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Today I’m wearing… more shades of grey (and a cold shoulder jumper)

I was dubious about the cold shoulder trend, because, well, I’m a cynic. What’s the point of flashing a bit of upper arm, I’d think, when I’ve spent all my life trying to *hide* my upper arms… And would it make any difference to feeling too hot or too cold? I didn’t think so, and I wrote off cold-shoulders as ridiculous, another way to torment those who do don’t like to show flesh, and therefore not for me.

But then I had a a revelatory moment… and it was the cold shoulder jumper. I’ve never bought anything from Lipsy before, thinking it was for small, skinny types, but I saw this jumper and despite the holes in the upper arms, I had to have it. It’s pale pink, the kind of punky pop pale pink, that cries out for bubblegum lips and smudgy kohl eyeliner… and it’s long sleeved and high necked, so a tiny bit of upper arm reveal can’t possibly be gratuitous.

I wore it on Monday and got the seal of approval with my grey jeans and the ankle sliver above my metallic trainers. After a quick wash, I wore it today, with a flippy floral skirt in pink and grey.   I just love pink and grey together, vibrant shades make the pink pop, but silvery grey and pastel pink are a soothing combination.

The photos aren’t the best, they don’t do either outfit justice.  Or maybe actually it’s just not very flattering, the ribbing and frilling emphasising as it does, curves and bumps.  But I enjoyed wearing it for a change, as after all, that’s the whole point of my fashion posts – to challenge myself to wear things I love, but otherwise wouldn’t.  Pushing my boundaries! I particularly like the way the flip of the skirt and the frills of the jumper echo each other… just sayin’… And yes, I wore it with the smudgy eyes and bubblegum pink lips described in my shopping haul!

Rosa was very taken with my outfit, when I took my coat off this evening she said “Mummy your jumper and skirt are so pretty!” Meanwhile Persie kissed the soft part of my upper arm tonight as I carried her and said “I like this nice shoulder, Mummy,” and carried on smooching it for a bit.  Got to love toddlers.

The observant amongst you will note that I also matched this week’s manicure to the shades of grey theme. This is OPI “No More Mr Night Sky” a purplish grey with a shimmer… Love it!!

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Today I’m wearing… grown up dungarees

A couple of months ago, I bough a pinstriped jumpsuit in Tesco for £12.99, when they were having a sale. But I didn’t wear it, because I couldn’t work out what to wear it with, and how to make the cropped trousers palatable, and I thought it was navy (it’s not, it’s just not a very strong black) and then I wasn’t certain if I could get away with it – whatever that means. Then there was the fact that the girls’ dad said it looked “like Madonna circa 1990” – and I knew exactly what he meant, I can picture Madonna doing the running man in a pinstriped suit, flanked by backing dancers, wearing a headset… this jumpsuit definitely has that kind of vibe.

I digress! This morning, I could have gone safe, and I could have gone floral, I could even have gone for jersey, but instead I went bold, and I wore the jumpsuit! I went for a thin red knit underneath, and my already-ubiquitous red boots, which were a bit clashy, but in a sort of deliberate way. And you can sort of see on the picture, a sliver of calf was revealed, in a nonchalant, my-ankles-aren’t-cold-today-but-I’m-still-on-trend kind of way.

A tailored jumpsuit is not actually as easy as dungarees to get on and off, thanks to a side zip on the bodice as well as poppers on the shoulders, and that really was the “if you are prepared to take the extra steps when you go to the toilet” moment for me, when I regretted my second cup of coffee this morning. But I didn’t regret the ensemble overall, although admittedly it was a bit of a statement. I could tell that some people didn’t like it, and Cindy at the nail salon asked if I got told off today for “wearing casual clothes” which goes to show how different a look it was for me. Overall, though, I’m claiming a victory – a woman from a different business stream stopped me in the cafe to tell me how much she loved my outfit and I think she’s pretty awesome, so… outfit success!  I’m looking forward to wearing it with a white tee shirt and trainers on a dress down day next.

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This weekend I wore… several shades of grey and the ankle sliver

MOTHER’S DAY! Rosa and Persie excelled themselves with the help of nursery/school and their dad. Persie in particular has been very excited about this day, because she was making a 3D card which was the receptacle of two chocolates, which she and Rosa ate themselves. On Sunday morning, Persie had a moment of impressive realisation and shouted at me “IS SUNDAY! HAPPY MUVVERS’ DAY!” with true joy. My Waitrose-purchased and school created haul included a card with “I love you Mummy” written in Mandarin (oh yes!), a new Mummy mug and the biggest box of Ferrero Rocher you’ve ever seen. Cue many jokes about the ambassador’s reception etc etc…

And we went to the Suffolk coast! Aldeburgh is one of my favourite places and has been since I was quite young. There is a tiny house along the sea front that used to be painted pink, and I wanted to live in it and write books.  That’s pretty much my ambition still… Anyway, we didn’t have the famous fish and chips, because the queues for both chip shops stretched down the road (seriously!) but we did visit both the Joules shops, Fat Face (OH! So many cardigans of desire!), and had shabby chic tea and cake in a tea room. We also spent a happy forty minutes dropping serious money in Aldeburgh bookshop, where I made the most satisfying purchase of a box of 20 Poems, printed on thick buff card, by The School of Life. When we opened the box to take a look the first poem was so perfect, so apt, I simply had to buy them. The poems in the image are not that poem, which definitely deserves a post all of its own in the future. I can’t wait to find ways to display the cards and to using them for inspiration.

Poems

Finally, we went for a walk along the beach collecting pebbles. The pebble bag weighed more than Persie by the time we went back to the car.  I was delighted that I found a Hag Stone,  a naturally occurring stone with a hole.  I brought it home in my coat pocket, and put on on my windowsill, and seeing it makes me happy.

Clothes wise, I had made a recent purchase of grey jeans, and some paisley patterned springy trainers by Rocket Dog, which I got via Groupon, both items I was very excited to try out. Despite my reservations about the fact that it’s a good few degrees cooler out on the coast, I went for the bare-ankle look. My ankles were cold, I admit, but only because of the wind on the seaside, they would have been fine in town, and indeed today in the sunshine they were not cold in the slightest. No picture of the whole outfit, I teamed the grey jeans with the now-famous and faithful yellow jumper, a great colour combination, and there’s yellow in them paisley trainers, so they tied together brilliantly, and we know that yellow does indeed make me very happy.

The ankle sliver is even more of a thing this spring than it was last year, I’m finding. I was not alone in suffering for fashion in Aldeburgh on Sunday, there were many blue-grey ankles on show, freshly shaved, some with loafers, some with pumps, and some with trainers. Since the cropped trouser and the stepped hem are the new thing this Spring, I think I’ll just have to harden myself up a bit until the weather fits the fashion.

grey stones

This week I’m wearing… florals and spring boots

Autumn, traditionally, is the season of new boots, isn’t it?  Shops full of conker-shiny, Hallowe’en black footwear, ready for the onslaught of the rain, wind and cold.  

Yep, but something very exciting has happened to me this Spring… and it’s the SPRING BOOT.

Over the knee, pale and a bit slouchy, but smart enough for work.  Block heeled, bright and ankle length, and very very eye catching.  I have two new pairs of boots and I can’t wait to show them off.  Well, I already have, but just haven’t had time to blog about it!   Unfortunately, the weather hasn’t been entirely dry, so it was lucky I had treated my new boots to lashings of suede protector spray, so much in fact, that I need to buy some more.

I’d been hankering for a pair of over-the-knee boots since reading Jess Cartner-Morley in the Guardian on them and feeling that I was ready to embrace them.  Like the pleather conundrum, I was concerned about the tart-factor, but you’ll see that I turned to my preppy, 40s landgirl inspired outfit from the previous week, jumper-over-tea-dress, to ensure that there was no inappropriateness, just not-cold-legs on a sunny spring day.  The trick to keeping these work-ok is to make sure that your skirt goes *over* the top of the boots.  However, I am quite looking forward to experimenting with making them non-work appropriate, and have been merrily Pinteresting “how to style over-the-knee boots” so no doubt there will be an update!  The floral dress wasn’t too cold on Monday, when combined with the boots and a mild day.  I sense it’s going to be a 2017 stalwart.


The second outfit this week, was styled twice, once with nude tights and once with navy. The nude tights made the outfit exceptionally attention grabbing, I know this because in the end my colleague consoled me with “if you’re going to get your legs out, you’re just going to have to get used to the comments”. So here’s a picture of the slightly less startling styled with dark legs, navy floral shirt dress, with military gold brassy buttons, and orangey red block heeled boots. There’s a reason all of these tone together – they’re all from the Next directory! All the sane, a triumph, I think you’ll agree. Like the other boots, I’m looking forward to styling these in different ways through spring, and hoping that in time these boots plus bare legs won’t be quite so controversial. Maybe in May…

This week I wore… all yellow

Look at the stars
Look how they shine for you
And everything you do
Yeah they were all yellow

I came along
I wrote a song for you
And all the things you do
And it was called yellow

So then I took my turn
Oh what a thing to have done
And it was all yellow

Coldplay

Don’t scoff at the Coldplay reference, that song has been in my head all week! On Monday morning, I was feeling pretty uninspired. After the triumph of the statement lip last weekend, the dungaree goodness, how could I top that excitement when I had to dress for work? As a result, I didn’t really try, I went for a grey Boden jersey dress and yellow cardigan. Boring, unthoughtful dressing. I did the statement lip to cheer myself up and… POP! Suddenly that yellow cardigan was looking awesome.

I love yellow. Apologies to Caitlin Moran, but yellow is a neutral. My feeling is that it works on the principal that because yellow doesn’t go with anything, it goes with everything. It is my favourite colour, I love it because of sunshine, happiness, daffodils, sandy beaches, sunflowers, autumn leaves, and champagne. It’s vivid mustard, warm and golden, or pale lemon, creamy, zesty… When I imagine death, I imagine yellow.

So I set myself a challenge – I shall wear yellow all week! I thought, and then immediately felt the pressure of the restriction. Luckily, I actually own quite a lot of yellow clothing, but I found in the end that the issue wasn’t wearing yellow per se, but styling it without black as the second colour. 


Day 1 – jersey dress and yellow cardigan. Boden, both items, so the palette toned, and the grey and yellow are a fresher combination than yellow and black.
Day 2 – pleather skirt with yellow chunky jumper *tucked in*! Very exciting, until I realised it was a big work exhibition that morning and I had to keep my mac on inside as my skirt was really really short and there were lots of important people there.
Day 3 – Roadtrip day, so comfort. Jacquard shift dress in yellow, layered over black thermal top as I set off at 6:30am and arrived home late – didn’t want to be cold. I don’t normally wear midi-dresses, so this required a higher heel than usual (not shown) – platform shoe boots. 
Day 4 – cheating, really, a spring floral dress (M&S several years ago) with significant amounts of yellow in the floral, with a beige jumper layered over the top, and brogues for a change from my ankle boots. I love this outfit, loving the jumper-over-dress preppiness of it, but it was the least yellow of the days. Oh, and I was absolutely bloody freezing – not warm enough yet for a thin cotton dress!
Day 5 – Dress down Friday! Yellow cold shoulder top (New Look), over khaki jeans, showing ‘the sliver’ at the ankle (brrr!) and a black shawl cardigan over the top. I wished I’d had a pale cardigan with a shape that worked, to make the outfit a little less black, but my boots were black which sort of pulled it together.

And then at the weekend, trusty dungas and that yellow jumper again, AKA “the sexy minion” look.

I have actually gone into my storage bags to retrieve some more yellow clothes from my spring/summer wardrobe, although it is definitely too cold to be thinking truly spring-like clothing. thoughts. I could have done another week of yellow, but I’m thinking next week to go for a different challenge… maybe florals, which is also not too much of a stretch with my wardrobe. Probably the challenge should actually be “no black”- maybe that’s for another time when I’m feeling especially creative. 

My Eyelashes!

The girls at The Kimono are eyelash extension aficionados. I was always fascinated by their flirty, fluttery long lashes, but hadn’t realised that they weren’t natural. Then I was there when each of them made the effort to get a taxi across Cambridge to Salon at No. 5, the lash and brow bar, which also has a second branch where I live, and I knew then that both the lashes and the salon must be something special.

I resisted the lure of the lashes for a long time, but then one day there was a Groupon offer for a full set of eyelash extensions at Salon at No. 5. I can not resist a good Groupon! I snapped it up, booked myself in and (after a patch test) excitedly succumbed to having four fake eyelashes glued to each of my individual eyelashes in the spirit of flirty, flutteriness.

In a strange twist of fate, the day after my appointment, I ended up having a very serious job interview, but didn’t want to cancel the lashes as it had been a bit of a nightmare to book in due to my schedule and the salon’s. So I did actually end up being interviewed for my big important job role with slightly burlesque looking. I don’t know if any of the interviewers noticed or if the associated slow blinking (the lashes are a bit heavy) helped or hindered!

The extended lash look was indeed full and lush, but a bit too full on for me, for everyday. Plus there’s the fact that you have to be careful with the eye make up you wear. I like creamy eyeshadow, smudgy kohl pencils, and these are not your eyelash extensions’ friends – nothing with oil in is. You can’t wear mascara on top of them, for example – you have to really commit to just the extensions. So after an aborted infill session for the extensions, and a full and frank discussion about my love of eyeliner, Bella, the lash technician, recommended that instead I try an LVL Lash Lift instead. Pretty much, it’s a lash tint and perm.

After another patch test, I rocked up at the salon last Saturday and after removing all my eye make up with a baby wipe (effective but stingy!) the treatment took about an hour, and was actually very very relaxing, as you might imagine lying back with your eyes closed for nearly an hour might be! Like any kind of perm, you can’t get it wet for 24 hrs afterwards, and there was a touch of rain as I left the salon, but as recommended, I wore protective eyewear in the shower the following day, and I think that the effect is lasting very well.

I already have dark eyelashes, so I’m looking to enhance my lashes prior to mascara, rather than to be able to skip mascara altogether, which might be the aim if you are very fair lashed and don’t wear much make up. My next eyelash adventure is going to be with a very exciting product… but more of that another time.

Here is my before and after picture! Thanks to Bella for the photography!

 

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Today I’m wearing… going out clothes at work

So the other week I gatecrashed someone’s leaving do who I didn’t know.  Basically I was at one set of leaving drinks, and Welsh friend was at another at a pub a couple of doors down, and we wanted to get together.  So I slipped away joined in their little event, far more sedate than the one I was leaving, which suited me fine, as I had a kind ‘two drinks max and I’m outta here’ feeling.

The most hilarious part of the evening was when I caught sight of the leaver, who I had never met before, a young woman (well, younger than me and Cerys) who was dressed up like she was starring in the 90s film The Craft.  Short skirt, cropped top, fishnets, heels and *a choker*.  She was definitely “going on” somewhere once the slightly more mature members of the party finished drinking their sensible sized glasses of Sauv Blanc and departed.  But she was so at odds with her surroundings and company that I couldn’t help but widen my eyes at Cerys who told me “she’s been wearing that since 8am this morning.”

Well, frankly, if I had my time again I’d have worn a lot more fabulous outfits at 8am, so good for her!  But it did give me pause when thinking about this week and the sartorial decisions required about going out straight after work, which I am doing two nights running (get me!).  I approached the issue with one solution: metallics!

Yesterday, prior to *a very special leaving event*, I mixed my going out skirt (metallic jacquard purple stars) with a sensible top and my normal black tights/ankle boots combo to take me from the office to the cocktail bar.  This was a relatively successful gambit, although the shortness and sparkliness of the skirt was commented upon in the cocktail bar, and a comment about ‘the bend and snap’ from someone who is not a reader of this blog (as far as I know…)!  Under the sensible top, I wore a t-shirt with diamante sparkles, so when the dancing started I was able to strip off a layer and get down to the cheesy songs (more on that another time).  The skirt is from Warehouse, which thanks to The Pool, I gave a second chance last year after years of writing it off, and it’s been an absolute treasure trove.

Tonight I bid farewell to another very special lady, but it’s a more casual event, and it’s Dress Down Friday, so it’s jeans and a sweatshirt.  But oh!  What a sweatshirt!  Metallic polka dots, matched with my gold Converse.  Adding a little sparkle elevates this from the mundane to the marvelous, I think, and I’ll be supremely comfy too.  Win win.  I love the combination of navy blue and gold on the Boden sweatshirt- softer and more forgiving than black, although that has its place too.  The only thing I’d say about the sweatshirt is I could have bought a size S, as the M is generous, but it gives a good oversized look.  I wish they’d used gold thread on the cuffs and neck, that would have made it perfect.

Pictures by colleagues! One in the cocktail bar and one in the office… 

On Sighing

Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more.
Men were deceivers ever,
One foot in sea, and one on shore,
To one thing constant never.
Then sigh not so, but let them go,
And be you blithe and bonny,
Converting all your sounds of woe
Into hey nonny, nonny.

Sing no more ditties, sing no more
Of dumps so dull and heavy.
The fraud of men was ever so
Since summer first was leafy.
Then sigh not so, but let them go,
And be you blithe and bonny,
Converting all your sounds of woe
Into hey, nonny, nonny.

(Shakespeare – Much Ado About Nothing)

I have a sighing habit. And it has been noticed. My first day in a new role, many years ago, I remember Aussie Nicole saying that I hadn’t stopped sighing, and it was driving her crazy. Recently Colleague 1 told Colleague 2 that she’d just have to get used to my sighing, and it didn’t necessarily indicate I was pissed off but did potentially have a myriad of meanings, including the sometimes correctly identified “sigh of disappointment”. Then the other day the woman I sit next to at work said “I’m going to start a tally chart of your sighing today! I reckon we’re up to at least ten already!”

So to save my colleagues and my papers from gusts of air and huffy sounding interjections, I did a bit of research into sighing and why we do it. Obviously, since a sigh is just a really deep breath with an audible exhale, it’s not surprising that sighing is really all about breathing. It originates from a life-saving reflex. We all sigh without realising we do it, just to open up our lungs and get enough oxygen in. There are theories that sighing acts as ‘a mental and physical reset’ – who hasn’t done a bit of deep breathing before something they’re nervous about? A sigh acts in the same way. For example, I know that when I’m tense my breathing gets more shallow, and as a result, I sigh more, in an attempt to get myself on an even keel.

Unfortunately, people perceive sighing as, in the main, an expression of negative emotions. Hence the “sigh of disappointment”. We think of sighs as being associated with frustration and difficulty. But actually I find that when I’m concentrating I sigh. And that’s a good thing for me. And what about sighs of satisfaction, or pleasure? How does a happy out-breath really differ from a negative one? Can you hear tone in breathing?

Anyway, I’m sure that despite my new-found self-awareness, sighing will continue – I don’t want my lungs to collapse, thanks very much. But as ever Shakespeare’s advice holds true today. In the spirit of “act the way you want to feel”, I won’t be sighing, but will instead continue to listen to my Happiness playlist, which is surely the modern version of singing “Hey nonny nonny”.

Today I’m wearing… a slogan jumper

Mum clothes at the weekend are an inevitability.  I’m a little bit ashamed to admit that this Surrey girl went native a few years ago, and that at the weekends there’s a fair amount of Joules and gilet wearing… when in Rome!

Today comfort and practicality were the name of the game in the face of a long car journey.  I decided that I might have to wear jeans and a jumper, but I could elevate my outfit with a message.  Life may be shit in many ways… but I’m still lovely.

Jumper from Boden, last season (they sold out, I wish they’d do more).  Picture by Rosa.