Thursday, 31 May 2012

Guest Post - Taking on the world with your wardrobe

Our physical appearance plays some part in attributing how others perceive us. Whether it’s a subconscious judgement or not, how you dress will influence the impression you make on others.
Studies have proven that appearance matters – perceivably attractive people on trial are known to get lighter sentences, and one study found that babies that were rated as cuter received more attention from other adults. Another study found that there is an irrational belief held by many people that attractive people are more confident and intelligent, which is a good reason to take pride in your appearance.
How you appear to others, as clich├ęd as it sounds, stems from self-belief. Dressing accordingly, whether you need to feel brave, confident or stylish is vital so that you can exude self-confidence outwardly through your appearance. Whether it’s the belief that you’re the right person for a job, or that you’re capable of the day ahead – dress accordingly.

Job interview
How you feel can have a big impact on your interview – feeling confident will make all the difference when it comes to impressing the interviewer with that curveball question. The best question to ask as you get ready isn’t what looks the smartest, but what will make you feel most confident. Your smartest outfit might be a skirt that rides up and a shirt whose buttons have a tendency of coming undone.
Choose something that fits well and accentuates your best feature, but only subtly. Dressing to suit your body shape, with a colour that suits your skin tone is advisable. For a first impression, hiking your skirt down isn’t a good way to go.
Saving Money
Wanting to maintain your style when you’re on a budget isn’t as difficult as it may sound. There are three options: either spend your spare time looking through outlet stores to find expensive clothes at cheaper prices, go second-hand, or go for quality over quantity. Vintage and charity shops are a great place to find women's clothing at bargain prices, as are clothes swaps. The more time you invest, the more likely you are to find the hidden gems. 
Alternatively, opt for simple, staple items when updating your wardrobe. A good quality dress can provide week’s worth of outfits, by refreshing it with scarves, bags, shoes and jewellery.
Studies have shown that happiness is linked to success – so by wearing something that makes you happy could give you a more positive approach to work. For a happy and productive day at work, try wearing something you were given as a present or something that stirs up good memories. Alternatively, one can never be unhappy in a brightly coloured dress and heels.
Dressing to impress
Whether it’s a first date, meeting your partner’s parents for the first time, or in fact, meeting anyone for the first time – you want to give a good first impression. The trick here is colour – blue is said to have calming effects, as well as radiate vibes of trust.
Dressing to feel better
If a day that you’ve been dreading has come around – whether it’s a dentist appointment, giving a presentation at work or anything in-between – you need something daring to wear. Whether it’s the playsuit hanging in the back of your wardrobe or just a pair of statement earrings, wear something bold in order to remind yourself throughout the day that you can do it!

A big thank you to Argos who sell a range of clothing online from brands including O'Neill and Billabong for their guest post and styling advice.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Oh Kurt Geiger - how much do I love thee..........

Still lusting after the perfect pair of gold summer sandals has fallen completely by the wayside after a much needed browse of Kurt Geigers summer sandal collection.  Sometimes its hard to keep up with all the new arrivals on every website but I was totally bowled over by the image which greeted me on the womens homepage as forever the fashion magpie, I was simply drooling over da bling bling jewel encrusted snakeskin sandals pictured. Please tell me its not just me that think this little piece of shoe porn is to die for! 

They don't look anywhere near as pretty on the product page and I would probably have bypassed them completely had I not have been able to see them on the models feet. Hell, these beauties even have me thinking that I will opt for a pale neutral nail polish instead of my usual summer bright tangerines, corals and pinks as these sandals really do do all the talking and who would want to distract from their beauty with coloured toe nails?

Kracker sandals by Carvela at Kurt Geiger £95.

Its not just a bit of bling that grabs my attention. You all know I have more than a little obsession with animal print, suffice to say I have fallen in love with these leopard lovelies as well. Can you believe that I have never had any leopard print sandals? Shoes, coat, bags, pyjamas, dressing gown, scarf yes, sandals no. Sometimes I really wish I didn't love shoes quite so much....... 

KG Kurt Geiger Misty Women Brands KG Kurt Geiger Shoes Summer Flat Sandals 
Misty Sandals KG by Kurt Geiger £110.

As a lovely reader reminded me, because I had completely forgotten about the 25% in conjunction with Marie Claire using code MC25 at checkout until midnight 31st!

Have you bought any new sandals this summer yet?

Kurt Geiger Ltd.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Steal her Style - the great use of wardrobe staples.

Nothing gets my pulse racing like the good use of a few wardrobe basics, so when I saw the beautiful images of Karolina Kurkova sporting such simple casual daytime style in Cannes, wearing simple white cropped jeans, grey sweater and nude pumps, faith was restored in the neutral colour palette that is my summer wardrobe!

Such a simple look and so easy to steal no matter what your budget, a fail safe option for a trip into town or the school run and we all know the benefits of a having a pair of nude heels in our wardrobe for their leg lengthening ability, but a pair of nude flats will also make a great addition to your footwear collection, they will work with any summer outfit just as your black ballet pumps work for chillier  days.

Steal her Style - High Street v High End.

Dune Ballet Pump £45. John Lewis Sunglasses £10. Fiorelli Grab Bag £89. NW3 Jumper £59. Phase Eight white cropped jeans £55

Lanvin Ballet Flats £325. Rayban sunglasses £165. MIH Paris cropped jeans £145. Crumpet Cashmere Sweater £255. Chloe Paraty Bag £1,145

Will you be rocking white jeans this summer?

Donna Ida

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Getting seasonal - Wardrobe Clearout.

Like most of us, I was taken completely by surprise with this weeks high temperatures and with yet another busy working week, the opportunity to get my summer clothes out kept falling by the wayside. So after 12 hours sleep (yes seriously) I awoke refreshed at 7am and after a cuppa in the sunshine and a mountain of ironing all pressed and put away, I cracked on with the sort out.

Now first things first, if you want to do your seasonal swap over like a professional, then completely empty your wardrobe......

OK so it wasn't completely empty at this point!

Then if it needs a wipe out (if you store shoes without boxes, it is bound to) just wipe over the surface with a mild soapy water solution......

Larry Grayson would of been proud of the muck in here....

Then ignoring the pile of winter clothing on the bed.......

I began to retrieve my summer clothing and sandals from the drawers under the bed.........

and either hung them straight in the wardrobe or put them in the wash bin if they were really creased, which a lot of it was, as I have been randomly grabbing things to wear all week that didn't make me look like a complete and utter idiot in the heat.......

Then I gradually worked my way through the pile on the bed.  Heavy weight knitwear and coats were folded and put in the Divan Drawers. I made a pile for dry cleaning and kept my boots out for re-heeling the next time I go to town. I prefer to do this now as that way everything is ready to wear when winter rears its ugly head in er, August......

As you put your summer clothes in your wardrobe and your winter stuff away, make piles on your bed or a clothing rail for dry cleaning, ebay/dress agency, repair and charity shop. It is also a great time to have a clear out and get rid of any unwanted clothing that may be taking up valuable closet space! If you are unsure of anything as you get your summer clothes out, ask yourself if you didn't wear it last summer, what is the likelihood of wearing it this year?  The rule of thumb is if you haven't worn it for the last six months, then get rid, but with summer clothes I adopt the "did I wear it last year" mantra.

Winter boots and shoes were replaced by sandals and pumps.........

Which reminded me I still haven't got any gold sandals!

Remembering that we live in the British Isles, I wasn't so stupid as to think that I could pack away all my jackets, cardigans and long sleeve tops, so a selection was kept out but all in lightweight fabrics.

Anything cashmere or with a cashmere mix was wrapped in tissue paper (preferably black) before storing and my beloved LV leopard scarf put back in its dustbag and box until we meet again. I did kiss it but it was only a little peck rather than a full on snog......

The end product.....

Left to right: jackets, tops and shirts, shorts, trousers, skirts and dresses. If you wish you can hang clothes by colour (boutique style), by outfit (great for busy working gals) or however best works for you. 

Once you have done your seasonal swap over, you will be in a far better position to see what you need or what your wardrobe is lacking.  With the summer sales fast approaching, I doubt I will be buying anything until they start, but my closet is crying out for some brightly coloured, floral or patterned tops, navy shorts, a couple of new dresses, again bright in colour and I can see I have far too many white tops and quite a few pairs of jeans....

Designs on Denim!

If you keep a completely separate drawer specifically for holiday things like I do, then check the condition of swimwear, beach towels, sun hats, Kaftans, cover ups etc and see what needs replacing in time for sales season.

Do you have a wardrobe big enough to store winter and summer clothes or do you have to do a season change over?

style-passport womens clothing

Monday, 21 May 2012

Beauty on a Budget - penny pinching on skincare.

It was a couple of weeks ago when I went into town with my friend S. Little Man was getting his hair cut and we had arranged to meet in the nearby Aldi afterwards as S needed to get some shopping. She was in the toiletries aisle when we caught up with her and she asked me if I had ever tried their skincare range.  I told her I hadn't but had only read good things about it.  S said that she had only ever used Clinique (which I knew very well, as we had spent many a Saturday at
Bluewater buying the stuff) until her stockbroker husband had left her and she had to get a full time job to support herself and her daughter, plus pay a mortgage and that she had used the Aldi skincare range ever since and was really pleased with it.  Almost at the stage where I was about to cut open my tube of Dermalogica skin soothing cream and order a new one, I was intrigued and thought I would give their anti-wrinkle day cream a try.

Yes I know I am someone who has only ever bought fairly expensive skincare since my early twenties, apart from the Protect and Perfect eye cream I got fairly recently as I had a money off voucher and that I am a huge lover of Eve Lom and Liz Earle cleansers (depending on what I can afford at the time) and insist on having Dermalogica facials when I do manage to go to a Salon, but I thought that at £1.99 it was worth a go, after all, what can you get with £2 these days anyway?

I am a huge believer that the most important thing is to cleanse, tone and moisturise and that nothing is going to actually take your wrinkles away if it comes out of a tube or jar, so all you can do as you march towards and through middle age, is look after your skin as if you were much younger and trying to keep the wrinkles at bay.

I noticed that the Aldi day cream had the words "Q10" on the label, something that bought a very well known skincare brand to mind and I realised that one of the most important things if you want to trade down and save money on your skin care, is to read the labels or box inserts and see if the cheaper brands contain the same ingredients as your favourite high end skincare.  So I decided to check the well known brand's ingredients against the Aldi cream and found that they have the following in common (now I know this bit is probably boring, but it took me ages and is an essential part research, so please bear with me) :-

AquaOctocrylene, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Cetearyl Alcohol,Glycerin, Methylpropanediol, Tocopheryl Acetate, Butyl Methoxydibenzoylmethane, Glyceryl Stearate, Tocopheryl, Ubiquinone, Trisodium EDTA, Parfum, Limonene,Phenoxyethanol, 

I might have missed some, my eyes were going funny reading all the small print on the Aldi face cream box, but I had to do it to prove a point and have to report that the Aldi cream actually contains many more ingredients which include: Soja Seed Oil, Albus Seed Extract, Vulgere Germ Extract, Persea Gratissima Oil  to name but a few!  Convinced yet?  Nivea Q10 costs £9.99 as opposed to the Aldi £1.99.

If money is no object and you are happy spending over £200 on a jar of Revive, then fine, I know I would, but for those with much less to spend and who still want a quality product then a few minutes checking what your usual face cream consists of and comparing it to a cheaper brand may well be worth while.  The most expensive moisturiser I have ever bought was Zelens and my skin looked no better for it by the time the jar was empty.

The Aldi range has featured in the Daily Mail, The Mirror, Marie Claire and lots of other publications where it is claimed to have out performed far more expensive brands. You can read more on the Aldi website and before you ask, no I will not be buying Barry M nail polish instead of Chanel or Max Factor lipstick in place of Chantecaille, its like handbags, I do have some strange sort of inbuilt snobbery that only applies to certain items (yes I know I am a weirdo) but I AM going to use up my jar of Aldi Restorative Face Cream for mature skin for sure!

What is your usual brand of moisturiser and would you switch to a cheaper brand if you knew it contained many of the same components as a cheaper brand?

Simple, beautiful, effective skincare

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Something for the weekend - new isabella oliver tops, rigby and peller launch swimwear, hermes exhibition and macaroons.

Tuesday my diary was completely clear and then suddenly from about Wednesday evening onwards I started to get an influx of text messages and phone calls for appointments which meant that the back end of the week was completely hectic and didn't see me finish work until 8.30pm last night and a few scattered appointments came in for today so I am officially shattered, the beauty business is such hard work and my back is really feeling the strain of bending over people lately.  I really will have to give up the day job before long! However there was a bit of excitement earlier when the Postman bought my Isabella Oliver delivery!

Now just as you would expect when Isabella Oliver have a 3 day, 50% off sale and one finally gets to order the orange jumper one has been lusting after since the spring/summer collection went on sale months ago, the temperature seems to have gone up by about 10 degrees - typical!  But as with all Isabella Oliver clothing, nothing is a one season wonder, so I may have to play the "long game" with this one!  I was also in the market for a new short sleeve white t-shirt as a lot of my basics need replacing, so if we finally get some sunshine at least that will be one piece that will get plenty of wear and will layer perfectly when the seasons change again.  I've had a few messages via email, blog comments and twitter saying how pleased my readers are to have discovered the brand so if you haven't yet seen it, check out their "pared back perfection", collection here.

I haven't bought much at all this year and can't deny that it leaves me feeling a tad depressed, once a shopaholic, always a shopaholic, so today is a happy day, but I know it will be short lived as I have two of my daughters birthdays in a couple of weeks and one of them will be 21, so you know what that means, yes, exactly the same as her older sister had 2 years ago, a Mulberry handbag, 21 other random presents and champagne afternoon tea at Claridges, so thats kissing goodbye to a grand or so that could go towards the Chanel fund! Oh well, I have to put the kids first and make things special for them, its all about the memories and at least they will have good ones, even though their mum will no doubt die with one huge regret..................


For those ladies who are as particular about their swimwear as they are their underwear, you will be pleased to know that Rigby and Peller have launched a swimwear range just in time for summer, available both online and instore.  The brand offer a unique swimwear fitting service aimed to ensure that you look as good as you feel with all the support you require and with no shortage of designs on offer. There are plenty of styles and fabrics to choose from including organic florals and ceramic sheens in a range of styles to flatter all body shapes.  The range also includes kaftans and cup sized swimwear.

Maryan Mehlhorn Sea Of Blossom U/W Padded BikiniRigby and Peller 2012 Kaftans
Maryan Mehlhorn Colour Romance Plunge 1pieceMaryan Mehlhorn VIP Appeal Underwired Bikini Set


This weeks best discounts include 30% off at Gap with Grazia. so if you haven't already bought a copy you had better get yourself to the newsagents asap!

20% off everything at Bastyan until Midnight on Sunday using code BRIT20.

Spend £40 at Uniqlo and receive £5 off using code UNI40 until Midnight on Sunday.  

You can get free standard delivery at Coast until Midnight Friday 25th May, no code required.


If you find yourself in London before May 27th and are fascinated by the Hermes brand and its 175 year heritage, then pop along to Burlington Gardens and check out the "Forever Leather" exhibition.

The exhibition features a giant neon Kelly bag, a room full of the brands famous orange boxes and two of its artisan workers actually making classic Hermes pieces in front of your very eyes! Be prepared to be told that you can't take any pictures once inside as this was recently the case at the Christian Louboutin exhibition and also at the Louis Vuitton one in Paris which my daughter attended this week.  She did however have her camera round her neck so was just randomly pressing the button in hope of getting a decent picture and she didn't do too badly either, so here are a few snaps to share with you Vuitton disciples ......

and a trip to Paris means you have to bring mummy home some macaroons, so that she can eat them for breakfast the next morning and feel sick all day!

and make her jealous with pictures of  yourself standing in front of the Eiffel Tower........

so that she almost spends her Chanel sunglasses money on a Eurostar ticket.....

Oh well my lovelies I can only dream of Paris this weekend but am going to promise myself a trip there soon!  I hope you are having fun and if you have ever been to Paris, what did you love about it?

Monday, 14 May 2012

Beauty on a Budget - the perfect DIY Pedi.

I may well have been a bit premature wearing a pair of sandals yesterday, as today, after a sunny start, we have had yet more rain this afternoon.

The appearance of sunshine and a rise in temperature on Sunday meant I had to unexpectedly factor in a quick pedicure and nail paint before my feet were completely sandal ready and being as money is tight for so many people, Salon treatments can often fall by the wayside, so I thought that as I am fully qualified in many beauty treatments after re-training when my youngest child was a toddler, it would be helpful to share some knowledge with you, enabling you to save some pennies and get a reasonably good job done at home in a new addition to the blog called "Beauty on a Budget", which hopefully some of you will find useful.  This feature will cover purse friendly products that are highly recommended as well as giving you a bit of DIY insight.

Now if I had a £1 for every time a customer told me that they had a foot spa but never use it because it is either a) in the loft or b) in the garage, then I would honestly be carrying a 2.55 by now, but you gotta love a foot spa and it is a lovely and relaxing way to give your tootsie's a good soaking, and even more so if yours has a massage button so this is how your process should begin.  If you don't have any foot soak, bubble bath will do but don't use much as the bubbles can really froth up! Use a bowl if you don't have a foot spa.

If you have a foot scrub then give your feet a really good rub with this before soaking.  You can use a body scrub or some granulated sugar mixed with vegetable or olive oil which works just as well.

Soak until the water is getting tepid then dry your feet thoroughly and if your toenails need cutting, now is the time to do it.  Always make sure not to cut them too short as this can lead to ingrowing toenails when you get older.

Use a foot file on any areas of hard skin.  Use the pumice side first then the side that looks like a grater. I use a Boots battery operated pedicure system but have heard really good reports about the Pedi Egg.

For a luxury pedicure now is the time you would either apply a foot mask or put the feet into heated foot mits but for a Salon maintenance pedicure, this procedure is omitted so don't worry too much about rushing out and buying them. This post is about saving money and doing a good job with products and items you may already have.

Whilst the foot mask is on, I start the cuticle work but if doing your own feet at home and don't have a cuticle removing cream, just gently push your cuticles back. Never cut off any skin that isn't loose or hanging.

Toenails can get a bit mucky around the edges and underneath the nail plate and the best thing I find for gently cleaning around the edges is to take an orange stick and wrap a tiny bit of cotton wool around the end, then dip it into your nail polish remover. Be gentle and don't dig around. Change the cotton wool frequently and wipe over the entire nail plate as well.

If you have a cuticle oil, use it now, if you don't you can use any oil from the kitchen, rapeseed, olive, sunflower, its all about nourishing and any oil will do the trick, just massage around the cuticle area.

Soft nails aren't easy to file, but by now they should be dry enough for you to file off any rough edges from cutting earlier or maybe yours just need a file. Don't forget to file in one direction at a time only, never backwards and forwards.

Apply a foot or body lotion. If your heels are really dry apply some sort of cream every night and wear socks to bed.

You will need to wipe the nails over with nail polish remover before painting. Use a base, 2 coats of polish and always a top coat.  The base coat stops the nail polish from staining your nails.

Lots of people say how rubbish they are at painting nails and that they get it everywhere. I really don't think this is a massive problem as once they are dry, you can clean up any surrounding areas of skin that may have nail colour on them. I never use a cotton bud as I find it is actually too big, so yet again, the orange stick and cotton wool is invaluable. Just dip the end in your nail polish remover and gently remove any excess product.

Nail Polish - April by Chanel £17.50 from Boots. Sandals (old) - Russell and Bromley, now back in their box AGAIN.

Feet Treats on a budget, all available from Look Fantastic.

Bringing Spa quality treatments home with gorgeous Feet Treats from Space NK.

Did you do an emergency pedi when the sun came out?

Estee Lauder Cosmetics (Aveda)

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Something for the weekend - free nail polish, discount codes, cheap shoes and my favourite umbrella.

My "Something for the weekend" post fell by the wayside yesterday, so I am a little  bit late with the all the news I wanted to share.  Firstly  I was very sad to hear about the demise of British Heritage brand Aquascutum but rumour has it that the company has been bought by a Chinese interest for £15million.  I have been rocking Aquascutum quite a lot lately in this awful weather with my beloved umbrella which is so old I am a) convinced it would now be classed as vintage and b) amazed that I haven't lost it!  I bought this when I worked in London, it must be at least 15 years old, I am not really sure but I do love it so!  I also had an Aquascutum coat which I threw out a couple of years ago, another one of those "kinda wish I hadn't got rid of it" items, that I usually live to regret but at least we can finally put those umbrella's away and enjoy some sunshine! Its been a long time coming!  One can only assume that Aquascutum will be "Made in China" like virtually everything else on the High Street, such a shame.

Quality British Craftsmanship that is built to last.


Shoeaholics - Never enough

There was some good news in the form of Shoe Porn this week with fashionista's favourite, Kurt Geiger opening an outlet called Shoeaholics! What a great name and what a great site!  There are some real bargains to be had, although some sizes are limited but there are plenty of summer styles at bargain prices and I think this will be one of those sites that you will need to check regularly to snag your size.


If you haven't yet bought the June edition of Instyle and are looking for a new nail polish in one of the seasons hottest hue's then get thee down to the newsagents and you should be able to get your pick of the three sorbet inspired colours on offer!

Last night Twitter went into over excited fashion melt down as the Duchess of Cambridge stepped out for the Olympic committee gala concert wearing a stunning teal coloured gown by Jenny Packham.

I love how Kate seems to fall in love with a certain pair of shoes.  Last year we repeatedly saw her in her nude LK Bennett heels and she seems to have fallen hook, line and sinker for these sparkly Jimmy Choo's and who can blame her, they are the perfect accessory. 

£460 from Jimmy Choo.

Her plaited "updo" gave us full view of the gowns sheer lace back detail.

Simply Breathtaking!

Not quite as glam as "our Kate" I popped into our local New Look the other day as my eldest daughter needed to take something back. The clothes were completely rubbish but I did pick up a little necklace for £3 because the colours made me feel patriotic what with the Olympic's and all.....


This weeks discount codes:-
  • 20% off childrens clothes at The White Company until 18th May. Use code AA805 at checkout and 20% off womens clothes plus free delivery using code AA802.
  • 25% off of everything at Dorothy Perkins until 20th May. Use code DPVIPE at checkout.
  • Up to 50% off in the Bastyan spring sale.
  • 25% off all full price items at Kew 159 until midnight on Tuesday. 

Well my lovelies I am off to eat a slice of homemade Banana Cake and have a cup of tea whilst watching the BGT final.  Have a great weekend! x

The Dressing Room Retail Ltd