A fashion and style blog for the over 40s covering body shapes, colour palettes, how to wear neutrals, style personality and capsule wardrobes. Come on in!

3.30.2015

Woe Me Becomes A High Five

Sod you bloody Zara. You said hand wash at 30 degrees. I hand washed at 30 degrees and my new favourite black top appears to have shrunk to something resembling a crop top. Spitting feathers I was.




And my nearest Zara is 17 miles away.

And they probably don't have it in anyway as it seems to be sold out everywhere.

And I don't want my money back - I just want the top, preferably one that hangs slightly lower than my midriff!

So I will be taking it back to Spain where I bought it from (it's not a special journey just for that by the way - I'm not that daft). Actually as you read this, I may well be doing battle with Zara as I'm already here. Clever huh?

To make matters worse, I'd already decided to go jeans shopping on the same day as the shrinking incident. Enough to furrow the brow and hyperventilate at the thought of finding a pair that have a decent rise, encase the muffin top and don't show the toe of the camel. No mean feat I'm telling you.

Before I go any further, I must apologise to the unfortunate guy in the John Lewis car park who offered to wash my car and inadvertently suffered my wrath.




Ok so that particular morning didn't get off to  a great start but I did manage to find a few bits in M&S (nothing took my eye in John Lewis). Mind you I wasn't too chuffed when I got back home to find there was 20% off womenswear AND the following day I received those voucher thingies for me and a friend, again 20% off. Hmmmmm I acted like an adult and bit the bullet (read that as I couldn't be a*sed to go back and buy it all over again).

So what did I get?


1. Jeans

OMG, OMG I have found the best jeans EVER! I flippin love these jeggings from M&S.

5 Pocket Jeggings £25 (20% off with your family & friend vouchers)


Don't look much do they? But I can't tell you how comfortable they are. Think leggings-comfy. They relaxed a little after a couple of hours but surprisingly didn't go baggy or fall down (double tick). M&S describe them as having a knitted look. Haven't a clue what that means - they look like regular jeans to me. A slightly more relaxed feel than the usual skinnies which I kind of like.

Anyway, they're true to size. I bought a 10 medium and they fit like a glove. I wanted a slightly shorter length for the summer.


I'm normally a one wear, throw in the wash kind of girl but I actually wore these two days on the trot (for research purposes only) and they held up to the test.

Day 2



I also tried them on again on Day 3 (although not to wear, just for the novelty of checking if they're still as good) and I think they're pretty good...remember they're relaxed fit not skinny.





These are the indigo, they also come in light indigo here


2. More Jeans

Yes I managed to bag 2 pairs which given my aversion to jeans shopping, cheered me up no end.

Ripped Denim Jeggings £29.50


Again true to size although I bought my usual long in these to give me options. A good rise in dark indigo (they also come in grey, ecru and blue tint - that's light blue to you and me) with a small amount of distressing.


I haven't worn these yet but I'm expecting the same high performance as the first ones. I'll let you know.


3. A Jacket I've Been Coveting For Ages

(sorry no link but check out your local M&S Indigo Sale Rack)


So on my way to the changing rooms, I passed the Indigo sale rack and was delighted to see this little jacket reduced from £59 to £32. I've picked it up several times but given the lack of lining and at the time we were in the depths of winter, I was unwilling to pay full price. Bagged it with a 46% reduction (yes I used a calculator). Can't wait to wear it.


4. A Random Top I Took In To The Changing Room

Ruffle Hem Floral Blouse £29.50


I'm not supposed to be buying patterns this season....arghhhhhh. What can I say, I was drawn to the colours and the sleeves and the fluted hem. And in my defence, I know I'll wear it dressed down with jeans and with white trousers for lots of summer lunches I have planned this year. It was £29.50 for goodness sake!!

Not the most flattering of shots but here we go.



By the way, that random fluffy thing to the left hand side of the picture was revolting. You seriously need to be wafer thin to carry it off as it adds pounds.

So quite a nice little 'jeans' haul hey? It doesn't take much to distract me.


There was also the matter of this that fell into my online shopping basket a few weeks ago.

Next Folk Tunic £45

The first time I wore it, a tassel fell off so back it went. The new one has had a tassel count....there are  82 in total. If anyone has anymore than that, please do tell me.


I tried it on with the skinny flares but it needs styling properly. I want to see if it works with a jacket, if not it will be for warm days only. The navy is divine but thinking about summer I went for this one. Might be regretting as I adore the blue.

And that is it for now. Pink lint skint...well until next month. Oh it's April in a few days.

Has anyone tried the 'knitted' (what on earth does it mean) look jeans from M&S? Do you agree that they are the bees-knees. I'd be interested to know.

Back soon





3.27.2015

It's The Start Of A Holiday Wish List

Ooooh I'm off on my holidays again next week. Well, it's another one of those mini-break thingamajigs. It should have been a full week but given football fixtures (urgh it rules my life), it's been condensed into 5 nights which in the hubby's rule book means no check-in luggage. That means 55cm x 40cm x 20cm (including wheels)!

It's a little late to worry about this holiday but we have our main summer one planned for the end of June and I really do need to address some gaping holes in my wardrobe. So ta-da-da-da, I have started my wish list.

1. The slightly dressier dress that's not too dressy

First and foremost, dresses. I bought a few casual dresses last year; easy wear, easy packing items but our second week really required a slightly more formal attire. Think long trousers and shirts for men - of course that went down fantastically well with the husband and son - not! Well, as much as they moaned, we're doing it again this year so put up and shut up I say.

I want loose fitting, cotton dresses that are comfy in the heat but still look stylish. So wish list number 1 item is this from Esprit

Esprit Casual/sundress £45




I reckon this is one of those clever purchases that I could easily dress up in the evening with black heeled sandals and leopard print clutch. But equally it will look great with Birks (which I don't wear - see below) or flat sandals (which I do wear) and an oversized casual bag. We're going to Miami for a few days as part of our holidays, this will be perfect. It's 100% cotton and can be washed at 30 degrees. Yeay!

And it also comes in Blue

Love the idea of rolling up the sleeves for a more laid back look.


Consider both ordered! There's definitely room in my summer wardrobe for two!


2. A shiny new beach bag to replace my ratty old one (and to save my Longchamp from getting totally wrecked)

They don't last forever do they! I had a good clear  out (read binned the lot of them) of all my beach bags when we were over in Spain last time. Happy to use my Longchamp shopper on a grown up holiday with the husband but I refuse to use it when kids are involved. Ok they might be 19 and nearly 14 but still manage to leak the suncream and smear ice lolly over everything.

I spotted these on Amazon the other day whilst searching for CX-10 Quadrocopters (don't ask).

Amazon Bright Striped Beach Bag £7.95



I'm rather fancying the pink one but apparently you don't get to choose the colour! The price seems too good to be true but I'll put in an order when I get back from Spain.

And then you know how Amazon 'recommends' things after you've searched for something, these popped up.

Amazon Polka Dot Beach Bag/Shopper £9.99



So sweet. Perfect for folding up inside the 55cm x 40cm x 20cm carry on. The front pocket and inside drawstring thingy also appeals to my OCD.


3. Beach cover ups that actually cover up (Various)

Ok, I've finally realised that actually I can't do cheap beachwear anymore. The daughter managed to persuade me to pop into Primark earlier today as she needs wants new bikinis. I took several cover-ups in to the changing rooms to keep her company. They all looked pants. I shall stick to what I know best and go with good old Seafolly.

Seafolly Splendour Kaftan £39.99


Sticking with the pink theme (if Amazon doesn't send me the pink bag, I might cry). Love this and surprisingly I don't mind the see through front panel. Often the way kaftans are cut make my shoulders look very sloping but a) I think the central panel gives it a bit of structure and b) it will also be slimming (think illusion dress). And what's not to love about the little pom-poms.


4. A practical, comfy sandal that isn't a Birk

Sorry, all you Birkenstock lovers, I just don't like them. My excuse - they don't fit my style personality. I like to see them on other people, I really do but not on me. I've been on the hunt for a lace up sandal for ages now, it's probably going to have to be the Boden Lille Lace-up Point but I'm not quite ready to press the buy button yet. I'm drawn to these from Aldo which are currently residing in my basket.

Aldo Wares Flat Sandals £45


So I shall try both. But why or why are the Aldo ones not leather?

Well, that's as far as I've got at the moment. I have a whole list of a list of what I need to buy but haven't done any research yet. I read something on Facebook the other day that gave stats for the age of a girls first kiss, her age when she's earning the most money etc. One of the stats was when she stopped wearing a bikini. It's 48. I'm saying nothing.

Here's a little teaser shot of a top I bought yesterday. I'll let you know where it's from next time.



For more photos of what I've been wearing, hop over to Instagram here. That's if you're interested, I mean, not that I'm interesting or anything.

That's it from me. Hope you've had a good week. I'm going to toodle pip, empty the washing machine (rock and roll) and pour myself a mahoosive glass of wine. It's been one of those weeks.






3.20.2015

The Perfect Yorkshire Pudding As Cooked By A Real Yorkshire Lass

After our epic voyage of discovering how to polish up our act parts 1 - 5 (starts here and goes on and on and on), I thought for my own sanity, I need to write about something a little less heavy today, otherwise I may never, ever come back to this blog again.

Anyone who knows me would agree that I love Columbo and chocolate tea-cakes. But probably only my family know how much I love a good old Yorkshire Pudding. I can truthfully say that I've NEVER bought those Aunt Bessie cardboard specimens. I'd rather chew on my son's sweaty shin pads than put one of those in my mouth - really. These are mine on an average day.





And I have the perfect secret recipe that in 20 odd years has never let me down. And lucky for you, I'm feeling benevolent today and feel like sharing it out.

But first, a little history about the humble pudding.

  • The first recorded recipe was in 1737 - it was called a dripping pudding. Probably because it was cooked underneath the beef on a spit allowing the fat to drip into the batter
  • A cheap source of food so the poor would 'fill up' on the pudding before eating the main course
  • Which often meant there was no gravy left as it was devoured with the Yorkshire Pudding so the meat and veg course was served with parsley or white sauce (ha, I bet you didn't know that)
  • Mrs Beeton's recipe was pants probably due to the fact that hers took over an hour and half to cook
  • No one is 100% certain why they're called Yorkshire Puddings although Essex Puddings doesn't really have the same ring to it.
  • It was traditionally cooked in rectangles and carved up 
  • In 1970 a cooking competition in Leeds crowned a chef from Hong Kong the winner of the best Yorkshire
  • Even cooked at Hogwarts as mentioned after a Care of Magical Creatures lesson, Harry & Co were served roast beef and Yorkshire puddings
  • In 2010 the pudding was voted the most successful thing to come out of Yorkshire (they obviously didn't know about the rhubarb triangle)
  • Traditionally served with beef but my family seem to ignore this fact and demand them with pork, lamb, chicken. You name it, they'll eat it....with Yorkshires.
  • The best cooking tins in the 70s were Fray Bentos pie tins (urghh - gagging). That's a made up fact but I remember my nan using one to cook hers and they were delicious
  • My uncle once embarrassed the life out of me at a rather quintessential little pub called The Windmill in Linton, Wetherby insisting on eating Yorkshires for his starter, main course and pudding - 8 in total. And he's Burmese!!!



I promise you that this is a fail-safe recipe for brilliant Yorkshires every single time. 

Ingredients

A bit of plain flour
A few eggs
A bit of milk (I use semi-skimmed)
A pinch of salt
A bit of vegetable oil

Yep no weighing as such!

Method

Find 2 matching mugs. Nb. you may need to dig deep into your cupboard to finding matching ones! Here are mine, see they match! They don't need to match in colour (just in size).


Break a few eggs into one of them. How many? 3 or 4 depends on how greedy you are. As a rule of thumb, 4 eggs will make 12 good side puds.

Here I am demonstrating my cracking skills. 


With me so far? Excellent, that's the difficult bit done. 

In the other 'matching' mug, chuck in enough flour so that the levels of both mugs are the same(ish). 

**Brand alert** (I'm not being paid to advertise this by the way).



We don't want any of that sieving malarky, just throw the flour into a large mixing jug (it makes it easier to pour the batter later). 


Add a pinch or two of salt. Whoops sorry I didn't do a photo of that - hope you can still follow the recipe!!

Ok so let's recap. Now you have a dollop of flour in a jug, 3 or 4 eggs in one mug which means you have another mug without anything in it. Yes? Excellent. Glug in the milk up to the same level as the eggs again. 


Give the eggs a bit of a mix to break up the yoke. 5 or 6 seconds, we're not talking beating or anything. Add to the flour (and salt, don't forget the salt). 


Now give it a thorough mix until combined and most of the lumps have gone. Don't worry about the odd one or two, never did anyone any harm.

The consistency should look like this.



Pop the milk in. Don't be fancy and do it gradually, just throw it in. 


Mix (not beat) it all together. You'll notice that most of the lumps have gone now anyway. There might be a bit of clagging on the spoon - don't panic, that's perfectly normal!

Leave the batter until you're ready for it. **Not in the fridge** This batter doesn't like being chilled. And forger all this 'resting' stuff. I've made it a couple of hours before and 2 minutes before. It doesn't make a jot of difference. You'll be doing 3 turns around a broom and some jiggery pokery next. 

When you're ready to cook them, give that oven a really big blast of hot air. 250 degrees (with or without a fan - I don't care). Farenheit people, you'll just have to look at a conversion chart. Mine tend to go in after I've taken the joint out of the oven to rest. 

Glug a little vegetable oil in the tin (I use a muffin tin - non stick), enough to cover the base. 

**Brand alert** (I'm not being paid to advertise this and I'm sure there are far more healthier alternatives)



Notice my tin, yes it's used regularly, not one to put on show!

Pop the tin in the oven for 5 minutes to heat up the oil. Give the batter a couple of stirs as it settles when it's been stood. Get the tin out of the oven and pour in the batter. 

**Tip**If you want Yorkshires like this then once you've poured batter in, don't then top up with any remaining or you won't get the hole in the middle. 


Put the tin back in the oven for about 15 minutes or until the tops look nice and brown (see above). The base should be soft and squidgy though. Don't worry about opening the oven door - it's totally fine. Just another old wive's tale.  

And that's it. Enjoy. 



Also delicious if you add sage and onion to the batter before cooking (you can even use the stuffing mix but go light as the puddings won't rise so well). And of course perfect for Toad in the Hole. 

Oh and they need wine, yes lots of wine. Red or white, it doesn't matter. But it must be consumed during prep, cooking and eating stages - otherwise the puddings don't rise!!!

Anyway, I'm on strike this weekend so there's none for us on Sunday. 


3.16.2015

ACHIEVING THAT POLISHED LOOK PART 5

So we save the best until last......shoes. My absolute favourite subject in the whole wide world. Those delicious little creatures that come in twos, and have so much more to offer than their evolutionary purpose of walking. My goodness, if I were unfortunate enough to be allocated one pair of shoes for the rest of my life, darn it, they would have to be fabulous or I would surely wilt and die.

These. At £140,000 I'd be quite happy to wear them for the rest of my life.



Some years ago, I attended a creative thinking course at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park,  the great Henry Moore has several pieces displayed. We were asked to take a piece of art along. There were little miniatures, family heirlooms and various other offerings. I took in a shoe!! Well, we didn't really have a Monet hanging around at home at the time and anyway, I like shoes!

Shoes are just as important as jackets, scarves and jewellery for completing an outfit. And as I've mentioned in this series of posts, it's down to your own individual style personality. There really is little point in buying a pair of 6 inch heels if your lifestyle and personal preference are crying out for flats. You'll end up not wearing them no matter how fabulous they are.

Take the skater shoe (bloody things are still around this year I notice). I bought a pair last summer just because.....well because I was a sheep and I thought I should have some. They've been worn twice. I'm really not feeling the love for them. As I look down, all I see is a pair of Cornish pasties on my feet. That said, I love to see them on other people. And, I hasten to add, they don't look remotely like Cornish pasties on them.

But....that's ok because there's choices out there for everyone. If you want to find out a little bit more about your feet's style personality, have a look at this post here 

Let's start with a basic pair of jeans and t-shirt.



It's a pretty simple style, fairly contemporary with the slouchy t-shirt and boyfriend jeans. But how can we achieve that polished look, that effortless outfit that's simple but special. With a pair of shoes of course! Here, I've taken a selection of leopard prints...





Come on, there's something for everyone here isn't there.  Ok they all do different things, for example the Rockstud lookalike ankle strap pair dress up the outfit whilst the Espadrille dress give a more day time feel but regardless of which one you choose, they're all going to give the outfit a bit of pazazz. And whichever one you do choose, well that's down to your own individual style.

Wearing a pop of colour on your feet can really give you that extra edge.

Here an all black outfit would look great with a pair of black shoes. But she's chosen pink to really stand out.




And here, basics are taken up a notch or two with the addition of cobalt blue. Who hasn't got a white tee and black jeans in their wardrobe? This is so easy to do if you have a killer shoe (and I don't necessarily mean a killer heel either, this would work equally as well with blue flats).


Oh gosh Olivia, stunning. Another outfit so easily copied, distressed jeans, white shirt and power-house shoes.



And for the flatty wearers amongst you. A column of black with a pop of purple. Slimming and stunning.


And trainers measure up too.



A little bit of tangerine (big colour for this season) carries the whole outfit



There's so much inspiration on Pinterest, you need never buy a boring shoe again! If you really want to add colour to your feet though, I'd suggest taking a really good look in your wardrobe. There's no point in buying the tangerine Converse if most of your tops are pink based (unless you want to do the colour-clash thingy of course).

The humble shoe can really carry your whole outfit. They don't need to be full-on colour if that's not for you but they do need to have something, detail, pattern, texture.

The 'it' shoes this season seem to be coming from Boden. And here is one of them..

Boden Lille Lace-up Point £89


Metallic - tick, lace-up - tick, flats for comfort - tick. Come on someone has to think these are their perfect statement shoe??


Marks & Spencer Stiletto Mid Heel Strappy Sandal £29.50 (currently with 20% off)



One for the Classic style personalities. A really great neutral colour with a hint of the gladiator trend (ok that might be stretching it a little). Black pants, black shirt and you've got a great little outfit without having to put too much thought into it.

Dune Golled Slipper Cut Espadrille in Grey £69



So if the leopard print above is too loud, how about these toned down snakeskin ones? As a heel wearer, I think these are utterly gorgeous. I'd wear them over and above the Cornish pasties any day. Distressed boyfriend jeans, black t-shirt and winter white blazer. That's about as cool as I can get these days.

Adidas Originals Honey Lo Leather £50



If you've tried on the Stan Smiths (I have Stan-love, he doesn't love me), you'll know that they're quite chunky. Skinny ankles and Stans don't mix, believe me, I've been there, done it and put them back on the shelf. I ended up with these. The Honey-Los in leather. They're cut lower so have a more feminine feel. There's something about all white that makes them special. I've been wearing them with jeans (just a small cuff - it's too cold at the moment to expose too much ankle), breton top and blazer.

Top Shop Lisbon Suede Loafers £32


A great way to keep your wardrobe current is to update your shoes. Tan loafers are everywhere this season. Love the weave on the top of the shoe. I'd put these with dark ink jeans (deep cuffed - I'm thinking summer here) and a cream boho style top. Actually I'm really liking this idea.

Mint Velvet Grey Toni Stud Wedge Shoe £99

These actually look so different on that I need to show you them worn too.


A.D.O.R.E. them. Love with the shorts (which I need to check out for my hols) and I'm also thinking a little A-line denim skirt.

So there's a few neutrals, all very different but each pair have something special whether it's the print, texture, detail and so on.


The beauty about shoes:

- Our weight may fluctuate, our shoe size rarely does!
- Anyone who wears a heel will tell you that they make you feel different. They lengthen our shape and change our posture by arching the back.
- You don't need to spend a crazy amount of money on shoes, the High Street is awash with gorgeous footwear.
- They're mood enhancing - slip on a great pair of shoes and you feel great...or is that just me!


And a few tips:

Ankle straps look sexy but they can cut off the leg length. Avoid if you are low-waisted or try a t-bar shoe instead.

A low front shoe (such as a ballet pump) is a great way of lengthening the foot and giving the illusion of a longer leg.

Similarly, skin tone shoes are also great leg lengtheners.

This is probably the last thing you feel like doing but the best time to try on a shoe is at the end of the day when feet are at there most swollen.

Keep footwear in proportion with the rest of your body. Petite women and chunky shoes are probably not the best - they end up looking like clodhoppers. Of course if that's your thing.... And, larger women could look bigger than they really are if they attempt to wear delicate footwear.

Here is a selection of shoes I wore last summer. As style personality goes, I'm definitely a Dramatic (a totally impractical heel wearer).



Hope you've enjoyed this little series. It's been interesting putting pen to paper, often we do things without thinking about it don't we so at times, I've had to really dig deep into the grey matter.

I've been adding a few things to my wardrobe over the last few weeks which I'll tell you about soon.

Back later in the week with something a bit different. But in the meantime, I'll leave you with just one thought.




So go and buy the bloody shoes.