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Saturday, 1 August 2015

The little things that make you feel better

So it's been mooted at a number of times - fashion blog... little bit shallow.... blah blah blah. 

I've always just shrugged it off but for the first time I'm going to stick my neck above the parapet and say actually - no I think it's more than that. 

If I think back over the three and a half years I've been writing this blog, of the countless emails and comments I have had from women, thanking me for helping them, I can sincerely say it's not nearly as shallow as one may glibly assume.  Helping them in so so many different ways I've realised.  Whether it be finding that dress/those shoes/that jacket for a wedding/ball/whatever occasion - which yes, may not seem the most vital quest on the planet, but the fact they found it quickly through my blog as opposed to having to spend a day trawling round the shops with kids/dog/hapless husband in tow - suddenly makes it seem a little bit more useful than mere frippery and fluff.

Or the more moving emails (not that I don't get moved about someone finding their perfect dress - let's not forget how shallow I am....!) from people who have not only lost their fashion mojo but felt that they had lost themselves.   And I know that sounds melodramatic but honestly, I have had so so many emails like this - especially from mums who have had small babies and have been consigned to the world of playdough, Infacol and Mike the Knight for years, living in a foggy baby bubble.  Saying that the blog has given them the inspiration, the push, the whatever it might be, to make some changes to their lives and feel normal again.  Most say they feel better than normal and feel really good about themselves. 

And for me, that's the key.  Feeling good, feeling better about yourself. 

We're encouraged to hoover down the chia seeds, the kale and the goji berries to improve ourselves from the inside out.  But I'm going to boldly say I don't think that's enough. (and Nutri bullets are REALLY expensive....)

The fact is that for most of us, if we are happy with the way we look, then we feel better.  We can feel better than better, we can feel great.  And yes, a pair of shoes, a good fitting pair of jeans, a new dress in a print and colour that we love can work miracles.  That's not shallow - that's clever.  And it works. 

Getting your wardrobe and your look right so that YOU love it and feel great about yourself every day, is a massive step to just being happier. 

I will hold my hand up and say, yes this is purely my opinion - well, mine and the hundreds (and it really is hundreds) of comments and emails that I have received who agree. 

So without further ado - today I'm looking at the little things that can make a difference.  

I may or may not have mentioned (you will be bored with me by the end of the week but it's either bore you or The Husband and none of you buy me flowers) that we are off on our hols very shortly. 

And it's always a great time to buy those little extras that make it special.  As I don't have to spend the Greek national debt on suncream since we're going to Suffolk (I do buy some, fear not), it means I have both funds and room in my suitcase to treat myself to those toiletries that make holiday that extra bit special.  They don't even have to be expensive. 

I've meant to tell you about these before but I keep forgetting even though I keep nabbing them whenever there's 20% off. (code until Sunday is JUL15EM) 

The Tuscan Escape range from M&S. This isn't luxury luxury, let's mention that first off, but for an everyday shower this for me, is the perfect pick me up.   And a new set is ideal for taking on hols.  The smell is absolutely beautiful.  A citrus, fresh tang.

I always use the shower gel but this time round I've also ordered the scrub. 

Tuscan Escape Lemon Verbena £3.50


Matching body scrub £6



They also do instore, a diffuser stick set which I love but alas, sold out online.  However, I'm going to try the new Green Fig one as I simply adore anything fig scented.  May I please point out that I do not.... I do NOT take diffuser sticks on holiday with me.  Although you know what, I might this time.  Thinking as I type - there is nothing better than the power of scent to evoke a memory so a fragrance that you can bring home with you to capture those holiday moments, isn't perhaps the worst idea I've ever had.  (whilst we're on the subject of random things to take away, I will fess up, I do take my Nespresso machine.  With Lidl capsules which are GREAT can I just say.  The Ristretto *coffee as strong as jet fuel* ones. £1.79 for 10.  You're all welcome.)

Green Fig Diffuser Sticks £15




Now this is an amazing amazing bargain with 20% off - my absolute favourite cleanser ever.  And this is simply the best deal there is out there.  150ml in total for the same price as 100ml WITH 20% extra off.  Plus they're in a smaller pot so are ideal for travelling. 

Moringa Balm £38 pre discount   These are rarely instock so snaffle them whilst you can.  I've never seen them about when they have a promotion on. 



Now has anyone tried this serum as I am in the market for a new one and love all things Emma Hardie - therefore I assume I will love this, but it's a bit expensive to experiment with... ?

Midas Touch Face Serum from Emma Hardie £59 pre discount 




One of my favourite perfumes.  Love love love this and yes, I do also buy the Nuxe body oil which is fantastic and also 20% off at M&S.  I can't get enough of either of these.  The smell also goes perfectly over the light citrus fragrance of the Tuscan Escape shower gel.  Nothing more irritating than smells that clash. (can you see why I don't do beauty often?  "Smells"?  Jeez)

Prodigieux Le Parfum 50ml by Nuxe £43.50



Another little treat pick me up can be a new bag.  Now yes, I do like a leather bag but that's not to say there isn't a time and a place for a bargain extra - especially one you can take away on hols for a week.  And I happened to spy this on the M&S site whilst I was perusing for my beauty bargains and it really stood out.

This I love.  I think this looks so much more expensive than it is.  Gorgeous bag and perfect for holiday. 

Double Zip Across Body bag in orange £29.50 pre 20% off.


Or a magenta 




Or if colour isn't your thing - then the black would be the perfect first step to a minimalist A/W wardrobe. 


Now this is a total random but I have to share as I love them so so much and am perhaps more pleased with them than I should be.  If anyone does follow on Instagram (doesmybumlook40 - if you're not on Insta yet, I honestly cannot recommend it highly enough) then they'll know that I have a black and white thing going on in my house (which we are very very slowly getting around to finishing.  Cushions, rugs, furniture, pics etc - oh my lord, it's never ending. Towels?!) and so I was giddy when I found these for the back of the bedroom doors for the children.  I'm having little gym style bags made for them for their pants and socks so they're easily accessible.  And to hang up a dressing gown or a hoodie as opposed to it languishing on the floor..... 

Alphabet M Door Hook £6.00


And whilst we're on the subject of initials, my new necklace arrived from Anna Lou of London which I am absolutely over the moon with.  I have been after one of these for ages and can't believe I waited so long to get one! 

It is the perfect pick me up and for me, the ideal outfit finisher. 


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This is the link to the one I have - the Initial Disc starting from £54 - I opted for each disc in a different shade of gold.  Mine is on the 18 inch chain.

 



So there are just a couple of my instant pick me ups that I've either used and can highly recommend or will be getting as I know they'll make that little bit of difference (I'm not going to lie - seeing stuff strewn all over bedroom floors that should be hung up can be an instant red mist descender in my book... a little hook to easily hang a hoodie or a bath robe on could make all the difference between me not losing it with a nuclear style meltdown.)

I now have to go and take the puppy for a walk before I smother myself in fake tan and decide what I'm going to wear tonight.  It's my best friend's husband's 50th Birthday.  Hawaii Five Oh theme.  And no, I didn't get the Five Oh bit (The Husband is threatening to disown me) as I'm a cretin.  I thought it was just a nod to a theme, but it seems that most people have taken the *beach wear* dress code rather literally and so I have NO idea what I'm going to wear.....  Am thinking about the coral floral & Other Stories dress but I was planning on wearing a super old All Saints rope dress which is very beachy..... but not very Hawaiian.  GAH.  (and obviously nothing like leaving it till the last minute.... like I may have mentioned, I am so over thinking about Summer outfits!) 

Quick snap of outfit today.  All very very casual.  One step off jamas.


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Black swing tee - Whistles

Boyfriend Saxby jeans - ASOS
Lace up sandals - Forever21 

It will be a late one tonight I'm thinking (even though it's an early start... 6pm!) and we've got friends from Germany over tomorrow for a bbq but fingers crossed I can sneak a post in sometime.  

Happy Saturday everyone x


Friday, 31 July 2015

It's inspiration time

So here's the thing.  I don't know if it's that inbetweeny time of year retail wise, this rather random weather we're having, my brain being fried from trying to be Supermum (after a week of school holidays - I appreciate this is rather pathetic) or the onslaught of "NEW TRENDS" that is filling the magazines this month. 

If you ask me, confusion is the name of the current game.

However I have a cunning plan.  I have been inspired.

Ok so admittedly it's not reinventing the wheel by any stretch of the imagination but I think it's something that it's easy to forget and good to be reminded of.

I'm going back to basics.  Having seen this pic of lovely (ok yes, A/W) plain delicious basics on an email the other day. 



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The idea is, that if I have lots of plain, classic basics as the basis to my wardrobe, I can then just add in some more on trend items and have the perfect *capsule* (we're talking space capsule admittedly) wardrobe. 

Which obviously lends itself perfectly to the fringed bag from yesterday.... get in there.  No I haven't decided which one but I might have to order the Jerome Dreyfuss one (just to scratch the itch... free delivery at Matches so theoretically it costs me nothing to look...) 

It also is exceptionally timely with regards to not making loads of mistakes buying new season goodies that seem like an amazing idea now but maybe I've gone off come October. (oh lord PLEASE tell me it's not just me who does this?  Things that seem so unique and different when you spend a gazillion pounds on them from Whistles, only to see Primark, New Look etc bring out a version that costs a 50th of what you paid...)

We also have packing for hols - the better the basics, the easier is it to pack.  Fact. 

So what's first up in the quest for the perfect basic wardrobe?  It's got to be the white shirt.  A classic that every woman needs.  To be honest, there are many permutations of the white shirt and so it certainly isn't unfeasible to have at least a couple on your wishlist (don't thank me all at once...) 

Starting with one that I think is just sublime.  I need these for over all my old skinnies.  To bring them bang up to date with a fitted blazer.  All hail the perfect muffin hiding miracle masterpiece.  Thank you Johnny B.

The Boyfriend Shirt in White from Boden £59 - but remember your 20% off with the code AT25 






A softer fabric now with the flowy shirt from Mango.  A different look and actually I don't think the two are interchangeable - they're very different so it's exceptionally easy to justify both.  

Flowy Shirt from Mango £17.99



Having said that, I think the Me+Em ones are the perfect compromise of both.  They have the fitted look (to be fair if you're after something much looser these aren't going to work) but are a softer more fluid fabric (that doesn't need ironing... just throwing that out there...!) 

Double Layer Shirt from Me+Em £88 I am definitely definitely getting one of these for hols.






If you are after looser then a silk shirt would be a good option.  This one from Poetry looks amazing - if you fancy collarless. 

Poetry Pure Silk Shirt in ecru £119




More silk and in ivory, if full on bright white doesn't float your boat at Winser London.  I know it says dry clean but I would so handwash this. 

Winser London Silk £165





The silky look but in viscose in the sale at Jigsaw. 


Jigsaw Pocket Detail Shirt was £79 now £55




A more casual look now with what I term a very non technical term of "creasey".  Hopefully you know what I mean.  A shirt that looks actually better when it's on the lived in side.  This is the sort of shirt that looks as good undone with a breton tee or tank underneath - a sort of summer jacket style.  Throw on a blazer, a utility jacket or any sort of oversized cardigan and you're set to go.

Oversized Chambray Pocket Shirt from Topshop £30




A linen classic that will look much better worn slouchy with a bit of crease to it.  And 20% off at M&S until Sunday with JUL15EM.  Off EVERYTHING.  I am personally going on a beauty blow out before my hols - I'll share my favourite pics with you before the weekend is out. 

M&S Collection Pure Linen Easy to Iron Shirt £28  My friend has this and it looks so so much better than the pic here.


Off piste now (I wouldn't be me if I totally stuck to brief....) and this is NOT what I'm looking for *think simple, think classic, think plain* but apart from that, these are lovely and definitely very useful, if not an exact fit for item number one on the capsule wardrobe.  Details, schmetails.  They're ace for holidays over shorts or any sort of jeans.  Throw on with skinnies and heels for a night out.  Bingo.  I need both.

Notch Neck Lace Panelled Blouse £39.50 from M&S pre 20% off.




And finally - the one I saw in Topshop this week.  The one thing (ok second thing but I'm coming back to that) I saw that I had a serious lust in with. 

Fringe Crinkle Blouse from Topshop £32




So since the other day, I've decided to only wear outfits I LOVE.  I don't care if I'm doing nothing, I am only wearing things I really really like. 

Try it.  Not just outfits that are meh, ok, will do - outfits you LOVE.  I defy you not to feel instantly better. 

I've dragged lots of old favourites out of the wardrobe and it's definitely worked (I will admit that old does, alas, mean last year.... although these skinnies from Next are from about five years ago.  They are absolutely fabulous for about three hours and then verge on boyfriend jeans, they stretch that much.  Pants)


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Too much love will kill you tee - Zoe Karssen
Black tux blazer - Hush
White skinnies - Next
Black oversized buckle sliders - Zara
Black Diego bag - Alexander Wang 

And today.  Out on a country trip for coffee and cake to lovely Cranbrook with the 10yr old and my sister in law.  Picked up the boys from football camp and then off out swimming with friends.  Wearing a top I picked up at TK Maxx a couple of months ago and have worn once.  I should wear a lot more.  I absolutely love it.  Will be an Autumn fave for sure.

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Tobacco thin knit button jumper - Zadig & Voltaire
Khaki paint splattered boyfriends - Zara
Tan sandals - Forever21
Whiskey medium Marcie Satchel - Chloe 

So we've had a lovely week.  I'm not going to lie - I have found it slightly stressful trying to create a fun packed, playdate, action filled week and am not sure my children have enjoyed it any more than a week hanging out at home in the garden and with ipads.... However, we survived, my throat doesn't hurt from shouting and I have only drunk one bottle of wine all week.  Neither have I resorted to crazy online shopping.  That's clearly next week's task.  RESULT in my book.  

Still got lots more capsule wardrobe ideas lined up - watch this space. 

Hope everyone else has survived the week - what would be your capsule wardrobe number one?

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

So now do you hear THAT sound?

That's me hoovering humble pie, chomping my hat whilst back-pedalling like Chris Froome on rewind as I fess up to this week's obsession.  

A fringed handbag

I know, I know, I pontificated about how I wasn't going to down the fringed bag route.  I genuinely thought they'd be a one season wonder and I hold my hands up and admit I was totally wrong on this one and as a punishment, I have *forced* myself to go and buy one.  Yes, FORCED I tell you.

Ok so I haven't found one yet, but I have been doing extensive research.  This is in between juggling all the balls aka my children on holidays.  How is it every, single, time, I forget how all consuming school holidays are and how I get about 20 seconds every day to myself.  

It's Wednesday and I am absolutely exhausted.  From cooking, tidying up, washing, dropping kids off, picking other kids up, playdates and monitoring 11+ revision for an exam which is three days after we get back to school in September.  Oh and I've thrown in dog walking this holiday too.  Not really busy much then. 

And the best distraction?  Well for me, that would be a project.  And what better project than something which I KNOW will make a huge difference to my wardrobe (ok suspend belief for a minute guys...) - a fringed bag.  

So I did think about trying to justify this purchase and I gave up. (not the purchasing bit but the justifying bit)  In my head, this is the answer to all my problems.  Please tell me I'm not the only one who does this?  Right now, this is the best therapy I could get and thinking about packing for our holidays next week, this would be the best starting point ever.  

What made me do the fringed bag about turn?  Primarily this Jerome Dreyfuss number which I have seen cropping up all over the place.  

Personally I am in the market for a black bag.  I have come to the conclusion that you (well me anyway) can't have too many of these.  This does come in other colours but for me, black is the winner.

The only only slight fly in the ointment is the size (and the price - yes definitely the price.  I have no intention of spending this much money on one.  Famous last words....)  But it's definitely too small.  I am looking for slightly larger.  (or am I?)

Jerome Dreyfuss Mario Fringed Textured Leather Tote £495  It also comes with a much longer strap too.



On further research everyone is doing these this season.  From Proenza Schouler, Burberry, Ralph Lauren, Lanvin, Yves Saint Laurent, Miu Miu, Christian Louboutin to Stella McCartney.  Now the latter is an interesting one.  Vegan Leather.  For over £1000.  You see, they call it Vegan leather.... and the difference between that and pleather is....?

Having said that, I absolutely love love love the bag - I really do.  It's easily my favourite of all the fringed bags but over £1000 for non leather?  You have got to be kidding me.  (to be fair, I wouldn't pay anywhere near £1k for a fringed bag anyway)

See it and weep.  Most likely with shock and horror.

Falabella Fringed Cross body bag by Stella McCartney £1,055



On the upside, this Gerard Darel bag now seems like a complete bargain (clearly this is all relative...)  If only it was in a black.  Actually that's neither here nor there as I don't want a bucket bag.  Not that I'm fussy or anything.

Gerard Darel Indie Fringed Suede Bucket Bag was £455 (still is on GD site) now £370







And if that looks like a bargain well, hello... this one, which is definitely on the top of the list of contenders for me, seems relatively reasonable. (the subjective use of relative going on there again....)

I did really want a suede one but I have to say, the leather is growing on me. 

Dolly at Russell & Bromley £295 - and I'm just going to throw it out there that the silver hardware would be a perfect match for my Toga Pulla boots....



However it doesn't have to be all out expensive.  I had swooped over to Mint Velvet to nab one of their bargain sale bags - clearly they're all sold out.  I am a tit.

But I've found some other options.

Western Style fringed suede bag from La Redoute £79 - but if you open an account you can get 50% off your first order... oh hello....


Also in what they call brick...




Pieces Suede Tassel Clutch bag was £60 now £18 at ASOS.  Personally I'm looking for more swing and less flapper.




Topshop is ahead of the game as per usual - they had some great fringed bags last season and for A/W they have a plethora of choice. 

Leather and suede fringe bag £38.00 in navy people, in navy!



And a black one (even though, I'm now thinking, hmmm navy...)






Mango has some great options - now I am not bonkers enough to buy a suede bag in this colour and I am definitely looking towards Autumn and so I want a darker colour for sure (that'll be black...) but this is scrumptious and a great price for suede. 

Fringed Suede Bag £53.99






However.. I adore the shape of this one.  Very Proenza Schouler.  For a fraction of the price. 

Fringed Suede Bag £62.99  It also comes with a long strap as well.  Total bargain and pick of the crop for me.  Apart from the R&B one.... 



So has anyone seen any others on their travels?  Clearly kicking myself that I didn't get the Mint Velvet one.  FOOOOOOOOOOL.  Which would be your choice?  Or are you still no way jose?

Outfit from today - Summer, you can just do one.  Autumn/Spring outfits are out in force. 


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Lobster sweatshirt - Leon & Harper from Cocaranti
Off white boyfriend jeans - All Saints
Champagne & silver espadrilles - Penelope Chilvers
Whiskey Medium Marcie Satchel - Chloe 

So yesterday, I had a nightmare outfit day (yes clearly there are bigger worries in the world but they don't make for shallow blog posts.  Alas).  It really got me to thinking - as well as making a holy mess of my dressing room/bedroom under the guise of "sorting out" - about packing, capsule wardrobes, being 42, Summer, Autumn, Winter outfits and I will be back with my chunterings tomorrow.


Monday, 27 July 2015

Hear that sound?

That is me scraping the barrel of things to buy whilst out shopping today with my little girl (although we did get her some new trainers.  One thing off the list of things to buy for back to school.  A teensy tiny victory in a quagmire of not a lot else victorious)

There is a reason why shopping online is such a joy - so I discovered.  Firstly it took 90 minutes in traffic jams to do what is usually a 20 min journey.  Then there was just diddly squat to drool over.  So much tat I can't tell you.  The dregs of summer sale stuff that to be totally honest with you, I had little interest in at full price.  This year it does seem to be dregstatic. 

And then a half hearted attempt at more Summer stuff, which is so similar to the tat that's already reduced, I honestly don't know why they're bothering.  To add insult to injury, I was looking for a swimsuit.  Oh I know, I know, I should have done this earlier but I sort of forgot/Queen of Procrastination struck again and I now have less than two weeks to find one that doesn't make me look like Dame Edna Everage. 

On the upside, on a normal year I would have left it with only a matter of days to find one and this time I have more than a week.  Check out my glass is half full attitude. *punches air*.  On the downside, I have come back with some costumes that I fear normally reside on the back pages of the Saga magazine but them's the breaks if you leave it till the 11th hour.  EEJIT. 

I perhaps wouldn't have minded but there was absolutely nothing decent new season wise either.  

The two things I really had wanted to look for, per my last couple of blogs, were a knitted cape cardigan longline thingy (it was a very moveable feast and still I found booger all) or some wide cropped trousers (aka long culottes...).  Struck out on both counts.

Which led me to come home after picking up the boys and an extra we managed to accrue for supper, and after feeding the troops, sit down and see what there I could unearth online. 

It's a story of two halves.  Nada or very expensive.  Quelle surprise.

And actually, just to make matters worse, I've also just realised that this blog was due to be entitled "Things you wish you hadn't thrown away" as last night when I was thinking about longline capey cardigany thingies, I remembered a cream Joseph one I had.  Oh my lord, I loved it.  And the moths loved it too. 

So last year, during a massive clear out, it was resigned to the bin bag (not even good enough for the charity shop - those moths really had had a proper love in with it).  Whilst I think now that I could have rescued it, I do know that it had had its day and was well past its sell by date. Not only was it holey, it was bobbly with lots of pulled threads too.

But surely I could replace it? 

Apparently not.  I'm hoping that it's too early in the season as I was looking back at some blogs from November last year when there were loads of EXACTLY what I want in ASOS.  But they are scant on the ground at this time of the season (as it appears is anything decent) and these are the only ones I've found.. hence the scraping of the barrel.....and ending up resorting to high end...

So today I've come back and ordered this Midi Cape Cardigan for £35 from ASOS that I had on the blog the other day.



As I mentioned before there is also a khaki version online but I think I have too much khaki for it to complement. 

Having said that, I came across this and thought - for £20 it might be worth a go......

ASOS Fluffy Cardigan in longline length was £40 now £20




If pink is your colour then I've come across these.  Much more fitted than I had anticipated - I was very much looking for a throw on as opposed to a fitted cardigan but if you're not too bothered, these definitely could fill a hole in your cover up arsenal.

ASOS longline cardigan in mohair in rose pink was £38 now £22



And in black but not reduced £38




I then went a wandering and found very little - all very fitted..... 

Grey from Iris & Ink - The Outnet's own brand £120




I then had to extend the brief as I was drawing a blank at the longline version but I do still think a shorter one could work.

Maje Macreau oversized long cardigan was £299 now £149.50



Another one that wouldn't be long enough for me but if you were more petite then this could definitely work. 

Maje Draped Leather trim cardigan was £369 now £184.50



Whilst we're on the investment front, I came across this rather fabulous one at Acne.  I have to say, if I didn't have my black Ronit Zilkah one that I have for about five years now, I would definitely definitely get this.  Perfect for so many things, easy to wear and just timeless. 

Acne Studios Alan Cardigan Cape £261 exchange rate permitting as it's from Shopbop and is charged in US Dollars.




They've also got a grey version at My Theresa £300 - actually I think they must be the same and the one is also charcoal. 



Ok now I I can't stop thinking about it - another way of styling and another way to wear it at Net A Porter.  Oh lordy, I need this.

Alan ribbed cape cardigan £300



If we're talking shorter - and we do seem to have meandered off topic due to my ineptitude at finding more of what I want - this from Mango could be useful. 

Fringe Knit Cape £44.99





And other that, I have found SQUAT.  GAH.  In the meantime, I have high hopes for my £35 number from ASOS and shall report back as soon as I've tried it on.  Of course, what I really want is the Acne one - a cardigan I didn't even realise I remotely needed until I came across it. 

So here's what I wore today.  Not what I expected to be sporting in July......

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Black and white stripe jumper - hush
Turned up jeans - Zara
Cream boucle jacket - Massimo Dutti
Black oversized buckle sandals - Zara
Black Harker hands free bag - Anya Hindmarch

So I now have to go and try on my old lady swimsuits (although I did managed to snag The Topshop bikini.  Alas I fear that my 42 yr old dead hamsters masquerading as boobs may just be too small to fit it properly.  The.  Shame). 

I also simply refuse to believe that there aren't some bargains left to snag in the sales.   Summer wise, I am OVER it.  Having said that, I'm sure there must be at least a couple of things I can think of that I can snaffle for holiday and then wear into Autumn.  I have some cunning plans coming up.....