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Blanket Wrap
Accessories, Coats & Jackets, In My Wardrobe, Tried & Tested

Winter is Coming. It’s Time to Wrap Up.

Blanket wrap, throw, shawl, poncho, horse blanket…call them what you will, this season there’s definitely no shortage of oversized scarves in heavy fabrics that will help you add that important extra layer of warmth. Damart set me the challenge of styling up the Dogtooth Wrap for the colder weather, and I knew immediately this look had to be all about the layers. These wraps are brilliant over your usual coat on days when you know you’re going to be facing sub-zero temperatures.

Damart wrap

I teamed the wrap with a lace-up top from Primark, the Missguided Lena coat (still available in lilac and pink), black Old Navy rockstar jeans (the best cheap jeans in the world) and Clarks Hamble Oak brogues in pewter. This is my second pair and they’re still the comfiest brogues ever.

wrap3

The joy of these wraps is you can throw, pin, and wrap them around yourself in all manner of ways to suit the weather. One minute, it’s like a poncho over your coat (I prefer to tuck it under the lapels so the coat shows, especially if I’m wearing colour like this one), the next minute it’s more like an oversized scarf, tucked up around the neck. I’ve also seen them look great belted a little like a waistcoat; a good choice if you’re concerned that all the layers will drown you a little.

My other big reason for loving these wraps is that they are a joy when travelling. I hate getting cold on long flights but I also hate packing a big coat just for the journey. I’ve always worn a big scarf for flights and now I’ll be upgrading. This is way better than the horrible blankets that get handed out in economy class! It stays in place over the shoulders, you can easily fasten your seatbelt over the top of it, and your hands remain free for important entertainment selections (ahem, and free wine guzzling). On top of that, you’re far more likely to get use out of it at your destination if, like me, you always slightly underestimate the weather when you get there.

wrap4

One final bonus? These babies come in one size, so whether you’re buying as a gift and not sure on size, or you have a tendency to yo-yo between sizes, you can rest assured this will fit!

Disclosure : The wrap was a gift, however I wasn’t paid to write this post

freemans
Clothing, Dresses, In My Wardrobe, Skirts, Tops & Tees

The Best Things in Life Are Free(mans)

In order to celebrate the launch of their new TV ad, the lovely folks at Freemans got in touch to treat me to a few new wardrobe additions and the opportunity to have a bit of a pamper. Free time for pampering has been sorely lacking in the last few weeks so my bath bombs and beauty treats remain untouched, but I have been having fun with my new clothes (which, let’s be honest, is my favourite way to relax anyway).

I must confess it’s been a long time since I’ve had any experience with Freemans. I would pore over the catalogue and try to persuade my mum to buy me slip dresses and flares and platform shoes back in the ’90s; the irony is a lot of the stuff you can find there now is probably a dead ringer for the stuff I coveted back then. So perhaps it was fate that they came back into my life around the same time as all the trends from my teens. Of course now you don’t need a catalogue delivered to the house, you can just shop online. Much easier (though they do have a few of the old catalogue elements, like the ability to open an account and buy now, pay later). The ad reminds you just how many things they sell, from shoes to washing machines. There really is something for everyone. I’m guessing I can’t buy one of those lions, though. Shame.

I always remember Freemans stocking brands I loved as a teen (Shelly’s shoes, Kickers, Red or Dead) and things haven’t changed, they still stock a lot of household names, but I was also surprised to spot a few more cult labels, like Yumi, Darling, and Glamorous. Glamorous has become a fast favourite of mine in the last couple of seasons, so the first item I picked had to be from them. I went full on ’70s with a faux suede button-down midi skirt. I was worried it would be very thin and flimsy but it’s actually super heavy and quite stiff, making it perfect for Autumn with my tan Orla Kiely accessories and plenty of cosy black. I have a feeling I’ll wear this a lot in the coming months.

skirtpics

Next up was a wrap blouse, which I got in burgundy, or if you want to be posh and use the Pantone colour of the year…marsala.

Freemans Wrap Blouse

I wore this all weekend on a trip to Liverpool and it won me over for one simple reason; I never flashed my bra. That’s always been my fear with these draped tops. But the wrap is really smartly designed to sit in just the right spot and the shoulders are reinforced so it doesn’t sag. The open back and folded hem at the front makes it the perfect option for people (aka me) who are incapable of doing that nonchalant “half tuck” that street style stars can do. It’s all done for you.

Finally, we have the dresses (because of course there were dresses). The other one will come in another post but I had to show the blue polka dots.

bluedress

I’m going to call this my “time machine” dress because it’s the kind of thing I lived in about 5 years ago. There was a time when a stretchy jersey dress and tights was my version of jeans and a t-shirt. Now I have finally embraced jeans (read: lost enough weight to fit back into them) I don’t opt for this style as much and because I wore it so much it feels a bit old-fashioned to me now, but I couldn’t resist this for old time’s sake as it felt very “me”. When I put it on, I remembered why I loved this style so much. I’s so easy-to-wear, it’s always flattering on a curvy figure, and it’s timeless.

I guess you could say that through this campaign I rediscovered an old faithful in more ways than one: both a retailer, and a dress!

Disclosure: Freemans gave me the products as a gift. I wasn’t paid to write this post.

Striped dress
Clothing, Dresses, Skirts, Ways To Wear

It’s Time to Think Twice About Stripes

“Horizontal stripes make you look wider!”

How many times have you heard that? In fact, how many times have you said it?

It’s one of fashion’s biggest myths. It’s been proven time and time again that it’s a load of rubbish, but many people still seem to be convinced that the moment they put on anything striped it’ll somehow completely alter their body shape. Luckily, despite the unnecessary fears, stripes still manage to be one of the most enduring style essentials. This season, the vertical stripe has risen up the ranks, so if you really, truly can’t get it out of your head that horizontal stripes are evil, there’s a look for you too. Everyone should have something fabulous and striped in their wardrobe, so to help you choose your perfect partner, here are five of my favourite striped finds to wear right now.

ASOS striped dress

This ASOS dress (£65) has been haunting my dreams ever since I first saw it. Sadly, it’s one of those dresses that falls into the “if only” camp because the backless cut means going braless, and that is just not something I can do. But would I love it as much if it didn’t have the low back with the bow? Probably not. If you’re able to go without a bra, please buy this and send me photos of you looking wonderful so I can live vicariously through you.

Missguided striped jumpsuit

Combining my two great loves for this month, stripes and culotte jumpsuits, this Missguided number (£35) would definitely make it into my basket if I had any occasion to wear it (I really don’t, I’m an old lady and I don’t get out much any more). Maybe I could get away with it for work if I put a blazer over the top? For those who like a runway-inspired bargain, it’s worth noting this is a dead ringer for an Alice + Olivia number that’s still selling for £150+.

Chicwish Striped Maxi Skirt

I have a couple of Chicwish skirts and they are fabulous, so I’m sure this amazing maxi (£36) would follow suit. Yes, it’s absolutely bonkers and there’s a serious limit to the amount of occasions you could wear it, but given the price, aren’t you tempted? For those wishing to be just a tiny bit more practical, there is also a midi version (£30).

bodendress

You may not think this is a true stripe but Boden calls it “multi retro stripe” and since I’m basically having an affair with Boden right now, I will take anything the website says as gospel. There aren’t many days of Summer left to wear a sundress like this one (£45) but when has that ever stopped me buying dresses before? Someone please drag me away from my laptop before I do something stupid.

Oasis Striped Palazzo Pants

Wide-leg trousers are a big deal right now, and you don’t get a better way to try the trend than these Oasis trousers which are only £10 in the sale. Everything about this style is leg-lengthening and super chic. The only problem is the fact the hems will get grubby within seconds of putting them on. Also, nude underwear at all times!

panache anya bikini

You thought you were getting out of here without a bikini? Oh no my friends! Panache’s strapless bikini tops are the stuff of absolute wonder for anyone with a larger bust, and the Anya striped bikini is the latest addition. These cup sized styles aren’t the cheapest but they’re really well-made, and manage to be both supportive and comfortable. The above image is from Bravissimo, which has the bikini in the sale. If you can’t find your size there, Figleaves has more options but they’re all low stock so get a wriggle on!

oasisss
Clothing, In My Wardrobe

You’ll Be Surprised What £50 Will Get You

A little while ago, Think Money set me a challenge to see what kind of outfit I could put together for under £50. Using Love 2 Shop vouchers (which are accepted at a whole host of high street shops) I went on the hunt for a daywear look that would work throughout the Summer.

I started off in Oasis, where I picked up a pair of purple printed culottes. I’m all about culottes at the moment; it took a while to succumb (they reminded me of Brownies and Guides) but now I love their practicality, especially if it starts to get windy! This pair was £15 when I bought them but they’ve actually now been reduced to only £10. They’re such a bargain, I’d definitely recommend them.

outfit3

I teamed them with a simple camisole top with a crossover back that I found for £4 in Matalan. While there I also grabbed a matching pink clutch bag for the tidy sum of £7. So far so good, I’d spent £26.

Then came the shoes. Cheap shoes are a tricky thing, and there’s only really one place I trust to get bargain shoes I know won’t tear my feet apart, and that’s New Look. These wedges give the lift that’s needed with the mid-length culottes, but they’re also comfy enough to wear all day and are a Summer classic. They’re £20 from the wide-fit range. I don’t usually need a wide fit but because they’re sandals I was able to strap myself in tight.

outfit4

This is where things get naughty, because with a total of £46 spent, I really should have stopped. But when I noticed Oasis make a matching blazer to go with the culottes, I couldn’t resist one last purchase with my own cash. This baby was £25 in the sale, and will take the whole look through to Autumn. It’s not strictly within budget, but I wanted to show you anyway as it really brings the look together.

outfit1

Overall, I’m pretty proud that I was able to put this outfit together without a) getting it all from Primark or b) taking the easy option and buying a dress and flats. I was really surprised with some of the bargains in the Oasis sale, and (shhh) ended up going back for some more stuff not long after. I’ve always loved hunting down bargains, so my only issue with this was narrowing it down to one outfit that I was going to settle on. But I’m happy with the results, and I will definitely be getting wear out of this co-ord!

outfit2

Disclosure: The £50 Love 2 Shop vouchers were a gift from Think Money. I wasn’t paid to write this post.

joules
Clothing, Sponsored Posts

You Can Take The Girl Out Of The Country…

I’ve lived in London for almost twelve years, but I actually grew up in a rural village, surrounded by countryside. I never really appreciated it when I was there – country walks were just something my dad made me do when I could have been shopping – but I’ve grown to learn how lucky I was that I spent my formative years adopting hedgehogs in the garden, sledging on the common in Winter and attempting to rollerblade through fields in Spring. I’ve been on my fair share of camping trips, played epic games of hide and seek in the grounds of the village castle (really) and can still identify most common birds and butterflies, despite rarely seeing them in Clapham.

The one thing I never really embraced properly as a country girl was traditional country clothing. Ok, I had a gilet once, but that was more to do with wanting to be a member of All Saints than wanting to go to pony school. Some things I wore out of practicality, like a pair of hand-me-down moon boots in the snow, a wax jacket won in a school raffle when I was about 6, a striped rugby top, and the seen-better-days casuals my mum refers to as “scruffs” that I wore on the rare occasions I was dragged away from my sketchbook (and later computer) to help in the garden. But the full-on British prep look wasn’t something I embraced until much later, when country casuals got a pretty, vintage-inspired overhaul.

Country Clothing at Joules

Now, I’m smitten with these styles, all from purveyors of all things country-pretty, Joules. Look at that swimsuit! Check out the twee print on the sundress! This is not the countryside dressing I remember from childhood. This is the country chic dressing of a Richard Curtis film, where everyone’s got double-barrelled surnames and large family estates. And I love it!

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post.

bastyantop2
Clothing, Dressember, Dresses

The Perfect NYE Party Dress by Bastyan

For me, half of the fun of party season is in the getting ready, so when Bastyan offered me the chance to style up one of their party dresses, I couldn’t resist. Their dresses put modern spins on classic formal shapes, from cutouts at the waist to sheer panels and embroidered details. I wasn’t so sure on the styles that flashed the flesh and I knew I wouldn’t get much wear out of one of the more formal maxi dresses, so the dress I chose was the Sophia, a fitted black pencil dress with a gathered section, sheer 3/4 length sleeves and a curved plunge neckline. It’s one of those dresses that looks quite innocuous until you put it on. Then you realise what a difference a clever cut can make!

bastyan1

Coming in at £195 (though it’s reduced to £125 in the sale) this is one of the most expensive dresses I own, but you can tell the difference between this and a cheaper style. It’s fully lined, and the fabrics are heavy and luxurious, meaning it skims comfortably, rather than clinging too tightly like a cheaper unlined version. I often find that tight fitting dresses like this can end up clinging in unfortunate places – and I don’t always want to wear shapewear, especially around Christmas. With this, I can wear tights without worrying about digging in, which is definitely an added bonus.

bastyan2

In terms of styling, I don’t really think this dress requires much so I kept it simple, with sparkly studded tights and a black and white clutch bag, plus my go-to festive hairdo, the beehive (with a jewelled headband). The dress would look great with a bright coloured pair of shoes or belt, but I wanted to show that it doesn’t need any extra cinching to work with a curvy figure. The lower neckline is perfect for a big necklace if you prefer, but I actually think it looks just as striking without, as that curved shape is quite a strong design detail. Despite the fact it’s plain black, I think the little touches (the sheer sleeves, the little front split and the neckline) give this dress that extra something, so accessories should be kept to a minimum. Too much drama with a dress that’s already an attention grabber can be a bit much!

Disclosure: The dress was a gift, however I wasn’t paid to write this post and all thoughts are my own

reddress1
Clothing, Dressember, Dresses

‘Cos I’m Cooler Than The Red Dress…

reddress1

One of the problems with doing Dressember is finding enough dresses that are warm enough for one of the coldest months of the year. I have a predisposition for things that are a lot lighter and more summery (hello, floral cotton), which means I often end up spending most of my Winter freezing cold. So when East offered me the chance to try one of their dresses, I decided to go with my brain, rather than my gut, and test out the pleated merino dress (£99), which is the perfect design for colder temperatures.

I always scoff at people who say they won’t wear dresses or skirts in colder temperatures. In the right long sleeved dress and fleece-lined tights, I’d wager I’m probably warmer than anyone in jeans. Winter dresses do require a bit more consideration, but if you pick the right fabrics (heavy wools, jacquards or knits) there’s no reason to switch to trousers and jumpers when the temperature drop.

This isn’t my usual style of dress, but that was part of the appeal. I loved the idea of a knitted dress that would genuinely keep me warm in cold weather. It’s not just a high quality knit with long sleeves, it also has a lining under the skirt for extra warmth and a nicer finish. This definitely does the job – if anything I overheated when wearing this in central heating, and ended up rolling up the sleeves. Merino wool really does the job, if you’re used to wearing acrylics you will be blown away by the difference a quality yarn can make. That’s why this dress is expensive – you’re paying for quality, warmth and a knit that keeps its shape past the first wear.

reddress2

The length is a little longer than I’m used to, meaning this dress was best worn with heels rather than flats. I prefer a knee length style and at 5’7 this hit just below the knee, however the waist was quite high, which worked with my shorter torso. The shape is really classic – a fitted waist, pleated skirt and wrap-over top that’s particularly good for those with larger busts or top halves. The colour I chose, a rich red, is suitably festive too (one colleague referred to me as “Mrs Claus” on the day I wore it).

east-merino

It’s worth noting that East’s sizing is generous. I’m wearing a size 12, which is plenty big enough for me despite the fact I normally wear a 14. I’d definitely recommend going down a size in this unless you are particularly pear-shaped (it’s in the skirt where you need the extra room to allow the pleats to hang properly). Knits have a tendency to stretch but I found this dress kept its shape very well.

Overall, I’m impressed. When it comes to my style, this is definitely a day dress as it doesn’t have the ostentatious drama I look for in an evening dress. But if you’re not usually a dress girl, it could be an easy ‘in’ that will definitely get worn over and over again. It’s practical and flattering, I wore this for work and for play and it worked just as well for both. Definitely worth the investment if you want a quality dress that you’ll wear more than once a year.

Disclosure: The dress was a gift, however I wasn’t paid to write this post and all views are my own.

xmasjumpertop
Clothing, Special Ranges, Tops & Tees

“Apart from being very disappointed not to see my favourite reindeer jumper again…”

christmasjumper

Christmas outfit planning began for me on 11th September, when I got a text from my mum that read “No Santa outfits this year. Gotta have a Christmas jumper”. We’ve always been a fancy dress obsessed family, and I do think this photo from last Christmas will take a lot of beating, but if anything can do it, some Mark Darcy-esque Christmas jumpers are probably a good place to start. So began the search for the perfect knit! Enter my festive fairy godmothers, New Look, who sent me my first Christmas present of the year, a stocking of goodies and (natch) a suitably festive Christmas jumper…

Now I’ll be honest with you. This isn’t actually the jumper I’ll wear on Christmas Day. I won’t spoil that surprise (see you on Instagram!) but I actually think New Look’s offering is far too pretty for the big day. Yes, the Christmas pudding is sparkly and the ‘snow’ is 3D, but it’s a lovely soft fluffy mohair-style yarn, a cute pastel colour, and there definitely aren’t enough sequins or lights or clashing colours to pass the Cartwright Family Christmas Humiliation Test (™).

christmasjumperpudding

Instead, I rolled this bad boy out on 13th December, which is Christmas Jumper Day (a charity event for Save The Children). As I’m also still trying to do Dressember, I layered my jumper over a dress to ensure I was ticking all the boxes when it comes to wardrobe requirements. This wasn’t the greatest idea in the world, as someone clearly worked out how to turn the central heating up in our office block the same day and I almost melted . . . but there was no way I was taking off my little bit of festive naffness. I even sat in an interview wearing it. That’s dedication for you. Or perhaps stupidity?

label

One of the things I love about this jumper is New Look’s cute attention to detail. The normal label is ditched in favour of a special gift label, so if you have a waterproof pen you can personalise it if it’s a gift. Size wise it’s pretty generous. As you can see, I tried the 14, which fit with plenty of room. The whole point of a Christmas jumper is that it has a classic loose fit, but I’d suggest sizing down if you prefer a more modern, slim fit. There’s no waist, it’s a straight fit with a ribbed hem.

The jumper’s still available if you’re looking for something for the festive season, and I think it’s a great buy if you want to get into the spirit without going all out in a red, green and gold monstrosity. If you prefer penguins, light-up Christmas trees or festive fair isle, New Look has all that too in their Christmas jumpers collection. Today’s their last day for Christmas delivery, so shop quickly!

Disclosure: The jumper was a gift. I wasn’t paid to write this post and all opinions are my own.