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In My Wardrobe

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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…

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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!

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Ways To Wear

The Little Black Dress – my Way to Wear!

When I originally decided to put together my own outfit challenge, I thought maybe one or two people would be up for joining in. I know a lot of us have had blogger’s block recently, and sometimes all you need is a little push in the right direction to be inspired again. It seems like the challenge was the push quite a few people needed – I’ve had dozens of people show interest. As I post this, I’ve had a handful of (brilliant) challenge entries in already, and I’m hoping that there are a few more to come. You officially have until around the 20th to get your post up, but I’ll probably put together the final post over the weekend so if you’re a day or so late don’t worry – I’ll still make sure you’re included. I’d love to see some more entries!

So how excited am I about the first Ways To Wear Challenge, the Little Black Dress?

…um, this excited!

After going on about how much you can accessorize a LBD in my original post, I actually ended up keeping mine quite simple. I have a tendency to overdo it with the accessories, so I deliberately tried not to do that this time. I went for a heavy jersey peplum dress with an above knee hem and inch-wide straps. I know a lot of people are tired of the peplum but I’ve always loved them – they draw attention to the waist but hide the tummy – what’s not to love?

The dress is one of my finds from my recent trip to the USA. I bought it in Neiman Marcus Last Call, it’s an Alice + Olivia design from the ‘To Work’ range, though I don’t think it’s at all work appropriate – it’s a bit too short and low-cut for that on me. I paid about $80 for it, which is a far cry from the original $250+ price tag. It’s definitely not worth the latter, but it is a lot better made than the cheaper ones I’ve tried. My only bugbear is that the peplum sits a tiny bit high on me. I usually add a belt to keep it from riding up but with the accessories I chose for this, I thought a belt would be overkill.

Speaking of accessories, I teamed the dress with my new Zara studded and leopard print sandals, possibly my favourite buy of the year, and a necklace I found in the Primark sale for £3. The clutch bag is by Coast but won’t be in stores for a while (it was in the press day gift bag). Here are some detail shots…

I hope everyone who’s taken part in the challenge so far has enjoyed getting to grips with the LBD. There are some prizes this month so if you haven’t yet taken on the look, do so in the next couple of days and send me the link and I’ll make sure you’re included! All the details can be found by clicking here.

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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!

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In My Wardrobe, Sale shopping

(soon to be) In My Wardrobe: What I bought in the January sales

2012 is going to be quite a frugal year for me financially (I’m saving for more important things than shoes for once!) so spending my Christmas money in the January sales is basically my last hurrah. After these purchases, I’m battening down the hatches and sticking to an ‘only what’s necessary’ approach to spending. I’m not saying I won’t buy anything this year, but I’ll definitely be reviving Frugal February and after that I’ll be sticking to those good habits at least 80% of the time, putting as much as I possibly can in the bank at the end of each month. Even with the sales I’ve tried to stear clear of the shops and only buy a few things online. Of those, I’m sure at least one or two will get returned. But while I wait for them all to arrive…here’s a look at what I bought!

40s tea dress with pintuck detail was £45 now £18 and blue midi dress in lace with seam detail was £60 now £32 both at ASOS.

The first dress I bought purely out of curiosity. It’s so ill-fitting around the chest on the teensy model that I thought it might be perfect for my big bust / small waist body shape. I don’t hold out much hope, but that ASOS premier subscription comes in handy when you want to try something and see! The blue lace dress is something I’ve had my eye on since it first arrived on the site, but I couldn’t quite stretch to the original price tag. I absolutely love the 40s shape and I’m hoping the fit is good enough to keep so this can become the first of my London Fashion Week outfits.

Bunny2 PU Stretch Thigh High Boots £20 (were £76)

I can tell you now that these will probably get returned, but at that price I couldn’t resist at least trying them. Thigh high boots scare me a bit, but having seen them on other people, I at least want to try them out. I think they might be one of those things that only work on very slim girls, but equally as I’m about 70% legs I thought I’d take a risk. I think they need to be worn in the right way – with jeans or a dress that covers the tops ( think Fergie, not Kim Kardashian) as I’m not ready to be Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman just yet!

Purple deco colourblock dress was £42 now £20 and Turquoise deco dress was £42 now £20 both Dorothy Perkins

Two very similar dresses that I couldn’t decide between, so I decided to order both and see how I get on. I’m unsure about the midi length of the turquoise one but I couldn’t find it in any stores to try on so I had to go online and take a chance. I worry it might look a bit frumpy on me teamed with the high neck, but at £20 I thought it was worth a shot. The purple I know looks good – I tried it in a 12 in store to get an idea of how it fits and the length, and let’s just say I definitely needed the 14!

Ruby Belle Princess dress was £50 now £12, Black Nightingale dress was £70 now £19 and Blue Valentino dress was £70 now £19 all from the Fever sale at Brand Alley

I can’t resist a Fever sale, and when dresses are at this price, I have to stock up, even if I could probably make the dresses in the time it takes Brand Alley to deliver them. I think these will be numbers 8, 9 and 10 in my Fever collection. You might think that’s excessive but it’s nothing on Roisin who seems to be wearing a new one in every photo! I know the fit will be good on a Fever dress, and the styles are quite timeless and generally good for work. I wasn’t sure about the Valentino dress with the fringing details, but having seen the pink one on Sian, I had to snap one up. Cobalt is one of my favourite colours for clothes, so I had to go with the blue.

Curvy Kate Tempt Me bra £16.95 (was £29) and high waisted brief £6.95 (was £14.50) at BraStop

If anyone can make a plunge bra that doesn’t dig in at the middle, it’s Curvy Kate. The brand is probably one of my favourite discoveries of the last couple of years. I had my eye on this set before Christmas, so when I saw it in the sale at Brastop I decided to give it a go. I love, love, love the retro style high waisted briefs.

Irregular Choice Oz Can’t Touch This shoes were £80, I paid £44.99 (now £49.99, oddly) at Schuh

I don’t have anything to say about these except how could I resist? They are absolutely insane, my mother would hate them, I’ve been scared to show them to the boyfriend for fear he’ll think I’ve lost my mind, but as far as I’m concerned, they’re shoes of wonder and I can’t wait to wear them. Look at the heels!

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In My Wardrobe

In My Wardrobe: Birds & Cherries

Look at me, managing outside photos three times in a row! You can thank the lighter evenings, and the fact my camera really doesn’t like the peachy light in our flat. The only problem is our postage stamp of garden is ‘shared’ with the downstairs neighbours (in that we own some of it but their bedroom door opens out onto it…) so I never feel comfy going down there and setting up camp. Praise be, then, for the balcony. Mine, all mine! It’s just a shame we back onto the train station, and the platforms look out directly onto it! I apologise if you’re one of the people forced to watch me posing like a loon whilst balancing my camera on a dustbin, but there are outfit photos to be taken and shoes to be saved

Primark dress & belt, New Look sandals

First up, and for the hottest day of the year – Monday – I called upon my tatty gladiator sandals and a bird print shirt dress bought from Primark (last year? Year before? I forget). The buttons on the dress are a nightmare so I’ve had to bring out the big guns – a few jumbo safety pins – to keep this looking tidy. The shoes were always on their last legs and finally gave up the ghost as I took them off that evening, so they’ve now gone in the bin (a good thing, given that you’re probably staring at the pic going “wow, cankles”). They will be replaced with something less gladiator-ish and more on the dressy flip-flop side of things. Maybe with jewels. Definitely with fewer straps around the ankle.

Red Herring dress, Vivienne Westwood for Melissa shoes

On Wednesday I put on my tech hat (I do this sometimes) to help host an event for The Windows Collection at Claridge’s. Little tip for you all – don’t wear a dress with a tight-fitting bodice when you’re being treated to five courses of Gordon Ramsay’s finest! The food was delicious, but by the end the waistband on this baby was definitely straining! Still, I love it and was glad to have a smart occasion to wear it. I should have taken photos of the back, which goes down into a deep V, but is cleverly designed to zip to just above a bra band, rather than below. I love deep plunging backs but I can’t get away with going bra-less, so this is a lovely compromise. I teamed it with yet another Shoeper Challenge save – my Vivienne Westwood Anglomania for Melissa Lady Dragon slingbacks, a bit of a predictable blogger fave, and also the only way I’ll ever wear rubber shoes*.

*Wellies notwithstanding.

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Accessories, Dresses, In My Wardrobe, Tops & Tees

August obsessions: fascinators, fragrance & frocks

With the sales finally coming to a close, I should be getting excited about new season shopping, but to be honest with you, I’m a bit scared by all the shearling gilets and harem pants, so my mind is still on Summer. With a foreign holiday in less than a week (yay!) I’m still indulging my swimwear obsession and hunting down things to buy in Duty Free, and also looking for some quirky last-minute finishing touches to a number of late Summer wedding outfits. Here’s what’s on my mind at the moment…

Dylan Medium Tote in ‘Concorde’ $435 at Linea Pelle

Dylan is my one true love. I have gone on and on and on about this handbag for far too long so apologies to those who’ve seen me blog about it before. It has everything I like in a bag (shoulder and cross-body straps, subtle hardware, lots of zips, a lovely leather and a funky lining) and now they’ve gone and made it in purple. They do this just to taunt me, I’m convinced. One day, there’ll be a UK stockist and / or a $200 discount. Please?


Womanity Eau de Parfum £38 – £60 Thierry Mugler at Debenhams

I used to be incredibly unfaithful to fragrances, until I found Flowerbomb by Viktor and Rolf and I thought I’d found my perfect perfume. Then I made the mistake of spritzing this whilst in Debenhams, and I think I may have found something I love even more. I’ve never liked Thierry Mugler fragrance before (Angel smells awful on me and Alien is just ‘meh’) but this is just gorgeous. Quite fruity and fun, but with something really special hiding underneath that stops it smelling like every sickeningly sweet celeb perfume on the market. Apparently it’s caviar…whatever it is, it works.

Black ruffle swim dress £35 at ASOS

What a surprise! A retro swimsuit! Despite the fact I have swimwear coming out of my ears and only a week or two a year to show it off, I bought one of these the moment I saw it. It’s a dead ringer for the Betsey Johnson and (*hides*) Juicy Couture retro cossies I’ve been eyeing up, and a tad cheaper than the Esther Willliams swimsuit I just couldn’t justify buying given that I already have the bikini. Making this in larger sizes for ASOS Curve seems like a no-brainer to me, so here’s hoping that’s on its way.

Neha black zip front cutout side shoe £20 at Boohoo.com

I went to Boohoo’s Autumn / Winter press day a couple of weeks ago, and the models were all wearing these shoes. The pictures don’t really do them justice. I am blessed with terrible cankles (this is not one of those imaginary body hang-ups, I really do have oddly thick ankles!) so ankle-straps rarely do up on me, and if they do they look terrible, so I’ve never really been able to try chunky gladiator heels or shoe-boots. These are the closest I can get – lots of detail on the vamp but the zip allows a bit more wiggle room. And they’re only £20. Fab!

Collection Evening Cape Dress £175 at Gant

I love the unexpected glam of a party dress with sleeves. In a room full of girls in strapless and one-shoulder frocks, it really stands out. Plus this shade of green looks amazing on just about everyone. I’d team this with a good basting of St. Tropez tan, metallis shadow and fake lashes, some very OTT gold jewellery (perhaps a knotted collar or some big Pat Butcher earrings) and killer heels or wedges. Now, which way to Studio 54?

Nail Polish in Purple Grey £5 at Models Own

Someone is currently selling a bottle of Chanel’s limited edition ‘Jade’ nail polish for £200 on eBay (er, good luck with that). Clearly, Chanel nails are the Ones To Have, and the latest must have from them is ‘Paradoxal’, being touted as the perfect greyish purple. Of course it’s impossible to get hold of. Luckily, Models Own have an alternative so close in colour that you’d be hard-pushed to tell the difference. Don’t believe me? Just look for yourself. At £5 instead of almost £20, it’s a no-brainer, and mine’s winging its way to me as we speak!

Rose Ruffle Cropped Jacket £25 at New Look

I was always scared of chunky textures in the past because it’s been drummed into me that added bulk is Just Not Slimming. But if reading so many amazing curvy blogs has taught me one thing, it’s that you shouldn’t be scared to give anything a go, and that dressing to ‘slim’ is not only fighting a losing battle, it’s also bad for your confidence. Your body is the shape it is, and no amount of clever dressing is going to change that. So I decided to buy this and stick two fingers up to the rules! It’s perfect for my ostentatious, girly style, and will be a great cover-up at parties in the coming months.

‘Who is that girl’ rose clip $25 thehoneycomb on Etsy

I’ve got two weddings to go to in September and I really need to pick what I’m wearing so I can order one of these fascinators as the finishing touch. I’ve collected things with butterflies on since I was a teenager (again, predictable, no?) so I love thehoneycomb’s gorgeous combs and wreathes. I wore one of this designer’s floral pieces as a bridesmaid recently, and they’re really beautifully made. Plus it’s lovely to support an independent designer, instead of rocking up in the same M&S or Accessorize fascinator as everyone else!

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In My Wardrobe

In My Wardrobe – Summer treats!

This Summer’s high street collections have had me both in raptures and totally disappointed in equal measure. I love the floaty fabrics, maxi dresses, pretty florals, retro touches and cutesy, childish looks. I’m not so sold on pastels and pale colours (I’m pale enough – I like a bit of contrast), leather shorts (squeak!) or the myriad of longline godet tops with naff prints that I’m sure will go the way of built in skirt-over-trousers when it comes to trends we’d rather forget in a few years time.

But that hasn’t stopped me investing (or very kindly being sent…) a few pieces for the new season, some of which are below, if you fancy a peek into my future wardrobe!

After a serious investment in wiggle dresses and vintage / vintage inspired pieces last year, I’ve now got a good stock of those styles and have returned to something a bit more bohemian for Summer. I’m all about maxi dresses, little cotton sundresses and statement accessories. I’ve also got my mitts on two things I thought I’d never wear – a playsuit (albeit one that looks very much like a dress until you look closely!) and denim shorts, which so far have only been worn over leggings. I’ve never, ever found a pair of shorts that fit properly, but these are great and a bit longer than the hot pant style ones in Topshop and so on. Good old Dorothy Perkins can always be relied upon to take a trend and mumsy it up just a bit!

I haven’t completely forgotten that retro love – I did give in and finally buy an Esther Williams bikini after going on about them for a couple of years. It was money well spent, the fit is perfect and the style is fab. I can’t say enough good things about the style. And those Irregular Choice cherry sandals I just couldn’t resist for a bit of pool glam – they should arrive Saturday and I’m crossing my fingers they fit!