NOMINATE ME BiB 2013 STYLE

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Thursday, 17 April 2014

Why it pays to keep the classics

I did have a good sort out of my wardrobe at the beginning of the season.  Can I please point that I am not that organised that I actually got around to doing anything with the things I thought I didn't want - they merely got thrown into the attic - job half done is my name. 

However my procrastination paid off as it became recently clear to me that one of the things in my wardrobe I couldn't do without were a tailored blazer.  I have always been a blazer girl - love a bit of formal wear for daytime me, but the pink blazer that I had bought on a whim.....meh - I wasn't really a pink lass.

Scroll forward and I now can't live without it.  Yes it's my nod to all things pastel for the season but it's the perfect shape to just complete so many of my outfits at the moment.  For the last couple of years I've definitely been more about the boxy jacket for sure.  But I suddenly feel the need for something more fitted (god forbid I should ever do it up although I did the other day on my black one when I was cold.  On occasions I do act every minute of my 41 plus years) 

Out of the bag the pink jacket came and it has held court in my wardrobe ever since.  I'm off out tonight with The Husband and I think we're going to go out for dinner in London (woop woop! Although I NEED mid heeled shoes to wear that I haven't bought yet. GAH) and it's touch and go as to whether the pink jacket will make yet another appearance. 

I also am totally loving my Topshop tux one which must be four years old now, if not five.  I haven't worn it so much in the last couple of years but I have never got rid of it as I remember the traumatic experience it was to try and find one.  

The quest had been to find a blazer that didn't look like I was missing half a suit.  Clear as mud? 

Anyway, seeing as I think they are such a staple part of my wardrobe and I can't extoll their virtues highly enough, I thought I would have a look to see if there are any goodies on the High Street this season.  

Firstly I went into Zara and almost lost the will to live.  I love Zara I really do but 

  1. It's mobbed. It's always so so busy and as a result is taking on a Primark/H&M style look of chaos - shoes mismatched, clothes all over the floor/tables.
  2. There are always massive queues for the changing rooms.  Which are tiny anyway.
  3. They never have the size in what you want.
  4. It's actually impossible to know your size as their sizing is so inconsistent.
  5. The quality is so dire, things can fall apart before you've even bought them. 
  6. You see something online only to never be able to discover it in store.
I appreciate that there are lots of shops which are guilty of some of these but Zara is the only one I can think of that is a repeat offender on all counts.  But yes, do they have some lovely stuff and yes, I am such a mug I do still shop there but it's definitely less and less.  Partly because so much of what you see the entire world ends up wearing.  

So moving onto their Spanish sibling who are having a storming season (more of that to come another day) - Mango.  I know a number of people have been raving about their white tuxedo style blazers (which I had to get my head around to be fair - I have to say I do think Staying Alive when I think white blazer....not to mention small chocolatey fingers.) 

This is the one I found. This is in a medium.  It's a lovely fit to be fair but I did think the fabric may be a bit on the creasetastic side (always more noticeable in a pale fabric)


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Mango Satin Edge Blazer £34.99


They do also do this in a pink which I didn't see instore. 




And then their jersey blazer.  I tried on the small as that was the only size they had (yes it happens everywhere).  This is a gorgeous fit and ideal for every day to look smart casual.  Perfect. 



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Jersey Blazer £39.99 from Mango.  They also do this in a grey shade.




Others which looked fab but they didn't have in my size or colour choice were 

The Engraved Button Blazer £39.99


And in an off white if you're after a white blazer although I have to say I can live without the sleeves rolled up. 





This Stone one looked great but again, wasn't in my size. (lining isn't too offensive at all - tis a very smart scarf style print with not a hint of fun about it)

Printed Lining Blazer £39.99


However.  

I'm going to throw it out there as I did go and do the trying on - I think the M&S versions are better.  Not if you're looking for a jersey one but if you are after a collarless tux style blazer then the M&S ones, for me, are better quality (a stretchy less creasy fabric) AND they go in the washing machine.   The only Mango one that does is the Jersey one (which is probably one of my faves of the day for easy day to day casual wear)

I know that already my Zara one is so need of a dry clean (it is lined so there is no way I would even consider washing it).  Pale blazers are going to be much more in need of regular cleaning that their dark counterparts.

Here is the blazer in black from M&S - the same style as the above first Mango one.

They call it a Shawl Collar Jacket at M&S and it doesn't look that fab at all in these pics but honestly it is!   More flattering, more fitted, just much better.  This is a 10 but I think a 12 might be more suitable for me. 

Shawl Collar Jacket at M&S £35 



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Here it is in their pic 


This comes in a number of other colours as well.  I would swear they had one in a white instore (only the one mind you) and not in my size obviously.  Do you think I can find it online?  Can I heck as like.

Now M&S, just to make life more confusing, do a couple of other jacket which are both very similar, both go in the washing machine, both are lightwight, slight stretch, non creasy fabric, both cost £35 and both appear to have no collar.  But obviously they're different jackets.  

The only good thing is that both are pretty darn fab and so it doesn't matter if you mix them up as they are both great.   If you want to look online then you need to look for either Inset Collar Jacket or Open Jacket.



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They also do the exceptionally similar version called Open Front Jacket in navy £35



And in the white which I did see instore and it did look really really lovely - but again, not in my size.  Can you guess my levels of irritation by the end of the day?  The review on this does say that it is unlined and therefore see through.  Errr ok well, it's not a black out jacket but it's by no means sheer. 


If you are blessed with bosom then these two jackets you should try as whilst they are a great fit across the shoulders, waist and arms, they are clearly designed for the more generous of cleavage than myself and there was a lot of excess fabric on me where there should be breasts. 

I did attempt to take photos of these but suffice to say you can't remotely see what I mean and they are about as effective as a chocolate teapot.  Trust me these are for the larger busted.

Peak Lapel 1 Button Angle Seamed Blazer £49.50 in black 




And this in navy - great price, great fabric, great collar, great detail on the pockets. rubbish for pancake boobs. 

Notch Lapel Double Welt pockets jacket £49.50 Yes it's actually called that. 


You can actually see on this rather pants photo where do they look like two dish rags (apologies M&S - oh the irony in that), that there is extra room over the chest. 




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Finishing up at TopShop, by which point, I'll be frank, I had lost the will to live. 


But I had had such fab wear out of my jacket from there, I thought it would be good to see if they still had a modern take on a classic.  Once I'd sifted through the, frankly hilarious for a 41 year old, rails of clothes, I did find a lovely nude one also available in a pale sage colour. 

Skinny Tailored Blazer in nude £48 (alas dry clean only)   I do love the way this sits at the back - more similar to my black one.  

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Slim Tailored Blazer in Taupe from TopShop £48 (apparently this one is slim and the one above is skinny.  Which is interesting as they are completely identical bar the colour....) 

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There are obviously loads of other places you can get blazers from but if you're looking for ones that aren't suity suity then I can recommend any of the ones I tried on above - depending on your boobage. 

Hope that helps!  To prove how much I am addicted to them, I wore my old TopShop yesterday to compare and contrast.  Ankle boots replaced my skater shoes that I had to chisel off my feet - my poor tootsies needed some heels to make them feel better. 

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White v neck tee - Hush
Khaki zip trousers - By Malene Birger
Black tux blazer - Topshop
Black Ohio Boots - Pied a Terre
Gold mini antelope charm necklace - Bill Skinner
Stone long pendant - Kenneth J Lane

So this is from yesterday - should have been posted last night but I was so exhausted, I fell asleep at 8.30pm.  Rock and roll.  Am off out now up to London for a night on the town with The Husband so must go and get the glad rags on. Hope everyone is set for a great Easter weekend.

Ooh I also tried on the silver skirt (well skirts actually as I managed to hunt down the Warehouse one as well)  I shall report back.  There are pics.  Be afraid, be very afraid....

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

You know it's the start of S/S properly when...

.....all the sales are on and the shops start being flooded with A/W stock.  Ha!  No seriously though, there are sales on - as I've mentioned a number of times over the last year, we do seem to have the most random amount of sales now.  Probably because shops have so many seasons  - so many (even M&S so not even the full on fashion high street chains) seem to have a stock change every three weeks or so.  And clearly need to get rid of old stock, so hey presto "SALE". 

But I digress - it's nothing to do with sales or A/W stock (which does seem to come into store earlier every year,  I will just say) but no - tis when I utter the words Maxi Dress.  (or shorts, or swimwear or sarong.....) 

No, the annual unveiling of the Maxi Dress means that Spring has finally Sprung.  Not full on Summer - I'm talking about those days when it's warm enough to have air circulating around the legs but god forbid we should get a glimpse of full on flesh. 

Personally I have always had a love/hate relationship with them.  Actually, if I'm honest it's more of a hate/hate relationship.  Having had very small children around my ankles for so many years, these are not the most practical of dresses with ankle biters (treading on a hem and exposing a boob to the public wasn't ever a good look).  Also being tall, trying to find one long enough was a challenge to say the least.  But I do have a couple - mine are from Reiss, Baukjen, All Saints and New Look - that I trot out every year as soon as the temperatures start nudging something non goosebump inducing. 

I know it sounds ridiculously early to be mentioning them but I think these are perfect for layering and ideal as a transitional piece of clothing.  Much easier than a maxi skirt to be fair (I really couldn't get maxi skirts to work) - tops with them are a nightmare.  Plus mine is elasticated - I'm too old and my middle too wobbly for elasticated skirts and fitted tops. 

But a maxi dress - ideal for smooth lines and with a smalll jumper over (to be explored shortly - these are on the agenda, fear not) or a blazer (ditto) these are perfect for wearing now as part of an outfit and then in the Summer when it's warmer as a dress in its own right. 

Alas mine don't really fit this bill and are foolishly full on Summer but there are definitely many more around this year I've seen that would work.  Shoe wise - I've nearly always found flats to work better for me with a maxi dress but that may be because I've had serious length issues.  I do love a maxi on a shorter person with stack wedges (think Olsen twins or Nicole Ritchie, yes they do look cool).  And I know I sound like the most ludicrous stuck record but definitely skater shoes or trainers would look fab for a more dressed down vibe.  I used to wear cons with one of my navy ones, now I think about it. 

I can pretty much state that I don't think I need a new maxi dress this year.  I have my old ones that I need to wear - all are perfectly suitable.  One thing I will say is that a maxi dress is a maxi dress is a maxi dress, they do seem to have stood the test of fashion time - and after my leg epiphany last year, I am determined to flash the pins in my 40s seeing as I have been too much of a pathetic wuss to get them out at all in the last 25 years.  My old maxis will work just fine.

Without further ado though, if you are in need or haven't thought about these before as an interim clothing option, let's start with some great jersey ones that would work for a myriad of occasions - they aren't the cheapest but like I said, they do stand the test of time and so are a good investment.  Plus these ones are very versatile, it's worth considering the cost per wear ratio thingy. 

I should also add that all the dresses I've hunted down to feature today are those that can be worn now with either a biker jacket, fitted blazer or boxy thin knit cardigan over the top (even layered with a fitted shirt or shirt bib collar) giving them more flexibility than a lot of maxi dresses out there.  However do not fear if you are after a purely Summer number - there is plenty of time to explore them in more detail.  


















Cara Print Maxi dress from Mint Velvet £119  A great print to wear with a black jacket to get the max use from your maxi. 



Sunset Dress from Hush £55 in black This with suede ankle boots and a biker jacket.  Yum. 




A Classic Maxi Vest Dress - the ideal basic foil to any sort of jacket or fitted cardigan 




and also black  (seen here with Skaters...) 







A very useful plain navy number from John Lewis 








A slightly different version from M&S 




Another navy stripe version from Anthropologie.  This one very much reminds me of my Baukjen one which I've had for four or five years now - it's done weddings, Ascot and the school run.  A very versatile print and style. 



And it seems that navy/white stripes are the order of the season (hurrah, I shall be getting my money's worth out of mine again then). 




Slightly more unusual but I love the shade of this, the shape of this and I think it proves that you can wear heels with a maxi - let's all rock the mid heel!  Would love this with a cream biker, little boucle jacket or tux style blazer over it. 





Staying with cap sleeves and I can guarantee that if I didn't say where this is from, you would never guess.  They have actually, for once, done a fantastic job of their photo (am I giving the game away?)






A flowing print jersey one in a flattering style again from M&S

Tobago Maxi Dress £45 Love the addition of yellow in this print. 


A beautifully unusual and yet timeless print and shape from Hoss Intropia. 

Leaf Print dress £134  This epitomises the dress that can be worn to work with a blazer, to a wedding and on the school run with a denim jacket and a pair of havs.  Pub in the evening with a pair of skater shoes and a biker jacket.  This would be The One for me.   Pure class. (and obviously it goes in the washing machine.....) 


So do you have a wardrobe full of maxi dresses or at least one or two that you haven't thought about cracking out before the sun cream?  The right sort of maxi does layer perfectly and they are a great idea if you struggle with this tricky time of year clothes wise, like so many people do. 

Outfit today - heels were needed.  I have one issue with my skater shoes.  I love them so much I've been wearing them every day and neglecting all my heels and holy hell, my feet ache.   A day of heels and hey presto - foot comfort restored.  My feet are just not used to being in flats day in day out, so a tiny change was needed.  Whoever thought anyone would ever say my feet feel better for being in heels.  Other than that, they are pretty much perfect in every way. 


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Striped linen tee - Zara
Navy waffle jersey blazer - Next
Boyfriend jeans - Hush
Tan leather belt - Primark
Mole suede boots - Zara
Whisky Medium Marcie Satchel - Chloe
Dynamite necklace - Marc by Marc Jacobs

Is there to be more sunshine tomorrow I hear?  I think I shall be exploring another one of my must have items for Spring.  I'll say it has surprised me and goes to show you should be very careful about what you get rid of from your wardrobe. 

Monday, 14 April 2014

In order to stop myself ordering the silver Whistles Skirt...

... I thought it would be an excellent idea to just have a think about summer bags.  Now I don't need a summer bag.  Well, when I say I don't "need" I have been toying with the idea of some nude strappy sandals for nights out and, as I've said a million times, the easiest way to put an outfit together without thinking is to have matching shoes and bag.

So a nude clutch bag would definitely be an idea and instead of a clutch bag that I can just use for night time only, for years I've been after a bag that can double up as a little day bag - ideally to wear cross body and also to use in the evening. 

Idea one.  Idea two comes back to summer sandals.  The quest is ongoing for rust/tan sandals to go with my Chloe bag - as well as the Russell & Bromley ones go from the other day, they just don't float my boat for nearly £100 (faint) - but benchmarking that idea, maybe it would be just easier to find a pair of sandals I really like and invest in another Summer bag (and keep the Chloe for A/W - this is pure conjecture, I adore that bag and will be using it regardless)   I appreciate that we're going in totally the wrong direction - do I really need a silver skirt though... blogging licence here peeps.

I'm thinking white.  Just throwing it out there - black was such a great plan for me last year and what other colour goes with everything, but white.   And what would be more summery than a white bag (I did have one years and years ago and loved it and used it for about 10 years and that was in London!)  

Alternatively, we can use this as an excuse to check out some gratuitous bag porn.  I have just booked a night away in Bicester in May with the girls (too excited) and so a purchase (if I find a perfect one) may wait till then, but in the meantime, I'm sure I'm not the only one who loves to just have a look at what's on offer bag wise this S/S (chances of me actually buying one aren't really high but the great thing about writing a blog is that its a great excuse to window shop) 

And it kept me away from the Whistles site and that silver skirt (I really can't quite justify it on the school run I fear....)

I had intended this to be a focused blog - "be surgical" as The Husband says if we ever go shopping together - but there are so many lovely bags out there, I have decided this is going to be a free for all of bag gorgeousness.  The theme is going to be bags that you can use both during the day and for evenings out. (hopefully....!) 

Starting with what i think is one of the best nude clutches out there although failing at the first hurdle as you'd be pushed to use this during the day.  Unless you live on Long Island or in The Hamptons.  Am currently catching up on episodes of Revenge and they all swan around all day in dresses and clutch bags.

ASOS Leather Weave clutch in nude £35







Staying with the totally not on brief (but I promise it gets better), I had to include this one as it's so stunning and I can't believe it's leather and only £65.  I think it looks vintage - would be perfect with silver shoes, cream, grey or pale tan.  Or even snakeskin.  And looking at it in further detail, I'd go so far to say as gold.

Dune Bailie leather clutch handbag in champagne £65







I know this Tory Burch works as well as a clutch or a cross body as I have the leopard print version (I got mine from Bicester though at less than half this price).  Very very few navy bags around. 

Tory Burch Night Sky Logo bag £295. 


And the only one white ones in the bunch. 

Sophie Hulme White Mini Envelope Bag £295 (needless to say I don't like it *that*  much) 


Kenzo Tortoiseshell clutch in blanco £235  This one, if the strap was actually long enough to go cross body, may well go on my shortlist.  I have more than a soft spot for this one (and obviously I could then justify some new tortoiseshell sunglasses as well?  You see, a sad slippery slope....) 



Moving onto proper cross body bags now which could also double up as clutches.
Pale grey from ASOS - Leather Cross Body Bag with triple compartment in embossed snake £45


This would definitely look better if she put something in it.....



and a tan this one is in the sale for £33.50




Love the shade of this and the shape.  Now is probably a good idea to say that there is a bag style that I don't get.  The oversized clutch that looks like a laptop bag.  Totally plain - just big & rectangular.  A couple of years ago I did buy a fabulous ponyskin leopard print one from Zara which I thought was ace and until I brought it home and The Husband said he liked my new laptop bag.  Great.  That shape for me will now forever be known as wrong. 

It's this sort of shape but the strap over elevates this one to pretty perfect for me.  If I needed a tan bag.

ASOS leather clutch in tan £35






Similar shape and style but with a modern twist to it.  This would look fab with either grey or black shoes (and of course you could easily do any shoes but if we're just amusing my matchy matchy obsession...) 

ASOS Leather Oversized clutch with seatbelt clasp £45




There's also a suede cobalt blue version £45




Foldover bags are hugely popular and work so well as a clutch bag and a cross body bag (Anya Hindmarch has done some fabulous ones for years) but this from Oasis, in leather is a complete bargain. 

Oasis Celeste Foldover bag in orange £40



Also available in tan 



Mint Velvet also have a gorgeous foldover clutch. 

Mink Emily Clutch bag £79 This would work fabulously with silver shoes.  Or grey or taupe.  Or any colour to be fair as it's such a neutral shade.



 
I love the Hayley bag from John Lewis - this is a great option if you like the style of the Maxi Zip Anya Hindmarch bags but not the price tag.  Great summer colour. 

Watermelon Hayley Bag from John Lewis in leather  £69




This is diddy and cute but simply far too small for the plethora of tat I feel the need to cart around with me. 

ASOS Leather Mini Cross Body bag with front luggage tag £35




Another cream one from John Lewis and I know that they definitely have matching sandals for these as I've featured them already! 

Kin by John Lewis Inga Cross body bag £49



Or in a grey £49



Tophandle bags are ideal for both day and night.  And for occasions as well (so long as they're not satchel size obviously) 

ASOS Leather tophandle bag with contrast side panels £65






And in a lovely blue colourblock shade £65




If you're after a paler blue then this from Hobbs looks so so much better in the flesh.  Sturdy, excellent quality, really beautiful.  Can highly recommend.  Looks gorgeous with navy and summer pastels or shades of grey and taupe. (oh and tan - I love pale blue and tan) 

NW3 Wakefield bag in tan £129 






Snakeprint is gorgeous - loads of flat and heeled sandals as well as courts out there (not to mention skater shoes....) and this is great day to night shape from Hobbs.

Hobbs Square Handle Brooke Leather handbag £249



Somerset by Alice Temperley at John Lewis have two stunning tophandle bags which would be great for day and night - perfect Goldilocks size - not too big and not too small. 

Ennismore Small Top handle satchel bag £155




And I love love love this.  Gorgeous in real life as well.  

Somerset by Alice Temperley Ambrosden Grab Bag £155




Coming to the end now and I have to say this is probably my favourite of the lot (first nude woven clutch from ASOS is definitely second, third is Kenzo bag).  Unfortunately I simply cannot justify another tan bag. I can however, completely vouch for the quality of Marc by Marc Jacobs bags.  I used mine today again - coming up to 8 years old and it gets dragged out every year.  A great designer brand at not the same foolish prices as some. 

Marc by Marc Jacobs Sylvie Tote bag with Shoulder strap £440







And just throwing this in at the end as it's ridiculously impractical but stunningly beautiful.  More like a piece of art than a handbag.  I doubt I could even fit my phone in it. 

Shell Clutch bag from Plumo £110





The other far easier alternative of course, is to get the cheap as chips but utterly fantastic looking nude weave clutch from ASOS with the cheaper strappy nude sandals.  And then look for some stone sandals to go with my Anya bag.  That would definitely make more sense.  Right.  A plan is starting to form...... (fear not I have not neglected my rust/tan sandal seach - there is still a whole host of fugliness I have to look at!)

Today, the 9yr old went to work with The Husband, I took the boys to football and then bombed up to London to meet them both for lunch - total treat just the three of us.   Kitchen floor is being partially dug up so it was McD's for tea and home with three very tired small children. 

The 5yr old was hilarious when I put my sweatshirt on today.  "Mummy, you have a Batman top on..." he says, with nothing but pure admiration.  Go me.  As The Husband points out, how is this better than being a Ninja Turtle (green Topshop coat fiasco if anyone remembers.)   Whatevs - nothing is putting me off this jumper.  I love it. 



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Collar - Cos
Bat Sweatshirt in pirate black - Zoe Karssen
Triple Zip jeans -  Mint Velvet
Cheetah print skater shoes - Next
Black Faridah hobo bag - Marc by Marc Jacobs. 

If I don't find a pair of sandals shortly, I may be forced to have a look for another pair of skater shoes..... I'm thinking perhaps gold...  Have also though had another sandal idea.  There may be a halfway house.  Watch this space.