Thursday, 28 February 2013

Basics and replacements - the classic white shirt.

It was a couple of years ago now that I did a series of post's entitled "Wednesdays Wardrobe Staple". The whole point of the series was to talk about the items every woman should have in her wardrobe, the building blocks that stylish outfits can be built around and having long been a lover of  the "Parisian Chic" way of dressing and the simplicity a few key pieces can bring to wardrobe, I felt  it only right that as we all start to think about spring cleaning the house, it could well be the right time to think about spring cleaning our closets in a concious effort to make a shopping list of essentials that won't just see you through the new season, but way beyond.
It is so easy to fall in love with new season collections, colours and micro trends that buying an essential grey marl t-shirt can begin to feel like a chore as you hand over your cash rather begrudingly, but it is time to educate ourselves into knowing that if we get the basic's right, the rest will follow and we can then allow ourselves an impulse purchase or two.
As much as I have waxed lyrical (for the last four years I might add) about the classic white shirt or the breton top, I don't always take my own advice and there are still certain items I have failed to secure which in my head will bring my whole wardrobe together with ease.  The other point I would like to bring in to these posts is that of replacement.  Sure we all have a pair of dark skinny jeans but nothing last's forever and these core pieces if you have them, will at some point need replacing and something I recommended four years ago will no longer be available, so now feels like the perfect time to update, show what is currently available in addition to giving the series the new name of "Basics and Replacements". I know how hard it was for one of my daughters having to replace a pair of jeans last week when all she wanted to do was buy something pretty or on trend but it had to be done, she could never function without a pair of dark skinnies and nor could I.
I intend to take the current season into account and cover the style staples that every woman should own.  I will cover options for all budgets plus idea's on how to style these key pieces.

  white shirts

1. New Look £12.99. 2. Kin by John Lewis £29. 3.MIH Jeans at Liberty £145. 4. Equipment at Matches £220. 5. Coco shirt by Baukjen £99. 6. Autograph at M&S £32.50.

When it's chilly you can layer under knitwear, tuck in, wear loose, looks sophisticated with a pencil skirt and heels, the options are endless.

White Shirt style inspiration........

Do you have a classic white shirt in your wardrobe? Do you have an old one that you can't live without and needs replacing or like me, are you putting one on your wishlist?


Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Transeasonal Dressing at Stanwells.

It can literally take forever to catch up with all the new season stock now available both instore and online and I always try to give as much exposure to smaller independent retailers as very often their carefully selected edit's echo the voices of the real women who actually shop in their store and offer a certain "wearability" you don't always get from a larger concern. One such store is Stanwells Boutique who since their inception in 1996, have grown into one of the South of England's most successful independents with stores in both Lymington and Westbourne near Bournemouth.  Stocking an ever growing list of designer brands including Roksanda Illinic, MSGM, Emma Cook, Rebecca Minkoff and Issa London and after being named in the top 50 boutiques in the UK by The Times, I thought it was about time I took a long overdue look at the spring and summer stock with the idea of checking out both transeasonal and investment pieces because I promise it won't be cold forever!

I fully admit to being a bit nervous of last seasons floral trouser trend and although it looks set to continue, I am thinking I am more of a print kind of gal and couldn't help but fall in love with the quirkiness of the Issa London "Andy" print skinny jeans featuring the face of Andy Warhol, they would be certain to put a smile on my face and would make the perfect transeasonal jean.  The MIH oversized white shirt would look great worn long and loose over the jeans with simple flat sandals in summer but to see me through a chilly spring, if I could choose anything to go with this outfit it would have to be a pair of biker boots and the Muubaa leather biker jacket in teal.  If Muubaa is a brand that hasn't yet cropped up on your fashion radar, Stanwells have wasted no time in getting the brand on board with its list of A list celebrity clients including Cheryl Cole, Charlize Theron and Nicky Hilton and there is no doubt in my mind this is one item that would make for the perfect investment piece for 2013 which will just get better with age.
So it looks like Stanwells have got transeasonal dressing all wrapped up, and I have found the perfect spring outfit for a days shopping, a spot of people watching over a leisurely coffee, or lunch with the girls. All that and every piece an investment purchase, now where exactly have I put my cost per wear calculator?

  lets do lunch

Muubaa Sirius Leather Biker Jacket £389. Issa London Andy Jeans £205. Fiorentini and Baker black leather boots £335. MIH Jeans oversized white shirt £145.99. Diane Von Furstenberg 440 Leather and Raffia Tote £410.

Have you checked out the Stanwells new season edit?


Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Spreading the Miu Miu Glitter Sunglasses Love.

It may still be more than a little chilly outside (bloody freezing in fact) but the sunshine we have had recently has not only gone some way to cheer us up after the miserable grey winter days we have all had far too many of, but it has also meant that we have been able to bring out our favourite accessory - sunglasses, a must for anyone attending Fashion Week even if the sun isn't shining.

It has also meant that finally my eldest has got to wear the new pair she bought at Christmas time and they are just so damn gorgeous, I felt I really must share with all you fashionista's out there.


Now as much as I love them, I am sensible enough to know that I am no Anna Dell Rosso and that I would more than likely look like Dame Edna Everage or some crazy old pantomine dame in a pair, so I was perfectly happy to leave this one designer accessory to the younger members of the family and stick with my Chanel investment pair from last summer for 2013.

IMG_7666 (1)
Anna Del Rosso
This particular style with their distinctly retro feel have been well publicised by the fash pack (think Anna, Miranda Kerr and Millie from Made In Chelsea) and were far from easy to get hold of after a disappointing trip to Miu Miu in Bond Street at the end of last year.

Miranda Kerr

My daughter
They do come in a range of colours but are so sought after they are selling out fast! 

Silver glitter £210 from Sunglasses Shop.

Red Glitter £241 from Sunglasses Shop.

Miu Miu 
£225 at Net A Porter.

£327.79 at Bloomingdales.

Are you on the lookout for a pair of statement sunglasses this spring?  If so and you want designer shades at a purse friendly price, do pop over to The Outnet where you can pick up a pair from around £50 in any shape from classic aviator's to huge black Jackie O's from a huge range of designers.

Saturday, 23 February 2013

70% off at Baukjen.

I feel as though I have turned the blog into a bit of a homage to the Baukjen label and most certainly their current reductions, with up to 70% off, so huge apologises to anybody who is offended by the sight of their beautiful clothes.

Whilst doing a little online sale shopping of my own, I couldn't help but put my styling head on and think about the sale stock and how you can either investment dress, get a few pieces for your holiday or your busy social life so had to get my ideas down into a few pictures to give a bit of inspiration to anybody who might not know where to start, I mean the Agyness leather jacket with a £200 reduction, what's not to love?

Stock is selling out fast so don't delay or you might just regret it!

  Investment Dressing
Alexa Chambray Shirt was £85 now £25.50. The Straight Leg Jean was £99 now £29.70. Natalia Tailored Jacket was £189 now £56.70. Maryna Pencil Skirt was £95.00 now £28.50. Pippa Stripe Top was £49 now £14.70.

laid back luxe
Iris Cropped Cardi was £95 now £28.50. Jogger was £59 now £17.70. Gemma Relaxed Jumper was £99 now £39.60. Agyness Leather Jacket was £379 now £160.

cocktail hour
Kate Sequin Dress was £199 now £59.70. Cara Maxi Dress was £229 now £68.70. Kate Sequin Top was £99 now £39.60. Lara Lace Top was £89 now  £26.70. Lara Lace Skirt was £99 now £29.70.

vacation chic

Print Pleat Dress was £119 now £35.70. Halter Jumpsuit was £99 now £29.70. Sateen Skirt was £79 now £23.70. The Print Maxi Dress was £189 now £75.60. Cool Cotton Dress was £109 now £32.70.

I've ordered the denim shirt in the first picture and the maja joggers in the second, I already have a pair that I love so couldn't pass up the chance to snag another at a bargain price but think I am going back in for another look, so wish me luck and let me know if you order anything.

Isabella Oliver (UK)

Friday, 22 February 2013

Something for the Weekend - New tops and dress dilemma's.

I really need to have a word with myself about Breton Tops. I am almost too afraid to count how many I now actually own but I do have a good excuse this time.  After seeing Susie's post about the H&M £3.99 grey sweatshirt I couldn't not order one, but you have to spend over £6 online and there was nothing else I wanted, so a new Breton it was. It's all laughable really, from the £6 to the navy and white stripes, nice top though.


Well as most of you have probably realised by now, I never managed to get my mini break to Dubai and really should have booked the deal I found last Thursday to go on Friday evening as the prices really rocketed to almost double after that and I just wasn't prepared to pay the same for a 3 day break in Dubai that it would cost for a week in St. Barts. Oh well lesson learned and as my Travel Agent eldest daughter informs me "there just aren't the last minute deals around that there used to be". So onwards and upwards and must remember to book ahead next time.


So I am now left with having to attend a 40th birthday party on Saturday, an event I didn't think I would be around for, and due to spending virtually every spare moment over the last few weeks searching holiday websites, thoughts of what to wear should I go, were really the last thing on my mind and I have spent all of last night and this morning searching for something suitable.  The party has a James Bond theme and the birthday girl will be wearing a Jovani dress, full length and glamorous but that is not a look for me, well it might be if it were my party but I need something a bit more versatile especially as I don't get to attend parties that often these days.  So I wanted something with short sleeves (cover upper arms and also wear in summer) something Tunic shaped (skim over the apple shaped belly and Tunic shaped dresses work with sandals for summer whereas fitted dresses nearly always require a heel). I would have liked some sort of embellishment but that wasn't essential and I knew there was a dress on the Cos website which would suit if all else failed as I had previously seen it over at Anne's blog .......

Printed silk dress

An in depth search of their website then led me to this one.......

Graphic print dress

which was not only a little friendlier on the purse but I liked the fact the sleeves were shorter and I could just visualise this with flat metallic sandals for Marbella in May.  I quickly added to basket, proceeded to checkout, only to find that they don't offer next day delivery! Can you imagine a website that doesn't offer that option, I was gobsmacked to say the least, especially now that you can order up to 10pm at night to take delivery of any item you might wish to order from Next, who have absolutely nothing which fits the bill in case you were wondering.
Then I had to give up my search because Charlie was throwing up and now it's 7pm at night and zilch. The biggest part of my problem is I wear a lot of dresses in summer but not in winter and the summer dresses I have just don't fit the bill at all, sadly, the fabrics or styles just aren't right for a winter party with a 007 theme, they are all cotton or linen, very lightweight, and very daytime, either that or fit for a wedding and sod all else, so I have to see if I have the energy to go shopping tomorrow which is the last thing I feel like doing when it is so bitter cold out, but needs must or else I will be sitting indoors for another night of shit Saturday evening television AGAIN, but the way my luck has been going lately what's the chances of them being out of stock in my size? Massive I'd say.

Heavenly Hands and Skincare Collection
We are only a couple of weeks away from Mother's Day and as a mum myself I would be more than happy to recieve this Liz Earle giftset at a special offer price of £29.00 saving £18.00 until 9th March or until stocks last.  Buy here.

Baukjen now have their up to 70% off clearance sale online, so if you missed out on a piece you wanted from the A/W collection, go bag yourself a bargain here. The Maje jogger is now only £17.70 and silly prices for chambray shirts, I may have just placed an order!

Uniqlo are offering free delivery on all orders until 28th February shop here. Also £5 off all orders if you sign up for their newsletter, find out more here.

Reiss have now launched their new 1971 collection. Lots of lovely pieces but needless to say it was the toe capped pointy shoes and sleeveless cornflower blue shirt that have taken my eye. Shop here.

Exclusive Event
Goodie bag worth over £50
Thursday 7th MarchHolly Willoughby

Busy mums struggling to keep a good work/home life balance might benefit from Marie Claire's workshop to get idea's and inspiration as well as grabbing a few hours for yourself, oh and a great goody bag.  I can vouch for these Marie Claire events as my youngest daughter once went to a "How to get into Magazines" event (aged 15) whilst I sat outside listening to it all! Places are limited so be quick to book here.

Brora are offering few delivery on all orders including sale items until 24th February. Use code 19FEBAPP at checkout here.

Debenhams have a free p&p code until 24th Feb just use SHBT at checkout here.

Karen Millen are offering free EXPRESS delivery on all orders over £100 until 9.30 on 25th February. Shop here.

Have a fab weekend xx

Reiss UK

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Beauty Junkie - HD Brows in my own humble opinion.

Working as a beauty therapist it is imperative that you keep abreast of beauty trends and train in them accordingly.  When HD Brows first hit the headlines and as someone whose own brow's are somewhat thin and sparse due to over plucking as a teen, I couldn't help but be interested.

I looked into taking the course but a) it was very expensive b) they were all up north with the closest to Kent being Milton Keynes (anything above Tottenham on a map is north as far as I am concerned, although I did go to Leicester for a wedding once) and c) it was a two day course which would involve hotel as well as train fare costs, so I kind of forgot all about it, that was until my clients starting asking me about the treatment and a salon in town started offering this service for £25 a pop!

I looked at the HD Brow website and some of the video's on youtube. I found one of the HD Brow founder showing the 7 step procedure and another video by a beauty blogger having her's done by a HD Brow trained therapist and it was all very interesting.

HD Brows say they use a seven step procedure to create the perfect high definition brow and that it completely disregards everything you may have been taught at college or on a waxing course and it does in one of the steps and that is where they wax above the brow as you are taught not to do that, but of course for some clients you have to as they may have hair in that region that completely ruins the shape of the brow and can be very unsightly.  Anyway I digress, so the HD Brow procedure involves:-

Step One - Preparation and Assessment.
I say: This would be done by a beauty therapist for any brow wax appointment so nothing new here. This would be where shape would be discussed with the client.

Step Two - Tinting.
I say: Again nothing new. If you book yourself in with a therapist for a brow tint this is the same procedure as you would get.

Step Three - Waxing.
I say: OK this is what we do anyway for a fraction of the price!

Step Four - Trimming.
I say: For some clients you have to trim their eyebrows. I have one lady in particular who's eyebrow hair grows vertically up but only on one brow so this has to be trimmed to keep it symmetrical to the other brow. Trimming will also be used to trim back any long hairs that are not the same length as other brow hair but trimming would not be necessary for all clients.

Step Five - Threading.
I say: Any therapist who has waxed your brows will finish off by using tweezers to remove any hair that may be left behind and as tweezering is Step Six - I can't really see the point of threading as after waxing there should be very little left and what is, will be removed with tweezers in the next step.

Step Six - Tweezers.
I say: See Step Five and any hairs that may have been left behind will be removed at this stage, it also helps to define a shape with tweezers.  Unlike threading and waxing, tweezers remove the hair's one at a time giving you complete control especially when working close to the clients desired shape or trying to create a new one in a previously untouched brow.

Step Seven - Finish.
I say: According to HD Brows this is where a calming lotion will be applied to soothe the brows and close hair follicles but again any therapist will do this after a brow wax. A mineral powder is also  applied around the eyebrows, again to create definition. This is also the point where a HD Brow trained technician gets the opportunity to make money from retailing the HD Brow range of products which include brow pencils and powders, serums' to apparently encourage hair growth etc by writing out your very own "brow prescription" and list of products required to upkeep your new brows. Very clever marketing in my opinion.

To sum up:

1. No HD Brow Technician can perform miracles. If you have gaps in your brows, very thin or sparse eyebrows the only way of achieving the look of a celebrity or high definition brow will be by using either an eyebrow pencil or a brow powder to enhance your brows and of course these will only last until you take your make-up off. If you watch the video you will see that a pencil and powder is used to create definition and give a more dramatic effect. Clients with thin or sparse brows are advised to go into "brow rehab" where regrowth can take up to a year to get the thicker brow shape they desire. Always remember if you start off with untouched virgin brows it will be far easier to achieve the currently fashionable look of a thick celebrity brow.

2. HD Brows is a brand that supplies it's own products, tint, wax, tweezers etc all at a cost to the therapist that will no doubt be far more expensive than the wax and tint they normally use.

3. Due to the above, the therapist will have no choice but to charge more than a therapist would at any salon providing you with a "normal" brow wax and tint. HD Brows cost from £25 upwards and that is in rural area's, expect to pay far more in London.

4. I charge £5 for an eyebrow wax which includes HD Brow steps: 1. assessment 3. waxing, 4. trimming (if required) 6. tweezering and 7. finish. I charge £8 for a brow wax and tint which includes HD Brows step 2. tinting, along with the steps used for waxing 1, 3, 4, 6, 7.

If you are thinking of having this procedure do have a look at the video and let me know what you think.  Also if you have had HD Brow's I would be interested to know if you think it is worth it.  I tried out all the steps except the threading on my daughter to create my own "Celebrity Brow" which I am intending to charge £12 for this 30 minute procedure. Here I have waxed above the brow and created more definition with the use of pencils and powder and taken extra time over assessment, measuring the brow arch and overall symmetry of the brows.

Photo: I've had lots of clients asking about HD brows recently so to give clients an idea of what they get for a £25 treatment have a little look at this video and then take a look at my version for less than half the price!
My daughters brows after my "celebrity brow" treatment.
Check out a beauty blogger having her HD Brows done, this is an interesting one as her brows aren't that full and thick to start with.

The point of this post is to keep fellow bloggers informed of treatments available and their cost and if I as a trained professional, deem them to be worth it, so I hope you have found this informative and not too boring.

My top tips for gorgeous brows:

1. DIY tinting kits can be bought from Boots.
2. Use a brow powder kit or a pencil to fill in gaps.
3. Use Castor Oil on brows to encourage growth.
4. Avoid using face creams of any description on your brows whilst trying to regrow the hair in an effort to achieve your desired look.
5. If you have your eyebrow's waxed at a salon, never be afraid to ask for what you want and if going for the first time, ask exactly what is provided in the treatment for the brochure price i.e. trimming etc.

Check out some of my favourite products to help create a "celebrity brow" at home:-

 Benefit instant brow pencil £14.00. Benefit Brow Zing £22.50. Bare Minerals brow singles £11.00. Smashbox brow tech wax £14.50. Benefit Brows a go go £26.50.

Please leave a comment with any questions on this or any other beauty treatments, I will always do my best to give you an informed answer.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Spring Trends: Monochrome

monochrome 2

Is it just me or does it feel like only yesterday that this trend was a hot topic of fashion conversation?  That said, it is a pretty easy one to wear for any age group and doesn't have to break the bank if you already own a classic white shirt and either a black skirt or trousers and as you can see from the celebrities above who were all front row at Marc Jacobs last week, it is a trend that works equally well for both dramatic evening as well as more laid back daytime looks.  For me the key is not to add a pop of colour like you normally would to give your outfit a different dimension, but stick purely to black and white whether it be in blocks, stripes, checks or zebra prints.

Monochrome will definitely be around next season and was featured at both the New York and London shows, so you needn't worry about wasting your money on a one season wonder and if you don't wish to go the whole hog and be mistaken for a zebra crossing, there are loads of gorgeous monochrome accessories around at the moment that will work wonderfully with red, yellow or cobalt blue. Sass and Bide have incorporated yellow alongside monochrome for their autumn/winter collection, so if you want to be one step ahead, just add a large bright envelope clutch to your look.


Sergio Rossi £530.82 at Farfetch. Jigsaw silk collar knitted dress £139. Karen Millen cardigan £85. Warehouse jacket £75. Oasis Clutch £25. Asos Trousers £35. Planet zebra print jersey dress £79. Mango Houndstooth pencil skirt was £29.99 now £14.99. Kurt Gieger sandals £195.

Do you plan on wearing monochrome this season? Are there any pieces you have your eye on?

Karen Millen Fashions Limited

Sunday, 17 February 2013

My Weekly.


A busy, busy week at SAEA Towers, with most of my free time spent searching for last minute holidays online and not blogging or catching up on your lovely blogs as I should of been.


Gutted though I was, I found a great deal and within budget on Thursday night but it was for 24 hours later and even though I had friends having a girlie break with their children going on that same flight and to the same hotel who have long been urging me to go with them, I just didn't think I could be ready in time.  I knew that if I didn't book I would regret it and as soon as I woke up on Saturday morning thinking of them soaking up some sunshine for the next week, I sure was jealous.    I have until Wednesday to go, if I find a 3 or 4 night break, and have began preparations just in case and have stripped and washed all the beds, towels and clothes (although laundry basket is already full again just 24 hours later), Charlie's uniform and PE kit are already clean/pressed and back in his wardrobe, the obligatory half term hair cut took place on a rushed visit into town yesterday afternoon whilst I am waxed to within an inch of my life, passports are next to the bed and the toe nails that never see a summer shade until at least May, are now sporting Chanel Fracas in a bid to be flip flop ready should I find myself on a beach at any point during half term.


In case you failed to notice we are a week and a few days into fashion month with live stream shows aplenty if you wish to keep abreast of the trends for next Autumn/Winter, and with a passion for both Khaki and camo print, Michael Kors captured my heart at New York Fashion Week with his camo fur coats.  I later read on that they are in fact Mink and sadly not faux fur, but with camo jackets being sported by all the fashionista's last autumn, one can only hope for some high street versions from Topshop or Zara for 2013 to satisfy my sartorial need for something very similar. I must point out how cute this years London Fashion Week illustrations are, penned by the Shoe God himself, Manolo Blahnik no less.


I also squeezed in a trip to the cinema last week to watch Les Miserables with my eldest daughter.  My other two daughters managed to see it as soon as it was released and when they both said take Tissues, I never dreamt they meant a whole box!  Women were actually sobbing (louder than I was) and as soon as the credit's rolled we all just sat there, none of this rushing out like you normally do, nobody wanted the lights to go up as we composed ourselves and checked our eye make-up before leaving our seats, but what an absolute masterpiece the film is and for anyone who loves musical theatre and great acting, this film really is a must see. It's still on, so get someone to have the kids and grab two and half hours of me time during half term, you won't be disappointed.

Just a few discounts this week (roll on the summer sales I say):-

Wallis - free standard delivery when you spend over £30 using code TREAT30 at checkout here.

Dorothy Perkins - in celebration of London Fashion Week Dotty P's are offering 25% off everything using code DPFWD at checkout until 24th February here.

LK Bennett - 25% off knee high boots shop here.

After taking advantage of the milder temperature yesterday and going out without a coat on and actually managing to wear my glittery Jimmy Choo flats instead of boots of some description or another, it is apparently going to get colder again next week.  No doubt I will still be in the UK unless the Gods are looking down on me, so we will all be freezing our bits off once again, but whether home or away, it's always good to have the kids at home so I'm looking forward to half term wherever I may be!

Mint Velvet

Thursday, 14 February 2013

New Season at Great Plains.

Always one to watch and most certainly a brand that has fast become a firm favourite of mine over the last few years, spring and summer 2013 at Great Plains just got hotter with a collection of  summer wardrobe essentials and a selection of beautiful dresses with an emphasis on florals, cute prints and bold colours that will have you chomping at the bit for the daffodils to bloom and the time when you can finally leave the boots at home and slip on a pair of sandals.

Its always the daytime looks I covet so, the kind of laid back luxe I am always trying to achieve and although the company is the lesser known little sister to French Connection, having bought plenty from them in the past, I can vouch for the fact the quality and design are equal for both brands but with a far friendlier price point and a more grown up feel, both of which are always welcome.

There are so many pieces I love from this collection but always a sucker for stripes there is a flattering daytime wrap dress with my name on it along with the Calcutta embroidered blouse that will dress up a pair of jeans perfectly and I am just praying for a summer wedding invite as the dress below would be perfect.

With free delivery when you spend over £75 and free returns, have you checked out the new season collection at Great Plains yet? Which pieces are your favourites?

Great Plains