Browsing Tag


Clothing, Dressember, Dresses

‘Cos I’m Cooler Than The Red Dress…


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.


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).


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.


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!


Dressember 2012 – Week One

I’m massively behind on my Dressember posts this year, for the simple reason that for the second half of week one I was laid up in bed with some kind of bug, and wasn’t really taking photos. So I’ve been mega-busy playing catch-up ever since – editing photos and taking the ones I didn’t get round to and making sure every December dress is accounted for! So now I’m finally ready to show you week one, and week two will be coming shortly afterwards!

December 1st

Day One: I didn’t exactly start off with a bang – 1st December was a Saturday which I mostly spent in the flat doing boring stuff like tidying my bedroom and watching telly, so I didn’t really want to do that in a party dress. Instead I wore a simple jersey pull on number from Banana Republic (bought at an outlet for about $15) with black tights and fringe detail boots from ASOS. The earrings were a gift, I have no idea where they’re from! This isn’t the most flattering dress in my wardrobe because it hides the best bit of me (my waist) but for lazy days it’s nice to have something that I can just pull on and be comfy in, so I actually wear it more than I probably should!

December 2nd

Now this is a bit more like it! On Sunday 2nd we had some friends over for lunch so I used it as an excuse to pull out one of my absolute favourite dresses, the Fever Mauritania empire dress. The ‘Empire’ in the title would suggest this is meant to be empire waisted but the wide band sits quite close to my natural waist. The fit is perfect – snug without being tight, and it always gets comments because of the detailing and the bold colour. I absolutely adore this dress, and you’ll be seeing more of it this month because I recently managed to snag it in another colour on eBay. I teamed it with flat sequinned slippers (again from ASOS) and heidi braids, which may just be my new favourite easy updo.

December 3rd

3rd December was a Monday, so it was time to head back into work. I did so wearing a Primark dress with a contrast collar and cuffs which is blatantly based on a Victoria Beckham design. I’m trying to get more into the buttoned collar, high necked look but to be quite honest I just don’t think it’s something that’s ever going to work well with my bust. I’m looking a bit shelf-boob in these pictures and the length of the dress is about 2 inches above what I’d like making the whole thing look a bit small and tight on me. the irony is the waist is too big, as per usual, and that’s why I had to nab the belt off another dress to cinch it in. The shoes are my old faithful studded leather jazz shoes from New Look. They’re 3 years old now and really should be binned, but they’re so comfy I can’t bear to part with them!

December 4th

On 4th December it was a dress double-whammy. For the day I wore my Simply Be tiered boho dress with long sleeves and a slip underneath, with those fringes ASOS boots once again. This is one of my few long sleeved dresses so it gets quite a lot of wear this time of year. This look is not really my style any more but I used to be big into boho (didn’t we all, circa 2006?) and it’s a nice reminder of that. Sometimes you just want something soft, comfy and floaty.

For the evening, I did a quick change into something more suitable for a night’s karaoke and mayhem at the Domestic Sluttery Christmas Party. I actually found the dress on my lunch hour because I’d conveniently forgotten when I got dressed that morning that I wouldn’t have time to go home and change before the party. It was £17 in Primark (thank God the huge Tottenham Court Road store is right by my office) and I think it worked well with my boots (which dressed down the girly sequins), plus a gunmetal belt and some jewelled headbands I also picked up in Primarni.

December 5th

On 5th December it was freezing so I layered up, putting a black bodysuit under my cat print dress and adding the best invention in the world – fleece lined tights – to keep my legs warm. I was *this* close to wearing my chunky Fitflop mukluk boots but wasn’t quite ready for that yet and put on my jazz shoes again instead. I finished the look with a cloche hat from Miss Selfridge, and my beautiful new LK Bennett Emeline handbag (a gift).

December 6th was when I woke up feeling like death, so forgive me that there’s no sexy pic of me looking depressed in my nightie. The same goes for the 7th, when I was still suffering. I did, however, wear two different nighties to keep up the Dressembering. You’ll have to sponsor me a bit more before I show photos, though!

So since it was a bit of a short week dress-wise, here’s an added extra…

December 8th

On 8th December I was still feeling rough around the edges, but I was a lot better than the previous days, and I had to get out of the house to buy nurofen and food and keep a hot date with the dentist. I put on the easiest dress I own, a green jersey skater dress from Dorothy Perkins, and this time I did pull out the Mukluk boots. I know they don’t go, but I was feeling dreadful and when you’re that sick, style goes out the window! The side plait is my go-to hairdo when I cannot be bothered, so forgive me for that!

Stay tuned for more…

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!

Shoeper Challenge

Dressember Shoe Saves…a little late!

I’m massively behind with Amber’s Shoeper Challenge, and having to face the fact that I’ll be waving goodbye to fair number of my shoes in mid-February. That said, I’ve saved most of my must haves by now, so anything else is a bonus, and I knew I needed to cut down my shoe collection by quite a dramatic amount, so I don’t regret taking part in the challenge in the first place. If I haven’t worn these shoes in the last 12 months, the chance I’ll wear them in the next is very slight. And thought I may end up granting immunity to two or three pairs of occasion shoes or Summer sandals that I didn’t wear because I didn’t go on holiday last year, I am going to try as hard as I can to stick to the rules and get rid of everything I possibly can when the challenge ends on Valentines Day. In the meantime, I have worn a good few pairs of shoes in the last month or so. And here they are…

Irregular Choice Mary-Jane cut-out flats with a Pearl Lowe for Peacocks dress – love this dress, which cost me £10 in the sale and is a dream fit. I got it in mid-December and have worn it half a dozen times already.

Fitflop Mukluk boots with a New Look dress, Uniqlo top, Carmakoma legwarmers, Primark headband and H&M necklace – Worn on a very, very cold 29th December for a walk around London’s Docklands with my family. These boots aren’t the sexiest things in the world, but wearing them is like walking on air. Very, very warm air!

River Island brown and gold sandals with a Dorothy Perkins dress and Accessorize tights – This was the ‘Whirling Wednesday’ of Dressember, hence the silly photo. These shoes are great – super high but super comfy with a gold trim that looks fab. I need some more brown clothes to go with these for 2012!

New Look lace-up heels with the Fever ‘Carnaby’ dress and Wolford tights – I wore this for a friend’s party in December. The shoes have been sat in my cupboard for ages, I love this style but they felt uncomfy around the ankle on first wear. But having been worn in a bit, I can sense these will become favourites. Perfectly retro, and low enough to be comfy all day. A Shoeper Challenge discovery, so to speak!

New Look lace bow peep toes with the Fever ‘Dita’ dress and Wolford tights – Another save for an old reliable pair of shoes. You can’t really tell from the pic, but the shoes are peep-toes with a black lace on silver satin overlay and satin bows on the vamp. I can wear them all day long and they work with loads of outfits. Definitely staying in the collection!

Steve Madden calfhair zebra print heels with a Miss Selfridge waterfall neckline dress – These shoes cost me something like $10 in the sale at a Steve Madden store in Vegas about 4 or 5 years ago. I’ve never worn them up to now, and since wearing them, I fear they are a bit big and may need to go. If you want them, make me an offer!

Red Poetic Licence jewelled peep toe heels with Pearl Lowe for Peacocks dress – Another Pearl Lowe dress, another pair of shoes I knew I’d have no issue saving. I found these Poetic Licence numbers in TK Maxx a couple of years ago. They’re a rare size 6.5 and fit so brilliantly. Also, what’s not to love about red shoes, glittery embellishment, interesting heels and t-bars? Win all the way!

Black sequin slippers from ASOS with checked mini and hairband both from Primark – I bought these slipper-style shoes when ASOS had a flash sale on shoes, and I’ve worn them every other day since. They’re the perfect combo; super comfy and covered in sparkle and really worthwhile buy, even if I have to sacrifice another pair to keep them!

Black ASOS fringed boots with Hudson Jeans, Very top and H&M necklace. Yes, jeans! – When I bought the above sparkly shoes, I also bought these fringed ankle boots, which are another ‘wear them all day’ classic. I love a bit of fringing on shoes – I blame my mom for this.

As I only have until February 14th to wear all my remaining pairs of shoes, I think it’s safe to say some more pairs will be going to the big shoebox in the sky (or, more likely, to friends, a blog sale, the charity shop or a recycling bin). I knew some of the shoes wouldn’t make it so I’m not worried I have a good 40 or so to go. Some will be saved in Jan and early Feb, but the others…well, it obviously wasn’t meant to be!

Shoeper Challenge

A clutch of Shoeper-saves and a Dressember update

I’ve been a bad girl when it comes to the Shoeper Challenge recently. I’ve been wearing shoes but struggling to snap them, and I’m running out of time to save them now, as I need to work my way through my whole collection by Valentine’s Day. It may sound easy but I have Summer sandals unworn, and it’s December! Amber actually changed the rules a while ago to allow us to just snap the shoes rather than the whole outfits in order to record a ‘save’, so I’ll be doing that occasionally when I save a pair of shoes but don’t manage to get a decent pic. You’re going to have to trust me that I won’t just pretend I wore a pair of shoes; the whole point of this challenge was to cut down on my collection so I have no reason to lie about what I have and haven’t worn. I’m just struggling in this weather because my camera doesn’t like artificial light, and there are only so many times I can nick the work DSLR!

But speaking of nicking the work DSLR, here are some outfits I did manage to photograph in the last few weeks, and a few more pairs of shoes crossed off the list…

The shoes here are from Matalan. I’ve had them for years and wear them a lot at this time of year as they’re closed-toe, but still a bit special. The dress is Topshop (sold out now) and the outfit was worn to the launch of Domestic Sluttery, a book I’m very proud to say I contributed to. If you’re looking for something interesting to buy a female friend for Christmas, look no further! There’s more info on the team and some sneaky peeks here.

The DS launch wasn’t the only launch I’ve attended recently. A few weeks ago, I put my work hat on for another launch, to show the new Aigua Media sites to advertisers, friends and the odd celeb or two. I didn’t have time to grab a solo photo, so here’s me with my fab colleague Jess (Aigua’s Editorial Director). Forgive my awful pose – this is one of the only pics that shows I wore my gorgeous (but ridiculously high and painful) KG by Kurt Geiger sequin ‘Dolly’ shoes. The dress is by Project D, bought in the sale earlier this year for a steal.

I also managed to save these Bertie numbers, teaming them with a purple dress from ASOS (you’ll just have to take my word for it). This is an under-the-desk cameraphone snap taken at work. I really am scraping the barrel, aren’t I?

Also very much saved are my new Frye boots (eek!) which were snapped by Shoewawa for ‘Show Us Your Shoes‘…

That’s a Versace for H&M skirt, bit of a naughty purchase but I like to think of it as something to add to my ‘collection’. I’m a bit addicted to high street collaborations, celeb or designer. I probably didn’t need the leather coat as well, though. Aaaaanyway, I needed to give the skirt a go before Dressember kicked in and I was forced (forced!) to wear dresses only, hence teaming it with the boots (which needed wearing in).

Speaking of Dressember, after the fun of last year I have decided to do it again, the only difference is now I’m back at Catwalk Queen, I’ll be doing most of my Dressember-ing over there. I’ll still be posting some of the pics though, as a lot of dresses will be combined with shoe saves. Here’s today’s look, which saves a pair of victorian style ankle boots from StylistPick.

Coincidentally, this outfit made the Editor’s Choice page of WIWTthank you Poppy!

In My Wardrobe

Dressember Week 5 – Happy New Year!

Dressember came to it’s conclusion this week, and what better way to go out than with a New Year’s Eve party frock? I also pulled out a couple of old favourites and raided the sales for the odd bargain. These are the last of my Dressember photos, but needless to say I won’t be spending January in jeans and now that I’ve got into the habit of photographing my outfits, I’ll hopefully do it a bit more often in the future. But for now, this is me signing off and saying I DID IT! 31 days…and just over 31 dresses!

The 27th saw my return to London – and my wardrobe – so I took the opportunity to prance about in this keyhole detail floral dress from Trollied Dolly. I’m still not sure whether it’s meant to tie at the front or the back, but I go for the front because the bodice is a bit of an odd straight shape and this helps to pull it in a bit!

Against my better judgement, I took advantage of the extra bank holiday by heading to Westfield to check out the sales on the 28th. This dress is from Next, and combines two of my favourite things – dots and butterflies. The peplums date it a bit (it’s from last year) but it hangs well and is really easy to wear – what more do I need?

The 29th meant it was time to head back to work, but I consoled myself by wearing one of the dresses I bought the day before in the sale – it’s from Biba at House of Fraser, and I absolutely love the way it drapes. I would never normally wear white – even as a base colour – but I fell in love with this at first sight. It’s got just the right amount of mad vs classic with the print and the shape!

On the 30th friends came down for a birthday trip to see Cinderella at Sadler’s Wells, and I spent most of the day sorting the flat out ready for our New Year’s Eve party. So this called for an easy to wear dress, this 2-in-1 jersey number bought for a fiver in the River Island sale. Also a great excuse to pull out my insanely comfy purple wedge boots.

New Year’s Eve is always a big excuse to dress up, and while my full-length red gown was vetoed (well, it wouldn’t have been very practical for cooking and playing cranium…) I did manage to bring on the glam in a lace, organza and satin frock from Bettie Page Clothing and requisite victory rolls in my hair. Unfortunately the dress doesn’t photograph very well, so you’ll have to take my word for it that it doesn’t look half as cheap in real life!

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!