Saturday, 16 December 2017

Sparkles and Crepe Joggers for Afternoon Tea....

Suraya sequins party top Great Plains (reduced to £42 from £85) and Crepe woven joggers from Great Plains (reduced from £65 to £32)

I was so excited to be going out for afternoon tea today at The Edgbaston Boutique Hotel with some girlfriends. How very civilised! (Well until I arrived.) And after a week of snow boots and jeans, it was a joy to have the opportunity to get dressed up. The pavements are still a little icy in places and I resolutely refused to walk, instead opting for a cab. The height of laziness really but there are just some days when compromising your outfit is absolutely not an option. 

The Edgbaston Hotel is a beautiful Georgian building which is decorated in an art deco style inside. This gorgeous Christmas tree greets you when you walk through the door. Sadly some things are just too large to slip into your pocket and wander off with *

As to the sequinned top and crepe joggers that I'm wearing, they were kindly gifted to me by Great Plains who asked if I would like to choose something to wear from their range of occasionwear.
They were interested to see what I might choose, how I might style it and how else I might wear it.

No one will be remotely surprised to find out that I chose a sparkly top - the Suraya sequins party top Great Plains (reduced to £42 from £85). I'm currently very familiar with quite a lot of sequin tops and what I think will appeal about this one in particular is that it's not too fitted. It has quite a relaxed shape to it so - and I can vouch for this having eaten an entire cream tea and then some - it doesn't get any tighter. And its relaxed shape means that it's a great one to wear at any time of year with jeans, with pleather leggings, under dungarees or with a pleated skirt. I know you've heard it before but sequins are definitely not just for Christmas.

The other thing that I think will appeal about the top are the length of these sleeves. They finish at a really good point on the arm, enabling you to pile up a whole lot of arm candy. And now that this top is in the sale, the price is really good too.

Now that's what you call a bar! 

In addition to the sparkly top, I also chose these Crepe woven joggers from Great Plains (reduced from £65 to £32) for that high/low outfit look. I have to say that the part elasticated waist was an added bonus and the side stripe gives them more of a modern feel. Just ignore anyone who says "Why are you going out for afternoon tea in your jogging bottoms?" BAD MOVE.

And the best thing about them? They are so versatile and can be dressed right down. On the Great Plains site they are styled with a Breton top and trainers, which is a look I will definitely be wearing. The more wear that I can get out of things the better. I also like the idea of these trousers with a pussy bow blouse and a blazer for a more dressed up look - either with heels or flats.

A sneaky little amuse bouche with compliments from the chef. He's my kind of guy. 

Again, can I please pretend that this is our house? It's soooo beautiful. 

The prettiest macarons I've ever seen! 

Afternoon tea Edgbaston Hotel style - you know that relaxed shape top I mentioned and the elasticated waist on the trousers? Oh yes baby. Mucho required. And once I'd kicked off my heels, they were both great for lounging around in when I returned home. That fire and sofa were certainly calling. 

Luckily I have plenty of stamina for many things in life. Including eating a cream tea. I never quite understand when people don't have a sweet tooth - it's as if they're talking a foreign language. Sarnies are nice and all that but really at an event like this, they're just a means to an end.

I'm totally inspired now as to how to decorate the outside of our house. Mr SG loves a little job of the DIY variety. Hmmmmm.

Disclosure: I think that we've all gathered that this outfit was gifted to me by Great Plains and it consists of the Suraya sequins party top Great Plains (reduced to £42 from £85) and Crepe woven joggers from Great Plains (reduced from £65 to £32).

* I would never advocate the theft of anything. Although if I did happen to be invited to the Palace I "may" wander off with an ashtray as per Denise Van Outen.

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Glitz and brights for a night out

Pink Satin Shoes & Other Stories (£79) and sequinned Turtle Neck Top & Other Stories (£49)

It's that time of year when those party dates are looming and it's time to plan what to wear. There are so many looks that I love for this time of year from a statement skirt, heels and a fine knit jumper, to silk joggers and a pretty blouse, p(l)eather leggings and a white shirt and then.....a little predictable I know...good old jeans.

The thing with jeans is that because they are a safe option, I feel that I can go to town with the colours and the sparkle, without feeling too conspicuous. Black, grey or navy trousers would enable the same look to be created but there's something about faded jeans in this "new" style cut that I like. "New" being a mixture of girlfriend/boyfriend/mom and straight jeans all rolled into one. No, I'm non the wiser either.

So, having selected your jeans, it's time to have fun. I've mixed dark sparkle on the top (link above), with bright shoes and a bright bag. But the options are endless - sparkly shoes with a bright top and bright bag, sparkly bag with bright shoes and bright top, bright shoes, bag and top - maybe work in a print, or stripes, or some fake fur.

I've been after some shoes in this style for quite while now. I'm a bit late to the "v-cut shoe" party but you know, it's fashionable to be late. The block heel is so comfortable too - really sturdy and, having put them to the test with a glass or two of fizz, and maybe even a glass or two of gin, I can confirm that they are indeed, very sturdy.  

I have to say that I was slightly worried that they might stain easily, with them being satin. But after I went to the loo and splashed water on them when drying my hands, they were fine. Bet you're all relieved to hear that aren't you?! 

The clutch I'm using is a Whistles one that I bought in the New Year - if you wait until the end of January they have amazing reductions. They don't currently have a yellow one but this one caught my eye - I really love the colour of it and it would work so well with the pink shoes :)

Part of my decision to wear jeans was because we were sitting down for most of the night, meaning that it was all about the top. But it's such an easy look to create for any event - chuck on some jeans, hunt down some bright bits and bobs - sparkly or clashing ones if you like - stick on some lippy and it's job done.

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Kooky Two - creators of modern and stylish jewellery for everyday dressing

I love it when I meet new people, when we get chatting and then when I discover that they do something fun and exciting. 

I met Claire and Clare from "Kooky Two" at a Red Magazine Style event in October. We sat next to one another and got chatting about what they do - as you do - and it turned out that they ran their own small independent jewellery brand. They source the materials and then put them together which means that they are able to create necklaces with chains of different lengths and styles, adding different charms and beads, for a really personal feel.

I was really delighted when Kooky Two asked me if I would like to write about their jewellery. Their passion for what they do clearly shines through, so I jumped at the chance.

Lightning bolts are definitely having a moment, and this necklace is a real favourite of mine. It's small and delicate and works really well when layered with other necklaces too.

Gold lightening bolt necklace (£25) which also comes in silver (£18)

I love all things star related and this necklace is perfect for layering or wearing on its own. Personally I like shorter length necklaces that just sit neatly at the base of your neck but it comes in four different lengths, meaning that if you're not sure of someone's preferences, you can opt for a mid range length and probably get it right. 

I haven't come across a heart beat necklace before and personally I think it's a great one to gift to yourself from a loved one in a "Look what you bought for me" kind of way adding, just for good measure "you make my heart skip a beat." How could they possibly deny you the joy of such a gift?!

I'm a huge fan of ear-rings, to the point that I'm thinking of getting another piercing, just so that I can wear way more of them. Ear-rings have come on leaps and bounds over the last few years, not only in the sense of big, statement, dangly ear-rings but also in the sense of cuffs, creepers and all sorts of intricate and delicate pieces that don't dangle but rather just adorn. 

I have these earrings and love how delicate they are, whilst at the same time being a little more modern that a traditional stud style earring. A similar style are these silver triangle ear creepers (£20) below.

If like me you just can't keep away from the lightening bolt theme, there are also these lightening bolt earrings (£18)

I also love the branding of "Kooky Two". Claire and Clare (one with an "i", one without!) are obviously brilliant friends who have come together to run a business which suits their lifestyles. Their aim is to create minimal, modern and stylish jewellery for everyday dressing, which can take an outfit from day to night. For them it's about a simple approach, whether it's with something personalised or layered, dainty or more statement in style and "wowish", such as their Crystal Innovations  collection, using Swarovski Crystals.

For something a bit rock chic there's these silver hoop earrings with jet black crystals (£25) which are fabulous if you like an earring to make a statement without them wearing you, like some of the huge ones can.

They also come with a metallic blue swarovski crystal (£25), which are stunning.

And how fantastic would it be to wake up to these on Christmas Day? They look like a flippin' great big diamond and to be honest, that would be good enough for me, for sure.

Additionally, Kooky Two offer personalised necklaces and bracelets, where the girls hand-stamp discs with letters or numbers.

This necklace comes with one, two or three discs and can be personalised  with two styles of font, three styles of chain and adjustable lengths depending on the style of chain chosen. The entire range of personalised pieces can be seen here

Whilst I am the first to admit that I champion our high street, when it comes to jewellery and special pieces it's nice to have a personal relationship with the brands, and the people behind them. Supporting small businesses, which are often run by busy women in positions similar to ourselves, is increasingly the way forward. Do take a look at the Kooky Two site - I'm sure that Claire and Clare would love to hear from you.

Disclosure: This post was written in conjunction with Kooky Two but I chose which pieces to write about. Kooky Two kindly gifted to me a gold lightening bolt necklace and a pair of heart creeper earrings.

Thursday, 7 December 2017

My favourite faux fur scarves...

I think that it's safe to say that there's some cold weather on its way. We've had pre-emptive letters from the schools warning of early closures and our son is positively ecstatic at the prospect of the trains not being able to run due to snow.

Over the years I have tried many items/coats/fabrics in the fight against the cold and what I can't work out is whether it's my imagination that tells me that fake fur is one of the best, or whether it's actually true. Does it so closely represent the real thing that it is actually really warm - despite being man made - or is it because it's quite heavy - or am I just making it up in my head?

There's one item that I own and whenever I wear it, people ask me where it's from. And this is it - a £16 fake fur grey scarf from Miss Selfridge which I bought when we still had a Miss Selfridge store.

I find that if my neck is warm, it helps with everything else too and it's definitely warmer than lots of scarves that I have. So here's a few of my favourites that are out and about.

First of all there's this White Company grey faux fur stole (now £49.30 instead of £69). I went and had a look at this one in the store yesterday and it's lovely. Really soft and long too so definitely one for the Christmas present list.

The other place that I have seen some gorgeous ones is Jigsaw

They have this Seraa faux fur scarf (£70) which also comes in a lovely cream colour and also in grey. Going off piste slightly, there's also this fabulous sheepskin scarf in Jigsaw (£98).

This is one of those pieces that's just really fun. It's hard not to put it on and smile at its slight craziness. And for something bright, look no further than Oasis for this amazing faux fur tippet (£25)

which also comes in navy (£25)

Oasis also has a faux fur scarf in grey (£25)

This Ted Baker scarf (from John Lewis £89) is only what can be described as "snazzy". It's a real eye catcher and the perfect way of brightening up darker winter coats and jumpers. I quite often wear mine in the house if I'm chilly - but it's not a good idea to go too near to a naked flame in them.

As an alternative to the one above, there's this bright blue scarf from New Look which is a brilliant price at £10.49. It also comes in pink too (below) - for those who don't want to blend into the background.

Hello - now that's what you call bright pink! 
Clearly I could go on all night with my faux fur scarves. I love them for their warmth, glamour (even when wearing scruffy jogging bottoms and a sweatshirt at home) and their pure snuggliness on a cold day.

Sunday, 3 December 2017

When the stars align...

We've seen flamingos, pineapples, stars, hearts, lightening bolts and lips...but now it's time for all things space related. 

Space and cosmic type things seem to be having a moment. Last week Prince Harry talked about "how the stars were aligned" when Meghan (we're on first name terms you know) came into his life. And tonight there's going to be a "Super" moon.

It was this time last year when all things space like came into my life, in the form of sparkly Star Wars socks from Topshop. I acquired many pairs, to replace my older socks. Deep. I know. 

I've noticed more and more space/planet/moon related prints and pieces becoming available and here's a pick of some of my favourites. But if you happen to see any more out there PLEASE tell me!

First of all, a word about Rixo London which was started in 2015 by two friends, Henrietta Rix and Orlagh McClosky. Both Creative Directors studied at the London College of Fashion and their brand (which is a combination of their two names) is going from strength to strength. They have such a gorgeous selection of silk clothing with the most fabulous prints - I think that I may have to re-think my Christmas Day outfit.

I think that this Rixo London Georgia cosmic constellation skirt (£220) could well be the most gorgeous skirt I've ever seen. In fact I absolutely love the whole outfit. The combination of colours, the two related prints. Please, can someone I know get married and invite me, just so that I have an excuse to buy this outfit?

And then if they would like to have a baby and invite me to the christening - no wait, that would take too long - perhaps the bride could have a hen do and then I could wear the Rixo London Thalia space age floral silk midi skirt (£220). Can I swear? Just ever so slightly? I bloody love this skirt too. Oooh, I've just had a thought - I think that some of my friends would like this skirt too. Anyone fancy doing a time share?

Rixo Marissa Cosmic Constallation midi deep V-neck dress (£325)

I'm not sure that I could quite pull this dress off - well not without a lot of assistance in the (masking) tape department for my top half (and maybe some other kind of assistance in the tanning/pruning department to accommodate the high split). BUT - oh how I love it! 

Rixo Sheena space age spot (£295)

Now, if the other prints aren't quite your taste - after all prints are very subjective - then this black dress with the white space age spot might appeal more. I love the simple elegance of this dress. 

Rixo Pluto teal cowl neck blouse (£165)

As you've probably figured, this is the top in the shot above. I can't help but smile when I look at all of these pieces which, granted, when you're home alone in front of a Christmas film is ever so slightly weird - but then I talk to my clothes sometimes so it's actually quite normal for me. 

Rixo Georgia skirt in navy moonlit sky (£205)

This is the Georgia skirt again but this time in navy moonlit sky. And there's a blouson sleeved top (£175) to go with it, giving the illusion of a dress. 

And then out there on the High Street, there's this stunning Zara printed midi dress (£69) which I was going to buy but then the lack of slip to go underneath it put me off. It should have come one with one but I think that someone decided that it was just what they needed, so they took it instead. 

And this is right at the very top of my Christmas list. Being a fan of all things sci-fi, I think that my husband was quite surprised (and obviously secretly delighted) that I would like something else bag like and sparkly. 

I know the Queen UFO glitter clutch bag (£75)

I know the Queen has so many amazing glitter clutches with fabulous designs from sharks, to your initials, stars, slogans. They're brilliant! 

Topshop glitter moon and star socks (£3.50)

And coming full circle, we're back to the Topshop socks. Maybe a touch of space like magic is all that you need for now, in which case these could be perfect - with a midi skirt and heeled sandals for a very modern look, or tucked inside your boots for when the cold weather hits. 

And as I said before, if anyone comes across anything planet like or cosmic or sparkly, please do let me know. I would love to take a peek! 

Friday, 1 December 2017

Linea x Style Guile

Linea Ava longline coat (£165)

Who remembers when Linea first arrived on the scene? I'm going to show my age now by saying that I do! I remember the rails of clothes in House of Fraser containing sleek items. It was way before the days that Birmingham had Jigsaw, Hobbs, Whistles or anything other than M&S and a small Topshop. Linea felt sophisticated, fresh and modern and it definitely offered something different. I remember Linea with fondness because it was the first place that I went to buy some new clothes 6 months after our eldest was born (nearly 19 years ago now. Eeeek.) On reflection my choices were bad - but that was purely down to me. 

I was asked by House of Fraser recently whether I would like to take a look at the new Linea collection. It's been re-worked and updated. I was delighted to spend some time when I was in the Sutton Coldfield store looking at what was on offer.

I was gifted this gorgeous Ava coat from Linea as part of the collaboration with House of Fraser. I've had such a positive response to it on Instagram and it is truly a lovely coat, being made of 75% wool, 10% cashmere and 15% nylon.  This is, I would say, the perfect "commuter coat." I've worn it on several recent trips to London when I've been on the train and when it's necessary to have something warm enough to keep the chill at bay but not so thick that you over heat. It's a coat that I find myself reaching for again and again because it just makes an outfit (however dressed down) feel polished.

I also love the colour of the lining, the simple lines and the fact that the pockets are square and "upright", meaning that a phone never falls out of it. I never thought that the type of pocket that a coat had would ever really be a consideration for me but it is. Is that terrible - especially in this context? Probably but there you go, it is!

And as to some of the other pieces that caught my eye....

Well first off, there's the Linea bomber back detail coat (£169). Unsurprisingly, I love the shade of pink and there's a really interesting layering detail at the back, giving the look of a bomber jacket. I love it when I come across a piece of clothing and I think to myself "oooh, I wonder how that all works." This was one of those pieces - something just a little different.

Moving on to my next item...

This is the Linea  Henny Pu full skirt (£49) which comes in grey or black. I love the combination of the modern material with the slightly more classic style of skirt than lots of pleather skirts. It has such a lovely "swish" to it and would look amazing styled with a pussy bow blouse and heels for work or with a slogan T and trainers at the weekend (well, provided that it wasn't snowing).

The world has gone crazy for long sleeved, printed, midi dresses...

And Linea have come up trumps with this gorgeous poppy printed dress (£69). Styled here with heels, it would also work well (as you all know) with thick tights, ankle boots and a chunky cardigan over the top, or with a leather jacket and ankle boots, or with a fur coat for a winter wedding. This bold, graphic print is really strong and has great colouring to it. 

How gorgeous is this Linea lace bodice metallic pleat dress (£125)? A dress that looks like a skirt and top is always a winner in my book. Skirts and tops can be quite a faff - all that tucking in business with the top having to be the right length etc. However this is all done for us. The skirt has a great length to it with plenty of movement and the top part is covered but still has that lovely sheer element to it too.  The waist is set quite high, giving the illusion of legs that go on forever. I'm in! 

There's also a gorgeous cashmere jumper at Linea which at £79 is a really good price. This item was also gifted to me as part of the collaboration but I'm saving it for a Christmas outfit that I have in mind. All will be revealed in due course! 

Linea Isabella long line cardigan (£85)

Whenever I see someone wearing a long line cardigan, I always think how stylish it looks. It can be hard to find one long enough though but this one has a great length to it and it's such a versatile piece, layered over skinnies with a big chunky scarf or faux fur scarf. The grey inside also just makes it so much more stylish than if it was navy.

And who isn't always on the look out for a great top?

The print and detail on this Linea snake print ruffle blouse (£45) are fabulous. A bit of subtlety is always good (unless it comes to pink or sequins when all bets are off) but this offers something elegantly simple whilst still having something about it. I like most things that I wear, or that I put ladies in to "have something about them" - or the potential to have "something about them" when accessorised.

And finally!

There's the Linea Prince of Wales checked trousers (£55). Checks are having such a huge moment and the style of these makes them less "90s office attire" than some of the wide leg options available.  I love the idea of them with the snake print blouse, offering something just a little different.

I have to admit that Linea had sort of fallen off my fashion radar but there are some great pieces and I shall definitely be popping back from time to time to take a look. The quality and the price point are both good and the styling of the pieces on the House of Fraser site is soooooo much better than many other brands I could mention. Do take a whizz over if you have a minute and see what you think.

Disclosure: This post was written in collaboration with House of Fraser, for which I was gifted the Eva coat and the cashmere jumper referred to above. I wasn't given a brief and all words and observations are my own.