Archive of ‘Fashion and Beauty’ category

Curvy Kate: Daisy Chain & Starlet Petrol review

For ladies who’re blessed with a fuller bust, Curvy Kate is like all your Christmases and Birthday’s rolled into one. Ok, so sometimes having more-than-a-handful feels more like a curse than a blessing (especially when it comes to shopping for lingerie) but once in a blue moon you’ll come across a brand that just gets it. Offering a collection of D – K cup lingerie, Curvy Kate’s whole ethos revolves around making curvy girls feel good about their figure as well as providing those who need a little extra support and lift with beautiful underwear that fits AND flatters.

Back in July I was lucky enough to be invited to Curvy Kate’s blogger event – thanks to the lovely Gemma – to view the AW13 collection and play bra bingo with some gorgeous half naked women (read more about the event and see the photos here) where I also won a competition and a lingerie set from the new collection! I opted for the Daisy Chain after seeing Star In A Bra winner Lotte Williams wearing it on the catwalk – isn’t it lovely?

Curvy Kate Daisy Chain bra

This pretty plunge bra is supportive without feeling constrictive, and although it’s quite saucy in style (hello sheer top) it makes a great every day bra too. The daisy cut out embroidery is cute without being My-Little-Pony-cute, and thanks to the adjustable straps/laminated lower cups combination, you’ll get plenty of projection. My top draw is a no thong zone thank you very much, so I chose the matching briefs, which are true to size and feature a nice ample band at the side. Whilst I’m not quite ready to share my body with the Internet, I did flash the beautiful George of Fuller Figure Fuller Bust fame my Daisy Chain clad boobs over Twitter…

After falling in love with the Daisy Chain, I was thrilled to be given the chance to try a second set from the AW13 collection, the Starlet Petrol, which my bra obsessed friend Becky refers to as ‘the mermaid rack’. I LOVE the dual colour way, the star drop details and the diamond overlay on the moulded cups, which appears on the front panel of the briefs too. The Starlet gives a more rounded shape than the Daisy Chain (making it a great alternative to a boring t-shirt bra) and the briefs are super soft – if you’re a fan of high waisted underwear, then trust me: you need these in your life! Of the two, I think the Starlet is my favourite – which do you prefer?

Curvy Kate Starlet in Petrol bra
Curvy Kate Starlet Petrol set

Passion For Fashion: Part Two

Do you remember last year when I entered Money Supermarkets blogger competition to win £1000 to spend on the ultimate wardrobe update? Well, it’s back! There are less categories this time around, but the process is the same; create a Casual, Party and Holiday outfit for under £200 in the hope that you might inspire a reader, a stranger, or the brand new judging panel *waves*.

CASUAL

My last casual outfit was a typical everyday outfit for me consisting of jeans, a Breton striped top, classic trench and tote bag with trainers. This time I opted for something from the other side of my wardrobe; the one brimming with dresses and cardigans! (seriously, I’m a sucker for a good cardigan). I built this look around the dress – a gorgeous drop waisted number from the recent Celia Birtwell for Uniqlo collection – teaming it with a cardigan in my favourite colour, grey. I actually already own this dress but I’m already thinking of buying it in another colour as it’s so comfortable and flattering, not to mention a bargain at £29.99! I added a pair of sturdy but stylish ankle boots that will last through to next season and a pretty oversized bag to carry all the crap I tote around with me during the day, finishing off the look with subtle jewellery and a rich purple nail polish.

*GEEK SIDE NOTE
If the TARDIS turned up on my doorstep, this is probably what I’d be wearing to run around the universe with the Doctor, so I guess you could call it my companion outfit…

casual outfit

BEACH/HOLIDAY
I’m going on holiday in a few weeks time, although unfortunately I won’t be anywhere near a beach! I say unfortunately as ASOS have some amazing swimwear this season which I’ve been drooling over for a while now. My holiday look is inspired by the Sixties and Seventies style seen across the SS13 catwalks; these round framed glasses teamed with that high waisted bikini (which goes up to a 34FF by the way!) would look amazing with a slick of pink lipstick and a beachy beehive…

I wanted to create an outfit that could go from beach to bar, so I included a beautiful blue jersey dress (which would fit easily in the large metallic tote bag without creasing too much), a sleek pair of white sandals and a pretty charm necklace.

 

budget holiday outfit

ASOS High Waisted Bikini Pant £16
ASOS Print Fuller Bust Halter Bikini Top £16
French Connection Jersey Maxi Dress £48
Topshop Hermione Geek Sandals £22
& Other Stories Lipstick in Ninon Pink £12
Sam Ubhi Charm Necklace £35
ASOS Tortoiseshell Round Sunglasses £10
TOTAL = £159 (£41 left over for ice creams and duty free)

PARTY
My last outfit may not be particularly daring or typically ‘dressy’, but then I’m not really the type of girl to party in tight dresses and sky high platforms – this look is very true to my own style with a few trend pieces throw in.

This Prada-esque skirt from Topshop keeps making its way into my shopping basket – I LOVE IT – and to me, it’s the perfect swishy skirt for dancing. As it is so bold I’ve dressed it down with a loose fitting tee (tucked in at the waist of course) and added a statement necklace to balance out the outfit. To finish off the look, I threw in some wonderful pointed cats eye sunglasses (only £12!) along with an on-trend metallic clutch and classic heels from Zara, who I can always rely on for stylish shoes on a budget.

budget party outfit
 H&M Jersey Top £7.99
Zara Metallic Clutch Bag £19.99
ASOS Pretty Tough Necklace £50
Zara Leather Sandals £39.99
TOTAL = £177.97 (£22.03 left over for a cocktail or two…)

I hope you like my outfit picks – if you want to see more, Money Supermarket have created Pinterest boards full of inspirational entries, or you can search for the hashtag #PassionForFashion2 on Twitter. Good luck to everyone who’s entered!

Ways To Wear Challenge: The Little Black Dress

My lovely friend Gemma Cartwright (the extremely talented woman behind Catwalk Queen and Big Girls Browse) recently decided to put together her own outfit challenge, and I jumped at the chance to do something I haven’t done in a while – a fashion related post.

Although I write about shopping and fashion for a living, I’ve never classed myself as a ‘fashion blogger’ – yes I have occasionally shared photos of the outfits I’ve worn, but quite frankly my wardrobe is in dire need of updating and I tend to wear the same things over and over and over again. Inspired by Gemma, I figured it was time to step outside of my comfort zone and focus on what I wear rather than what’s on the red carpet, so without further ado, here’s my first entry into the Ways To Wear Challenge!

Ways To Wear a little black dress

Even though 90% of my clothing consists of dark clothing, I actually have a surprising low number of black dresses. I decided to go for a sheer boxy dress that I got from Topshop forever ago – I’ve never worn it in the day before as I always thought it was too ‘office’, but, determined to try something new, I threw a grey cardigan over it for a more laid back look. I didn’t want to break it up with a waisted belt because for me, the details of the dress are enough. The vertical stitching travels down the front panel add another dimension to it – stopping it from being a boring old bib – and there are tiny buttons down the back. The hem is gathered slightly at the sides too, providing a subtle cocoon effect.

I teamed the dress with black tights, black ankle boots and kept the accessories to a minimum; a black briefcase style handbag and a gold hare necklace. Not wanting the outfit to consist purely of dark colours, I added a slick of my favourite red lipstick for a pop of colour. Et voila!

My WilliamVintage appointment

If you follow me on Twitter you might be aware that a few weeks ago I won a competition hosted by the man who Vogue dubs “the vintage king” – Mr William Banks-Blaney.

Obviously when I say you might be aware, I’m being sarcastic; I’ve talked about it A LOT. I’m pretty sure that Charlie thought I was having a panic attack as I checked my phone half way through dinner and promptly started hyperventilating over William’s congratulatory message! After taking a few deep breaths I contacted William to arrange an appointment to choose my prize – a stylish autumn coat – and started day dreaming about spending the afternoon in the company of a man who dresses one of my favourite women in the world (Dawn Porter) as well as a whole host of inspirational/beautiful ladies including Lana del Ray, Tilda Swinton and Eva Green.

WilliamVintage store
WilliamVintage in London

As the morning of ‘coat day’ arrived, I headed over to WilliamVintage for my one-to-one appointment, armed with a nervous smile and a box full of homemade chocolate truffles (I’m pretty sure I’m incapable  of turning up to anything empty handed). William greeted me at the door with a huge grin and immediately made me feel welcome in his world; a world filled with beautiful haute couture Dior, pristine Courreges and the finest Yves Saint Laurent.

Watching William at work was an awe-inspiring experience. As he talked about his recent finds, his passion and extensive knowledge came alive; this man knows each piece like the back of his hand and is one of the most dedicated people I’ve ever met. You only have to listen to him speak for 60 seconds to realise just how deeply his obsession runs! Despite being an appointment only boutique, WilliamVintage is far from pretentious – both Will and WilliamVintage’s Director Elspeth were personable, open and incredibly lovely. As I tried on a mountain of stunning coats, capes and jackets I knew that he would give me an honest opinion and not just try to ‘sell’ me anything in order to turn a profit. Anyone who has ever had the pleasure of meeting William will know that he derives genuine pleasure from helping someone find that perfect piece, whether you’re a competition winner with an empty purse or a regular client with an extensive bank account.

vintage coat
vintage coat shopping

I could have listened to William talk for hours about the treasures in his store – everything was immaculate, each item beautifully cared for and presented – but after spending forever sighing over haute couture and spinning around in beautiful coats, I finally managed to narrow down my favourites. Part of me could have quite happily skipped home in a floor length aubergine velvet cape (it had a seriously amazing hood that almost covered my whole face) but the sensible side of my brain stopped me from being too hasty.

When I walked in the door of WilliamVintage I had no personal criteria; all I dreamed of was a beautiful coat that would last me a lifetime. Although I had no preconceptions about the colour, the fabric or the cut, I actually ended up being torn between two fairly similar coats, both from the 1960’s and both detailing minx fur collars. The grey Sixties swing coat with dreamy creamy fur was hard to leave behind, but I consoled myself by taking home this hand tailored cashmere beauty – in the end it won out thanks to its elegance and charm. Everything about it feels magical, from the pockets, the length and the lining, to the fur and those beautifully crafted buttons…it is one of those special pieces of clothing that makes you feel like a new person when you wear it.

vintage fur coat
vintage swing coat

Money Supermarket’s Passion For Fashion Competition

Last week I came across a styling competition on Money Supermarket asking bloggers to create their perfect outfits for 5 different occasions; party, casual, outdoor, first date and office wear. The catch? Each look has to come in under £200, including shoes and accessories. Having found myself with a little spare time on my hands recently, I thought it would make a nice change of pace to show you what I’ll be coveting this season – autumn is my favourite time of year to buy clothes, and this provided me with the perfect excuse to do a spot of window shopping/bargain hunting!

PARTY

Sometimes it’s hard to find a pretty dress that costs less than £50, which is why I jumped on this £38 floral number as soon as I saw it. As the outfit is for a party I chose to forgo tights, which meant finding a dress that wasn’t cut too short for my frame (hence why I headed to Topshop’s tall section). I know that for some of you out there, this outfit might not be daring or sparkly enough for a party, but for me, it’s perfect; it’s opulence on a shoe string! The baroque trend is definitely one of the most decadent this season, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do it on a budget – keep an eye out jacquard fabrics, soft leathers, and heavily embellished jewellery.I opted for a colour palette of forest green, luxurious purple and deep black to give my outfit a ‘pretty meets gothic’ vibe. I don’t like wearing heels in winter (especially if there’s frost on the ground) which is why I opted for flats instead of stilettos. I wanted something patent to match the belt, and when I saw these Moschino style slippers, I fell in love – they’re a steal at £17.99! There are so many elements in this look that can easily be dressed up or down, that it’s almost like having two outfits; the dress could easily be transformed into a skirt by adding an oversized jumper, tights and boots, the vampish lipstick can be toned down by mixing with lip balm and applying lightly with a brush, and all of the accessories would work well with a casual outfit.

Party outfit

TOTAL = £175.99 (£24.01 left over for a cab home after you’ve partied the night away)

CASUAL
Those of you who know me will testify that this casual outfit is probably the truest depiction of my wardrobe! My day-to-day look is inspired by off duty cool – it’s laid back, but with understated fashion notes, like the Breton striped top and 60’s style oversized sunglasses. Adding a trench and skinny black jeans to the mix gives the whole outfit a classic vibe; think of yourself as a modern day Coco Chanel or Audrey Hepburn. Keeping up to date with the latest trends can be exhausting (and not to mention seriously expensive!) but the beauty of this outfit is that it’s built on a solid foundation of staple pieces that have stood the test of time. If you choose your casual wardrobe carefully and shop for classic shapes and styles, you’ll get the most out of your wardrobe without spending a fortune.

TOTAL = £195.12 (£4.88 left over for a slice of cake and a pot of tea)

OUTDOOR

For me this look encapsulates everything I love about autumn and winter – it’s snuggly, warm, pretty AND practical! I can just imagine walking through the snow to a quiet coffee shop and curling up on a huge sofa (with a good book and a cup of tea) in this outfit. Like all good outdoorsy outfits, this look takes its inspiration from English heritage, brands like Burberry Prorsum, and of course, the rural countryside. In my opinion an outdoors outfit should be a mishmash of fabrics and patterns like tartans and tweeds, houndstooth, plaid, thick woollen cable knits and delicate Fair Isle. Having said that, you don’t want to look like you’ve just jumped in and out of your wardrobe; the aim is to look effortless, not crazy! I actually prefer dressing for the cold because I get to play around with layering – you can change a whole outfit just by adding another cardigan or jumper. Layering is also great for your bank balance, as you’ll wear some of your thinner jumpers right through to spring! This denim shirt dress could easily be worn without tights at the start of the summer (with the sleeves rolled up and a pair of cute sandals) and a good pair of wellingtons will last you for years.

TOTAL = £198.98 (£1.02 left over for a bag of marsh mellows to roast on the fire)

FIRST DATE
Choosing what to wear on a first date is quite possibly one of the most stressful moments caused by your wardrobe; it’s up there with dressing for fashion week and deciding what to wear for a job interview. My date night outfit doesn’t have a particularly romantic theme as I’m not a very girly girl, and I would never dream of wearing something like a body-con dress and heels on a first date! Taking its inspiration from the AW12 runway, this look is feminine without trying too hard. There are no frills or flowers; instead it’s relaxed, simplistic and modern. The clean lines of the dress remind me of casual cool brand Acne, whilst the ‘geek chic’ elements (like the patent loafers and charcoal liner) are influenced by Paul Smiths preppy collection. To me, this outfit is confident and approachable – which is exactly how I would want to appear on a first date – and if the man didn’t last, then at least the clothes would stand the test of the British winter! Adding thick tights to the dress and layering with chunky jumpers and cardigans as the weather gets worse is the perfect way to take this outfit right through to summer 2013.

first date outfit
TOTAL = £189.49 (£10.51 left over for a bottle of wine)

OFFICE WEAR
Over the last few years I’ve been lucky enough to work in places where my wardrobe isn’t restricted to the usual black skirts, white shirts, nude tights and heels. In light of this, I’ve put together a look that transcends the stereotypical office wear; something classic, tailored and smart, yet preppy and fashionable too. Inspired by masculine cuts (with a little heritage and graphic influence thrown in for good measure) it’s androgynous with a twist. I love the idea of mixing ‘smart colours’ like black, grey and navy with a pop of pink or a splash of yellow; it gives the whole outfit an overall runway aesthetic. In my opinion, dressing appropriately for work is about finding the balance between what you should wear and what you like to wear – I’m a firm believer that everything you wear for to the office should fit into your everyday wardrobe too! This cable knit jumper would look equally great teamed with jeans and trainers, the hot pink lipstick can be worn all year round, and the laptop case doubles up as a clutch bag if you decide to go out for cocktails after work.

cool office outfit

TOTAL = £197.98 (£2.02 left to buy yourself a coffee with at lunch)

Stand Up Tall: Jeans

Jeans are a bitch to buy whatever your size or height, but when your inside leg hits the 36 inch mark, the task of finding that perfect pair become almost impossible!

Topshop has always been my personal saviour when it comes to jeans. By the time I was 13 years old I had already hit the 6’1 mark, and back then, very few retailers on the high street had a dedicated tall section – let alone one that was on trend and reasonably priced. Even when I went from a slim size 10 to a curvy size 14, I still felt I could rely on Topshop and when I started working for the brand ten years later, I made sure I purchased at least one pair of jeans with my uniform allowance. The Jamie high waisted skinny fit has always been my favourite (I wore my last pair to death until I ripped a hole in the crotch) but over the last year I haven’t been able to find a good pair, thanks in large part to Topshop turning almost every pair of Jamie’s into ankle grazers *sulk*.

Topshop Tall Jaime jeans

Topshop Tall Leigh jeans

After battling for a while, I gave in and decided to try the super skinny Leigh fit. I have a couple of jeans in this style, and whilst I like the multitude of colour options, they aren’t as relaxed (or forgiving) as the Jamie’s, the soft material isn’t as durable, and I often find that the side seams twist when I’m wearing them. Does anyone else have this problem?! Surely it can’t just be me…

I’m on the hunt for a new pair, so any recommendations would be great! I’m going to attempt to force myself out of my Topshop addiction and try a couple of styles from the New Look, Next and Dorothy Perkins tall sections too – wish me luck!

Packing (like a girl)

Having never been on a *real* road trip before, I was afraid that I would succumb to the pitfall of overpacking like I usually do. Although I am a far cry from wanting to pack the kitchen sink or the cat, I will admit to being excessive when it comes to ‘just incase’ outfits and compulsive last minute additions. Sensibility is key when it comes to long haul travel, and questioning everything you pack can be helpful. The one thing I’ve constantly asked myself this weekend is:

“Do I really need to take that?”

If you’re unsure of how to pack for a long trip, or you’re struggling to condense your suitcase, here are some tips and ideas to keep your luggage light:

  • I’ve packed one pair of heels and if it wasn’t for our last stop in New York, they wouldn’t even be leaving the country. Do you HONESTLY need to take more than one pair?
  • Although I love stand alone pieces, I tend to buy the same things in a multitude of colours. Why not? If you like that little white top and you know you’ll wear it to death whilst you’re away, then buy it in the black too – especially if it will work with more than one skirt.
  • Mix and Match. This, above all things, is the idea I’ve embraced the most for this trip. Being much more visually stimulated, I started by laying out my bottom halves on the bed and then pulled everything out of the wardrobe that I thought I wanted to take. Doing this (and being honest with yourself whilst doing this) is a sure fire way to cut items out, and, if it goes with both pairs of shorts, you’re guaranteed to wear it more than once.
  • Make a list of what you’re taking as you pack. It’s an easy way to track exactly how much you’re putting in your case and it’ll make you question your choices. Do you really need 10 vests in the same colour? Having said that…
  • …don’t worry if everything you want to take is of a similar colour way. If anything, this makes mixing and matching a lot easier!