What I Wore – Summer 2017

‘People get excited about summer wardrobes and what they will wear on holiday, and people have an opportunity to wear things that they don’t normally wear when they’re in the city’ – Jade Jagger

There’s a lot to be said for entering your mid thirties and suddenly realising that all the petty superficial stuff that used to bother you in your twenties you actually don’t give a shit about any more. I certainly don’t mess with my hair as much as I used to have have even been embracing my natral waves more recently.

When I was 25 I joined weight watchers and lost a bit of weight which, other than half a stone here or there I’ve managed to keep off. One of the side effects of losing so much weight was that it made me borderline obsessed with clothes and shopping – because shopping had become enjoyable again. However I’ve always played it pretty safe in the past and have always been a bootcut jeans and a t-shirt kind of girl.

Problem is that I love a bargain almost as much as I love jeans and t-shirts and i have a wardrobe full of clothes I’ve picked up from charity shops or in sales or on eBay that were brave for me, but I’ve never gotten round to wearing. This summer I decided to throw caution to the wind and wear all of the lovely clothes I’d bought, and be damned what anyone else thought because I liked them.

Here’s a catalogue of my summer of bravery:

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I’ve worn more dresses this summer than I think I’ve worn in my entire life!

I’ve also been trying to embrace the playsuit/jumpsuit/dungarees, especially when travelling, its one complete outfit but only one item of clothing. Plus you can be as smart or as casual as you like..

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Outfit details:

  1. Floral maxi dress – Kimerley Walsh for Very
  2. Red lace dress – h&m
  3. Denim dress – Levi
  4. Black & white prom dress – Coast
  5. Dungaree dress – F&F @ Tesco
  6. Black & white playsuit – F&F @ Tesco
  7. Black jumpsuit – Primark
  8. Black skinny dungarees – Primark 
  9. Khaki playsuit – Dorothy Perkins
  10. Black asymmetric playsuit – Kookai

Comment or link below and tell me what your favourite outfits of the summer have been!

What I Wore – Christmas 2016

‘For Christmas, I do love wearing cute dresses with tights and a pair of boots’ – Ashley Benson

I’m not someone who gets dressed up all that often. Whilst we have a very healthy social life, it’s usually low key drinks at the local pub or grabbing some food somewhere between bars in town. I can count on one hand the amount of times I’ve worn a dress this year.

December however if a little different. I’m fortunate that in my job I straddle different teams (oo err) therefore I get invited to a few different work nights out. Add that to Christmas Jumper day, Christmas Day, Boxing Day and NYE, and you’ve got a minefield of outfit choices. I’m desperately trying to save for my trip to Vegas with Meagan next year so my usual tradition of buying a whole load of new togs was out of the question. I had the extra challenge of making do with what I already have. That’s fine though, I’d made a vow at the beginning of the year to stop being so frivolous with my money when it comes to buying clothes and needed to get worn what I already have. Even if that means, horror or horrors, wearing something twice #shockedfaceemoji.

So here’s what I manged to cobble together. I say cobble together like it was an easy whimsicle decision. Obviously I’d tried on pretty much everything I’ve ever owned before settling on these. Being a chronic over thinker is truly exhausting sometimes…

Work night out number 1 – Thursday 15th December 2016, dinner at Mantra Thai

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This wasn’t at all what I’d planned to wear, I’d brought a different top to get changed into, but happened to end up having the busiest of busy days at work and was getting a lift into town. I was too rushed to get have time to get changed. I figured I’d just get changed in the pub but once everyone started arriving and we all got chatting and drinking that didn’t happen. Not the ideal outfit i’ll admit but it was just a low key dinner and drinks, plus it was freezing, so actually didn’t matter in the end

Work night out number 2 – Friday 16th December 2016, dinner at Prima followed by drinks

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All all my nights out this was the ‘big one’ the one where all the lasses out their party frocks on and dance into the wee small hours. Basically, apart from if i’m going to a wedding, this is the one night a year I dress like a girl. I’d planned on wearing a little black dress from Teatro initially, but although it looked lovely once on, I wouldn’t be able to eat, drink, breathe in or out in it so decided on this Ben de Lisi black leather skirt i got in the Debenhams sale 2 years ago but never worn, an old trusty top from River Island and the statement necklace that goes with everything from H&M (borrowed from my lovely friend Carrie).

Work night out number 3 – Monday 19th December 2016 – Lunch at Cafe 21

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Gotta love a work toilet selfie…

Technically not a night out, more an afternoon, but on this occasion I didn’t roll home until 11pm from being out from 1pm so definitely went into night out territory. Again, a more casual one so was set on just wearing some black jeggings and my new bargainous Aldo boots i’d recently gotten from ebay. Skinny jeans (these particular ones are from Matalan) are a new concept for me. I’d previous shied away from them for fear of them making my massive thighs look like carrots but with the right top and boots think I just about manage to pull them off. I don’t have a lot of longer tops to wear with them at the moment so borrowed this one (from New Look) from my equally lovely friend Emma which I love so much I’m considering offering to buy it off her!

Christmas Day – Sunday 25th December 2016

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Long gone are the days where I get a dolled up in a fancy dress for Christmas Day. For me it’s all about O tidings of comfort and stretch. For the last few years Dave and I (at my insistence) have donned hilarious festive t-shirts. This year they were courtesy of our local Matalan, which we’ve discovered if you wait until Christmas Eve, everything’s in the sale and you can pick up a witty Christmas top for £3 each (if you can be bothered to nose dive into the sale rails of course).

Boxing Day – Monday 26th December 2016

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Again, I’m not one for getting dressed up when we’re just hanging around the house in our little Christmas bubble however we do normally go round to my inlaws to spend some time with out niece and nephew and have a post Christmas buffet so my new fleecy pjs are usually a little too casual. I’d found this polar bear jumper in the Matalan sale (£8) and fit the bill perfectly. Although technically i’d say it was a winter jumper rather than a Christmas jumper, I imagine it will also be pulled out next December for Christmas jumper day at work!

New Years Eve – Saturday 31st December 2016

For the last 5 years we’ve either stayed in and had people round or gone to someone else’s house so was always pleased to hide my festive chub under a baggy jumper. This year thought we jumped at the chance when Steph & Chris invited us out to see in the New Year at Wylam Brewery with them. It did mean however having to but a little more effort in. Since i’m not sure how long my new obsession with jeggings will last I hauled them out with this top from H&M (£12.99 – the only new thing I’ve bought all December!) which hide christmas pudding tummy. I’d also gotten this sequin jacket (Vero Moda) from ebay for 99p last winter and never really worn it before so thought it would be the perfect sparkle injection!

Also, isn’t it interesting how much fuller my face gets throughout December? I like to call that The Prosecco Effect!

My Fantasy Workout Outfit*

‘I’m 33 now and I seem to have hit a fitness plane. Shifting the wobbly bits isn’t as easy as it used to be’ – Matthew Rhys

As Nigel Lythgoe once famously said ‘Christmas is over and the goose has gotten fat’. Whilst I try and still hit the gym over the festive period, it’s more damage limitation than anything else, and when I shoe horned myself back into my work trousers last Monday, I knew I could procrastinate no longer and it was time to get back to the gym tout suite!

Steadily over the years, activewear has become more and more accessible, you can get some really decent fitness gear on the high street and in supermarkets, which, along with ebay is where I get the majority of my fitness stuff.

I’ll admit I could be accused of being a ‘joggers and faded t-shirt’ kind of girl in the past, but the older I get, and the more important exercise becomes to me, I’m beginning to realise that going to the gym doesn’t mean you can’t also look super stylish. So when online company Farfetch got in touch and asked me to put together my dream workout outfit, I jumping-jacked at the chance!

My fantasy workout outfit:

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If you’re a woman, nothing is more important than keeping those heaving beasts strapped down so you don’t injure yourself (or indeed others) and this Calvin Klein elastic bra (£23.94) ticks all my boxes. It’s predominantly cotton which prevents nipple  chaffing (and trust me, that is no pic nic!), has a racer back so will fit under all your sport tops and is a neutral colour which won’t blaze through your t-shirt.

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I have many good qualities and am generally body confident however I feel let down by my bottom half. As such my thighs don’t really lend themselves well to super trendy patterned leggings, which is where these Monreal London cropped track pants (£107.73) are like a godsend for ladies with larger lower limbs. The drawstring waistband makes them comfortable (perfect for post Christmas chub) pockets to keep your locker key and phone out the way, and also lightweight and cropped to keep you cool, perfect for cross-training on spinning where baggy full length joggers can get in the way.

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One of my two fashion obsessions? Cobalt blue. Being naturally blonde it’s a colour that suits my complexion and I always get loads of compliments when I wear it, and anything that distracts from my pink sweaty face is a good thing! I normally avoid wearing too much colour on my top half to be honest as darker colours hide the sweat better but I think the material of this Monreal London ‘Performance Airstream’ tank top (£110.00) looks super breathable so is likely to keep you more cool than a cotton t-shirt, plus a personal trainer once told me ‘sweat is sexy’ so there.

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It’s really important to keep warm after exercise, even though you might feel boiling hot, your body temperature can drop really quickly. I love this all encompassing Scoop neck sweatshirt by Alexander Wang (£143.64). It’s nice and baggy – there’s nothing worse than trying to put something tight on over a sweaty body, but more importantly,  the way it’s cut means the blue vest will poke out from the bottom and around the neck, adding a pop of colour for if you have to pop to Tesco on your way home (as I invariably do!)

My other fashion obsession? Leopard print. I think keeping the rest of your workout gear in basic, block colours (for practicality reasons more than anything) means you can completely go to town on your trainers. I don’t often get to wear cobalt blue and leopard print together which is why I’ve picked these Golden Goose Deluxe Brand ‘Running’ sneakers (£267.34) and I think pulls the whole outfit together, creating a sweet spot between being matchy-matchy  and garish.

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Finally, if you’re anything like me, the moment you bum touches the sofa after work, it takes far too much motivation to get yourself back up again which means you more than likely go to the gym on your way home. If so you’re going to need something to keep all your posh new swag in. What’s cuter than this Joshua Sanders x Barbapapa face embroidered backpack (£275.32)?!

Farfetch’s tag line is ‘300 boutiques, 1 address’ and is the perfect place if you’re prepared to splash some serious cash. Along with what I’ve picked, they stock almost everything swanky from high end designers like Balmain and Dolce & Gabbana to more high street brands like Nike and Adidas. If I ever win the lottery, I may well become a regular customer. After all, I’m going to need to look the part in the private gym in my mansion!

Contact:

http://farfetch.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/farfetch
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Farfetch
Instagram: https://instagram.com/farfetch

 

Why I’m in a huff with Primark

‘One of my biggest concerns is just how cheap we expect everything to be’ – Lily Cole

I remember when Primark first appeared on Northumberland street in 2001 and it almost had a Bon Marche feel to it, it was all very basic and dowdy and all I ever bought form there was a few  basic t-shirts for my holiday in Australia that year. Back then I was a worshiper at the church of New Look and Dorothy Perkins because they were the only 2 decent clothes shops in Cramlington. Slowly over time though Primark started to get it’s act together and stocked more trendy stuff. Now it’s the go to places for fast fashion.

There seemed to be a sweet spot right around 2009-2012 when everything I bought from there was a winner; everything seemed to fit well, be reasonably well made and last for yonks. Some of my favourite items of clothes I’ve got are from Primark and have washed well:

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Apart from the shoes in the first picture I’m H2T in Primark but all this stuff was bought at least 2 years ago

So here’s my beef. I was after some black and white vests to wear on holiday this year so went straight to Primark as they were only £2.50 each. I have 4 vests from there already (2 black and 2 white) which feels like I bought a lifetime ago and the elastic in them is so good in them they practically act as shapewear. The vest I bought this time round were absolutely abysmal. The white in particular were practically transparent. I bought my normal size and they were skin tight and way too short, and the elastic was like an invisibobble; once it was stretched it wouldn’t stretch back rendering it utterly shapeless after one wear. In the end I got some fantastic vest from H&M down the road for £3.99.

H&M Jersey top £3.99

H&M Jersey top £3.99

It’s not only the quality of their clothes that has gone down either. I have always bought make up brushes from them as well, the hairs never stayed on for any great length of time, but at £1.99 for a pack you could afford to replace them every couple of months and they worked great. Now they’ve obviously used cheaper materials because the ‘hairs’ now feel like they’re made out of barbie hair and just kind of smear the foundation over my face rather than blends it in.

They’ve changed their sizes in the underwear section. Sizes used to go 8-10 (small) 12-14 (medium) and 16-18 (large) and their medium knickers and pyjamas used to fit me perfectly. Now, all of a sudden a medium is a 10-12 yet a large is still 14-16. IT MAKES NO SENSE! And now their medium knickers give me a massive muffin top because they’re too tight. They’ve done the same to their bikinis. I always went for a size bigger in swimwear to fit over my massive badonkadonk and now I’ve had to go two sizes bigger because they come up too small all of a sudden. The sizes of their trousers are also particularly all over the place. It’s not really doing much for my body confidence I must admit.

Now I know what you’re thinking; ‘what do you expect for a couple of pounds you rhino arsed tightwad’? But therein lies my third and final issue. I’ve said many a time that I’m a quantity over quality girl, I get bored easily so I like choice and options. I’m not entirely convinced Primark are as cheap as they used to be to enable me to keep up that attitude. A few years ago I got a winter coat with faux fur collar for £15 (and that was expensive for Primark back then) now you’d pay £25 or £30 which I know doesn’t break the bank but with online brands like Boohoo and Pretty Little Thing hot on their heals competition wise, they’re not the cheapest option any more. Not only are their prices steadily on the increase but their pricing structure doesn’t seem to make any sense. Some standard basic shell blouses (or ‘pub tops’ as I call them) are a fiver, yet what looks like almost the same top but with a few extra buttons is £12. It makes no logical sense and it makes all the hairs on my blonde head hurt. Problem is, I wouldn’t mind paying a little more if the quality was better, or even remained the same, I understand cost of living increases 100% but they’ve hiked their prices up and are using cheaper tatty material. Boo.

I’m not saying I’ve written them off completely, I must have one of their cotton pencil skirts in every colour; they’re so comfy and only a fiver. All I’m saying is, I can see what you’re up to Primark, I can see your prices slowly going up and your quality slowly going down, and I’m keeping a very close eye on you. Sleep with one eye open….

shifty

Review: Buy The Bag for St Oswalds Hospice – Newcastle upon Tyne

‘Any charity that aids or supports trying to find a cure for cancer is very close to my heart’ – Jennette McCurdy

My name’s Helen and I have an addiction to buying clothes.

One thing my mum always used to say to me even as a teenager and way before social media was ‘you’re allowed to wear something more than once you know’. Perhaps it’s part of my ADD personality but once I wear something, it’s old. it’s done with and I’m bored with it, I want something new. Problem is of course I don’t have a job that pays me enough to fund my addiction. I’ve always been a massive fan of shopping on Ebay and have had some real bargains (my All Saints dress which I got for 99p is a particular favourite of mine) however you can’t try anything on on Ebay so are taking a risk, and there has been many an item I’ve had to give away or bin because it hasn’t fit when it’s arrived. So that’s why I love charity shops. If you’re wiling to have a bit of a rummage you can find some real bargains, and of course, it’s ecologically friendly and helps out a great cause.

I was planning on doing another £20 Charity Shop Challenge in the hope of getting some new long sleeved tops for work when Steph told me about this new shop on Clayton Street called Buy the Bag. We were in town anyway wedding dress shopping (for her) and decided to see what it was all about.

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I’m so glad we did now because I had my mind well and truly blown away! The concept is one that has worked for a few years over in America and is simple. You buy a bag and fill it for £10. It’s not quite as easy to navigate inside that shop as regular charity shops. Things are sorted into mens/womens/kids and then down into tops/skirts/dresses etc but aren’t sorted by size or colour, they’re all just in big bins and you have to sort through yourself so you have to put in the leg work to find something your size.

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There are also a few rules you have to adhere to. The bag has to be able to close fully, so no piling high, no items are available for individual sale or negotiation and nothing is returnable. So, with that in mind here are somethings you need to know;

  • The bag you get is massive (supermarket bag for life size if not bigger).
  • I understand that £10 a bag is an introductory offer and not sure what the price will be once the introductory offer is over, or whether it means that the bag size gets smaller. What I imagine will happen is there will be different sized bags for different prices.
  • Not everything is in tip top condition as you might expect from a charity shop – it is second hand after all, they expect you to buy things to re-sell or upcycle. Don’t be alarmed if something is marked or missing a button.
  • The staff in the shop are super friendly and talked us both through the process and asked if we needed any help throughout.
  • It’s not just clothes that are available to fill your bag up with, they also have lots of shoes, handbags, children’s toys, books, DVDs and homeware items available too.

Here’s an idea of what I came away with for £10:

My bag of goodies!

My bag of goodies!

T-shirt and vest from ASOS and New Look

T-shirt and vest from ASOS and New Look

Tops from Next, Atmosphere, Autograph, Warehouse and Abercrombie

Tops from Next, Atmosphere, Autograph, Warehouse and Abercrombie

Jumpers from H&M, New Look, Atmosphere, C&A and George

Jumpers from H&M, New Look, Atmosphere, C&A and George

Bags from Bay and Next

Bags from Bay and Next

I’ve absolutely fallen in love with this concept, and shall be absolutely returning when I have the urge to splurge that isn’t supported by by bank balance!

Shop Details:

St Oswald’s Hospice Newcastle Buy The Bag Shop Charity shop
Address: 76-80 Clayton St, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 5PG
Phone: 0191 230 1452
Opening times:
Monday-Saturday 10am-4pm
For more information visit : www.stoswaldsuk.org
Shop interior/exterior pictures courtesy of chorniclelive.co.uk

Learning to Love the Leopard Print

‘My weakness is wearing too much leopard print’ – Jackie Collins

I’ve always had a difficult relationship with prints. I usually very much stick to plain block colours which I can accessorise with a scarf or some jewllery, and any prints I did magpie towards would always be stripes or hearts.

I’d been of the assumption that any type of animal print was tarty (visions of Mel B and Kat Slater circa 1996 spring to mind) and mix that with being naturally platinum blonde, I was afraid of looking like Bet Lynch. It helps that over recent years it seems to have come into fashion, so much more accessible and a lot of the prints are more subtle than they used to be, making it classier and less garish.

My personal introduction to leopard print started in 2010 with a Red Herring dress which I bought to wear on a girls trip to New York. it was subtle colours, it was in the sale, and I would be wearing it in a country where no one knew me.

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I got so many compliments on it I decided to be a bit braver and branched out on this chiffon blouse from Primark. However I would still only wear it with black jeans and a cardigan, totally toned down.

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Again as the compliments flowed by confidence grew. if styled the right way it can look really cool and gives a funky modern twist to any outfit instead of playing it safe with block colours all the time. I also think it works really well with blonde hair as long as it’s not overdone. I have now come to accept that leopard print is a staple I’m more than happy to have in my wardrobe.

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Clothes Featured

1. Leopard Print Dress – Red Herring
2. Leopard Print Top – Primark
3. Black Bootcut Jeans – Dorothy Perkins
4. Black Bubble Hem Top – River Island
5. Leopard Print Pencil Skirt – Rochelle Humes @ Very.co.uk (sold out)
6. Black Suede Mary Janes – John Rocha
7. Leopard Print Raglan Jumper – Primark
8. Black Bootcut Jeans – Dorothy Perkins (as above)
9. Leopard Print Umbrella – Sports Direct

February Very.co.uk Haul

‘I’m a pretty big clothes horse. I shop for clothes constantly. I do so much shopping. I should go to Shoppers Anonymous’ – Tiffani Thiessen

Since changing jobs a few years ago and no longer working in the centre of town, the amount of clothes shopping I do on the internet has increased by about 300%! I find there are pros and cons with internet shopping, I think the discounts are bigger than in store, and you can more often than not spread the cost over a few months, but of course, you can’t try anything on. I’ve gotten pretty good over the last few years knowing what suits me and what doesn’t and what size I am in particular shops. I’d been off work poorly last week, and a discount code for Very.co.uk popped into my inbox so I had a shifty to see if any of the items on my wish list where in the sale, and lo and behold, they were!

Here’s what I ordered, and how they look on:

Rochelle Humes Contrast Strap Bodycon Dress – £29.50

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Rochelle Humes Animal Print Scuba Skirt – £11

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TFNC Staley Cullotte Jumpsuit– £21

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Apart from a slight hiccup with the leopard print skirt, where they sent me  the top instead, i was very impressed with Very.co.uk’s speedy delivery  (ordered on the Saturday, arrived on the Monday), and their customer service  when they sent me the wrong item was excellent. I’m dead pleased with how  everything looks on and is true to size and photos on the website. I just need to  find some occasions to wear it all now!