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Fashion

  • Walking out of the hotel in Marks & Spencer clothing

    Finding #MyMarksFave at Marks and Spencer Longbridge

    This is a paid collaboration with Marks & Spencer.

    During our recent shopping trip to Marks and Spencer in Longbridge, my Mom and I got talking about the future for fashion shopping. We’d planned an afternoon treating ourselves in M&S, picking up some bits and pieces for the upcoming summer months and enjoying a cuppa in the Cafe afterwards: a proper Mother-Daughter laugh-filled day out. It was SO MUCH FUN, although we couldn’t help but speculate whether these kind of trips had a shelf life. In a world that is becoming increasingly digitised, and with news of the ever-declining high street constantly ringing in our ears, we were worried about our future fashion purchases being solely online based. read more

    Fashion, Lifestyle
    / April 20, 2019
  • Holly at Hanbury Hall wearing a leather jacket

    Hockey, Photoshoots and Black Jeans: Pushing My Own Boundaries

    This is a collaborative post.

    If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know I proudly declared recently that after thirty years, I finally own my first pair of black jeans. To some of you, this may sound ludicrous, as I know how many people consider them to be a pretty basic wardrobe staple. But I’ve held this long-standing irrational belief that black just doesn’t suit me, and so owning black clothes in general was something I generally steered well clear of. read more

    Fashion, Lifestyle, Reviews
    / February 25, 2019
  • In the strawberry fields in Clive's Fruit Farm

    Elvi Clothing and Positive Changes

    Occasionally, a blogging opportunity will land in my inbox that I feel really passionate about. It will be something that I am opinionated about, care about and really want to write about. In a way, these posts should be the easiest to write but if anything, I’ve found that they’re harder. They’re harder because I care more about getting them right. About setting the right tone and explaining myself properly. I worry about being misinterpreted and I agonise over exactly which wording to use.

    And that’s exactly how I feel writing about Elvi Clothing. A company that as soon as I heard about them, I admired. A fashion company that stands out for all the right reasons, and one that I want to do justice to. You see, they put their money where their mouth is, and they don’t just talk-the-talk of being inclusive, they genuinely are. To scroll through an online fashion retailer and see models ranging in size from 8 to 28 is incredible. It shouldn’t be. It should be the norm. But it’s refreshing and wonderful and inspiring.

    The importance of Equality

    I’m not a particularly opinionated person – I have a strong live and let live philosophy which means any opinions I hold, I tend to keep to myself. I’ve always had an interest in politics and the workings of democracy but more because I’m fascinated by the process rather than the outcome. But if I had to choose something that I feel passionate about, it would be equality.

    I care that we all should feel included, welcome and appreciated – no matter how we are classified. Our skin colour, our heritage, our physical abilities, our sexual preferences, our bank balance, our gender, our size or any other identifier shouldn’t be barriers or reasons to feel less worthy. We should all feel like we have a place, and in order for that to happen – we need to see people we identify with reflected in our cultural media. It sounds trivial, but that’s why I’ve always liked CBeebies: they do a great job of ensuring all children see themselves in their programming. It’s why it’s important for shop fronts (whether they’re on the high street or on the web) to show diversity.

    I’ve never been one to buy fashion magazines because I’ve always felt the slender, toned models don’t speak to me. I wouldn’t look like they look in those clothes so it’s not very inspirational. It’s much better for me to follow more fashion orientated Instagram accounts and I love the daily dose of style it injects into my life. I like this control I get over the fashion I see – I follow accounts that inspire me, I follow women of all shapes and sizes and I follow accounts that I feel offer me the healthiest perspectives. And what do I mean about a healthy perspective? I mean one that makes us celebrate our bodies, not compare them. One that doesn’t propagate a narrow idea of what is attractive or desirable. One that champions diversity.

    Easier Said than Done

    As much as I can talk the talk about accepting our bodies whatever their shape and size, it’s sometimes easier said than done, isn’t it? Whether you wish you had more curves, less curves, longer legs or thicker eyebrows, there’s always something out there to remind us of what our culture’s beauty ideal is and sometimes, preaching the messages of body positivity can feel a little false. It does for me anyway. As someone who has recently actively tired to lose weight, I feel a bit of a fraud.

    The Thing Is…

    What it all boils down to though, is this… on the days where I think more about what I want to wear, on the days I make more of an effort, no matter what size or shape I am, I feel better. I feel more confident. If I can walk out of the house feeling positive about my appearance, it makes such a difference to the day. And it’s not my size or shape that controls that – it’s the effort I put in. It’s the time I take for myself. The time I choose to invest in myself. It’s giving myself some self-care and showing myself some self-love.

    A few weeks ago, I chose this lovely dress from Elvi Clothing, and the days on which I’ve worn it have been really good (like our trip to Clive’s Fruit Farm).  The gorgeous midi-length skirt swishes around my knees, the silky slip underneath makes me feel like I’m wearing something really posh, and the addition of a little waist belt ensures a flattering fit. On each occasion, I’ve felt a million dollars.

    This is the kind of dress you make an effort for. And I’d like to fill my wardrobe with more items like this. I’d like to open the doors in the morning and find myself spoiled with choice of things to wear that make me feel good – on the outside AND the inside. Can you imagine having a little confidence boost like that every day? But you know what I think makes all the difference with this dress? It’s that I know Elvi Clothing have made it without size expectations. It’s a dress that comes with no judgements. It’s one that I’ll wear with pride. And I hope this dress sees me continuing to spread the body positive ethos of Elvi Clothing. For my benefit, for your benefit and for the wider benefit of everyone who we encounter.

    Cheers to that.

    Disclaimer: I was sent samples of clothing from Elvi Clothing but all content ideas, opinions and views remain my own. And as always, are 100% honest.

    Fashion, Lifestyle, Reviews
    / July 18, 2018
  • Oasis Clothes Fashion Rail at BrumBloggers event

    The #BrumBloggers Oasis Fashion Event

    This is a sponsored post.

    We are so lucky in Birmingham! We have such a wonderful community of bloggers in our area, and I absolutely love when I get chance to hang out with my blogging colleagues. Earlier this month, I was invited to a fun fashion-filled evening at Oasis in the Bullring, to check out their new collections and take some much needed advice from their stylists Danni and Anty.

    If you’re a Mother reading this, I don’t need to tell you what a struggle it is to get your head around ‘fashion’ after you’ve had a baby. The whole ball game changes. Your body proportions change, so even if you’re lucky enough to fit back into your pre-pregnancy clothes, they just don’t look the same. Add to that the challenge of ensuring every outfit is ‘breastfeeding-friendly’ (a term I hate, by the way), and looking into the wardrobe every morning can be a bit of a frustrating experience. Or maybe it’s just me?

    For a long time, it felt like a wasted effort to even bother. I had more important things to worry about – like keeping a tiny human alive – and hey, even if I did wear something nice, it invariably ended up covered in spit-up, poo or milk. Seriously, what was the point? But now, I’ve realised the transformative power of a good outfit. I know how much of a difference it makes to my day, and to Pickle’s day, when I feel confident and empowered. I know it’s worth spending the time, and money, on.

    Oasis clothes have been a staple of my wardrobe for a long time. They just suit me, so being able to spend a couple of hours, child free, to browse the store was my idea of heaven. It was a treat. And I couldn’t believe how many pieces I fell in love with (that stripey skirt above is my absolute FAV). Anty, one of the stylists at the Bullring store, was brilliant – she just got me! I think we have very similar tastes in style so she was able to point me in the direction of the things she’d think I like, as well as steer me in some new directions I’d have previously cast aside as ‘not for me’. I still can’t quite make up my mind whether I like the hot pink jumpsuit. As a pastels-loving girl, I think I still need some extra confidence to wear such a bright colour… but the more I look at it, the more it grows on me.

    I’ve been constantly checking the Oasis website ever since. Waiting for payday to roll around so I can treat myself to a few new pieces to jazz up my wardrobe and my ‘Mum-style’. We’ve got a few summer weddings around the corner too, and Oasis seems to be the place for wedding guest outfits – I spotted so many Oasis outfits at the wedding we were at last night! Is that a bit sad that I’ve been looking at the website and in store so much that I could recognise them? I’m going to be booking in a proper styling session with the Oasis girls so they can get me sorted. Anyone else feel more of a pressure to not look drab and dowdy when you know you’re going to be with lots of your non-Mum friends? Especially as we’ll be heading to a couple of these weddings toddler-free, I just want to live the dream of sitting elegantly in some kind of beautiful orangery or conservatory, basking in the sunlight surrounded by lots of plants, sipping on cocktails with a sparkle in my eye and a little bit of sass in my walk.

    I didn’t know whether to share this either… wondering whether it sounded a bit silly or vain… but I cannot tell you how amazed I was during this event to realise I’d dropped a dress size too. I’ve been doing Slimming World for about a month now and I’ve been loving it. You can read a bit more about why I’m trying to live a healthier lifestyle, and even though I don’t necessarily buy into a number on the sales or hanger determining your beauty or worth, it felt like one step closer to regaining some of my old pre-baby identity back. That said, I couldn’t help but enjoy some of the delicious food treats during the event laid on for us by Bill’s Restaurant at the Bullring – where I’d had breakfast not long before with some of my Johnson’s Baby Ambassador pals.

    It was such a treat to see some of the #BrumBloggers lot again – the lovely Sarah Cale and Domanique who I’d met before, and I LOVE seeing Emily’s outfits on her Instagram, so really pleased to have had a chance to say hello – in a gorgeous Joanie Clothing dress, no less! I’m very much hoping to go along to another #BrumBloggers meet up this coming week – Ting does a great job at organising these and I love a good natter, even if it’s sometimes a bit nerve-wracking at first.

    Have you had a nose at the Natural History Collection at Oasis yet? What do you make of it?

    Disclaimer: this is a sponsored post, but I was not paid by Oasis or BrumBloggers for this coverage or for my attendance of the fashion event at the Bullring in Birmingham. All opinions and views remain my own, and as always, is 100% honest.

    Blogging, Fashion, Lifestyle
    / June 17, 2018
  • Joanie Clothing Heather Top with blossom

    Spring in my Step with Joanie Clothing

    I don’t have anything to wear.

    How often have I whined those words? With a wardrobe filled to bursting, how could I possibly never find anything to wear? It’s certainly a mystery to LPD (Little Pickle’s Dad), who can’t comprehend my frustration at constantly feeling like I don’t have a wearable outfit. Whether it’s nipping round to my Mother-in-Law’s for a Sunday afternoon, a big day at work or an evening out with the girls, I’ve always struggled to put an ensemble together. And it drives me mad.

    Revamping my wardrobe

    It may sound like a counter-intuitive way to solve the issue, but in order to try and give me more options, I started by having a good clear-out. I’ve been holding on to clothes from before I was pregnant that I just don’t wear anymore. Not only do they not suit my new body shape, but they’re just not practical for life running around after a toddler. My days wearing mini skirts and mini dresses are over! I spend too much of my time crouched over, picking up things from the floor and running around the park to make anything shorter than knee length work for me these days. And jeans? They just have to be high-waisted, now.

    Now I’ve made myself a promise that every time a charity bag falls through our letterbox, I’ll make sure I fill it. It’s the easiest way to get rid of things in bulk, and I don’t mind saying goodbye if it’s for a good cause.

    Quality over Quantity

    I’m making a conscious effort to streamline my wardrobe so that it contains fewer items that are of better quality, than the mounds of ill-fitting, stretched out, faded items that were bought cheaply. I’ve always been one to hunt out a bargain but if I’m really honest with myself, I think I’ve bought far too many items because it’s been enticingly priced rather than because I needed it or even really liked it. Never again will I justify a purchase by thinking: well, at that price, it’d be rude not to, even though it doesn’t go with anything else in my wardrobe and will likely never be worn.

    Being Brave

    I have a wardrobe FULL of blue floral dresses and striped tops. I am drawn to the same things every time I walk through a shop. Whilst I think it’s good to have a style, I run into problems when I don’t feel like wearing another navy floral dress – because then my options are severely limited! I’ve been trying to steer away from buying similar things and expand my style. I’ve been asking my friends to give me advice and help me choose different things to wear, and so far – it’s working an absolute treat!

    Ordinarily, I wouldn’t have picked out this gorgeous blouse from Joanie Clothing. I’d have written it off as too flouncy, thinking it’d just make me look broad shouldered and ‘bulk’ me out (which is not the look I’m going for at all), but after my lovely friend Aly (who runs a gorgeous furniture business with her Mum called Emily & Erin – Beautiful Vintage) picked it out for me, I gave it a go… and I LOVE it. Not even just liked it. I absolutely bloody love it. It feels effortlessly cool, it’s perfect for both casual and smart wear. It’s loose enough for me to feel relaxed but doesn’t balloon in an unflattering way.

    I can wear black

    I know black is a staple wardrobe item but I’ve always steered away from it, preferring to stick to my ever-faithful navy blue. I always thought it didn’t quite suit me and was just a bit ‘harsh’ for me… but it’s making a comeback to my wardrobe! It’s classic. It’s timeless. And I’m starting to realise how versatile black can be.

     

    When I went shopping in Oxford with my bestie Chloe, it was quite refreshing to try on things I’d have never considered before – she pushed me out of my normal comfort zone. ESPECIALLY when it comes to jumpsuits. This jumpsuit was everything I’d usually avoid: culotte length, black and a square neckline. As soon as I put it on, I pulled a face. Ugh. No. Not for me. But Chloe’s reaction to it was the total opposite! She thought it looked great, and lots of you did too. I couldn’t believe how many Insta-messages I had after posting it on my Stories saying I should have bought it! I didn’t… but it’s made me try on whole new outfits that I would never have gone near before. And it’s so much fun!

    Less is More

    Ideally, I’d love to reduce down enough to fit into ‘capsule wardrobe’ status. I think it would suit me! I tend to wear very similar things on a day-to-day basis anyway, always opting for the same things (more often than not, my favourite items of clothing never see the wardrobe – I’m back to wearing them as soon as they’re dry from the wash!). I want a more cohesive wardrobe that has diversity but is multi-functional. I don’t want piles of unworn clothes cluttering up our bedroom.

    I also quite like the idea of sticking to certain styles of clothes and owning them in different colours or patterns. That’s another benefit of shopping with Joanie Clothing! Now that I know the Heather blouse suits me, I’ve got the options to buy it in both blue and pink. They often bring out new patterns and colours of their pieces and I think that makes online shopping a whole lot easier.

    Being confident

    Above all, I just want to feel a little more confident and comfortable in my own skin. I’m not sure I’ll ever feel ‘at home’ in front of a camera, much preferring to be behind the lens… but I’m hoping by only keeping clothes that I know I feel good in, it’ll help make me feel a little more myself every day. This weekend, I was at the Blog On conference in Manchester, and during the keynote speech, we were all given a very interesting tip…

    When you look in your underwear drawer, what do you see? I’m going to hazard a guess here and suspect you have something along the same lines as me. Two distinct categories of pants: every day pants, and your ‘special occasion’ pants. The silky, lacey, exciting numbers that only come out for date nights, weddings and those days you want to feel a bit snazzy. How good does it feel when you know you’re wearing a posh pair of pants? When you put them on? You know it’s going to be a good day! Right?

    So let’s all chuck our every day pants out. Let’s always walk with the spring in our step fancy pants gives us. And likewise, with the rest of our wardrobe too. And I’ve got a feeling, mine is going to include a lot more from Joanie Clothing…

    Disclaimer: I was gifted both the Heather top and Liv dress from Joanie Clothing for the purposes of review, but all views and opinions remain my own, and as always, 100% honest.

    Fashion, Lifestyle
    / May 8, 2018
  • Flatlay of the Happiness Planner surrounded by things that make me happy

    A Working Mum’s Mother’s Day Gift List

    I’m relatively new to experiencing Mother’s Day as a parent, but now that I’ve got one under my belt, I’m already looking forward to the next one. It’s not that I’m all about the presents, but it’s more about feeling like at least on that day, surely, all my parental efforts, my sacrifices and my hard work will be acknowledged and appreciated. In many ways, it makes me wish I could go back in time and make more of an effort to show my Mum more love and gratitude – but I guess that’s always the way. We don’t truly understand what our parents did for us, until we’re parents ourselves.

    My own life as a parent has drastically changed this month. And as I get into the swing of my new routine as a working parent, here are some ideas for thoughtful gifts for all the other working Mums out there.

    The Gift of Time

    I could write a whole blog post about how I feel about being away from Pickle whilst I’m at work (spoiler: it’s not at all how I expected to feel!), but every day is always the same – I always look forward to home time and going to pick him up, then hearing all about his day. Since I started, I really wanted a nice watch to feel more professional (not sure why I equate wearing a watch with being more professional!), and to make sure I’m never late for the best part of the day: nursery pick up.

    I spotted this black and rose gold Fiorelli watch in the Gifts for Her section of the TJ Hughes website. It’s stylish, classic and goes with anything – my kind of watch! It looks like this particular watch has already sold out (thank goodness I got in there quick!), but there’s plenty of other lovely gift ideas there to choose from.

    LPD and I have a bit of a history of new watches going hand in hand with new jobs. I bought him a fancy pants watch for Christmas, just days after I found out I’d finally gotten my first full time theatre job, and in return, he bought me a new watch (a throwback to my much-loved childhood Mickey Mouse watch) when I accepted my ‘dream’ job. Let’s hope this new watch lasts me for as long as I hope this new job does: a very, very long time!

    The Gift of Happiness

    Despite having a mere fraction of the leisure time I used to enjoy, and with my responsibilities increasing every day, it’s undeniable that parenthood has brought me ridiculous levels of happiness. It’s not the same kind of happiness as before, but it’s happy on a whole new level. That said, there’s the other side of the parenting coin. The side that means I spend very little time deriving happiness from myself – it all comes from the pride and love I have for Pickle.

    This Happiness Planner, available to buy from Find Me a Gift will enable any parent to refocus on finding their own happiness. I love that each day offers prompts for reflection and has sections for a to-do list, meal planning and exercise. And it’s a thing of PURE BEAUTY. For any fellow stationery geeks out there, this will not disappoint. I’ve photographed it surrounded by the things that make me happy (my family, doing crafts, fresh flowers and NICE FOOD: those brownies were made by Sophie from Wife Mother Life and they were delicious!).

    The Gift of Style

    It wasn’t until my first day at my new job that I realised I didn’t actually have a handbag anymore. I’ve been using my little mini orange backpack for the time being, but a new bag is definitely something I’d like to treat myself to. I still can’t quite get my head around leaving the house without needing to cart a truck load of nappies, toys and spare clothes.

    I’ve been keeping an eye out for a new bag that I could guilt-free treat myself too but nothing has really jumped out at me yet. I’m not the best at bag buying – nothing ever really takes my fancy, and it’s only once I’ve had a bag for a few months that it begins to grow on me. That said though, it was love at first sight for my new changing backpack from Babymel!

    I still haven’t found a work handbag, and in case you’re reading this LPD and want to ‘surprise me’ for Mother’s Day, here’s what I’m trying to find:

    • Big enough to fit my packed lunch in
    • Some kind of pocket/compartment that’s perfect for my phone/keys
    • Hard-wearing
    • Maybe a bit colourful?

    The Gift of Light

    We all know the depths of a lady’s handbag knows no end. And why is it the thing you want is always burried right at the bottom underneath about fifteen receipts, a half-empty box of raisins and random handfuls of change that miraculously disappears when you need money for the car park? I really love the idea of this Varta handbag light, and I can’t wait to try it out once, you know, I’ve got myself a handbag. Not only will it be useful in helping me find what I’m looking for in my bag, I’m sure I’ll end up using it for all my item locating needs, thanks to our toddler’s obsession with poking, slotting and pushing whatever he can get his hands on into whatever space he can manage to fit it in or through. I’m forever shining torches under the sofa and amazed at what has collected under there! A perfect little gift for anyone whose handbag has a dark coloured lining, and always ends up panicking at the idea of losing their keys.

    The Gift of Life

    As I spend more time at my desk, I can’t help but think it’s missing some plant life. I need a little pop of green to bring the outdoors that I love so much into my working world. With that in mind, a little plant holder that would add a bit of character to a desk would make a lovely little gift for any working Mum.

    I mean, these are perhaps a little ‘out there’ to suit most tastes, but I’m weirdly drawn to these! The little badger jug is my favourite (a nod to my fellow Hufflepuffs out there), but I’d need some advice on what would be best to plant inside – it’d need to be low maintenance and easy to care for! Or maybe a little sprig of artificial greenery is the way to go? These are all available from a company called Audenza.

    What makes me laugh most about this will be LPD’s face when he reads this. No way would be think something like this would be on my wish list! But who wouldn’t want a zebra that looks that majestic?!

    The Gift of Understanding

    A mother’s work is never done, and most of the time, we don’t want or need big expensive presents or grand gestures, we just want to know that someone understands what it’s like. We just want our hard work to be acknowledged. Which is why I think these little enamel pins available from Burble Baby are super cute and bang on with the right sentiment. For me, I’d have the ‘exhausted‘ badge. Because, let’s face it, I am. All of the time. For £7, I think these are lovely, and I’m already eying up the Might Fine Mother pin for a few very-deserving Mummy friends.

    But first, breakfast

    Whatever gifts you decide on this year, don’t forget the Mother’s Day staple: breakfast in bed. For this ONE day of the year, the thing I want most is a bit of a lie in and a cup of tea in bed, followed by lovely pyjama snuggles. If that comes with a side of poached egg on toast, too? Perfect.

    Disclaimer: I was kindly gifted the Fiorelli watch from TJ Hughes, the Happiness Planner from Find Me a Gift and the Varta handbag light for inclusion in this gift guide, but all opinions, views and alternate gift ideas are my own.

    Parenting
    / February 28, 2018