Category Archives: Fashion

A September state of mind…

New Look Shirt Dress

Come September, I want my life to feel as neat and ordered as a pencil case full of freshly sharpened pencils. The start of every school year is a new start. Even when the playground is a distant memory that feeling is hard to shake off.

Life doesn’t stop for the summer, but it does change pace. As the trees start to change colour, my attitude shifts and I become more productive. Work, hobbies and ambitions all come back into focus.

A September state of mind

I don’t want to stumble into autumn, I want to meet it head on in my best pair of new shiny shoes. I’d be kidding myself if I said I’m going to feel my best self every single day. But I do want to look like I mean business. Remember your new school uniform? It made you stand up a bit straighter, even when felt a bit nervous on your first day.

The good thing about being a grown-up is that you get to choose your own uniform. Wear things that make you feel the way the way you want to feel. My September outfits always have a back-to-school look about them. Neat, smart and productive – with not a flip-flop in sight.

New Look Shirt Dress

A shirt dress is a great piece to invest in. It’s still cool enough for warmer days – but if you choose a dark colour it’ll also feel pleasingly autumnal. You don’t have to spend much – my black spotty one is from New Look and it’s £24.99.

September fashion: shirtdress and jumper

Add a loose knit on cooler days. Preferably one with a v-neck for just a hint of school days. I bet you have one lurking in your wardrobe, but if you don’t then this one is from H&M and it’s £17.99 (the oatmeal colour I wear is currently only available in store).

New Look Satchel and shirt dress

A satchel is always very appealing in September and it’s big enough for all your to-do lists. I bought mine from New Look last year and they still sell the same bag in a gorgeous brown colour. It’s £19.99.

This outfit, or some variation on the theme, is what you’ll mostly find me wearing this September. What will you reaching for?

 

 

Flares, ABBA and other new season stories

ASOS cropped flares

ABBA made me buy these flares. Or, more accurately, watching the new Mamma Mia film did. Have you seen it yet? The 70s bits of the film are awash with dungarees, flares, peasant tops and string bags. I left the cinema with ABBA as the new soundtrack to my life and desperately needing a pair of flares. 

Luckily for me, flares are going to be a thing this autumn. The easiest way to wear them is a cropped denim pair with a high waist. The hems won’t drag in the dirt and you won’t have that weird disappearing feet thing happen. It’s actually a pretty flattering silhouette for pear-shapes (like me).

ASOS cropped flares

Top, H&M (old) / Cropped flares, £32, ASOS / Shoes, £26, Warehouse

I can’t blame ABBA for making me buy these cheetah print trousers. Animal prints are everywhere though, so can you blame me?

Cheetah print Warehouse trousers

Top, H&M (old) / Cheetah trousers, £39, Warehouse / Shoes, Marks and Spencer (old) / Basket, from France

I chose this pair from Warehouse for a camping trip and they were perfect! Loose, cool and simple – like pyjamas, basically. I’m looking forward to dressing them up and down all autumn.

Cheetah print Warehouse trousers

One more thing before I go. If you had to sum your life up right now in an ABBA song, what would it be? I’m hovering somewhere between Slipping Through My Fingers and Take a Chance on Me.

 

Feeling impatient? Take things one scarf at a time…

Scarf in hair

I’m not going to mention the A word, because it’s still summer, but I can’t deny that I’m getting excited about new season trends. Just a tiny bit though, as it’s obviously way too hot to wear any of them yet.

If, like me, you’re feeling impatient, try taking things one scarf at a time. Not wooly ones, the jaunty little silky ones. They’re a cute little nod to the season ahead that we can all afford.

Scarf in hair

We’ve all got at least one lurking at the back of the wardrobe, right? And if you haven’t, then go rummage in the charity shop where you’ll always find loads.

I’ve spotted the cool girls on Instagram wearing their scarves in their hair, so I thought I’d give it a whirl. After weeks and weeks of limp heatwave-hair, it feels pretty jaunty.

Scarf in hair

Scarves are also good when you want to…

… perk up your ancient raincoat

…look like Jane Birkin

…make your straw bag look even cuter like the guys at Rock n Rose

Go forth and wear your scarves! 

Be more leopard

New Look leopard jumpsuit

Never underestimate the mood enhancing qualities of leopard print. It’s one of my favourite things, along with posh ice cream and Aperol Spritz.

New Look leopard jumpsuit

I absolutely didn’t need this jumpsuit from New Look, but it was a little treat after a weird couple of weeks. It’s super soft and comfy thanks to the silky, stretchy ribbed fabric (not sure what the technical term is, but it’s quite retro). And more importantly, it’s not too impossible to get on and off when you need the loo. It’s also only £24.99 which is the kind of treat I like a lot. 

New Look leopard jumpsuit

I wear:

Jumpsuit in a size 12, £24.99, New Look / Saltwater sandals, £59.50, FatFace

 

What I’ll be packing for my UK holiday – featuring Lighthouse Clothing

What to pack for your UK holiday with Lighthouse Clothing

We’re going up to the Lake District for our summer holiday. I can’t wait to explore the amazing fells, lakes and buy some of that famous gingerbread. 

Packing for a UK holiday isn’t always easy. This year the weather has been freakishly sunny for weeks and weeks – but we all know that it’s best to pack for all eventualities. I’ve heard you can get all four seasons in one day in the Lakes, so I want to be prepared!

What to pack for your UK holiday with Lighthouse Clothing

Want to peek in my suitcase? I’ve chosen some brilliantly down-to-earth pieces by Lighthouse Clothing – a British brand who specialise in simple clothes that are as practical as they are pretty…

What to pack for your UK holiday with Lighthouse Clothing

The classic Breton tee. You’d be crazy to set off for your UK holiday without one of these wardrobe heroes. Perfect for breezy walks by the sea, strolls through the countryside and just about anything else you can throw at it! This pink-striped tee ticks all those boxes and previous holidays have taught me that I’ll be wearing it a lot.

What to pack for your UK holiday with Lighthouse Clothing

A classic white shirt with a twist. A soft shirt is such a useful piece for your holiday. Wear it with shorts and accessories with a bag of chips – or sling it on over a dress when it’s breezy on the beach. I love the little spots on this simple shirt – it’s classic, cute and informal.

What to pack for your UK holiday with Lighthouse Clothing

A cute little dress you can dress up or down. You know when you go on a hot holiday and you pack all those gorgeous floaty dresses? I sometimes optimistically pack them for a UK holiday too, but rarely wear them. Much better is a simple t-shirt dress that’s perfect for shopping at the market and a pub lunch. Dress it up later with wedges and a denim jacket!

What to pack for your UK holiday with Lighthouse Clothing

The yellow raincoat. You can’t do a British holiday without a raincoat. And if (like me) you like to buy a new one, make it yellow. Who can fail to be cheered by a bright yellow pop of sunshine on a grey day? Not me!

What to pack for your UK holiday with Lighthouse Clothing

What will you be packing for your UK holiday?

What to pack for your UK holiday with Lighthouse Clothing

A big thank you to Lighthouse Clothing for sending me these pieces to try. They are true to size – I wear a size 10 in everything except the coat which is a 12 so I can wear it with jumpers.

Opposites attract: why I watch Love Island

On paper Love Island is 100% not my type. I’m over thirty and married with two kids. Why would I want to spend eight weeks watching a bunch of fake-tanned, single 20-somethings in a Mallorcan villa? Why indeed. And yet, that old platitude is true: opposites attract.

Why I watch Love Island

The perennial lure of the TV dating show. I’ve always been a sucker for them – from Blind Date to Street Mate, and more recently First Dates and Married at First Sight. It’s gossipy romance at its best. There’s no reality here. Love Island is deeply appealing because the stakes are so stupidly low – even the dramas aren’t really that dramatic. It’s like the chick-lit book you devour on holiday, but can’t be bothered to squeeze back into your suitcase.

It’s shallow and vacuous. And that’s just the way I like it. I enjoy a break from pondering the big questions in life and giving myself the green light to be completed mindless. Forget mortgages and work, Love Island gives me an hour every night to focus on the really important things in life – like ewww, how can the girls bear to wear their bikinis up their bums like that everyday?

Why I watch Love Island

I’m an observer. Watching Love Island is a bit like watching a nature programme, or a documentary about aliens. The contestants’ outlook on life is so far removed from my own. It’s like observing a different species. I’m seriously fascinated by the gradual realisation that most of the girls have had a little surgical cosmetic help,  the hideous array of clothes and the surprising vanity of the boys. I feel no envy or desire to compare myself to them – and, wow, how refreshing is that?

It’s beautifully imperfect. After a while, you stop noticing all the perfectly tanned and toned limbs, the blinding white teeth and the hair extensions. The mask – or should I say hair weave – slips sometimes and you see that most of them are just as imperfect and complicated as the rest of us. Apart from a few exceptions, they’re mostly a likeable bunch – and it’s their personalities that you remember. Well, for five minutes at least.

Why I watch Love Island

Love Island, I’ve given up an hour of my evenings for you for nearly six weeks so far. I’ll keep rolling my eyes at you, but I’m not planning on stopping watching any time soon. And you don’t make me despair and cry like the Handmaid’s Tale, so that’s good.

The Weekend Edit

Boohoo stripy sun dress

Hello weekend, I’m definitely ready for you. It looks like it’s going to be another absolute scorcher. Need some inspiration? Here’s some simple ideas…

Enjoy an open-air event. This weekend we’re off to the Ely Folk Festival for the first time. What am I hoping for? Great music and relaxed summer fun that’ll keep us all happy – plus a few beers and some ice cream. That’s all I ever want from a summer event. In every town, village and city there’s always oodles to do in July – from school fairs to music in the local bandstand. Pack up a picnic and see what you can find!

The Weekend Edit: Peacocks Dress

Wear stripes (again). Don’t tie yourself up in knots planning an outfit for the weekend. Just reach for something stripy and you know you’ll be sorted. I am particularly loving this stripy sun dress from Boohoo. Not my usual shop, but I fell in love with this simple little number. Accessorise with a straw hat/bag and lots of sun cream.

Boohoo stripy sun dress

Keep on ditching those tea bags. Remember I wrote about giving up tea bags a few months ago? Mainly because they contain plastic. Well, it’s still going very well. I couldn’t live without my mug-sized metal filters – easy and mess free, especially when you just want one cup. If you haven’t already got one, maybe now is the time to give it a try? Whittard are now doing a lovely infuser mug with its own filter which is just perfect for their beautiful range of loose summer teas! The Passionfruit and Mango blend is particularly lovely.

Whittards tea filter and Summer loose teas

Lose yourself in a good page-turner. If you’re looking for a good weekend read, or a book for your holiday, I can heartily recommend The Stolen Child by Sanjida Kay. It’s such a gripping story and I read it in one day as I just couldn’t put it down. Compulsive reading. Perfect for an afternoon in a deck chair or on a sun lounger!

The weekend edit

Eat some cherries. Head to your local market and buy a bag of juicy, in season cherries. They’re at their sweet best right now and such a lovely treat. I only ever eat them at this time of year and they’re worth the wait.

Cherries and coffee

A last chance for some boundaries. It’s my last weekend before the school summer holidays start. Soon I’ll be lucky if I can persuade my children to go to bed before 9pm. I’m torn between excitement and fear. I’m still in denial that it’s so close. As usual, I’m hoping to wing it.

Daisy chains

What do you have planned this weekend?

A birthday talisman

Daisy London amethyst pendant

It’s my birthday today. I’m 34. This isn’t a post telling you I’ve got life sussed. Because obviously that’d be a lie. But I do like to think I’ve learnt a few useful things along the way – mostly that life is all about balance. There are good days and bad days, nice bit and nasty bits. But usually life finds its natural balance. And I’m happy with that. 

Sometimes though, for whatever reason, life can get knocked off kilter. And when that happens, this 34 year old often needs to take a refresher course in finding her inner balance. Everyone’s got their own little ways to get back on track. Personally, I like a talisman.

Daisy London amethyst pendant

Don’t worry I’m not about to turn all mystic on you, but I do believe in the power of objects to comfort and reassure. Recently I received an early birthday present from Daisy London – a beautiful amethyst pendant from their Healing Stones collection.

Daisy London amethyst pendant

I’ve always been drawn to amethyst. Mostly because it’s pretty. But, it’s also supposed to do all sorts of other good things like ward off bad energy, improve concentration and get you closer to achieving your positive goals. Now, I don’t know if I can count on all that happening, but I do know that wearing a piece of amethyst next to my heart can remind me that it’s possible.

Daisy London amethyst pendant

Putting on this pretty necklace is enough to give me the little kick I need to remember to get that whole life balance thing right.

Daisy London amethyst pendant

Which means remembering to jump on my bike to clear my head when it’s full of negative thoughts – or taking a hour off to sit amongst some lavender.

Daisy London amethyst pendant

34 years have taught me that life doesn’t have to be complicated if you get the balance right.  

Daisy London amethyst pendant

I wear: 18ct gold plated Amethyst pendant, £85, Daisy London / Dress, £19.99, H&M / Belt, £4.99, H&M / Shoes, £25, Marks and Spencer

Thank you Daisy London for sending this beautiful amethyst pendant to me for my birthday. 

Things I’ve loved in June

Sunhat and flowers

June has felt short and sweet. I’ve been busy with some big writing projects, so the weeks have flown past. But it hasn’t been all work and no play. Here’s what I’ve been doing, and more importantly loving, this month! 

Blooms from my garden. I’m no expert when it comes to gardening, and my approach is pretty slap-dash. All I really want is somewhere nice to sit and lots of flowers to pick. I’ve had a few set-backs this year – mainly one of my favourite climbing roses randomly dying – but everything is looking pretty cute out there now. My remaining roses are blooming and all the little plants I bought from Sarah Raven are doing well.

English flowers

Riding my bike every day. Pedal power is real. Riding my bike makes me feel happier and healthier. We ride our bikes to school every day and I’ve upgraded and added some panniers for my shopping.

Pashley Bicycle

My new Saltwater Sandals. I finally took the plunge on a pair and now I’m wondering what on earth took me so long? They’re the comfiest pair of sandals and they haven’t rubbed at all. Worried about the US sizes? I ordered mine from FatFace who have already covered them into UK sizes. They feel true to size. After agonising over the colour, I’m delighted to report that the bright red ones go with everything.

Saltwater Sandals

The Gresham House Wellness Spa. One of the things I love most about Cambridge is that new things pop up all the time. The latest is a beautiful new spa hidden away in an old house in the grounds of the Gonville Hotel. It’s a relaxing haven in the city with pretty hotel rooms and  luxurious treatment rooms. I went to the launch a few weeks ago and can’t wait to go back for a treatment – the little taster I had was very tempting!

Summer drinks. Beers in the park. Pimm’s by the river. Aperol Spritz in my garden on a Friday night. Ah, I love the simple pleasures of summer. Just add a pretty dress like this one from Peacocks!

My June was pretty good. How was yours?

Midi skirts and slogan tees

Slogan tees and floral skirts

In summer it feels like the rules change. Fashion becomes playful. On a sunny day things that shouldn’t work, just do. Midi skirts and slogan tees are a classic example. On paper, it shouldn’t work. But it does.

Why does it work? I think it’s partly because opposites attract. And also that slogan tees stop midi skirts looking too old-fashioned – and vice versa, because I don’t want to look like a teenager either.

I wear: tee, New Look (old) / skirt, £24.99, H&M / sandals, £59.50, Saltwater at FatFace

Want to see more? Here are some of my favourites right now!

Slogan tees and midi skirts

I wear: tee, £20, Blossoms Store / skirt, £25, Monki / Sandals as before

Skirt, £24.99, H&M / Tee, £9.99 Mango

Skirt, £30, Monki / Tee, £15.99, Mango