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Clothing, Special Ranges, Tops & Tees

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


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 (™).


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?


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.

Ways To Wear

Fabulously Festive – the belated Ways To Wear Challenge results

Apologies to all for the delay in putting up December’s Ways To Wear Challenge results…but hopefully it’s a case of better late than never! When moving the sites I encountered a bit of a problem with the uploading functionality for images which caused part of the delay (coupled with the actual move). Everything is now fixed and all traffic from the old URL should be redirecting here, so we’re back up and running. As we’re already more than halfway through the month there won’t be a January challenge, but there will be an extra special one in February which I think you’ll all enjoy!

Now, onto the participants for December. It’s always a busy month and I was missing for most of it, so I really appreciate the fact there were still plenty of entries. The challenge was ‘fabulously festive’, which was a wide enough brief that we have lots of really different takes on the theme. There was plenty of sparkle, a bit of brocade, some bold blue and loads of lace. Here are all the outfits. If I’ve missed you, do let me know so I can add your outfit – I was scrabbling around a bit to find all the entries but I hope I’ve got them all!

Noelle of Tilly’s Notions


Malene of Piece Of My Mind


Hanna of The Wardrobe Challenge


Jocelyn of Fat, Fashionable & Feminist


Becky of Does My Blog Make Me Look Fat?


Stefi of She’s Electric


Tempest of Ellomennopee


And, of course, me!


This was my office Christmas party outfit, and I forgot to take my proper camera so apologies for the bad quality phone pic. I wore a Carmen Marc Valvo dress that I picked up in Neiman Marcus Last Call on my last trip to Vegas. This is probably my best outlet bargain ever. The retail price was $550, but I think with all the discounts it ended up costing me about $80! The brocade fabric is really lovely and heavy and the fit is so good it could almost be custom-made. No need to add my usual belt to make the waist fit. It has a voluminous tulip skirt, and black jewels all around the neck for a bit of bling. The finished look is very 60s, so I had to go for a beehive in my hair to match! I added cheap costume jewellery earrings from Primark, and my red jewelled t-bar shoes are Poetic Licence from TK Maxx.

Thanks to everyone for taking part in this challenge – I promise for Feb we’ll be back on schedule!


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.

Gemma Recommends

Not a gift guide: 10 recent shopping discoveries

It’s that time of year when everyone starts filling their publications with festive gift guides, but I’ve decided I’m not going to do that here. Mostly because I’m doing loads for work, but also because I think, most of the time, a gift guide on a blog is really just the blogger’s wishlist. So instead of telling you what I want for Christmas and pretending I’m trying to help you, I’m going to do something a bit different and show you all ten things I’ve bought or used recently that I think would make a good gift or stocking filler, or would be useful for Christmas parties (or the aftermath). There’s only one item in this list that I don’t own myself, and yes, that item is on my wishlist…

Snow Fairy Shower Gel from £3.25 at Lush

Some of you may already know I’m a former Lush employee and while I don’t use as many of their products now as I did back in 2004 when I worked there, I still eagerly await the Christmas collection so I can stock up on Snow Fairy, which is truly the best shower gel in the world. It’s not for the faint-hearted, of course. Lush products are notoriously strong when it comes to scent, but this isn’t like the herbal / hippy smell you get when you walk past. It’s sweet and fruity instead – like pear drops and dolly mixtures. I’m a quarter of the way through my bottle already, and will be grabbing another one before the end of the year!

Larysa long-sleeved jersey maxi dress £18.99 at Missguided

When I saw this bargain dress I couldn’t resist it, even though I wasn’t sure I’d ever have occasion to wear it. Luckily, a chance invitation to a party last week gave me the perfect opportunity to show it off. It’s the perfect mix of simple and glamorous, with the covered-up top and split skirt, and is surprisingly easy to wear given how fitted it is. The only thing I would say if you’re thinking of investing is think carefully about your underwear – the jersey is quite thin and my nude bra showed through. I solved this by popping on a (very short) black slip underneath. I then added my much-loved gold and black belt from Accessorize, and a knotted headband from Dorothy Perkins. The dress looks much better without tights but I’m afraid it was just too cold last week to risk going bare-legged!

Kleenex Facial Cleansing Wipes £2.99 at Superdrug

I try not to use cleansing wipes as a replacement for a proper cleansing regime, but let’s be honest, there are days (or should I say nights) when all you want to do is get home, take your makeup off and get into bed as soon as you possibly can. So I always have a pack of cleansing wipes on my dresser for quick mascara removal, and from now on they’ll always be Kleenex wipes. Seriously, these things are amazing. Where most cleansing wipes are a bit scratchy and thin and feel very synthetic and fibrous, the Kleenex ones feel like smooth cotton or very soft, wet tissue. They’re much nicer to use around the eye area, and though they take a little while longer to remove all signs of makeup, they never cause redness or feel rough. I can honestly say I don’t think I’ll ever use another brand having tried these. Texturally, they’re unlike any other cleansing wipe I’ve tried. As a bonus, they’re also more environmentally friendly, and they’re only £3 a pack!

Yankee Candle large housewarmer jar in ‘Crisp Apple Strudel’ £16.99 at Scented Candle Shop

I’m a Yankee Candle obsessive and burn them all the time at home. Though I’m very fond of Midnight Jasmine, I usually tend to go for the more foodie smells, and this one is my favourite so far. Yankee do loads of limited edition scents and special editions, and this year they’ve done a series of candles inspired by the song ‘My Favourite Things’ from The Sound of Music. While I wasn’t so sure about ‘Blue Satin Sashes’ or ‘Warm Woolen Mittens’, I had to give this one a go as apple and cinnamon are two of my favourite smells in the world. It really does smell of apple strudel; sweet pastry and sharp apple and lots of spice. It’s beautiful. Yankee candles are really good quality – the scent is strong throughout (not just a layer on top), and they burn evenly with no wastage so long as you let them melt right across each time before you blow them out. I always buy from Scented Candle Shop – there are good discounts and delivery is usually free (because I buy so much)!

Immortelle Divine Cream £65 L’Occitane

Yes, it’s stupidly expensive and if I hadn’t had to try it out for my old job, I’d probably never have discovered this stuff. But I did, and now I’m hooked. Divine Cream is technically an anti-ageing product so at 28 I’m not really the target market, but there’s no harm in starting early, and at this time of year my skin goes really dry and I need a heavy duty moisturiser. This one is dreamy. The packaging is lovely (a heavy glass jar), it has a lovely texture that sinks in well, and the smell is, ahem, divine. Perhaps the thing I love about it the most is that it prompts my boyfriend to say “you smell nice!” rather than the usual “What have you put on your FACE?”

If you have the cash to splash, I’d absolutely recommend this. If you don’t, next time you’re near a L’Occitane store (or stockist) get busy with the tester and see what you’re missing.

Linea Pelle Dylan quilted chevron large speedy in Midnight $465 at Linea Pelle

What, you thought just because I finally bought my beloved Dylan Medium Tote after about four years of banging on about it that I’d finally shut up about Linea Pelle bags? Pah! No chance. If anything, finally getting my hands on that buttery soft piece of turquoise gorgeousness has only served to fan the flames of my LP love, and now I’m after my next LP bag. I love the fact these bags are beautiful quality, but they’re not covered with logos and mongrams, and because it’s a little-known label, the designs aren’t obvious and likely to go out of fashion in five minutes. The next bag on my list is the new Dylan Chevron speedy. It’s tempting to go for classic black, but I also love the new Midnight colour, a sort of blue/indigo. Santa, if you’re listening…

Wonderbra Ultimate Strapless bra in beige £33 at Figleaves

I’d heard nothing but good things about this bra and held out such high hopes for it, but when I first tried it on I just couldn’t get on with it at all. It felt so weird on and sat so low down! I couldn’t understand why I was the only one who didn’t get on with it, so I decided recently to give it one more chance. There was a bit of messing about trying to find the right size (I advise going down a cup and possibly a band size) but when I did finally get round to wearing it for an evening, I finally saw what all the fuss was about. You just need to get used to how it works. It feels a bit odd when you put it on – because of the design, which features internal ‘fingers’ that hold your boobs up the way your hands would – it’s quite thick around the bottom, the underwires are placed differently, and the band sits really low which feels odd. But once you get used to to the odd feeling of a bra that comes down 2 inches lower than all your others, you can’t really fault the lift and support. It really does feel like someone’s holding your chest up! It stays up all night and easily provided enough support even for my larger cup size. I don’t think I’ll ever wear a different strapless bra after finally discovering what all the fuss is about with this one!

Black clutch with chain strap and bow detail £12.99 at H&M

I bought this bag in a last minute H&M dash when I had an event to go to after work and I didn’t want to carry my big leather bag the whole night. Like so many of those emergency purchases, it’s turned out to be a really great buy, and I’ve already used it half a dozen times. At 30cm across, it’s much bigger than most clutches and is deep enough to easily hold my wallet, phone, makeup and whatever else I need to carry, unlike most evening bags which won’t even hold one of those things. As an added bonus, it has a chain strap so you don’t have to hold on to it all night if you don’t want to. Plus, there’s a huge bow. Who doesn’t love a huge bow?

Parker Ingenuity Slim Brown Rubber pen £135 at

One of these hit the Catwalk Queen desk in September with a note suggesting we use it to take notes during London Fashion Week. Parker pens remind me of school, when fountain pens were still de rigeur and having ‘ace’ handwriting was super-important. But this pen is miles away from the £5 jobbies I used back then. It takes advantage of Parker’s new 5th generation technology, which aims to combine the ease of a rollerball with the effect of a fountain pen, and it truly is a thing of beauty. I didn’t realise when I started scribbling with it that this pen comes in at a whopping £135 but I’m glad I didn’t misplace it before I found that out! It’s truly a lovely pen to write with, moulding to your writing style as you write. Refills cost about £5, but I’ve been using mine since September and haven’t needed to buy one yet. I’m not sure I’d splash out this much on a writing tool given that I don’t write much by hand any more, but I’d definitely recommend this if you love gorgeous stationery and writing letters. The rose gold is gorgeous and the soft-touch rubber shell gives good grip.

Stila Dream in Full Colour supersized palette £25 at Beauty Bay

Last time I did a rundown of my top beauty finds, I mentioned a Stila eyeshadow. So it’ll come as no surprise that I’m going to do the same thing again, but this time it’s not one eyeshadow but 29! Plus some cheek colours too. This amazing palette from Stila’s festive range is such unbelievable value that I didn’t hesitate to click ‘buy’ the moment I saw it. It works out at less than 70p per colour, and they’re all beautiful, wearable shades with dreamy textures, not horrible, chalky brights you’ll never wear. You also get a waterproof eyeliner (worth £13) plus a booklet that explains how to mix the colours to get all kinds of looks. The compact is the size of a plate and though the slightly retro stained glass design might not be to everyone’s taste, you can’t argue with the value for money!

Disclosure: The Parker pen, L’Occitane and Kleenex skincare were PR samples. All other items were bought by me. I wasn’t paid to write about any of the products, samples or otherwise.

Dresses, In My Wardrobe

Dressember Week 4 – Christmas time!

I’m almost at the end of Dressember, but I’m not giving up yet! It’s been really fun snapping each outfit, planning what to wear and knowing each morning when I get up that I’ve got yet another frock to wear. At the beginning of week 4, the last thing I wanted to do was snap photos of my flu-ridden self, but I managed to keep it up, and I’m so glad that I did! This week also saw me heading home to spend Christmas with my family in Worcestershire, and three guesses what I had in my suitcase…

20th December

This was the day I got up, went to work sick and was promptly sent home, so please forgive the fact I’m make-up free and looking a bit worse for wear. The dress is from Express in the USA, a sale find on a trip to Vegas. I find I wear wrap dresses a lot less now than I used to, but this one’s still an old faithful.

21st December

Another sick day, so ignore the awful hair! I did manage to drag myself to the supermarket, and did so in this printed number from Matalan. It hangs off me a bit now but I used to wear this all the time a couple of years ago.

22nd December

Finally feeling better, I decided to make a bit of an effort to make up for previous days! The dress is Ben de Lisi, found on eBay. I think it must be from the early 90s based on the style, but it’s got something a bit 1947 Dior New Look about it, with the nipped waist and full skirt. The top part is velvet with a big shawl collar, so it’s also my nod to this season’s velvet revival!

23rd December

Spending 3 hours on a train laden down with luggage, the 23rd was all about practicality, so I threw a tunic top/dress from New Look over skinny jeans and a long-sleeved top. I always wear long pendants with this tunic because they flatten down the dress a bit to avoid shelf boob! These are from H&M and Tesco.

24th December

Christmas Eve meant a trip to the pub with some old friends from school, so I pulled out my Closet tulip-skirted dress. It’s a strange print, but it’s one I love, and this dress fits like no other in my wardrobe. It also has pockets, and I LOVE dresses with pockets!

25th December

I have a confession to make. We are not a ‘dress for dinner’ family when it comes to Christmas. In fact, I walked down the stairs to find the rest of my family all dressed in Santa suits! I actually spent most of the day in a huge cardigan and pull-on blue jersey dress and really only put this one for half an hour, but I wanted to show it off. It’s from Debenhams, and I love the waterfall frill down the front.

26th December

Boxing Day is like a second Christmas for us, complete with silly hats and highly competitive games of pictionary! My parents house is freezing, so I layered my long-sleeved top under a Miss Selfridge shirt dress that my friend Kat gave me years ago. It fits perfectly and – unlike with many other modern shirtwaisters – the belt loops sit on my waist, not on my hips. I’m glad I rediscovered this for Dressember, as it’s ended up being one of my favourites!

DD+, Lingerie, Retro / Vintage

Winter Wishlist: retro-inspired lingerie & nightwear

My list of the best places online to buy reproduction vintage and retro / rockabilly style fashion continues to be one of the most popular pages on the site every month, so I know plenty of you reading have been as seduced by this style as I have.

The right lingerie is the finishing touch to your vintage-inspired look, but I know the classic bullet bra may be one step too far for some (if it’s not, go to What Katie Did right now). Luckily, plenty of more modern brands have now turned to vintage for inspiration. Here are some of my current fave more modern takes on vintage luxury undies and nightwear. Throw away your cotton 6-pack of knickers and flannel PJ’s and get yourself something gorgeous instead…

Long Vintage Silk Chemise £80 La Senza

La Senza has come a long way since the time it was the place to find 3 brazillian knickers for £10 and pajamas with ‘Sexy Chick’ on. The lingerie has slowly moved more and more upmarket, and the store offers some amazing pieces up to a G cup / size 18. Granted, I’ve picked the most expensive item on the entire website (typical) but there are plenty of more affordable bits and bobs in the ‘Pure Luxury’ section that you might be surprised by.

Olive Silk Elizabeth Bra (£79), Skirted Knicker (£54) and waspie by Ayten Gasson

I know this set is incredibly expensive, but I couldn’t resist including it after seeing it in the flesh at a press event recently. Its by Ayten Gasson, who uses pure silk trimmed with vintage Nottingham lace in her handmade creations. These are not mass-produced pieces that everyone will find under the tree at Christmas, they’re pure luxury with real vintage touches, and if you love this style, this is the brand to treat yourself too. Plus, there are a few beautiful pieces in the sale if you click here!

Gok Wan Mesh Longer Line Bra £32 and Deep Brief (£18) by Simply Yours

I’ve lost track of the amount of times I’ve looked at this set and thought ‘should I get it?’. My experience with the Gok Wan range so far has been brilliant. I love the way this range genuinely makes shapewear look sexy…plus it’s in my favourite animal print! As a final brilliant touch, the awful patronising names have gone – no more ‘banger booster’ or ‘curve controller’ – just proper descriptive names for these new designs, which go up to a 42 band, G cup, and size 32.

Virginia bra (£80), briefs (£55) and suspender belt (£70) by Mademoiselle Fred at Fairy Gothmother

Another pricey set, but a beautiful one from French lingerie brand Mademoiselle Fred. If for you (or your other half…) Christmas undies mean red and sexy, you may as well do it with a touch of Burlesque glamour! The shorts come with frilled sides, which are really pretty, though the thong is probably a better bet under the suspender belt (which I think is the best bit). Just add some fabulous fully-fashioned stockings (try Stockings HQ for them).

Leopard print panel basque £35 at Evans

This gorgeous little basque first made an appearance on this site back in April when I spotted it at the Evans press day. Now it’s in stores and an amazing retro-inspired option for those ladies needing larger band sizes. It goes up to a 46 in the band in C- E cups, and is the perfect choice for something sexy but shaping under a party dress. The matching bra and knickers were born to be worn under a trouser suit for a bit of underwear-as-outerwear glam.

Sway with me raspberry silk bra $125 and tie briefs $95 by Toadlillie on etsy

Toad Lillie lingerie is “Inspired by vintage couture gowns of the 30s – 50s” and this set definitely has vintage charm about it. I love the high-waisted bottoms with their ruched sides. I also love the fact that these sumptuous handmade pieces go up to a 50″ hip (though 32-38 A-D is less inclusive for those of us blessed with bigger boobs). If you want something truly special, you can’t beat the personal service you get from etsy craftspeople.

Floral and mesh longline bra $35 and knickers $30 by Banbee on Etsy

The knickers from this set caused quite a stir when my mate Jane featured them on Domestic Sluttery, but I’ve had the seller bookmarked ever since. Everything about this set screams Beyonce ‘Why Don’t You Love Me‘ – a music video that epitomises this modern take on pin-up girl underwear. What’s not to love? Even the price is good compared to Beyonce’s Dolce & Gabbana alternative.