Saturday, 31 December 2011

Happy New Year!

Whatever you are doing this evening, either a quiet night in or getting ready to party with family and friends, I would like to take this opportunity to wish every one of my readers a very happy, healthy and prosperous 2012.

As the Blog approaches its 3rd birthday in the first half of the year, I would like to thank each and every one of you, whether old or new followers, for your comments and support throughout the years, they are always very much appreciated.
I don't know if any changes will take place, there are lots of things I would like to do, but who knows, the beginning of the year will see me going with the flow and forever grateful for all the lovely friends I have made due to Blogging and the wonderful opportunities it has given me.  I always try to remain true to myself and hopefully the blog reflects this. I am forever grateful that I am not the only woman in my age bracket who still has a passion for fashion!

So here's to you dear readers, have a great time tonight and I will be seeing you in 2012.

Sharron xxx

Friday, 30 December 2011

Black is Back.

Anybody who has read the Blog for any length of time will know that I am a nail polish devotee and have gone through many stages in my "nail polish life" with different nail shapes and favourite colours, not to mention an obsession with any new Chanel colours that hit the beauty counters.

For the last few years I have favoured the short, square nail shape and always wear a dark colour in Winter, sometimes a deep red and summer see's me favouring a tangerine or coral shade which I adore when I have a tan, but the other day I decided to paint my nails black, something I haven't done for a few winters but what bought this colour back on to my "nail lacquer radar" is my love of trash tv and more recently "Desperate Scousewives" where it appears that the cast of the E4 reality show rarely wear any other colour, perhaps you can only buy black in Liverpool but who cares, the programme has reignited my love for this shade!

Anything to up her profile: Debbie as said that she wants to be a 'successful, world-famous model and have my own merchandise, clothes, jewellery'
Debbie wearing Black Nail Polish.
WAG meets (Scouse)wife: Not one to let Christmas get in the way of her party schedule, WAG Alex Gerrard hit Liverpool's PlayGround club opening last night, along with Desperate Scousewife Amanda Harrington
Amanda out on the town on Boxing Day, wearing Black nail polish.

Making an entrance: Bubbly Jodie Lundstram teamed her quirky dress with her trademark 'Scouse brows', while Joe McMahon went for the casual look
Jodie with black nails.

Keep him out of trouble: Elissa Corrigan wore a sheer silver dress as she arrived with best friend, blogger Jaiden Micheal
Elissa with Bitch Blogger Jaiden also wearing black nails.

Festive sparkle: Both Elissa Corrigan and Chloe Cummings wore sequins, though Chloe opted for more subtle black
Elissa at the shows Xmas party.

"Lady in Black" by Opi is the one I just used. Just two coats gives deep dark coverage and it is a lovely high gloss black.

 Chanel Black Satin is another favourite of mine and it seems that I am not alone in my reborn love of black as an Instagram chum posted up a picture of her beautiful black nails after I posted a picture of mine....

Penny's nails actually put mine to shame if they are not Acrylic, Gel or Shellac I will be gutted, as they look so perfect! 

I think a lot of women are put off of using dark colours because they can require a bit of a clean up operation on your cuticles and the skin surrounding your nail plate.  A cotton bud really doesn't "cut the mustard" when it comes to removing excess polish as they are just too big and wide.  I use the pointed end of an orange stick with a very small amount of cotton wool wrapped around the end and dip this into my nail polish remover as it gives you much more control when cleaning up.

 You may need to change the cotton wool quite frequently if you have lots to clean up and always be sure to wait until your nails are completely dry before attempting this.  Although nails may be "touch dry" quite soon after painting, don't bang them or hunt for the keys in your handbag for at least an hour after application and if going to the Salon for a manicure always get everything you are going to need at the end of your manicure i.e. money for payment and keys, out ready before your treatment begins.

Do you have a new found love for Black or have you always worn it?  What colour are you planning to wear for New Year?

Isabella Oliver (UK)

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Ab Fab Christmas.

Christmas Eve completely wore me out.  I had been working up until Friday evening which left me with so much to do, I decided that as much as I love Christmas, I actually hate the day before and turned into some moaning old witch, in fact I am still moaning about it now!

Xmas Eve started off with an early trip to the Salon for the Christmas blow-dry followed by some last minute shopping in town which saw me arrive home at 11.30am with all the food preparation, housework, beds to be made up for my eldest daughter and her boyfriend who were staying over and last minute wrapping of the stocking filler bits I had bought earlier in the day and as I flopped exhausted into bed at almost midnight, I felt so tired that I honestly thought I wouldn't wake up until Boxing Day and would miss out on all the fun but of course that wasn't going to happen, after all, who would cook the dinner and pick up all the mess from the sitting room floor?
Time to start opening the pressies with young man and daughters 3 and 1.
Young Man was just a little excited as he unwrapped his ipad.....
and Albert seemed pleased with his Reindeer ears.

Our traditional Christmas breakfast of Cream Cheese and Smoked Salmon Bagels (Bagels from Kossof's in Middlesex St, London - don't give me those shit supermarket ones!) and Bucks Fizz kept us all going until lunchtime and a few glasses of pink bubbly stuff got me through the stress of cooking an enormous lunch with all the trimmings easily.....

Daughters 3 and 2 awaiting their lunch....
Young Man and Daughter 1.
Then it was time to change into something a bit more comfortable to wear off some dinner on the Wii with the Dance Fit.....
Which completely wore out Daughter 3 and the Pug by the looks of it!

This Christmas seemed to be all about the "onesie" and Claudia found her's very comfortable as she snoozed on the sofa and eldest daughter's boyfriend looked a treat in his "Tigger" one but I didn't get a photo.

Luckily for me, in amongst the usual Slippers, smellies, DVD's, earrings etc I was very pleased with the new make-up I received, all bought by my three gorgeous girls, thanks kids!......

I don't wear a lot of make-up but feel I need to go for the make-up no make-up look, so asked for foundation (Jemma Kid), bronzer (Nars Laguna) and eyeshadow (Estee Lauder Surreal Skies) which I never use, along with a new Chanel mascara, Nars powder blush in Deep Throat and a Chantecaille lipstick in Geranium. I found all these pieces and more (which I still have to purchase at some point) from a make-up tutorial and I can't wait to try it all out!

The evening consisted largely of M&S party food and Poinsettia cocktails which I found on an old Nigella Lawson programme on the food channel and consists of 750ml of Cava or dry fizzy wine, 125 ml of Grand Marnier, Cointreau or Triple Sec and 500 ml of Cranberry Juice and was very festive but sadly the delightful colour of the drink got lost in my red cocktail glasses!

After eagerly awaiting the Downton Abbey Christmas Special, I then proceeded to fall asleep halfway through it but lucky OH saw me nod off and recorded it, which meant as everybody else had a lie in on Boxing Day morning, I got to catch up with Mary and Matthew and Patsy and Edie in Ab Fab!

Now all I need to do is decide what to spend my Christmas money on, which is proving far more of a dilemma than I envisaged!

Did you have a wonderful Christmas and did Santa bring you everything you wished for or do you have money burning a hole in your pocket like me?

Our end of season sale is now on. Enjoy up to 50% off NET-A-PORTER.COM

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Guest Post "How to clean your engagement ring" by Jeweller Harriet Kelsall and a blogtastic giveaway!.

Harriet Kelsall runs the UKs leading bespoke jewellery design company.  Harriet has had an amazing year winning many awards including the UK Jewellery awards and the Everywoman Retail ‘woman of the year’ award.  Also they were chosen in February to be one of the first allowed to use Fairtrade gold and are the first independent to be certificated by the Responsible Jewellery council, as jewellery ethics are important to them too. 
Whilst best known for their ‘clean sheet’ bespoke design service, they also have a great range of ready-to-wear jewellery perfect for Christmas presents which arrive gift wrapped with your own handwritten message – and I even have a few lovley pairs to give away to you (read on for more details!).

Harriet took time out of her schedule to give us some tips on maxing the sparkle of our engagement rings in time for Christmas..........

"In our 40s, we are certainly fabulous, but are also very busy juggling careers, relationships and kids.  I notice my friends just don’t have time to go to the jewellers and get their rings professionally cleaned as often as they would like.
Whilst the official line is to always take your ring to a good jewellery for regular clean and check-over, it is very easy to give your ring a dramatically good clean at home – it takes about 3 minutes and you will be amazed at the results.
I should just emphasize that home cleaning is only really suitable for a really well made and sound engagement ring. But if your well made engagement ring is made from gold, platinum or palladium with with no stones other than diamonds, sapphires, or rubies you can do this as often as you like.
Sapphire engagement rings in particular really benefit from cleaning because light does not totally-internally reflect within the gemstone structure as it does with a diamond, and so they do so lose their sparkle when the backs get mucky. Even a little hand cream can build up and stop your stones from sparkling.
Be careful not to try this with soft gemstones – if you don’t have diamonds, sapphires or rubies, seek advice from a good jeweller about whether your gemtones are definitely ‘hard’ enough before home-cleaning as some stones like emeralds or opals could be severely damaged by home cleaning because they are porous and even just water can damage them.
·        Before you start, have a really good look at your engagement ring. Check that the claws look really sound and that none of the stones are chipped or moving in their settings. If you do have any damage or any claws which look worryingly thin, it is important to take your ring straight to a professional in case you loose a stone.
 ·        Fill a bowl with warm or hot water (with the plug in to avoid accidentally dropping your ring down!).
 ·        Get a very soft bristled toothbrush like a baby’s toothbrush or a sable paintbrush and neat washing up liquid.  It is important that the brush is soft so that the bristles can’t scratch the metal.

 ·        Put a few drops of washing up liquid directly onto the wet brush and gently brush in and around all of the stones particularly concentrating on the stone backs (you should always find the backs of the stones are open from the inside of the ring on a good quality ring to allow for cleaning as otherwise dirt works in through the top and can never come out).  Don’t’ apply too much pressure when brushing so that you don’t scratch the metal or push on the stones and dislodge them from their settings.
 ·        Rinse of the detergent thoroughly (this is particularly important if you have sensitive skin as the detergent can be an allergen and cause contact dermatitis).

·        Dry using a lint free cloth (ideally one especially for jewellery but actually a glasses cleaning cloth can work well too – just make sure the cloth is completely clean).  When storing your metal cleaning cloth, you must keep it in a packet and not out in the atmosphere because otherwise the polish dry up and dust or grit can get onto it and then when you rub your metal with it, this will scratch the ring. 

If there is any really caked-on dirt (e.g. anything like pastry that has hardened onto the ring) or if you haven't cleaned it for a really long time, it sometimes helps to soak the ring overnight submerged in neat liquid detergent like Flash before you start (that's right - the all purpose or floor cleaner! Or you can use any other similar non-abrasive neat floor or all-purpose detergents). Just pop your ring in a glass and completely cover it in this liquid detergent... being careful to put this in an unusual place so that you don't accidentally pour it away and loose your ring! This soak will help loosen off this dirt before you start.
In days gone by, people used to soak their diamonds in gin which also works but in my opinion is a waste of gin!
Another thing that my customers often say from our grandparent's generation is that you can clean a diamond ring with toothpaste but I don't recommend this as I think it is a bit too abrasive and could scratch the metal on a fine setting.
Have a very sparkly Christmas!"

If anybody would like to tweet Harriet with questions about cleaning their own engagement ring, you can contact her @HarrietKelsall  

Now for the blogtastic giveaway!  Harriet has very kindly provided 7, yes 7 pairs of earrings to form part of a fantastic Christmas giveaway.  Each pair is made of sterling silver in the Hertfordshire countryside in small runs where the brand rarely make more than 10 of any particular design to keep things exclusive and unlike most jewellers, everything is made in the UK and contain such gorgeous materials as smoky grey river pearls, swarvoski crystals, rock crystals and hematine and all retail between £15.95 and £32.92 and come beautifully gift boxed

To be in with a chance of winning one of these fantastic pairs of earrings make sure that you are a follower of the Blog on Facebook and simply leave a comment below by midnight Tuesday 20th December telling me why you deserve to win, along with your email address, yes its that simple!  My favourite 7 answers will each receive a pair, chosen at random. 
*Purple Label Jewellery are currently offering free delivery on all orders over £100 and their last order date for Christmas is 21st December.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

A fortnight in Style - Sarah Jessica Parker.

SJP has seen a hectic beginning to December that has left her precious little time for Christmas Shopping or putting the three kids to bed, but with a whirlwind of events to attend along with the première of her latest movie, we have seen designer outfits aplenty along with her usual casual daytime style.

Sarah Jessica recently told Stella Magazine that she was realistic about how she looked and that she tried to dress in an age appropriate manner and although she rarely puts a "fashion" foot wrong in my book, not all of her recent outfit choices have ticked my "age appropriate" boxes.

11th December - Out and About with the family in New York.

Wednesday 7th December - The Frump Factor. Wearing a dress that was more Mrs Doubtfire than Carrie Bradshaw to attend  the New York premiere of new film "New Years Eve" and afterwards Sarah Jessica attended the Valentino party wearing the same dress.

Tuesday 6th December - The morning saw SJP step out of the house wearing bright blue tights for a Television interview to promote her new film "New Years Eve".  Fast Forward to the evening and SJP had jetted off to the 34th Kennedy Centre Honors in Washington and returned to New York later that evening in casual attire but with no time to change her hair or make-up.  The black Theyskens Theory dress swamped her petite frame and although I liked it, it just made her look like one of those old toilet roll covers your Nan used to knit.  She could have had Mr Big under there for all we know!

Monday 5th December - SJP opts for a LBD with eyecatching tights for the Brain Trauma Foundation Gala Dinner in New York and doesn't put a foot wrong for me in this outfit.  She rocks the "tights with a twist" which give a sexy edge to the whole ensemble.

Sarah Jessica Parker in Louis Vuitton and a model on the Louis Vuitton catwalk

Tuesday 29th November - It may be from the Louis Vuitton SS12 collection but the white silk and feathered dress Sarah Jessica wore on the Blue Carpet at the Unicef Snowflake Ball not only wowed the crowd but could not have been more fitting for the occasion and proved that once again she is the (Snow) Queen of Style.

Which looks are your favourites?
Browns Fashion

Friday, 9 December 2011

Something for the weekend - buying, wearing, drinking and sharing.

Wow, what a hectic week this week has been, which I really didn't anticipate at all, but slowly the work came trickling in for Hollywood Lashes and Fake Tans which leads me to assume there are a lot of Christmas Parties going on this weekend.

My eldest daughter had some holiday to use up before the end of the year, so we had planned a day out to finish off the Christmas shopping and purchase all the yummy party food from the Marks and Spencer television advert which I can't get locally, as we have no M&S here. I am looking forward to these nibbles almost as much as the dinner, so I will try not to eat too much at lunchtime because I need plenty of room to eat those prawns wrapped in bacon at some point during the evening.

So all in all, it has been a week where the ironing pile suffered, the Blog suffered, as did the housework, proving the point that we really can't do it all, so I am hoping that calm and some sort of order will soon be restored and that I can catch up with things indoors so that I don't end up feeling really stressed out with the festivities fast approaching.

What to wear to an undercover shopping centre often leaves me in a fashion dilemma especially at Christmas time when everywhere is packed and all that body heat coupled with instore heating can often leave you wishing you had worn a bikini to the Mall, so I left my coat in the car and layered a long sleeve jigsaw basic t-shirt under my Isabella Oliver 365 collection boxy jumper (still on sale here, I need another colour BTW) finished off with my Louis Vuitton Leopard print scarf, Citizens of Humanity Jeans (yes I know it seems I never take these off) and my Jimmy Choo patent boots which are now on their 3rd or 4th winter and continue to prove that the "cost per wear" equation works very nicely and provides as much justification to OH as possible, that they were indeed a worthy purchase.

My day out shopping meant I finally got to indulge in a Starbucks Red Cup, Eggnog latte.  Although I have been on lots of Christmas shopping expeditions for the past six weeks, I have to go a bit further afield to find a Starbucks and I have to confess that the Eggnog Latte knocks spots off of the Gingerbread one I had in Costa Coffee the other week, but it is all a matter of personal taste and I do have a very sweet tooth!

It wasn't my intention to buy anything for myself whilst out shopping for the last of the presents, but I had an idea in my head about wanting a pair of boots in a similar style to the Isabel Marant Dixie Boots and the obsession was further fuelled by a picture in the A/W Isabella Oliver 365 collection catalogue.

I had already been given some birthday money from my Mother in Law (a bit early I know) and I decided to take it with me just in case I saw anything that caught my eye, although the intention was really to hold on to it until the start of the January Sales but when I saw these cute little Boots in Oasis, they were exactly the kind of style I had been obsessing about and reduced to only £35 (originally £65 according to the sticker on the sole) all my thoughts of saving my money for some New Year bargains went straight out of window, but I don't regret it, as they look fabulous on!

Oasis Block heel boot available online here.

The Dixie boot by Isabel Marant.

Katie Holmes loves her's and they are sure to be a very versatile addition to my wardrobe.

The Isabella Oliver look that further fuelled my obsession for Marantesque Boots! 
The relaxed merino cowl neck sweater is SO on my January Sale lust list and the loungewear trousers would provide some well deserved daytime comfort to an ever expanding Christmas waistline!

 and this Sandro cardigan from net-a-porter better go in the Sale as this will be another perfect companion for my new Boots!

I finished off the Shopping expedition with a visit to HMV to pick up some CD's for Santa to deliver to my nephews and as the queue was moving at a Snails pace, I had plenty of time to peruse the bargain DVD's that lined the approach to the Checkouts and couldn't help but grab a little bit of New York for just £3 (have you seen it and is it any good?). 

My daughters and I are planning to go late next year as visiting the "Big Apple" has been another (long term) obsession of mine and Bloggers posts documenting their recent visits have all been saved to my favourites, well they say knowledge is power and I am hungry to absorb all that this great City has to offer, so if you have information that may come in useful regarding hotels or places I must visit, then please let me know!

With my Birthday less than a week away, OH asked me last night if there was a little something he could get me from Little Man.  I admit my idea of a "little something" might differ from his and I need some new perfume so have given him the option of two of my favourites.....

Victor and Rolf, Flowerbomb from John Lewis and Chanel No.5 from Boots.  
With their current "price match" promotion, John Lewis are almost £4 cheaper on this particular perfume than other online retailers and this extends to their full product range not just Fragrance, with up to 25% off on certain items. 

Talking of Scent, I walked into Boots the other day and the Shop Assistant spraying the perfume at the store entrance asked me "Chanel No.5?" to which I replied "everyday of the week darling, every single day" as she squirted me with the only thing Marilyn Munroe used to wear to bed. My comment drew some giggles from nearby shoppers as well as Twitter folk, who I couldn't resist sharing this silly little snippet of information with!

You may remember my "Great Plains" Blog post from mid October (hello where has the time gone?) where I raved about the A/W collection with so many wearable pieces whether for daytime or evening looks, so it is with much excitement that the news dropped into my inbox that their Sale, with up to 50% off, has already started, so maybe shopping for that Christmas day outfit or party dress perfection has just got that little bit easier and a whole lot cheaper!  Shop the Sale here.

How have you spent your week?

Isabella Oliver (UK) 

Monday, 5 December 2011

Gift Guide - for Glitter Girls.

Who ever said "All that glitters is not gold" obviously hadn't seen todays Blog post which is full of golden sparkly gift ideas for glitter girls.

From the Illamasqua glittery nail polish duo to the Jimmy Choo ipad sleeve, there is something to suit every budget and fulfill the Christmas wish lists of the glitter obsessed and who knew that you could even get glittery Hunter Wellies so that you can add sparkle to your outfit on the worst of winter days!

Gisela Graham Gold Glitter Candle £18.95. Dune glitter wedges £79.20. Jimmy Choo ipad sleeve £260. DKNY sequin embellished leather wallet £130. Hunter Glitter Wellingtons £85. Lulu Guinness Gold Glitter Lips Clutch bag £225. "All that Glitters" Juicy Couture iphone 4 case £40. Illamasqua Glitter Nail Polish Duo £20

Are you or do you know a glitter girl who adores a bit of sparkle?

Friday, 2 December 2011

Christmas Day Style - the "not too overdressed" edit.

When it comes to clothes shopping for the festive season, not only are most of us in search of the perfect party outfit, but also something new to wear on Christmas Day.

Your choice of outfit will often depend on how you actually spend your day.  If you are going out for lunch perhaps to a restaurant or hotel, the options are endless and you can really go to town and dress up and perhaps even get another days wear out of your party frock if its not too glitzy.

Dinner at the in-laws, maybe jeans and a sparkly top will cut the mustard but for me, every single year, I am always lumbered with doing the cooking which throws me into a complete outfit dilemma, I just don't ever know what to wear!
Now don't get me wrong, I love cooking the Christmas Lunch and most certainly make the best Dinner around, everything is homemade which includes bread sauce, sausagemeat and stuffing balls, devils on horseback, I do my sprouts with bacon and chestnuts (mouth watering yet?) in fact the only thing I stopped making, some years back was the Pudding as it cost three times as much as buying one and I was having problems trying to buy just one can of Stout, so it was no longer a cost effective option and I find a pud from a finest range doesn't taste much different to the Delia Smith recipe I used for over 20 years (sorry Delia) but all this slaving over a hot stove always leaves me in an outfit dilemma, sadly I have to be practical and don't wish to scatter sequins over the honey roasted parsnips,  I don't want to wear anything that will make me too hot (the kitchen ends up like a Sauna anyway) or one that will show the fat splashes as the roasties spit goose fat all over me, I think its high time I invested in an Apron for sure!

Budget is always a problem and to be honest I hate spending money that I could save for the Sales but wouldn't feel right without something new to wear, so for a day indoors doing the cooking I am looking for something that can be worn again, dresses up or down easily and doesn't cost the earth.  I started my search at Monsoon as I haven't looked at the website for a while and I was so impressed with the range of dresses that actually fit my criteria of looking great with statement jewellery and heels but just as good with opaques and boots, I felt that my choices deserved a blog post all of their own, especially with Monsoons current 25% off promotion! (see link at bottom of post for code).

Harper Dress £55. Patty Dress £70. Rula Wrap Dress £50.

Erin Drape Dress £50. Amanette Dress £55. Arora print dress £55.

With the most expensive of my choices coming in at just £70, now all I have to do is decide which one is better suited to a day in the kitchen and an afternoon laying around bloated after a massive Christmas Lunch!

So are you going out for lunch and looking for something more sparkly or like me, will you be cooking and looking for something more comfortable and practical to spend your day in and let me know if you have any Festive Season outfit dilemma's which I will feature in a future blog posts.