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Dresses

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!

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.

threefloor
Clothing, Designers & New Labels

Fashion label to watch: Three Floor

Three Floor is one of my favourite fashion discoveries of the past 12 months. The young London-based label is currently only available online (through the official website, at ASOS and a few other boutiques). It’s the brainchild of Central St Martins graduate and designer Han Chong and Managing Director Yvonne Hoang. With only a handful of seasons under its belt, Three Floor is very much a label in its infancy, but already it’s drummed up a huge following from fashion fans, bloggers and celebs (Kimberley Walsh is a massive fan) who love the quirky tailoring, cool texture and amazing mix of colours and finishes. The best thing is the surprisingly reasonable prices – at about £100 – £150 per dress this is a brand that requires a bit of saving up for, but compared to what you’d get for a similar price at a high end high street store like French Connection or Reiss, you’re actually getting a lot more bang for your buck, as Three Floor is all about statement pieces, plus you’re supporting young independent designers on their way up!
Dresses by Three Floor SS 2013

The Spring 2013 collection is my favourite so far, and I can’t help but compare the cutout dresses in heavy fabrics with jewels, metallics and peplums to designers like Miu Miu, Marni and Marc Jacobs. I love the styling with the jewelled cap (you can buy that too) and the really exaggerated shapes and great fabric choices. If the peplums and cutouts and colours together are a bit much, there’s an ASOS exclusive dress that brings it down a notch which I’m sure will be a big seller. Personally, I love the most ostentatious pieces the most!

Dresses by Three Floor AW 2012

Previous collections were just as cool, and you can still snap up loads of Autumn / Winter 2012 stock on the website (though I’m crossing my fingers there’s a sale soon). The ‘lace up’ mini dress in pink or black is my absolute favourite. If full-on lace is too much, ‘Night Cat’ teams the same top with a faux leather skirt. Also look out for the far more modest ‘hidden Gem’ dress – this is the style that got me hooked on the label…and not just because it’s the perfect name for me!

Shop Three Floor at ThreeFloorFashion.com or ASOS. Right now they only make sizes 6 – 14, but hopefully as their popularity grows, so will their size range!

orlakiely
Clothing, Dresses

I think I’m in love with Orla Kiely

I never really got the obsession with Orla Kiely. The prints that she’s most famous for, and the oilcloth bags and laptop sleeves emblazoned with graphic tulips in sludge green and burnt orange…they just never really did it for me. I love a bit of 70s retro, I’m always a fan of an Autumnal palette, but if I were to put Orla’s bags on my Handbag Of Dreams list, they’d be down there with multicoloured monogram Louis Vuitton. Just not me.

Then I discovered the dresses. Not the prim little things you may have seen on The Duchess formerly known as Kate Middleton. No, the amazing 1960s inspired two-colour party dresses, and the insane pre-Spring boat-emblazoned 50s dresses that look like something Sally Draper would wear (or indeed the never-really-off-duty Kiernan Shipka, who at 13 already has a better wardrobe than I will ever own). I mean, look at this…

blueblackkielydress

It’s like the party dress you always wanted when you were six, but made to fit your grown-up lady lumps! I also have it on good authority (well, I think I wrote it once at work) that black and blue is no longer the fashion ‘no’ it once was. Now it’s chic and modern and whatever else. And it’s reduced – originally £335, it’s now £167.50. Still out of the realms of possibility for most of us, but it won’t stop me looking at it on a daily basis and bemoaning how much important dress-buying money gets sucked up by bills each month.

tweeboatdress

Then we come onto this. The ‘Around The World’ print dress. A dress so staggeringly twee it caused me, possibly for the first time in my life, to wonder ‘am I too old for this’. The answer is probably yes – I’m not Zooey Deschanel – but I’m still pondering whether I could make this work without looking like a crazed Blue Peter fan who never grew up. This one’s £358, so Zooey Deschanel is probably the only person who can afford it. It’s from the new pre-Spring collection. If you’re preggers, there’s a high-waisted, voluminous number with an amazing 60s silhouette in the same print that would be amazing with a baby bump.

Now for the piece de resistance…

kielyblackwhitedress

Anyone who’s picked up a fashion magazine recently will know that black and white is *the* trend for Spring / Summer 2012 (thanks, Marc Jacobs). And this dress has the double whammy appeal of being both black and white AND in the sale. By this point the sales are usually full of nothing but tatty coats with missing buttons and one-shoulder party dresses in cheap faux satin, so to find a little gem like this that’s still available is pretty great. What’s not pretty great is that it’s still well over a hundred quid, even in the sale. £162.50 to be precise.

Elsewhere on the site there are fox print knitted dresses, boxy boy detail bags and fabulous full winter skirts. I’m also a sucker for the homewear, especially the retro teapot. If only I drank tea!

dressember1
Dressember

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!

dressember2
Dressember

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…

simplybepicks
Dresses

Top 5 dress plus size dresses from Simply Be

Today as part of Dressember I’m looking at some of my favourite dresses from one of the brands that has supported Big Girls Browse since the very beginning, Simply Be. I wore a Simply Be dress for one of the very first days of my first Dressember, so I think there’s nice synergy in this post happening now!

I love the label for offering a great combination of classic styles and trend-led pieces in a really good range of sizes. I know that a lot of my plus size friends rate Simply Be as one of if not *the* best when it comes to UK plus size retailers, because they have such a big range and some great collaborations. I also love seeing the clothes on models with bodies like mine – Naomi Shimada and Laura Catterall can sell ANYTHING to me! Here are some of my top dress picks from the Simply Be Winter collection…

Peplum PU Panel dress £55 – this is similar to the dress I wore for the Ways To Wear challenge, but with a bit of a sexy twist by way of the PU panels down the middle. I love that this sticks two fingers up to plus size conventions – it’s fitted, it’s sexy, it’s got interesting textures and while it’s black, it’s not boring.

Ruby Rocks Butterfly print dress £55 – I’m a sucker for a butterfly print, and this is a really nice one that doesn’t look too twee or 90s. I also love the cute pink-trimmed collar, which makes the dress look youthful despite the modest length. I’d add a bright coloured wedge or platform shoe and belt the waist to add a bit more definition.

Bonded lace dress with beaded collar £70 – Though I know Simply Be have a brilliant plus size bridal range anyway, I can absolutely see this being worn by a modern bride for a low-key wedding. It’s such a great shape and the collar detail stops it from looking too ‘timeless’ and thus boring. For a festive party I’d add accessories in a bold colour like cobalt blue or red to keep it away from the bridal look. As for the hair, this is crying out for a beehive!

Anna Scholz bird dress £70 – It’s easy to see why this is one of Simply Be’s bestsellers – Anna Scholz is the queen of great printed plus size designs, and her more affordable diffusion range for Simply Be is a great place to look for cool day dresses in quirky prints. She always picks fluid fabrics that hang well (and wash well) and I love the shape of the skirt on this slightly retro dress.

Flock baroque print skater dress £48 – You can’t beat a skater dress and this one comes in one of my favourite colours for clothing, a bright sapphire blue. I love a fit-and-flare skirt style because it’s so comfy and easy to wear, and the long sleeves make this a bit more practical for the cold weather than some of the skimpier options. Baroque print is a key trend this Autumn, and I’d love to see this dress teamed with a leather jacket and really high heeled ankle boots to keep it looking current.

Disclosure: Post in collaboration with Simply Be