 

Has anyone tried it? 

Mavala Eye-Lite Double Lash now £11.70 from Feel Unique

I'd absolutely love to hear about your beauty Must Haves - especially ones for Summer.  I'm sure I have loads more (actually I'm not as I'm woefully slack on the whole beauty regime) but the ones that I seem to use regularly, I've definitely shared. 

Another little secret I'll let you in on - my new top.  Yesterday I had to go to Sainsburys to get some new boys school socks.  None at M&S, Florence & Fred or Waitrose so my only other local option was the not so really near at all Sainsburys.  This was to prevent a nervous breakdown (on my part) over Sockgate.  WHERE do they go?  The other morning we literally couldn't find one pair of socks - sod that - we couldn't find any socks (at the time I couldn't have given two hoots if they were matching or not).  So I was on a sock mission. 

And whilst I was there it would have been rude not to scoot around and see if there were any gems.  Usually I never see any but then, hey presto I saw this top and thought this would be perfect for Sports Day and all those occasions when you're out in the scorching sun, zero shade and (shallow alert) want to avoid the obvious strap marks.  (ok so on reflection this is only Sports Day and the Summer Fair but at least I have a top for next year as well).  Beyond thrilled with it. 

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Linen embroidered top - Sainsburys
Stone Chinos - Boden
Tan sandals - Forever 21
Cognac Cross body bag - Campomaggi 

So I'm at home with the kids tonight whilst The Husband is out at a Beer Tastingthingy.  Tomorrow - super excitingly, I have been asked to be a judge at the Young Fashion Designer of the Year UK (the Southern counties).  Which means himself is on Daddy Day Care and the kids are going to try out their Summer club at The Maths Factor - LAST chance today to get the 3 month Summer club for £9.99 - offer ends at midnight tonight... before they can play on the Xbox to their hearts content.  Win win for the big man.

Hope everyone is enjoying the sunshine and please share your best beauty secrets! 

Thursday, 2 July 2015

The little extras that make all the difference

So as we're in the midst of taking clothes off as it's so darned hot (even though, yes it's rained today.  The one day I thought I could risk washing my hair as it was due to be cooler and I might not look like Crystal Tipps for two hours - it rains.  Soddus Lawus.)

However in the Summer we do wear less clothes and I find it difficult to look as - and I am going to sound like a total tool now, of this I am aware but I can't think of another way of saying without sounding like an even bigger tit - interesting. 

As in less things to be able to accessorise with.   Yes we have hats but.... errr well that's about it.  

Except - good old jewellery.  And in this weather, you really don't want anything too heavy on as sweat under metal = a rash.  (I know from experience oh Hipanema bracelet.....And gorgeous large leather Coccinelle cuff.... )

We need the saying, the best things come in small packages, to ring true.  Yes I do still love my statement earrings and yes I do still think there is a place for the oversized necklace (which is handy as I have a shed load of them that I adore) but handily the trend for this season does definitely seem to be less is more.  So your less really has to stand out and do some talking.

One way to make a statement is to add lots of smaller things.  You may have noticed that I have recently been wearing a stack of little bracelets which I honestly think make all the difference to an otherwise slightly mundane outfit. 

I got mine a month or so ago and have been wearing them every day and cannot recommend them highly enough.  And it's lovely that the person I got mine from is a local lady to me - lovely Annabel who started Bella Jane Jewellery.  She runs her own business, making and selling these bracelets and I am really honoured that I am able to support her in her venture.  And she has very kindly offered us 10% off any product using the code DMB35 until the 19th July.

My favourite things are definitely the stacking bracelets which are stirling silver. 


I have the Eternal Bracelet Double Happiness £38

And also have the Angel Wing Bracelet £44 as well as the heart, the key and the wishbone.

Now when it comes to necklaces, my go to necklace that I wear every day is the Elsa Peretti Bean Pendant from TIffanys.  I have the biggest one but that's because I'm a giant.  I've also had it for about 17 years which makes it pretty good value - cost per wear.

Elsa Peretti Bean Pendant 

I had my chain shortened on mine so it sits right in the hollow of my neck but I'm now thinking about a longer necklace for the Summer (and Winter!) that will balance it out with more detail lower down. 

And currently top of my wishlist is the personalised initial disc necklace from Anna Lou of London

I'm going to ask if they'll do me a silver necklace with three discs for each child, one silver, one rose gold and one gold....

Silver Engraved necklace from £54 It does say they can accommodate special requests and they do sell all three colours so I can't see it being a problem.  I will keep you informed.  Like the two sites above - some really really gorgeous jewellery on there. 

And not forgetting my lovely friend Cathy at Alice's Wonders who has also brought out some more delicate pieces for the Summer with The Simple Collection. 

My top pick would be the Gold Leaf Necklace £8 - perfect for those days when you don't want to wear silver.

So it's a super quick one from me today as I have been tearing around like a mad thing all day with a Dinner Party at home this evening (it seemed like a good idea at the time... it will be fab - really good friends so it's all rather casual)  The round robin of volleyball, Beavers and Guides always seems to take so much longer every week than I think it will - why on earth am I constantly surprised by this?

I have hair to do and a table to lay and so I'll leave you with those websites to peruse - but I'd love to hear back on your favourite bits as I haven't had a chance to go through them all fully yet.  Sounds like the perfect thing to do later on with a glass of wine...  I love the fact that they're not High Street and offer something that little different.

Pic from yesterday when frankly I gave up.  Just.  Too.  Hot. 


Print vest - Zara

Denim cut offs - Denim & Supply by Ralph Lauren
Hat - Fatface
White sliders - River Island
Cognac cross body bag - Campomaggi

Made much of an effort the day before.


Black Triangle Dress - Hush
Black oversized buckle sandals - Zara
Black Harker hands free bag - Anya Hindmarch
Hat - Zara
Dog - Ginny the Australian Labradoodle. 

I do promise I'll be back with my new shoe find tomorrow.

And note to self - do not drink too much tonight.  Sports Day tomorrow and I'm helping out all day.  It's my most favourite day of the year - very untraditional.  All team based in their houses, it's just lovely.  And it's always super super hot (I even bought a new top today in Sainsburys to wear as I'm worried about tan lines.  REALLY??!) 

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Not *everything* is sold out

I wouldn't be me if I didn't pontificate wildly about not buying anything in the sales and then at the very last minute get totally cold feet and go into panic buying mode. 


Yup, clearly most things have sold out (lord knows why I'm surprised by that.... anyone would think it didn't happen every year without fail.)

Cretins R US sign up here.  However I am undeterred.  I don't *need* anything particularly for this Summer (clearly the heat has totally gone to my head....).  And even though the weather may be lasting, I am on the countdown till September and the dreaded 11+ exam (don't forget Maths Buffs to sign up to the special offer Maths Factor Summer Clubs for £9.99 for three months which start tomorrow.  So much cheaper than buying revision books so a friend of mine informed me today.  That extra money can be SALES money!) so I am fully aware it's not that long away. 

Therefore I am thinking A/W.  I am dragging my sensible head in out of the heat and am attempting to focus.  However seeing as I am utterly pants (putting it mildly) in hot temperatures and have spent two hours at football this evening, the chances of some random tut sneaking in, are very very high. 

Especially as I'm looking top end for the final discounts (are they the final ones..??  Dare we wait for that extra 10% off that they sometimes fling us?  Anyone else fancy playing chicken...Mind you, I do have two words for you - striking dread into the heart of all last minute sales shoppers... sold out....)

I'm going in and have high hopes for the first item on the wishlist.  I am all about the khaki this A/W.  I am going to be one blond hair away from Private Benjamin at this rate.

Pierce cotton shirt from Joseph was £145 now £58  Love.  Love love love.  Perfect with black, as wearable with all shades of blue denim and lovely now with summer whites.  

Can't recommend a pair of khaki trews highly enough and if you fancy a designer pair - there are bargains to be had.  I didn't realise how versatile they were until I had some.  With plain grey, black and white for Parisian chic.  

The Army Buddy cotton trousers from Current Elliott were £200 now £80

I know the price of this seems bonkers for a plain tee but I have a grey Alexander Wang tee that I rate very highly.  Quality is amazing and this would see you through every season on its own under a blazer or layered with a sweatshirt and a jumper.  Or dress.  Perfect for under dungarees too. 

T by Alexander Wang was £100 now £40

Whilst we're on the subject of neutrals - one thing I don't have but I think would be eminently useful is a black blouse.  Et voila....  This would be perfect with black leather or coated jeans.

Silk georgette blouse from Tamara Mellon was £295 now £88.50

I've mentioned sweatshirts with logos but plain ones are equally as useful and I can personally vouch for the quality of the JCrew ones. 

Cotton blend jersey sweatshirt from JCrew was £70 now £28

Another amazing jumper at Joseph with a now bargain price tag (bargain compared to the original price that is....).  I didn't realise I needed this in my life.  I think I do.  With all black.  With camel.  With white jeans now.  Oh hello.

Leopard Jacquard Raglan Sleeve Knit was £295 now £88

A breton jumper with a difference - pink and black.  LOVE for A/W.  This with a black leather midi skirt and black heels for a night out in the pub.  Throw on with boyfriend jeans and sneakers for the school run.  Totally adore this.  I am on a roll.

Sonia by Sonia Rykiel striped pink jumper was £195 now £58

My best friend is all over skirts like this at the moment and yes you could easily wear this into the A/W with a black polo neck and black ankle boots.  Little black vest or silky tee tucked in with strappy sandals for a Summer night out.

Marc by Marc Jacobs Blurred Dot Skirt was £240 was £120

This may sound absolutely ridiculous but dare, DARE I mention the C word....... Yes I now it's akin to chinese water torture even asking you to consider it now but you will thank me by November if you have a corking little jumpsuit to pull out of the bag as opposed to having to scour the streets for one at full price. 

Because jumpsuits are going to be the item to wear next season, if the pre season collections are anything to go by. 

And there is a bargain to be had for those Winter nights out (or even nights out in the Summer to be honest) with this black one from Karl Largerfeld. 

Rachel Tuxedo Jumpsuit was £375 now £138

Now if you are doing monochrome either now or in the A/W (I can't actually even believe I'm discussing Autumn, let alone Winter, in this heat) then this would be amazing.  Now - with a white tee, navy or black blazer and jeans - just add this bag to give a whole new dimension to your outfit.

M Missoni Multi Raffia Bag was £320 now £128

Moving onto a couple of pairs of *bargain* boots and shoes.  

These are pure sophistication.
Yarmouth leather ankle boots from Lucy Choi was £245 now £98

However perhaps these might be a better investment being the more classic black.  But I do think the grey and wine are classic winter shades.  Can confidently say though, I think I would live in these... 

Holter ankle boots by DVF were £309 now £154

Whilst we're talking investment - I must mention Bethany Pumps by DVF.  I have a friend who says these are THE most comfortable stilettos she has ever ever worn.  And she has worn a lot of stilettos.  Ideal for taking us in to the A/W.

Bethany Pumps by DVF was £237 now £118

And I could go on and on and on and maybe I'll bring another round up towards the end of the week.  Is anyone else trawling the sales sites - especially the top end ones - for clever bargains to wear in the Autumn?  Go on - share....

Finishing with my outfit from Sunday actually - today I was in my bra and pants.  Well I wasn't but I wish I had been.....


Chambray striped shirt - Mango
Navy blazer - Zara
Denim shorts - Warehouse
White sliders - River Island
Tan bag - Prada

I was going to bring you a shoe fest today - that'll be for tomorrow.  A new discovery.  All v exciting.  Did we all cope with the heat today?   Like I said I am crappola in properly warm weather.  But nothing compared to the poor 8 yr old Aspie who has sensory issues with temperatures.  To say after school today was challenging..... put it this way - I opened a bottle of fizz on a Tuesday.  A TUESDAY!  God love him and he's asleep now but boy......... and breathe........