Category: Clothes Maketh the (Wo)man

Sucked in by the H&M sale

I say “sucked in” like I had no choice. In truth I can’t resist a sale email. The minute I receive one I’m scrabbling to hit the website so I don’t miss out on all the stuff I don’t really need. And H&M does give good sale. Hats off to it – the reductions are usually pretty substantial and they have some decent stuff in as well, not just last season’s tat (although in store is usually another story). Here’s what I bought.

Jersey mini skirts

H&M stripe mini skirtH&M lycra mini skirt

At £4 a pop or less these were a no brainer. Easy to wear, they’re my alternative to a loose dress for summer work days – chuck on a baggy tunic top and sandals and you’re good to go.

V-back bell sleeve lace top

H&M lace top H&M lace top

I’ve always had a thing for bell sleeves – I used to have a green lace shirt that I wore tied at the midriff back when I had less midriff (whistful music playing in background). Anyway, this obviously needs something underneath, so I wore a plain black bandeau and teamed it with my Coachella for H&M fringed skirt. Lovely summery festivally boho-y(?) vibes.

Sleeveless frill top

H&M frill top

Ooh, this is a beaut. Long enough to team with leggings to hide VPL or camel toe, it has a small metal fastening at the neck and that lovely waterfall frill. I’m thinking leather trousers and spiky heels. Not in this weather though, obvs. I might buy the pinky colour too.

Cream patterned shorts

H&M patterned twill shorts

These weren’t in the sale per se, but I did nab them with 30% off so that counts. I first saw them on Lisa’s blog and liked the look of them. They have lots of colours in which makes them easy to match with stuff. I wore them with a tan coloured 3/4 sleeve baggy top and studded beige biker boots to offset the amount of leg they show, what with me not being 21 anymore. They might also work with a denim shirt, but that would need some investigation.

Stone suede boots

H&M suede biker boots

Be still my beating heart! Actual real suede (most of my shoedrobe is “faux” as I’m a quantity over quality kind of girl), these have “stand on me” written all over them. I fear for them getting trashed and as such may impose an exclusion zone when I’m wearing them. The ever elusive silver hardware too. Lush.

In truth I didn’t need any of it. But can I live without it? No!

Summer workwear – a variation on a theme

I’ve been a bit predictable / unimaginative with my work outfits for the last few days. I find dresses so easy to wear in summer – one item to throw on, no colour matching, no waistbands which can be uncomfortable and hot when sitting at a desk all day. All of these dresses are from Matalan, from last year, and all of them are crepe – the easiest fabric in the world to own. Lightweight and crease free, they dry mega quickly and don’t need ironing. I’d have a whole wardrobe full of crepe clothing if I could!

Pink dress – Matalan
Snakeskin and feather sandals – not sure, maybe ebay? Love these, they have 3 ankle straps covered in purple jewel chips and small feathers, and a tiny wedge heel
Jewellery: Turquoise colour ring – Primark, turquoise colour cuff – gift, silver swirl ring – Camden (present from husband on a day out)
Tortoiseshell sunglasses – Primark
Chunky coin necklace – ebay

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Snakeskin feather sandals

Snakeskin feather sandals

Silver turquoise jewellery

Boho jewellery

Floral dress – Matalan
Red pointy ankle strap flats – Matalan
Multiple rings – H&M, Birmingham rag market, Primark
Round sunglasses – Primark
Freshwater pearls – Mauritius (present from husband when we got married, bought on the beach from a local fisherman)

Summer workwear

Red pointy flats

Summer floral dress

Summer workwear

Freshwater pearls

Blue dress – Matalan
Tan gladiator sandals – independent shoe shop
Brown iridescent glass beads – H&M
Turquoise colour ring – as before (Primark) / amber ring – gift from Mother-in-Law

Blue dress

H&M glass beads

Turquoise and amber jewelery

What’s everyone else wearing for summer?

Matalan strikes again!

I have blogged before about my love of Matalan and how its full of hidden gems you don’t see everywhere. It would seem they’re going up in the world, having just opened a store on Oxford Street no less. I’m not aware of them having a High Street presence anywhere, certainly not near me, as most of their stores tend to be big spaces on retail parks, so this is a departure for them. It’s very useful in increasing their London-centric custom though, because for those Londoners without a car it’s previously been inaccessible. And, although they offer free home delivery, you can only return to store if something’s not right.

Anyway, it’s been a couple of months since I bought anything from Matalan (big wow!) but I was alerted to a fabulous bag by blogger A Little Twist Of via Twitter and off I went to have a look.

This is the bag.

Matalan hello goodbye clutch bag

 

Matalan hello goodbye clutch bag

I love it. But (eek!) I’m not sure if I will get much use out of it! It’s on the large side for a clutch, I have other black clutches, and the hardware is gold. I have a real thing about gold hardware. Admittedly there isn’t much hardware on this bag, and it’s a subtle gold (rather than in your face yellow) but it’s still there. Now this only cost £9.60 with a discount (£12 full price) so it seems churlish to umm and aah BUT I’m trying really hard to think more about my purchases and only keep stuff I really really love (and will use) in order to keep my wardrobe space and my bank account more in order so I should probably return this.

I’m on the fence.

Oh, and it also comes in white, which Is also very cool, but also has gold hardware. WHHHHHYYYY? Silver goes so much better with white.

So, while I was looking for the bag, and to boost my order value for free delivery, and just because I like seeing what’s new, I had a peruse. And I found this top.

Matalan patterned back detail top Matalan patterned back detail top

Which I liked so much that I also ordered it in red.

Matalan red back detail top

When they arrived they’re slightly different fabric – the patterned one is stiffer while the red is crinkly cheesecloth. And you can’t wear a bra with them, because they’re so low at the back. But I have some of those funny little stick on cup things somewhere – the ones that you hope your partner will never ever see you in when you get undressed because they’re so ridiculous, but not as ridiculous as the idea of not buying the top. You know?

And also, in my ongoing quest for something crochet-ish with a hippy-ish festival-ish boho-ish twist (which I go on every year and haven’t yet scratched the itch) I found this lightweight tassled cream top.

Matalan crochet fringed top

And it’s lovely. It needs a layer underneath it, but that’s fine – a black thin strap vest or bandeau top will be perfect. An immediate entry into my Download packing. All good.

Finally, I ordered this kimono (mine is cream, but not on the site for some reason ). It might be slightly more bed jacket than kimono, but let’s not get caught up in the detail. It does crease, so there’s a very real chance I’ll never wear it again after the first wash (I don’t do ironing, I buy stuff that doesn’t need it!) But it’s super easy to wear with skinnies or denim shorts.

Crochet edge kimono

Having ordered multiple sizes in everything, (avoids disappointment I find) I popped back to my local Matalan to return the stuff that didn’t fit. And I spied some shoes! Low and behold I also had a voucher for 25% off in store, making them a rather palatable £15. They’re not currently on the website, but here’s a pic taken in my lounge.

Matalan brown platform sandals

They’re super comfy – the platform sole offsets the height of the heel so it’s not like walking in high heels at all.

Ooh, I do love a good mini spree! And there’s heaps more nice stuff there too. I won’t rule out another cheeky order soon.

Festival Fashion – Download style

In just one week time I’ll be frantically packing for Download Festival, praying for dry weather, and wondering whether I really need 6 pairs of boots for 3 days (obviously the answer is yes).

Last year at this time I was having a mini (read major) meltdown because I’d never been to a festival before. Well, not on the scale of Download. I’d been to a one day dance festival back in the day, and a local folk festival. I also had tickets to V Festival one year, but sold them the night before because it had been raining for 3 days and I couldn’t stand the idea of mud (and we weren’t even camping) Download is massive compared to any of those things; just the thought of the size of it made my head explode. And I knew that cancelling was not an option.

Of course my main concern was what to wear. With the chance of rain being ever present in the UK, even in high summer, I needed to be prepared for everything. Such was my naivety that I even enquired of festival going friends whether I could wear sandals if the weather was good (yes, if you want your feet trampled and covered in beer/food/general festival ickiness, was the answer).

At one point I had 16 (yes sixteen) pairs of wellies in my flat, trying to decide which pair I liked best, fitted best, suited my style best. I bought a waterproof poncho. I overthought the whole thing to the point where I didn’t actually enjoy the lead up.

And then it was sunny. Sunny as in warm sunny. Sunny as in denim shorts and sleeveless tops sunny. It was glorious! I wore denim cut offs and vests and shades. Only on the last day did I need my poncho for 10 minutes. Fingers crossed for more of the same!

Because I don’t do camping (I mean, just why?!) I have the luxury of being able to take oodles and oodles of stuff, stack the car up and clutter our hotel room – hurrah! It also means I should be covered for all eventualities should the weather go from one extreme to the other (double hurrah! No-one needs a wet, cold and under-prepared me on their hands – I reckon I can out-bawl even the loudest of bands if I’m not happy). Plus, should the worst come to the worst and I fall over in mud, I have a whole clean set of clothes for the following day(s).

None of this “camping is all part of the experience” for me. Forget it.

Here’s a selection of what I’ll be taking this year.

Biker wellies – Asda (last year)

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Side split maxi dress with leopard print cross (H&M)

H&M maxi top dress

High waisted black denim shorts (H&M)Black denim shorts

Feather headdress (ebay)

Feather headdress

Black and white stripe top (H&M)

Black and white stripe top

Waterproof poncho (Amazon)

Waterproof poncho

Fringed skirt (H&M)

H&M fringed skirt

Tartan trousers (New Look)

Tartan trousers

Grey draped vest (H&M)

Grey draped top

C’est la Vie t-shirt (Dorothy Perkins)

Cest La Vie tee

Black leather jacket (Tesco F&F) and berry fedora (H&M)

Download festival outfit

Denim playsuit (Tesco F&F) and blue denim shorts (Matalan)

Download festival outfit

Obviously there’ll also be the usual staples of black skinnies, leather look leggings, over shirts, maybe a baggy jumper or two (depending on weather forecast). Perhaps kimonos if it’s not going to be too cold at night (although if I take a big enough bag I can have a costume change). Loads of jewellery. The good thing is I can just pack EVERYTHING! And I fully intend to!

The rise and fall (and rise again?) of Primark

Like a lot of people, my early love affair with Primark has waned considerably. There was a time when I was afraid to go in because I knew I would buy so much. It was all so cheap and the stock changed so quickly and there was always something that was worthy of a look (and usually a purchase).

Then it seemed to go downhill. Prices went up and quality went down. Way down. Wonky hems, thin fabrics, tacky prints and general rubbish-ness. Stuff that couldn’t even be justified by “it’s ok for the money”. Because, pricewise, it didn’t seem that cheap anymore. H&M had much better stuff for similar (or lower) prices.

And none of this was helped by the fact that Primark in Birmingham Is such a jumble sale. God awful space with clothes all over the floor, messy rails, horrible changing rooms. Just vile.

I had, in my head, declared myself done with the whole shebang. And I stuck to it really well…at least until the next time I passed a Primark (in my defence I was looking for sunglasses, and because I’m such a klutz and also a cheapskate I only ever buy mega cheap sunnies). So I went in to do my annual stock up on aviators and it would have been downright rude to not have a little mooch around.

Maybe it’s because it was a nicer Primark – tidy, well lit, spacious; everything that Birmingham isn’t. Maybe it’s because it was a grey rainy day outside and I was seduced by summer clothes. Whatever it was, I was impressed! Lots of festival looks, bright colours and boho vibes.

Primark ra-ra dress

Primark print skirt

Primark fringed bags

Primark fringed waistcoats

Primark print dress

Primark necklaces

Primark boho dress

Primark teal and yellow

So, what did I buy?

Some pretty undies.

Primark underwear set

An optimistic amount of sunglasses! (I only ever buy cheapies as I have a habit of sitting on / scratching losing them).

Primark sunglasses

Primark sunglasses

A jewellery hanger, false eyelashes (which I’m rubbish at, but I have a plan) and a set of midi rings

Primark jewellery holder / false eyelashes / midi rings

The rings are especially pretty.

Primark ring set

And, finally, what I thought was an unseasonal but fateful jumper purchase (last one, my size, half price) but, based on today’s weather, I could totally be wearing now.

Primark fluffy spotty jumper

Quite restrained actually; in part because I was too lazy to take my tights off and try things on properly (it had been a long day and my shoes were awkward to take on and off as well), although I would have made an exception for the cute ra-ra dress in the fist image, if they’d had my size.

Steven Tyler – hot pensioner, country singer and unlikely style icon

When I consider which celebrity wardrobe I’d most like to have, the first person that springs to mind is Steven Tyler. Which is odd considering a) he’s 30 years older than me, and b) he’s a man.

But he’s Just. So. Cool.

When he was one of the judges on American Idol I fell in love with him a little bit (ok, a lot). His charisma, sense of humour, that voice. I also developed a major hair crush. His locks are divine!

Steven Tyler 2

Steven Tyler 3

Aerosmith headlined Sunday night at last year’s Download Festival, and only added to my love for him. It had been a heavy weekend of drinking, standing, walking and more drinking and we were all feeling worse for wear but Steven came onto the stage like a whirling dervish – a vision in white, feathers and scarves flowing – and lifted our energy levels through the roof.

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To perform with such fervour at an age when most men are retiring is no mean feat. The stage show was electric, his vocals were perfect, and it was all very special and emotional and an amazing end to an amazing weekend.

And now he’s diversified musically and is set to release a country album. I’m having a bit of an out of character (for me) love in with country at the moment, and the first single of the album is a bit of a corker, right from the first listen.

Back to his wardrobe, which I covet so much.

Steven Tyler 8 zz zv

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Leopard print, layered necklaces, scarves, chunky rings, hair feathers, hats, frills, skinny flares, tailoring? He’s a rock ‘n’ roll hippie dream!

New mantra when getting ready – WSWI…

…Would Steven Wear It?

Parting is such sweet sorrow (aka the clear out update)

Following on from last week’s inspirational article read from Stylist magazine, I decided to put the concept into full practice. Ruthlessly pulling things from my wardrobe, at times I was discarding based purely on gut instinct – the fact that I didn’t say “oooh” was enough to realise an item had to go. It was pretty satisfying to see the charity bags filling up, especially with things that I know have escaped previous culls by a hair’s breadth and still haven’t been worn since.

The process was somewhat helped by my change in work circumstances, and the fact that I now have a casual dresscode. “Work” shoes that maybe had slightly scuffed heels but were still good enough to wear to the office have gone. Pencil skirts that are too tight but I’d convinced myself would fit me again at some point are out the door. Auf Wiedersehn to t-shirts that have gone a bit bobbly. Au revoir to dresses that are past their best. Ta-ra a bit to jeans that are so low rise I can’t believe they ever fit me. And, to anything that doesn’t totally ding my dong, a big fat feck off!

Even my underwear draw got a look in.

I now have a pile of stuff hung on my spare bedroom door waiting to be ebayed (I have, at least, taken the photographs, just need to get round to writing the descriptions and actually listing them).

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Plus a bin liner stuffed with the real rubbish, and bags full of cast offs for the charity shop with more still to come.

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Did I feel liberated? At first, yes. There were things that I was aware should have left the safe haven of my wardrobe a long time ago, that were taking up valuable space and just not being worn. And that bit’s great! But it also made me slightly sad. OK, a lot sad. Sad to the point where I was so sulky I went very quiet and withdrawn and didn’t talk much for the rest of the night. Because it felt like an admission that a part of my life has ended. Disposing of dresses that I still really like but are probably too short for me to wear these days. Trousers that are too tight around the waist. Things that just don’t fit my wardrobe because I’m not in my 20s and going out partying like I used to.

I guess, ultimately, it made me feel old and fat. Which is very dramatic and I feel like I should be putting my hand to my brow and throwing my head back in consternation. Because, at 37 and just under 10.5 stone, I’m neither of those things. But I’m also not 25 and 9.5 stone anymore. That’s the real problem!

I’ll get over it, of course. I rediscovered some things I’d completely forgotten about which is good. And it did give me the kick I needed to stop being such a greedy pig and actually start working to lose the half a stone I need to feel better about myself (instead of just hoping it will happen!) With a tidier wardrobe I’ll actually have space to store my new trainers, so I can go out for a run rather than spending half an hour hopping round wearing just one and cursing my untidy self for losing the other one.

Having a clear out – have I been doing it all wrong?

Like many women / people, I have too much stuff. Specifically wearable stuff. Don’t get me wrong, I like stuff. I like choice. I don’t want a capsule wardrobe, shoes that go with everything and a colour palette theme amongst my clothes. But I do want to have enough space for the things I do love, so I can stop draping things over doors / stacking stuff in piles on the floor and having my husband threaten to put everything in a bin liner and chuck it out (he wouldn’t dare, but it’s a recurring conversation).

Clear out

(needless to say that is not my wardrobe. And if it was I would not be having a clear out. EVER.)

Contrary to my husband’s seeming opinion, I don’t like being untidy. It’s only because I have too much stuff. Trouble is, when I have a clear out, it’s never as thorough as I’d like. And I think the reason is because I’m looking for things to get rid of, not things to keep.

It sounds like a very similar process, but there is in fact a difference. And this is the article that made me see that difference.

http://www.stylist.co.uk/life/the-golden-rules-of-tidying-up-to-joyfully-de-clutter-your-house-life-and-mind-clear-out

“The best way to choose what to keep and what to throw away is to take each item in one’s hand and ask: ‘Does this spark joy?’. If it does, keep it. If not, dispose of it. This is not only the simplest but also the most accurate yardstick by which to judge.”

I always look at what to get rid of. And then I split it into categories – ebay or charity shop. Ebay stuff invariably sits in a bag for ages, waiting for me to get round to the arduous task of photographing, measuring and listing. and then, when it doesn’t sell straight away, the bag of stuff clutters up valuable space.

But the stuff that’s left behind, well. Based on the advice above – ‘Does this spark joy?’ – I could clear out a lot more. There’s stuff that I keep because it’s “too good” to part with. I may have only worn it a couple of times and feel bad about getting rid of it (especially if it’s doubtful that it will sell on ebay, or more likely I can’t be bothered). Or it’s just not me anymore. But, in truth, when I pick it out to wear, it often goes straight back. Because it doesn’t make me feel fabulous, and who wants to feel anything less than amazing? And so it sits there, taking up valuable room in my overstuffed wardrobe.

This can also be exacerbated by being a bargain hunter. Because sometimes, something is just a really good bargain, and that can totally affect my judgement. I know the “rules” – don’t buy something unless you’d buy it full price. But I find that impossible, because my heart gets all of a flutter. So I’m my own worse enemy.

What a palava! I’ve actually bored myself with this post. But I am going to try and take the advice and actually apply it. Stop hoarding stuff with the intention of ebaying it and never getting round to it. Donate it to charity shops and don’t regret it.

Donations

And don’t fill the space I create with brand new stuff!

Today I have…

…clashed patterns with leopard print and stripes…

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…photographed appalling parking…

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…congratulated myself on my new Asda jeans

Asda jeans 20150511_135749

…sported heart shaped sunglasses…

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…looked at the most delicate bluebells…

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…drunk vodka and tonics in the pub…

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…and adorned my feet with more leopard print

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Mondays can be pretty good, if you make them so.