Browsing Tag



Spring / Summer outfit inspiration: casual, party and holiday

I never usually enter blogger competitions, but I couldn’t resist the lure of the Passion for Fashion challenge. The rules are simple: create three outfits for under £200 based around three areas: casual wear, party wear and holiday wear. There’s a blogger judging panel (hi guys! LOVE YOU!!!) and prizes will be awarded for each category, plus a grand prize for the best set. We’re advised to take trends into consideration, and create budget outfits for Spring / Summer 2013 based around the key season looks. I love doing outfit picks and I am the queen of the budget outfit, so most of these come in well under the £200 allowed! My three trends are Global Traveller for my holiday look (encompassing all the ‘boho’ and ‘tribal’ inspired trends floating around this season), Monochrome for my party look (with an added dash of 1920s, Great Gatsby glam in honour of the long-awaited film), and for casual wear, Print-on-print with a slight 50s twist, inspired by my post about cropped trousers the other day, with a touch of off-duty Taylor Swift in her Keds (wha? I’m obsessed with 22 and I don’t care what you think). Here goes nothing…

The Partywear outfit: Monochrome goes Gatsby


When is this Great Gatsby film going to come out? And will it be worth the wait? I fear not, but I will be watching just for the Prada and Miu Miu dresses and Baz Luhrmann madness. This outfit is my homage to that, and trust me, I’m as surprised as you that a TOWIE alumni could come up with a dress this pretty. High fives, Lydia. More of this, please.

Studded bunny ears headband £12.50 at Topshop
LYDC knuckeduster clutch bag with jewels £22.97 at Amazon
Jewel bauble earrings £18 at ASOS
Lydia Bright shift dress in embellished deco style £75 at ASOS
Rosanna high heeled sandals £35 at Boohoo
Rhinestone cocktail ring £7.50 at Dorothy Perkins

The Casual outfit: Print on print with a 50s twist


I’m 29 and I’m obsessed with a girl who sings about being 22. This is not going to end well. I love that Taylor Swift manages to wear little dresses with Keds (she’s got a campaign with them) and not look like a fool. I’m not quite there yet, but I would happily team some polka dot plimsolls with Uniqlo’s amazing Celia Birtwell ‘legging trousers’ (that’s capri pants to you and me). Add some more polka dots for luck, and you have my casual look, which actually comes in at under £100. WIN!

Red tee with white polka dots £15 at A|Wear
Celia Birtwell cropped legging trousers £14.90 at Uniqlo
Frankie fringed bag in turquoise £22 La Moda
Champion red polka dot plimsolls £37.50 Keds
Brown leather and gold chain cuff £4.99 at New Look

The holiday outfit – the Global Traveller


High-waisted bikini, ridiculous sunglasses, denim cut-offs, killer wedges and loads of jewellery. Just add a fake tan and a huge hat and you have my holiday wardrobe sorted. I know there’s no handbag, I am going to pretend that is absolutely deliberate. My virtual holidaymaker is staying all-inclusive so doesn’t need to carry anything!

Crochet square top £45 at Miss Selfridge
Diane double wrap necklace £12 at Boohoo
Tribal print bikini £26 at River Island
G21 Aztec shorts £12 George at Asda
Monochrome Aztec cross strap cork wedges £27.99 at New Look
Tortoiseshell look sunglasses £12 at ASOS
Bracelet stack £18.50 at Topshop


Dressember 2012 Part 2 – Florals, jumping and loadsa layers!

It’s time for another Dressember update! These photos don’t bring me totally up to date, but they give me plenty of opportunity to bring you another lovely update tomorrow, as the following week’s looking pretty busy (out every night – this is perhaps the only week of the year I’m this sociable). I’ve been saving a lot of my best dresses for next week’s run of dinners and parties (not to mention Christmas and New Year) so these ones aren’t particularly exciting, but they will hopefully give you an idea of how I make dresses work on freezing cold, mid-winter days as well as big night’s out and days spent in the warm glow of the central heating. Oh, and there’s jumping, a floral wiggle dress and some really bad hair…

December 9th

This was the first day I was beginning to feel properly well again after my bug, so we celebrated with lunch at our favourite local restaurant, 22 North Street (which I totally recommend if you’re in the Clapham area). It was freezing cold, so I layered up as much as I could – fleece lined tights (I’ve just discovered Primark do them for £3.50, almost half the price of the Asda ones though they don’t stay up as well), those ugly boots again, a Uniqlo heat-tech polo tee (from the goodie bag at the LOOK Show this year) and my wraparound grey dress from H&M. The boyfriend calls this dress my ‘judo uniform’ but on days when I just want something comfy and easy to wear, it’s a godsend. My hair went in a bouffy pony and I belted the dress to bring it in a bit, as it’s one of the few size 16s left in my wardrobe that I still wear, and it’s quite loose on me now.

December 10th

I had the day off on Monday and was mostly slobbing about the house doing the last of my Christmas shopping online, so there was no point in dressing up. I wore a Pearl Lowe for Peacocks dress that’s been an old faithful for a few years now – it’s seen better days as you can tell from the way the hem hangs, but I like the 90s feel of the button-down front, and it’s super comfy for casual days. I’d usually wear this in Summer with sandals and a little jacket of some sort, but it works in Winter too if it’s layered up a bit. I must confess after these photos were taken I shoved another Uniqlo heat-tech top underneath. Those things are a godsend

December 11th

There’s always a jumping day in Dressember, and as I missed the official one due to being ill, I decided to make 11th December my unofficial jumping day – hence the photos. I really must remember to hide that camera remote, though! This dress is by Rise, found in the sale last year for about £20. It is available still through Amazon though it’s back up to £45! It’s layered over a black long-sleeved bodysuit I picked up on ebay, and my New Look jazz shoes.

December 12th

December 12th was ‘nature inspired day’ on the Dressember facebook page, so I took it as a chance to wear this ASOS wiggle dress in floral print, which will forever be known as my ‘granny wallpaper dress’. I really love the shape of this dress, the slightly longer length and the elbow length sleeves. Not to mention the pockets – a dress with pockets is an instant win. But as it’s longer and higher at the neck it’s got the potential to look super frumpy if you don’t wear it the right way, so I had to go all out with red lippy, red heels (ancient New Look purchase) and a waist-cinching belt. This is what I call a ‘London dress’. If I wore it over Christmas in my hometown, at least one person would shout “what the fook are you wearin’?” at me. Guaranteed.

Don’t forget if you’re enjoying Dressember that this year I’m trying to raise some money for a good cause through my ‘dressing’ – if you donate to Parkinson’s UK through my Just Giving page, you can make requests and I’ll do my best to fit them into the next half of the challenge.

I’m also giving away a dress worth £89 this month. Click here to enter for free now!

Ways To Wear

The Ways To Wear Challenge #2 – Fabulously Festive

It’s time for the second Ways To Wear challenge – sorry it’s late [insert illness, dentistry, various other excuses here] but hopefully you’re all still up for the challenge!

But first up, I need to announce the winners of the first challenge! Congrats to our top three: Tempest (1st), Noelle (2nd) and Mrs Bebe (3rd) who got the most number of votes in the poll. Ladies, I’ll be in touch about posting out some treats to you, but if you see this before I get round to emailing, please drop me a line with your postal address!

Now, onto the December challenge. As I’m late in setting the challenge (and also because you may well wish to submit something worn at Christmas) I’ll be extending the entry time just this once. You have until 30th December to send in your pictures, and I’ll do a round-up in the first few days of the new year.

The challenge could only really be one thing, couldn’t it? The theme is…


How you choose to define that is totally up to you. It could be a reindeer onesie, it could be your fave party dress (like me above, in a pic from last year), it might be something red and green, something sparkly, something warm and cosy…or perhaps it’s just something that you love wearing in December. The point is to get into the festive spirit, and tell everyone a bit about what and how you celebrate at this time of year.

As always taking part in the challenge is as simple as blogging your Fabulously Festive outfit and letting me know you’ve done it (by email, tweet or carrier pigeon). Obviously I’d also love it if you could link to this post or the Ways To Wear category so other people can find out about the challenge. After the closing date I’ll bring all the entries together and show the world your amazing outfits. There may be some prizes for the best, but really it’s just for fun, and a way of giving anyone with blogger block a bit of inspirations.

For more on the idea behind the Ways To Wear challenge, click here.

Ways To Wear

The LBD Ways To Wear Challenge – the results!

As we hit December it’s time to see the results of the first Ways To Wear Challenge! I was so excited to see the entries come in as the month progressed, and though the challenge theme of ‘Little Black Dress’ was possibly a bit of a easy one to start with, I think everyone did an amazing job of putting their own spin on the look. I love that the entries cover such a wide range of ages, body shapes and personal styles – not one of these outfits looks like another, which is pretty amazing given that the LBD is such a classic and could be quite boring!

I think I’ve included everyone that submitted an outfit but if you don’t see yourself here please let me know and I’ll add you straight away. Please forgive me for missing you! I was collating tweets, emails and comments as best I could but on some busy twitter days I may have let something slip through the net!

At the bottom of the post is a poll for you to vote for your favourite and I’ll be sending out some little prizes!

Tempest of Ellomennopee

Malene of Piece of My Mind

Amy of Amy Elizabeth

Claire aka Chattermonkey of A Monkey Fatshionista

Hanna of The Wardrobe Challenge

Noelle of Tilly’s Notions

Emily-Jayne of Emily-Jayne

Steph of Fashion Asylum

Eclectica of Fat Fit Fine

Mrs BeBe of The Ramblings of Mrs BeBe

Becky of Does my Blog Make Me Look Fat

And of course, yours truly…

There are three prizes up for grabs for the first challenge…but I’ve found it difficult to pick winners. I know some of these ladies personally, so I don’t want to be biased, so I’m opening up the decision to YOU. Vote for your fave and in a week’s time I’ll announce the winners. Needless to say you can’t vote for me – I’m excluded from this. It doesn’t show numbers of votes, just percentages, as I don’t want this to turn into a big ‘I’m 30 behind X, please vote for me’ competition – it’s just a bit of fun as I’ve found it hard to pick!

If you’d like to take part in the next Ways To Wear Challenge, visit the site on 5th December for the next challenge! It’s open to absolutely everyone so get involved!

Dressember, In My Wardrobe

Dressember 2012 – do some good for charity

I’ve been doing Dressember for the last couple of years and I really love taking part in this fun challenge. For those who’re not familiar with Dressember, it’s a pretty simple concept. For the 31 days of December you wear a dress every day – in my case a different dress every day. Hardly challenging for a dress fan with shopaholic tendencies like myself.

But this year I want to take it to the next level and use Dressember as an opportunity to do some good, rather than just an excuse to give my wardrobe an airing. This year I’ll be using Dressember as a way to raise money for a very worthwhile charity, Parkinson’s UK.

This is a charity that is very close to my heart – I’ve seen the destruction that this horrible disease can do. Every penny counts in the fight to find a cure, and my target for Dressember is a very manageable £500, so if you enjoy Big Girls Browse, please dig deep into your virtual pockets and do a good thing! Even if you just donate a couple of pounds it will help – don’t feel like you have to donate a lot if you can’t afford to. Brands can also get involved by donating dresses which I’ll be giving away throughout the month.

Of course you may be thinking ‘why should I make a donation when Gemma’s just doing something she does anyway?’ and you’re right to think that. Wearing a dress each day is no challenge. But I want to make it a challenge. There are always themes during Dressember (usually organised by the facebook page admins). Usually they involve simple things like twirling or jumping in the photo, but there are occasional tricky days like the ones where I had to wear a wedding / bridesmaid dress, and an evening dress day in 2010 that saw me cooking dinner in a floor length gown.

In order to make the charity fundraising part of the challenge worthwhile, I’m opening Dressember up to you – if you make a donation to charity, you can give me a Dressember challenge. I reserve the right to say no to impossible ideas, but I’m fairly flexible (so for £30 I might wear my nightie to work, but if you donate 10p don’t expect me to go to my work Christmas party in a muumuu).

Dressember begins on 1st December (obviously). You can make a donation at any time through my Just Giving page.

Want to see proof that I do this and make it fun? Here’s a selection of dresses from 2011…

And the best of the dresses from 2010…

And while we’re on the subject of dresses, don’t think I’ve forgotten the Little Black Dress challenge – that update is coming very soon!

Ways To Wear

The Ways To Wear Challenge #1 – The Little Black Dress

I’m so happy about the number of people who showed an interest in the Ways To Wear Challenge, and I can’t wait to get started on the first outfit challenge.

As this is challenge number one and we’re all finding our feet, I wanted to keep it really simple and easy, so this month’s challenge is a very obvious one. But that doesn’t mean you have to be boring with your outfits – as it’s such a classic item, it leaves all kinds of great opportunities to accessorise and add other clothes.

This months Ways To Wear Challenge is…



I hope most of you have some form of black dress in your wardrobe so this doesn’t have to cost a lot to take part in. But if you don’t have a LBD yet, at the bottom of this post are a few options you might want to try in order to take part (from £5!). The dress doesn’t have to be COMPLETELY black – maybe it has a trim, or some embellishment, or is a textured fabric like lace or jacquard – this is fine, but black must be the main colour. Add your own spin by way of shoes, jewellery, knitwear, jackets, bags and so on, and submit your picture to the challenge!

How to submit your outfit:

– Take pictures: please include your face and DON’T take a photo in the mirror – proper snaps please!
– Write a blog post talking about the look and the clothes you chose including a link back to this post so others can take part. If you don’t have a blog but still want to submit a pic, email or tweet me and we’ll talk!
– Submit the link to me by 20th November at the latest either by email, tweet or just by posting a comment below with the link.

You can show your support for the challenge by adding this button to your blog sidebar. Just copy the code in the box below and paste it wherever you’d like the button to show up. It links to the ‘Ways To Wear’ category here on BGB so will always show the most up to date posts.



At the end of the month, I will post ALL the challenge looks, with links and photos, here on BGB so everyone can see the amazing looks the Ways To Wear Community have put together. There will be some special prizes for this month’s challenge – I’ve got MAC makeup, soem gorgeous perfume and a few other treats stashed away for the best entries.

Remember, this challenge is all about having fun, showing your style and proving that one look can be worn a multitude of different ways depending on your personal style. For full details of the concept behind the challenge, click here for the original post

Stuck for inspiration? Here are some fab LBD’s I found online in loads of sizes, starting at only a fiver!

Boucle dress with collar (sizes 8 – 20) £18 George
Black sequin neckline belted dress (sizes 16 – 32) £40 Yours Clothing
Velvet dress with spot mesh trim (sizes 10 – 22) £65 Long Tall Sally
Love Label scuba belted sress (sizes 8 – 18) £25 Very
Jocelyn lace dress (sizes 8 – 14) £14.99 Prodigy Red
Lace cowl neck layer dress (S-M / M-L only) £5 Everything 5 Pounds
AX Paris studded cuff tunic dress (sizes 14 – 32) £35 Simply Be

Gemma Recommends

A history in hair (and a new beginning)

Let’s talk hair, shall we? Throughout my life, my hair has been my ‘thing’. When I was a kid, I was about 90% hair. My thick, frizz-prone blonde locks (ok, not that blonde any more) have been my security blanket for a very long time. After that ill-advised bob at 15, I’ve never really gone short again. 2000 was the last time I truly saw my natural hair colour (dishwater blonde). But though things never change too dramatically, even I have had my moments. 2008, as you’ll see, was the time when my personal instability was reflected in my hair. Um, that and I couldn’t afford to get my blonde highlights done on my blogger’s salary. After a night in with a box of Casting Creme Gloss, I got to experience chocolate, caramel and even a bit of ginger in the following months.

This is much better illustrated than explained in text. So here you go – my life in hair up until the end of last year. You’ll notice 2009 was a photo-lite year!

Why am I talking about this now? Well, last month, this happened.

I was invited by Dove to take part in their Colour Radiance Challenge, which involved a bit of a hair makeover courtesy of Sophia Heffer from the incredible Kennaland salon, and a 4 week trial of the new range of Dove Colour Radiance products. I got the first full head of highlights I’d had in about 5 years, though the colour I ended up with was probably slightly subtler than my usual blonde as there were more natural shades woven in to stop the blockiness. I think the Dove ‘before and after’ photo is slightly misleading due to the lighting – it wasn’t quite so blonde before and the change was actually more subtle.

I stupidly agreed to this in the middle of the big house move and the hottest days of the year so there were days I looked pretty awful (the heat brings out the natural curl) but I did still manage to submit daily cameraphone photos showing how the products worked on my hair. Here are some of the snaps from the four weeks following the colour.

Overall I found the Dove products worked well on my hair. I’m not loyal to any haircare other than my beloved Moroccanoil, and I chop and change shampoo and conditioner every time I finish a bottle, as I do believe your hair gets accustomed if you use the same stuff for too long. Switching to this seemed to revive the curl in my hair. Whether that’s a good or bad thing I’m not quite sure – I like the messed-up, beachy look but even I have to admit my hair looks a lot more groomed when it’s straight!

I try not to mess with my hair and put it through too much stress when it’s newly coloured. I always struggle with my hair post-colour; no matter how brilliant the stylist is, highlights always strip moisture from the hair and the newly-bleached strands create a horrible, tangled halo that needs some serious moisture before combing. The key product for me was the treatment conditioner, which I used almost every wash in place of the regular conditioner to add a serious moisture boost. I’d definitely recommend this after colouring to help lock in the shine and the colour together.

I also liked that the Colour Radiance shampoo is much lower in sulphates than most brands. We’re all addicted to lather which is why so many chemicals are crammed into drugstore shampoos, but the truth is lather is a useless by-product (it’s the reaction of the cleansing ingredients with air, rather than dirt / oil) so we should learn to live without it. The Dove shampoo is a good compromise. You get lather, but only just enough, not the handfulls you often find with stronger brands.

You can buy the Colour Radiance range at Boots from £2.49

Once the challenge ended, I went a big mad. It’s already washed out, sadly.

Disclosure: As part of the Colour Radiance Challenge I didn’t pay for the hair makeover and the products were provided free of charge for testing purposes. I received no other payment and I wasn’t required or obliged to write a post about my experience.

Frugal Feb

Frugal February – the rules, the links, the buttons


A few people showed interest in Frugal February when I mentioned it the other day, so I thought it’d be worth putting together a full page of info in case anyone fancies joining in. It’d be great to have some other people to share the torture with!

I’m not super-strict on the rules – if you spot this on 3rd Feb it’s not too late to take part, just run it into the first few days of March! Really this is about saving some cash, making the most of what you have and realising that you don’t need to spend on loads of new stuff to create some fabulous outfits. At the bottom of the post are a few hastily made buttons if you fancy popping one in your sidebar so other people can join in too. It’d be great if fellow FFers could spread the word!

So, here are the basics of Frugal February…

I vow, for one month from 1st Feb, to avoid shopping for anything other than essentials.

This means buying no clothes, shoes, accessories, makeup, cosmetics, books, DVDs, music, magazines, gadgets etc for a month.

Food and drink don’t count, though it’s worth paying attention to unnecessary expenses in this area – do you really need that bottle of wine? Do you have stuff in the cupboard you could use to make dinner, rather than getting convenience food? I also suggest banning takeaways and any unnecessary eating out if you’re really serious!

Daily use items such as toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo etc are fine to buy, but only if you’ve run out completely! Same goes for any makeup you might ‘finish’ during the month. On the off chance you use up the last dregs of your only foundation during the month, you can replace it, but only if you don’t have an alternative.

Frugal Feb doesn’t mean waving goodbye to a social life. Though you may choose to cut down on nights out to save a bit more cash, my time spent with friends is important to me! My Frugal February ‘no spend’ rule doesn’t include things like the occasional ticket or cover charge, or travel expenses. If I want to go somewhere and there’s a cost associated, that’s fine.

Frugal Feb is mostly about not buying clothes and unnecessary items, and using the ones you have, so I’ll be keeping track of what I wear, the things I’m getting use out of that I wouldn’t otherwise, and blogging about it. I would, of course, encourage anyone else taking part to do the same, and don’t forget to tweet / email me the links. Obviously this can be teamed with any other challenges you may be doing (like the 30 for 30 challenge or Frocking Fridays).

If you’d like to take part, pop a comment below with your URL and I’ll add you to my links list and check out your blog during the month. It’d also be lovely if you followed BGB using google friend connect or bloglovin’ and follow me on twitter too – nudge nudge, wink wink. I’ll try and do the same for you, of course.

I’ve made a few Frugal February buttons that you’re more than welcome to pop in your blog sidebar too (you don’t have to). They’re a bit rubbish, so please feel free to make your own if you’d rather. Give me a shout if you do and with your permission, I’ll add it here.

The Frugal February hashtag on twitter is #frugalfeb – make sure to add it to the end of any tweets so I see them!


Gemma | @GemmaCartwright
Blog: Big Girls Browse

Emma | emma_cossey
Blog: Emma Cossey

Sophie | @sophcrownglory
Blog: Crown & Glory

Lauren | @LaurenEACooke
Blog: A Typical Atypical

Abby | @abbzzw
Blog: Abbzzw

Michelle | winyeemichelle
Blog: Daisy Butter

Lauren | @dollipopsB
Site: Dollipops

Courtney | @knorkyat
Blog: What Would Darcy Do

Alyse | @AlyseIntegral
Blog: Integrating Alyse

Helen | @ohthedecadence
Blog: Clear Your Heart

Blog: Laura Laments

Hannah | @theroxyloves
Blog: The Roxy Loves

Alex | @alexsheppard
Blog: Alexandra Sheppard

Vicky | @utterlyconfused
Blog: Confused in Bristol

Lauren | @noirnouvelle
Blog: Noir Nouvelle

Blog: River’s Day Zero Project

Blog: …And Other Stories

Ria | @RCagz
Blog: Wishing For Chanel

Blog: Make up and Me

Aimee | @theaimeeshow
Blog: The Aimee Show

Selina | @NeverEnoughShoe
Blog: Never Enough Shoes

Lou | @Lou_tweets
Blog: Nearly Thirty…

Victoria | @VicThompson
Tumblr: Things I Thought About Today…

Leanne | xXxStundonxXx
Blog: Stundon

Kitty | @KittyBonkers
Blog: Life With (Kitty) Bonkers

Sian | @Sian_lb
Blog: Shutterbug

Tori | @mythriftychic
Blog: My Thrifty Chic

Ash | @ashvw87
Blog: Emerald Doodles

Steph | @stephsimplelife
Blog: The Simple Life…

Tamsin | @miss_believer
Blog: Miss Believer

Blog: sickbunnyy

Vicky | @Vanityfashionis
Blog: Vanity-Fashionista

Jess | @LovelyChaos

Kelly-Marie | thekeletubbie

Kerry | @egokerry

leave a comment or tweet at me if you’re not on the list and would like to be, then pop one of the banners below in your sidebar (if you wish).

[photo: Confessions of a Shopaholic, Touchstone Pictures]