Apologies first - I've been resting on my laurels. I've been having a quiet week and have quite enjoyed taking a rest. I got a taster for it at Christmas and it seems to taken hold again. Oh and I have just got addicted to playing mahjong on the Ipad again in bed. Instead of putting a post together, I've been going to bed a bit earlier and playing mahjong. I keep getting stuck at level 30. I need to get past level 30. I M-U-S-T get past level 30! even though I keep dropping the iPad on my face because I'm so tired sometimes and I can't keep my eyes open. When I get past level 30, I'll be back to normal blogging mode. Don't hold your breath - I may be some time.
Something which I don't talk very much about on the blog is beauty stuff. Because I am rubbish at beauty stuff. I don't know very much and I don't do very much. Cleansing and toning - I use whatever comes to hand. Makeup - whatever came free with a magazine and bonus time. Hair - I whizz a dryer through it and say a prayer. However, I'm rather partial to a spot of nail varnish. I like to buy myself a little bottle as a treat sometimes. It's cheaper than a new thing to wear and makes me smile when I have perfect ... toes.
I think I may be a little addicted!
That's right. Toes. Those funny digit like things on the end of your feet. I love nail varnish on my toes but not my fingers. This is because I am right handed and I am a perfectionist. I am right handed and can paint the nails on my left hand beautifully and precisely. However, I am a cack-handed moron when I use my left hand to paint the nails on my right hand. And being a perfectionist means I cannot stomach badly painted nails especially on me. I actually had a manicure done the day before I got married. It was okayish but not great but I thought I could do better. I took the lot off as soon as I got home and forgot to put some more on. Naked nails on my wedding day. The shame. But better than imperfect ones in my eyes.
However, with my right hand, I can paint my toes beautifully even if I do say so myself. But it does take time. A stupidly long time. Some people go swish swish - all done. I do it in slow motion and some. It takes me an hour (sometimes more) and I'm usually faint with the effort and the lack of blood not reaching my brain having spent the that amount of time crouched over my toes. I'm not really one of those who just puts it on and wipes up the splashes and overlaps afterwards. It goes on right and that's it. Having said that, I have just bought myself a nail corrector pen set. And I love it. Because it only costs £1.99 from Aldi and you get 3 replacement nibs with each pen and two pens in a pack. That is one fab bargain! I had a similar corrector pen from years back which I've just thrown away recently and had been on the lookout for a replacement. I found one in Boots for £8. Feeling a bit tight and preferring to spend my money on a new polish instead - I was delighted to come across the Aldi alternative for just £2.
Love all these!
Anyway, I always prep my toes (soak in bath, trim and file, cuticles etc) and then its a simple base coat to prevent colour transfer to the toe nails. Then the difficult bit ... choosing a colour. Now should I have purpley grey, greeny grey or bluey grey? Err yes - I have a slight addiction to grey toned nail varnishes. I didn't realise I had this problem until I tipped out my nail polish bag to try and find a colour for a friend and she lined up my nail polishes and it was like a Dulux colour chart with a sliding scale of the same colour. Purple Grey1, Purple Grey 2, Purple Grey 3 or Purple Grey 4. You get the picture.
Pinky, purples (with a hint of grey)
Greens (with a touch of grey)
I have tried other colours like red and orange and pink but they're not very me and don't stay long on my toes - maybe a day at the most and then I have to take the colour off and go back to one of my greys.
Out of the many many bottles of varnish that I have, I've found I stick to a trusty few. These are my colours and the ones I rate for application and coverage.
- Models Own - Purple Grey. Is the colour it says on the bottle - purple grey. Very similar to Chanel's Paradoxal but more solid in tone.
- Collection 2000 - All That Jazz. Charcoal grey with a tiny hint of shimmer. Better than all my Chanel dark grey/black polishes put together. When I fail to put on my Chanel ones successfully, I turn to this one. This is the one which never fails me and the one you will usually find me sporting.
- Boots 17 - Smoke Signal. Smokey navy grey. My personal favourite colour. Goes on well and looks expensive on but very cheap to buy. Recommended. Recommended. Recommended!
- Models Own - Grey. Solid mid grey - goes on beautifully. For those not feeling the charcoals.
- Essie - Sew Psyched. A cashmere soft sage pewter - that's their description on the Essie site (not mine). My first Essie purchase and it was a successful one. Goes on well. Yeah - I'm loving it
- Barry M - Mushroom. Cheap dupe of Chanel's Particuliere. A kind of milky mid brown. Goes on well and good coverage.
- Chanel - Particuliere. Expensive version of Barry M's Mushroom. Very wearable. Nice consistency. One of my more successful Chanel varnishes.
Barry M vs Chanel. The difference! About £15.
Excuse my cuticles - my hands are ruined by housework!
And the rough and ready application - 6 out of 10 for effort.
Oh yes - the reason for me talking about nail varnish today? I painted my toes in my new Essie varnish.
Having given the toes a bit of a rest over winter, I thought I needed a pick me up and painted my toes. I feel so much better.
Have you got any favourite colours and polishes? Any good grey recommendations?
I found over the Christmas period when I didn't go shopping, I didn't buy as much. I say I didn't buy as much (I bought a couple of bits online) but I can honestly say, I think I would have been tempted by more if I'd been out and about "playing" in the shops. So there's a lesson for you - if you want to stop shopping, don't go in shops. Rocket science it is not.
I went out to "play" on Tuesday morning which seems to be my time slot for going in to Leeds under the premise of going to the fish market to buy some lovely fresh fish for the Grumps - this is the fishing bit. And to also do a reccy on what has hit the shops this week - this is the .... shopping bit!
So I shopped my wardrobe and dragged out an old jumper from Jigsaw. This is actually one of those jumpers which is supposed to have a bedraggled scrunched up finish to it. After you've washed it, you're supposed to twist it and knot it to make it retain the wrinkles (yes really). I'd actually assigned this to the bed pile to be worn on a chilly night but then I put it on the other chilly evening and I thought - hey this isn't so bad - we'll move it back to a daytime slot and see how we get on. And the verdict ... it's going back in the bed pile after a wash.
Jigsaw jumper (old)
Primark vest (old)
New Look jeggings (old)
Pied a Terre boots (guess what? old!)
Rare thing on my clothes - a bow.
So here I am with the jumper on and my Primark thermal vest top. Quite a pretty vest top for me and it even has a bow on it which is a bit of a rare thing for me. I let the bow stay on because (1) it was actually quite a neat bow and (2) it wasn't sewn on wonky and (3) it does me good to give in to my inner girl every now and then. I have a morbid fear of being deemed girly so have this irrational habit of chopping tiny bows of clothes.
And bearing in mind there is still some snow on the ground outside and I don't want to catch a cold (arghgh - I've turned in to my mother!!!), I stuck on the obligatory scarf. This camouflage Zara one seems to be my current favourite and has appeared previously along with some other outfits.
Just as rare - skinny things on my legs!
The old Pied a Terre boots were pulled on but once I put a foot out of the door and went flying I swapped them for my Ugg Kensingtons which have much better grip. My old Primark parka was also dragged out of the coat wardrobe (yes there is a wardrobe wholly dedicated to outerwear) and given its first outing of 2013. So lots of old stuff coming out of the wardrobe today which I am telling myself is a good thing. It also means that the styling has stood the test of time and I chose wisely. Or it means my tastes haven't changed. Or I don't give two hoots if it's fashionable - I like it so I will wear what I like regardless.
It's grungey but I like it!
(to the tune of LMFAO's I'm sexy and I like it)
So not an ideal outfit if you want to try things on but I had no intentions of trying anything on today except for a pair of boots. I have an absolute love affair with boots. It's only come about in the last few years as before that, I was a pretty shoes girl but since becoming a mum, I just wear boots. And my latest boot obsession is this pair from All Saints.
Okay - not very exciting but just really nice and simple. And classic? What did you expect? To be honest, you don't read my blog for me to tell you the latest trends because I have no idea what they are. I'm just telling you what I like and these boots are the kind of thing I wear! And when I buy boots like this, I find that I wear them for years and years and years and it's an investment buy to me. These are in a lovely dark dark charcoal grey. I can not tell you how long I have been searching for the perfect grey boots. I just never told you guys about it - a girl has to have some secrets! I had a look at the Kir Royale boots from Whistles and they were beautiful but too smart for my everyday look but these Allsaints ones are just perfect. I wish I could show you some lovely detailing on them, some studs or just some kind of detail but these don't have anything and that's why I like them because that way they blend beautifully in to any outfit. The toe is long enough to be elegant because there is nothing I dislike more than when you get a boot which is so blunt at the front, it makes your foot look stunted - I find this happens a lot with boots which are high but the front of the boot has not been aligned and proportioned well. If you want a really good read on the search for the perfect ankle boots (in this case the perfect black ankle boots) have a look at this post from Defne from Nomadic D. This girl did her research and some. There's a girl after my own heart in the quest for the perfect boots and understands that if the boot fits, you buy it. Errr ... I mean, you just know!
By the way - has anyone popped in to Allsaints recently? I would never have dreamt of looking in there for a pair of boots until Beth from Style Guile blog showed some boots from All Saints which she picked up. So I popped along to the website to have a look and was pleasantly surprised by what I found along with the discovery of the boots. I have this preconceived idea of them only making the distressed lace up military/army type boots from a few years back which were so popular and the fact that all their clothes look a bit post apocalyptic. Yes a lot of what they do still fits that mould but there are some also some lovely looking pieces in their collection which you wouldn't think of as being Allsaints depending on how you pair them. What I did see in there were some black jeans in the perfect faded wash, some beautiful printed tops and some lovely boots. Although the decor of the shops may seem a little intimidating for some people, again a bit grungey and dark, don't let it stop you from going in and having a look. There are some very wearable and covetable pieces in there ... I picked out a few here in my first Polyvore set. I spent a traumatic hour or so on Polyvore (I'm a bit behind the times but thought it was about time I went there trying to pull this together but I got there.
Post apocalyptic? I don't think so.
Anybody made some surprise shopping discoveries like I did recently? Any new shops uncovered?
The snow came down this week - not loads but enough to close the school and give the kids an extra day off after the weekend.
The Grumps suggested that it would be good to take the boys outside along the lane and back again and was Mummy coming too? Oh boy. Do I have to? I don't do the cold very well - this is where I turn in to Mrs Grumps ... after I've donned the fleecy tights, the skinnys over those, the thermal socks, lined the wellys with fleece liners, donned an extra fleece, zipped myself up to the neck and plonked the furry hat on. Armed and ready and with a face like thunder.
Okay - it wasn't that bad. It wasn't that cold and I'd already laid down the law with the kids - snowball with 3 inches of me and they're going to boarding school!
Yes - I really do wear that hat in public!
You saying I'm heavy????
Last note :
For those who have been out in the snow with their kids this week ... who's done this? I know I have!
I've been following some amusing discussions about boyfriend jeans at the moment. I know they're the latest fad in the jeans arena but to be honest, they have actually been around like forever. Whilst browsing through endless pictures of celebrities running around in their boyfriend jeans, I was quite surprised to find that some of the pictures were from 2008 and not 2012/13. But gosh - don't they look and feel so current?
Picture Credit : Coolspotters.com Picture Credit : Denimblog.co
Reese Witherspoon Gwyneth Paltrow
I wore my boyfriend jeans all last summer and the best part of autumn. You couldn't prise them off me except when they needed to go in the wash. However, there are a few people out there who are not so keen. People who are not so sure because to them, boyfriend jeans are not that flattering. They're not smart, they add bulk unnecessarily and in some cases you end up with saggy bot. For the time being, they're going to sit on the fence in their skinnys whilst they get their head round them (yes I'm talking about you Avril :o)). But hang about, it shouldn't really be thought of as a boyfriend vs skinny jeans war - it's not. It's just another style option. I have skinnys and I have boyfriend jeans. Different jeans for different occasions for different moods and for different purposes.
So what constitutes a pair of boyfriend jeans then? To me they're just a looser fit jean which you turn up at the bottom. Like the jeans you quite often find me in .......
New Look Straight Leg Jeans Rolled Up New Look Straight Look Jeans Rolled Up
New Look Slim Boyfriend Jeans Falmer Heritage Skinny Jeans Rolled Up
The surprising thing about the jeans above is that only one pair is actually labelled "boyfriend" jeans. The other two pairs comprise of a straight leg pair and a loose'ish pair of skinnys which have been turned up. All give the same look roughly. If you go with this notion, you've probably already got a pair in your wardrobe and you really don't need to tear your hair out like so many people seem to be doing currently trying to find the perfect pair. Have a rummage in the wardrobe, dust down that old pair of jeans (not bootlegs) and turn them up a few times to suit. Instant boyfriend jeans in 10 seconds. Ta dah! That's all I do. It will save you time, money and your sanity.
However, it's not all cut and dry because it does depend on how you want your boyfriend jeans to look.
The ones I wear are what I call the MOR version. Middle of the Road. They fit in between the Very Distressed and the Not Very Distressed (At All) boyfriend jeans. Obviously.
There is the extreme option which look a bit like the ones in this magazine :
Practically falling apart and falling off you. We can't all work that look and not all of us want to work that look. This look is for the serious fashionistas - not really for the regular Joe or Sue out there. This look has the biggest potential for saggy bott but that's okay if that's the look you're going for. You can tell this is not my favourite and it is also not becoming a woman of my age. If it was, I would find more nice things to say about it. I can imagine it's also quite draughty. But it makes for excellent visual imagery on the very fashion led blogs.
Middle Of the Road
This is where most of my boyfriend jeans fit. In the MOR category. These are probably the easiest pairs to find in the shops. Usually a mid-blue hue, lightly distressed and with just a few rips. I favour these because I am Mrs MOR when it comes to dressing. I like fashion and if I take up on a trend - I tend to do a slightly sanitised version of it. This is because I have this horrible fear of people talking about me behind my back and thinking "what on earth ....?". I'm not an attention seeker. Honestly I'm not.
My "boyfriend" jeans.
I personally don't mind a little bit of slouchiness and a bit of distressing on my jeans and this can vary from a few distressed patches to full rips across the knees. The ones with the rips across the knees are my New Look slim boyfriend jeans. When I bought them, they didn't actually have any rips across they knees - they just had some distressed patches near the knees but everytime I bent down, the distressed patches ripped a little until eventually they went straight across the knee. Whoops. However, I can now channel Gwyneth and Reese with this pair.
Splendid Grey Tee
New Look Slim Boyfriend Jeans
Purple Jack Wills Cotton Cashmere Cardi
I was going to ebay the cardi but have given it a second chance after seeing Gwynny in hers - I think it may come in to its own this summer. Is this what they mean by shopping your own wardrobe?
These are more for those people who actually like to look like they made an effort (yes you - Avril). I would regard these type of boyfriend jeans as the dipping your toe in the water type of boyfriend jeans - not too obvious yet have that little nod to keeping in with the fashion brigade. No rips, snugger fit up top, less slouchy, a bit smarter all round.
Photo Credit : Boden Photo Credit : TheFashionPatrol.com
Avril - you can do these looks! You can take or leave the hat though.
This is sooo embarrassing but I'm doing it for you!
I also picked these over some much lighter ones which I thought would be great for the summer because I already have light ones sitting in my wardrobe and the whiskering around the crotch on the lighter pair was a bit too fake which is one of my bugbears. Do watch out for details like how the whiskering is done as it can really cheapen the look of a pair of jeans.
Well that's it really - I've nothing to add about boyfriend jeans which hasn't already been said. But if you want me to recap :
- Look in your wardrobe and see if you have some jeans which you can turn up to give you the look.
- If not - go to the shops and try lots on. Every shop is different. One shop's boyfriend jeans is another shop's skinnys.
- Size down if the style is just a little too baggy. It might just make the difference. Fab for the ego too!
- It doesn't have to have boyfriend on the label to be a boyfriend jean.
And last but not least ....
- If you don't like them - don't wear them. Stick to what works for you and what you feel comfortable in (this is your get out clause Avril).
So to all those who are about to embark on their search for boyfriend jeans - good luck. If and when you find them - you will wonder how you ever managed without.
To all those who are not keen - that's fine. Everyone has their own comfort zone. I like them because I can bend my knees comfortably in them and they don't show my shape off too much. I'm not good with bodycon which is why you don't see me in skinnys a lot.
To those who already have them - cool. You can be in my gang.
I'm a lazy moo about finding nice alternatives and providing suggestions for people to shop but there is a nice lady callled Kat over at Does My Bum Look 40 In This who has done some excellent research in to the boyfriend jeans .....
My New Shirt
My Old Cupboard
You might not believe this but I haven't been to the shops (supermarket excluded) since the week before Christmas. My halo was so shiny.
Last Sunday was the first day I made it out of the house to have a little wander around on my own to have a look at real shops and real clothes. I'd noticed in the last week or so I've been developing this strange twitch which comes from not touching new clothes in shops ... it's a strange affliction I have. I hear there are lots of sufferers out there too so I know I am not alone.
Anyway to remedy the matter, I set off for the York Outlet. Some things don't change - I love shopping. Some things do change - I'm shopping differently. I noticed this as I was going in to various shops. It might be because it's January and everyone's watching their pennies a little in January including myself but I did notice that I was a little more mindful than usual about the items I picked up and whether (1) I really wanted them, (2) I needed to buy something to scratch the itch of having something new or (3) they appealed because they were a "bargain". I picked up a couple of plain jersey tops in Gap which had 30% off - I even went so far as to trying them on but then I thought - I didn't set off to buy these, they're not very exciting and my money is better put towards something better. Halo, my my, you are so shiny!
So this is kind of new to me - I'm actually taking a step back to think about what I would really really like. These are not the same things as those on my £1000 wishlist where I spend without guilt. This is my reality wishlist with things on it I can possibly hope to buy. So what do I have in mind which will really make my heart sing with joy and liven up my whole wardrobe? This is my current list :
- Suede loafers (preferably navy)
- Lace up shoes (preferably grey or beige)
Yup ... that's it. In all honesty, that's as far as I've got in identifying what I would like right now and that's probably why I've been quite restrained in the sales. I know I previously said I would like a pair of burgundy Bass Weejun loafers but these are proving rather elusive in a size 4 in the UK. So I've given up and changed tack, colours and materials. but all in all, I would just like a nice pair of loafers. And a nice pair of lace ups which look okay on my feet and do not reduce my legs to stumps or make me look like a clumsy oaf. So a shortish list and a list I was sort of working off whilst I shopping.
Anyway, I went round the outlet polishing my halo after each shop until I reached the Paul Smith shop. This is not a shop I normally go in but for once - I went to have a look .... and whilst looking through the solitary rack of women's clothes in the whole store - I came upon my new checked shirt. I confess now - I do have a slight fondness for boyish check shirts hence the fact that I went a bit off piste buying a checked shirt because I don't recall them featuring on any of my lists just recently, do you?
It's the little details like the unexpected different coloured button!
Get that for fab pattern matching!
You just know that it's a really nice cotton.
Contrast cuff lining.
What made me fall for this particular shirt? The little details. The little details like the sharp stitching, the little etched buttons on the cuffs, the fact that the pattern on the collar matches perfectly as well as down the middle - so many brands do not bother to centralise the pattern along the front placket! tsk tsk! And it was a lovely soft cotton and it fitted well. No brainer.
The fact that as I walked out of the changing room clutching my new shirt, a lady eyed it up and then went off to the rack to have a rifle through the remaining shirts looking for my shirt in her size made me feel a little bit smug for having got there first. I know she was looking for my shirt as I overheard her asking the sales assistant if they had one in her size. Probably not because I've got it!
So the halo slipped somewhat by the end of Sunday but I came home a happy bunny.
Happy because I came home swinging a little pale grey Paul Smith bag with bright pink neon writing on it (simple pleasures!).
Happy because I had a beautifully made check shirt.
Happy because the first thing Grumps said when he saw the shirt was "That will look nice on you" and not "How much???".
And happy that I didn't buy a couple of plain tops and bought one nicer thing instead.
Last note :
Just wondering - has anybody made any shopping resolutions for 2013 or recently re-evaluated the way they buy and why? It's a subject close to my heart as I would love a really pared down minimalist wardrobe but my shopaholic brain won't let this happen. It's an ongoing battle but I think I made a tiny tiny baby step on this shopping expedition in at least I thought twice before buying and when I did buy, I bought something nicer than some bits and bobs.
Last Monday when I was stuck in the house working i.e. ironing and cleaning, I had a bout of cabin fever and silliness where I modelled for you my nice new laundry bag. The other item I modelled which I did not show you was of my furry trapper hat. I was mumbling away to myself about how it wasn't really cold enough to justify wearing it and when was I going to get the opportunity - well folks - guess what - it's officially snowing outside so I can wear my hat! Yippee!
This is how to wear it .....
I'm off to catch me a squirrel!
This is how not to wear it .....
Yikes! A mushroom fur ball has landed on my head!
Or your family will disown you!
Sorry - I need to grow up and I never said I was cool but cabin fever does take over sometimes!
I hear the cure is retail therapy!
Grey tee. Ticked. Finally.
Well it's been a long time coming but I finally got one. A grey marl tee. You'd think something so basic would be so easy but no it's not. It's got to be the right cut, the right shade, the right fit, the right material. The right everything. I think I've got it cracked with this tee from Splendid.
I've been looking for an age but somehow the perfect grey tee had eluded me. Yes there were grey tees out there in abundance but if I found the right colour, it was the wrong cut, if it was the right cut, it was the wrong colour, if it was the right colour, they didn't have my size, if they had my size ... well, you get the picture.
I was browsing the NAP sale and started looking through the tops ... and stopped at this tee from Splendid. It had the right scoop neckline (not too deep), it was the right colour (a classic grey marl) and it looked deliciously soft and stretchy! Basically, it was perfect! But what size? I know that Splendid make splendid (pun intended) jersey tops - I've just not had the privilege to come across any in the shopping flesh so had no idea what their sizing was like. I parked a size small (my usual size) in the basket and went off to make a cup of Earl Grey and came back ...... the following day.
It was time to press 'pay' but alas I'd taken a tea break too long. It had sold out in the small! Regardless, I crossed my fingers, said a prayer, popped a medium in the basket AND hit the pay button.
The tee arrived the next day courtesy of the nice DHL man. I unpacked the black tissue paper and shook out the tee. First impressions were it looked good and upon trying on, it was the perfect size. The Shopping Gods had helped me to buy it in the right size by making sure all the size smalls had sold out!
Yeah - I'm sucking my tummy in!
Just pretend it's July and not January, okay?
New Look Ballet Pumps (old)
Boyish but girly!
At full price £75 is not cheap for what a lot of people would call a basic grey tee and even at more than half price at £30, some people would still say it was too much but to me this was a bit of an investment buy because if you get the right one - it will be the perfect foundation for so many outfits. You also need to understand that a lot of my clothes tend to be on the plain side so sometimes, I pay a little extra for a good basic. This one is a smart enough cut to wear dressed up with a blazer and slouchy enough for a relaxed day at home.
Splendid Tee (new)
New Look Jeans (old)
Miss Selfridge Belt (old)
Susie Ho Bracelet (own design)
I personally don't think you can beat a grey tee and jeans combo especially for the summer months. For a change, I've put on a cream distressed leather belt instead of a tan one to give everything a lighter feel against the grey. The belt was not this distressed when I got it but after ragging it around, screwing it up and just messing it up - I managed to give it an aged look. The bracelet is my own design and has a little sterling silver chilli charm on. The Grumps has set me a challenge of seeing if I can bring some income in this year with my jewellery. We can but try.
Now having found my perfect grey tee ... I have also located a second grey marl tee from H&M for £7.99 which I intend to also have a look at. This is quite different to the Splendid tee - a more relaxed fit which means extra flattering for bagel bellys and being significantly cheaper, I really would prefer to wear this on the days when I'm hanging out with my boys so I can save the Splendid tee for the more grown up days. I have a good hunch about the H&M tee as it looks to be the same style as an existing H&M white tee which I really like and wore in a post last year where I was lamenting why they couldn't do a grey one. Well they must have been listening because this year - they did!
- What are your views on simple tees like this? Are they worth the money or do they need to embellished up to the hilt for you to think they are worth their salt? Am I a little mad for spending £30 on something which is so basic or would you prefer to buy 5 tees for this price? I confess - I'm a little bit of both :o)
- If you like the H&M tee - size down (they are cut very generous).
- If you like the Splendid tee - size up (they are cut not so generous).
- Last but not least - make sure you wear a well fitting tee shirt bra (no lacy ones!) under tees like the Splendid one - they skim the bust and show lumps and bumps. I'm talking about the unintended lumps and bumps!
Mum to Ben & George, married to the Grumps, living in suburbia, somewhere in the north of England.
- 2014 (78)
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