Sunday, 18 December 2011

My 2011 Sale Bargains!!

The post Christmas sales are still going strong and although I didn't purchase much, it would have been rude not to dabble in some sale action.  A common problem with sale shopping is that your judgement, more often then not, gets clouded by the price and you end up buying things you wouldn't ordinarily purchase even if price wasn't a factor.  This year I was strict and only bought things I really wanted (aside from the obligatory half price christmas cards from Paperchase, John Lewis and M&S).  

Take a look at my favourite sale bargains below (I was going to take my own pictures but I'm feeling rather lazy and that will form part of my new years resolution).  

Marc Jacobs Bianca Hayley 

This is my second Marc Jacobs bag and one of the reasons I love these bags are because they are extremely hard wearing, have the softest leather and come in a variety of colours which seem to go with everything (I steer away from black at all times).  I was looking for a practical, good sized leather day bag which I could wear on my shoulders, would look good and have plenty of room for the essentials and more - I absolutely love the berry shade too.

Take a closer look:

Zara Brogue Stretch Boots

If like me you're particular about boots and have a nightmare finding ones which fit, look good and are comfortable it's like hitting the jackpot when you find a perfect pair.  I have never bought shoes from Zara but it is a store which I visit regularly and can always count on for clean European tailoring, tasteful prints, comfy knitwear and great fitting dresses.  Fortunately during the sales my local store had all the shoes in one area (normally they are scattered around the store under shelves and racks of clothing).  I was looking for  flat tan coloured, smart riding boots which would fit well and could be worn with either jeans or dresses.  

These boots were perfect and the brogue design gives them a feminine vintage feel, they have elasticated sides rather then a zip fastening so they fit well without creases, the leather is not as soft as boots I have purchased from Bertie or Carvela but they feel sturdy and hard wearing and are a fraction of the cost too. 

Warehouse Oriental Jade Necklace

Right so this would be my impulse buy just cause I love Warehouse jewellery and I do also think it is far too overpriced.  This necklace contains jade beading and having visited the jade market in Hong Kong I realise how valuable and spiritual the stone is but it's not a colour I would wear often which is why this necklace is perfect.  The jade beading is used with black faux crystals and delicate gold clasps, the necklace is also long enough to wear over dresses, shirts and tops.  Although the pictures don't show this, the necklace is sparkly when it catches the light so is perfect for the evening as well as the day.

Look forward to hearing about your sale bargains.  

As it is New Years Eve today I would like to thank all of you for reading my blog, although I haven't been able to post as regularly as I would like I do love writing my posts and look forward to a fun filled 2012 - it's going to be a great year.


Monday, 28 November 2011

Don't you just love festive shopping!!!

I cannot believe that there's only 3 Saturdays left til Christmas - seems like only yesterday I was celebrating the new year.  My Christmas spirit has also peaked early this year, this weekend was a festive one, I saw Birmingham's Royal Ballet performance of The Nutcracker, put up the Christmas tree, made mince pies and made my second visit to Birmingham's huge German market (just to make sure the Belgian waffles really did taste as good as the week before).  

I'm not a big fan of shopping at this time of the year, apart from the excessive traffic surrounding city centres and manic shoppers it breaks my heart to think that anything purchased now will be on sale with up to 50% off on the 26th December, I know it's a depressing thought but it's true.  I have to say most of my Christmas shopping has been done online this year, it's convenient, hassle-free and often much cheaper now that retailers are providing free delivery and numerous discount codes.  

Online shopping is becoming more and more popular especially during the festive season and while I'm a fan of discounts and convenience I don't think retail therapy can be achieved online as often people shop for inspiration and the tangible things which contribute to the shopper experience.  I've found some great examples of these below.

Chanel's Karl Lagerfield window dressing 

Fortnum & Mason's Alice in Wonderland window theme which continues in-store

Oasis, Regent Street (London) elegant monochrome theatrical window dressing debuting a new collection

Toys R Us, New York a giant piano made famous by the film 'Big' - I have always wanted to have a go on this.

Hamley's, the world's most famous toy store - stairs/escalators framed by a giant red bus

Having just come back from late night shopping, I've concluded that whilst festive shopping can be stressful sometimes it's nice to chill out, relax and enjoy the bright lights and sparkles, it definitely helps when retailers like John Lewis provide mince pies and wine while you shop too.  

Let the festive month begin ... 


Sunday, 30 October 2011

Top picks for Autumn/Winter

As the nights are drawing in and the weather here in the UK has finally made it's mind up and decided to be cold I thought it would be fitting to do another 'Top Picks' post focusing on my essentials for Autumn/Winter.

I'd also like to add that I have seen a lot of top picks recently and don't agree that all the products have to be overpriced exclusives from high-end stores, it's all about whatever works for you.  Having had my fair share of disappointing purchases over the years my 'top picks' focus on tried and tested products and styles.  
This is amazing for clump - free thickness and can be built up for ultra glam eyes or used as an everyday mascara.  Lovely fool-proof wand which gives an even application.  Perfect handbag essential.
Available from Boots £16.50  
If like me you have very sensitive oily/combination skin then this is great and works well as a make-up primer too.  Made of natural ingredients which is super kind to the skin it feels silky and dries instantly.
Available from Boots £7.99

If like me you wear layers during the colder months then a chunky knitted snood can instantly add warmth and texture to any outfit.  This chunky snood from French Connection is the perfect colour and can be worn over or under a jacket or coat
French Connection £18.00

I'm currently trying to grow my hair and there's nothing worse then for it to be exposed to rain, central heating and cold weather.  Aussie's 3 minute miracle works wonders in conditioning hair and leaving it soft and shiny.  I'm a huge fan of quick fixes. 
Available from Boots £4.69 

I bought these boots a couple years back and am pleased that Kurt Geiger's bought them back.  They're rugged, stylish and incredibly warm as they're lined with sheepskin.  They were perfect for the heavy snowfalls and a great alternative to Uggs (not practical in the snow at all) and Hunters (they're much more warmer).
Sadler from Kurt Geiger £190
I was bought this as a present from the new Rituals store that opened in Solihull (West Midlands), having never tried anything from the store I was pleasantly surprised.  The smell is incredible and lingers for days, the cream absorbs well and keeps the skin moisturised all day.  Perfect indulgence for colder months.
From Rituals and available online £13.50
I love this perfume, I bought when it first came out and think it's one of those rare smells which is suited for both Summer and Winter.  It's fruity, sweet and musky all at the same time.
Juice Couture by Juicy Couture £35.00 100ml

I know last time I posted my top picks I had a lot of comments from readers on their tried and tested favourites, would love to hear about them.   

Happy Reading xoxo    

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

We're going through changes.

After enjoying the last few days of a belated Indian summer here in the UK, the reality of shorter days and longer nights has hit me and I'm ready to adjust to a lack of melatonin, premature Christmas marketing and Autumn fashion.  I know this probably sounds like a dreary start to a blog post but on a more positive note I'm grateful that here in UK we have 4 seasons and that on 4 occasions during the year we adjust and adapt without really thinking about it, a kind of organic adjustment we've learnt over time.  

Change isn't for everyone though and I think quite a few people would opt against it if they had the choice.  I've come to realise this more as I've recently started working for world-famous chocolate brand Cadbury who, as most of you will be aware, got bought out by Kraft Foods over a year ago.  I'm fortunate to be surrounded by incredible heritage dating back to 1824 of one of the most revolutionary businesses built on Quaker roots (a Christian movement devoted to peaceful principles).  Having been bought out by Kraft Foods it's quite straightforward to appreciate the advantage from a business point of view but, of course, there's a deeper fundamental issue of 2 companies built from different viewpoints, cultures, morals and objectives combining their skills and working together.  

Apart from the obvious perks of being surrounded by chocolate all day (which eventually puts you off eating it by the way) I'm really enjoying being involved in the transition of one of my favourite brands and once again working with some bright and ambitious people.  

Brands are built on ideas, thoughts and beliefs and it's interesting how many have maintained these over the years, take a look at some famous brand evolution below:

Starting off as a mail order boutique famed for selling celebrity style dresses in the 1960's 

Maintaining the brands art deco logo Biba was revived when House of Fraser successfully bought the company which is now regarded as high end boutique

A subsidiary of Mars, Opal Fruits first came onto the market in 1959, the brand name was phased out due to the sweets being introduced in the U.S. as Starburst and the former name slowly being phased out over time.  Personally I don't think they ever tasted the same after the name change.  

Trained as a tailor in Germany, Levi Strauss started off selling tents to minors and then moved onto making hard-wearing workwear which had copper rivets to strengthen stress points on work trousers.  

Levi's are still known for their hard-wearing jeans but the brand has evolved from workwear to the denim of choice for young fashionistas and also has a large vintage following

Founded in 1858, Rowland Hussy Macy opened his first store specialising in dry goods and on his first day his sales reached $280, from then on Macy's enjoyed steady success.

Today Macy's is the world's largest department store and has held an annual Macy's Thanksgiving Parade in NYC since 1924 adding to it's contribution of American heritage.  An interesting fact about the logo is that the store's logo has always had a star in it which comes from a tattoo that Rowland Macy had as a teenager.

Even though I think change makes people ambitious and visionary I am a true believer that you need to maintain the same beliefs you had initially for a brand, business or idea to grow, evolve and be increasingly successful.  

I'll leave you with a great quote I found:

"We did not change as we grew older; we just became more clearly ourselves."


Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Autumn/Winter 2011 DIY Style

I know it's been a while since my last post, I've been busy with various things one of which has been the launch of my online vintage store which has been live for over a month and I'm delighted with how many people have visited the store already.  I guess it's now that the hard work begins with putting my advertising and marketing skills to the test.  Of course if you're reading this and feel like purchasing some unique vintage accessories then please visit the online store which will be updated regularly (naturally I had to plug the site).  

It's now officially Autumn, after a rather lame summer in England, and having read various fashion mags, style blogs and browsed through the latest catwalk shows I'm happy to observe that recent shows from London, Paris and Milan are embracing colour.  It's so easy to turn to a dark and dreary colours when it's bleak outside but it's amazing what a splash of colour can do to your overall styling and also how it can make you feel.  Recent catwalk shows from Marc Jacobs, Elie Saab and Chloe show great use of colour and with the Hight St stores becoming more reactive then ever you can pick up some key pieces for a fraction of the cost, see my top picks below:

A/W2011 DKNY
Bright, cosy and warm
River Island Peplum Jumper £32.00
Fitted High Street alternative
A/W2011 Marc Jacobs
A really popular yet versatile shade for the season 

French Connection Oilseed Tee £27.00

A/W2011 Marc Jacobs cable knit jumper
River Island Cable Knit £35.00
A great staple to brighten up dark jeans

A/W 2011 Paris street style
Some gorgeous pillar box red skinny jeans 

Topshop Cerise Kristen Jeans £40.00
Gorgeous colour for statement styling
A/W2011 London Jason Wu £585
New Look £12.99 
A bargain alternative that you can have in every colour of the rainbow

A/W2011 Miu Miu
I love this bold print especially when paired with stripes, spots and patterns a la Dame Vivienne Westwood
Mango £64.90
The same gorgeous bold print that won't break the bank from my favourite European shop

From my last catwalk round up (SS2011) I focused on investment pieces which, unless you're Carrie Bradshaw, would cost a fortune.  It's easy to think that without spending over £500 on clothes you can't be fashionable or stylish but stealing somebody else's look whether it be your favourite designer, a celebrity or even a friends is not necessarily what styling is about for me, it's really about mixing what you have to create you're own style which you feel comfortable in.  When you think about the world's most stylish people, they tend to pave the way for fashion only because they're comfortable in what they're wearing.  Take a look at some of my favourite styling below

Fearne Cotton - Someone who's style is quirky and effortless not to mention her ability to have amazing hair
whatever the length or colour.

Jessica Alba - I'm a big fan of combining cobalt blue and black and this lady is definitely a style winner with both whatever the occasion 

Nicole Richie - I love how experimental she is with her style, this vintage look is laid back yet smart and I'm loving the hat.
I know I keep promising to dedicate a post about mens fashion, I shall do my homework and hopefully gather my thoughts soon.


Wednesday, 13 July 2011

As American as Apple Pie

I'm now back from enjoying the 40 degrees heat of the Sunshine State (Florida) and well rested for what should be a busy couple of months ahead (fingers crossed).  

One of the many highlights of my trip was visiting the Salvador Dali Museum in St Petersburg where the largest collection of his work, outside Italy, resides - a collection belonging to the Morse family who spent over 25 years buying the artist's work.  Dali passed away in 1989 and one of the most revolutionary things about his art was that it was limitless, his thoughts had no boundaries and were often inspired by dreams - full of hidden messages and symbolism which gives you an insight of what was going on in his mind.  He was both an artist and businessman as he sold most of his work and made sure he could reap the awards whilst he was still living.  

Take a look at some of my favourites below:

Gala contemplating the Mediterrananean Sea which at twenty metres becomes a portrait of Abraham 1976 
A long title for this piece which shows the figure of Gala (Dali's wife) looking out of the window with the sun in the scene showing a symbolic image of Christ from one of Dali's previous paintings.  At a distance this scene morphs into an image of Abraham Lincoln - this piece is often compared to Andy Warhol's iconic images of faces made up of dots but is in fact a representation of pixels on newspaper print. 

Portrait of my dead brother 1963
Dali's younger brother died from meningitis months before his 2nd birthday.  All his life Dali felt he was the living shadow of his younger brother who shared the same name, this remained with him psychologically throughout his life and was often illustrated through his work. This piece is filled with symbolism - the head turns into a crow symbolising death, the dots making up the face are cherries which he often used to represent his brother, the war scene at the bottom is a reference to another artist's work appreciated by Dali.

The Hallucinegenic Torreador 1968
One of my favourite pieces - the entire scene is set in a bullfighting ring.  Filled with metaphors Dali's work is often described as an iceberg where most people only touch the surface of his hidden messages.  The figures of Venus on the right are draped in spanish flag coloured cloth, the upper left is an image of Dali's wife Gala (a dominant subject throughout his work), the series of dots on the bottom left draws attention to the dying bulls head, the figure of Venus is represented 27 times - Dali was inspired by an image of Venus he saw on a box of pencils on a recent visit to New York before creating this.

I could go on describing more highlights from my trip here but instead I thought I'd debut my photography where I've experimented with an SLR to try and capture my time away.  The photography focuses on commercialisation, nature and some great 'typically american' scenes.  

Enjoy xoxo

St Petersburg
Dali inspired bench in the grounds of the museum

Idyllic grounds of Downtown Disney
Outside the Lego store
Iconic school bus
Coca-cola - one of the most striking and recognisable liveries.

Retro disused gas stations provide the perfect feature for this bar 

Alligators are protected species in Florida and they are present in most lakes across the state

Local country singer who performs every weekend - you guessed it, he's Glenn

Lake Wales airboat taking you to the tip of the Everglades

10 month old alligator - they can grow up to 13 feet

Florida's most northern point before the Everglades 

It's interesting how many people from different states travel across America to come to Florida - I captured as many different state registration plates to reflect this and love how each state represents something.