Get into the groove

Ahh, January: the month we love to hate. Let’s be honest now, it’s just rubbish isn’t it?(unless it’s your birthday/you’re having a baby/getting married/lucky enough to be sunning yourself in the Maldives/all of the above – in which case, I salute you.)

Anyway, I digress. I shan’t bore you with a list of seven hundred reasons why I hate this month – instead, I’ll start the New Year, albeit somewhat late, with a selection of pretty things I have been feasting my eyes on in order to beat those bastard blues…

Spotted blouse, £10. Yellow chinos, £11. Skinny belt, £2. Snakeskin court shoes, £10. All from Primark.

 

Now, since the only thing I’ve been working out recently are my tax returns, there is not the slightest chance I’ll get these b-e-autiful jeans around the Christmas-induced junk in my trunk.  If you can though then please BUY them.  Someone has to.  As you may have noticed, polka dots are kinda my thing, so all is not lost and I can at least console myself with the purchase of this top.

 

 

 

 

 

Accessorize Lady Bag, £35.

 

 

This bag is pink. It has gold detail. And it’s called The Lady Bag.  Need I say more?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Foundation Lace Mesh Cardigan, £59. Ivory Linen Short, £45. All from Mint Velvet.

 

Lace? Check. Tailored shorts? Check. Pastel colours? Double check. The only question that remains is why have I never shopped at Mint Velvet before?!

 

 

 

 

Yellow print dress and floral clutch both from Matalan. Price to be confirmed.

 

I’m not strictly sure what the rules are about blondes wearing yellow, but I’ll sure as hell be giving it a go this year. AND I’ll be mixing it up like the best of them with some clashing printed accessories.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shirt £30, ring £6, both from Next.

 

There is not a single thing I don’t love about this picture. I need a crazy patterned shirt and white skirt in my life. Like, NOW, please.

 

 

 

And just because a) I’m obsessed with homeware right now and b) I couldn’t resist, here are a few little extra treats for the eye…

Glass pillar candle holder, £16. Glass candlestick, £14. Pressed glass votive, £5. Wooden photo frame, £14. All from House of Fraser.

All accessories from Matalan, prices to be confirmed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Matalan SS12 homeware accessories, prices to be confirmed.

 

 

Anyone else need that bathroom in their life right now? Hydrangeas and hearts and crystals, oh my. And  sailor chic for the home? I think I’ve died a bit…

 

 

The one-stop beauty shop

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any bigger, Tesco goes and proves us all wrong yet again.

I’ve lost count of the amount of time and money I’ve spent in Tesco over the years and, I’m ashamed to say, it’s usually never where food is concerned.

When the company’s clothing lines debuted online a little while ago I wondered whether beauty products would follow suit and, lo and behold, this autumn they have. And they’re good people, really good.

To coincide with the opening of its one-stop beauty shops in Dudley, Horwich and Newport, Tesco officially launched an exclusive range of beauty products online in October. As well as making its fast-growing Barbara Daly brand available to online customers, Tesco has also launched its first ever F+F make up range…and that’s not where it ends, as this autumn marks the company’s first foray into the world of luxury beauty with the introduction of some big name premium brands. Now, the likes of Crabtree & Evelyn, St. Tropez, Fake Bake, Steamcream, Diego Dalla Palma, Natio, Le Couvent Des Minimes, Tisserand and The Vintage Cosmetics Company, to name just a few, are all but one click away.

If you haven’t already tried any of these products somewhere along the line then I would definitely suggest you add one (or all) of these to your shopping basket next time you’re browsing the virtual food aisles…

All for Eve hand cream

Crabtree & Evelyn 60 second fix for hands

Le Couvent Des Minimes Rose hydrating cream

Steamcream

Tisserand organic lavender de-stress bath soak

Having given all of these a thorough road-test (it’s a hard life) I would definitely recommend them to anyone looking to try a new product or buy something a little bit different for someone this Christmas.

Personally, it’s the Steamcream that tops my list – a light, multi-purpose cream that removes make up, cleanses and moisturises all in one sweep. Plus, there are a variety of quirky looking tins to choose from – bonus.

Tisserand is one of those brands that’s been knocking around for a while but which you either know about or you don’t. I didn’t until I got sent a hand cream a few months ago and from then on I was officially converted. This de-stress bath soak does is exactly what is says on the tin and can be accompanied by a matching body cream for the ultimate indulgence.

The Le Couvent Des Minimes rose-scented moisturiser is a light, fresh-scented day cream which absorbs easily into the skin and makes a great base for make up. My only wish is that it had some sunscreen included in it, but that’s a minor detail and wouldn’t stop me from buying it again once it’s run out.

If there’s one thing I obsess over after moisturising my face it’s making sure my hands are kept hydrated too – especially with the onset of the colder weather. Hence my enthusiasm for the All for Eve and Crabtree & Evelyn goodies above. Both are good quality, well-packaged creams that do just the job I need them to. While Crabtree has the edge where scent is concerned, All for Eve is a winner for the simple fact that 100% of the profits generated from the sale of this range go to funding The Eve Appeal.

This is just a teeny tiny snippet of the goodies now available to Tesco’s online customers though, so don’t hesitate to have a proper look through the rest if you get the chance. Just be prepared to spend!

V is for Vintage

I’m sure it hasn’t escaped anyone’s attention (least of all mine) over the past 18 months or so that vintage is back with a capital V.

From the clothes we’re wearing to the ways in which we’re choosing to decorate our homes, vintage is big news and influencing almost every single aspect of the high street and beyond.

And while I’ll raise both hands and admit that I L-O-V-E filling my wardrobe/house with as much imitation vintage gubbins as I can possibly get my hands on, I have to admit that the old saying about the originals being the best does ring true here; I’d rather pay over the odds for a chintzy china set that I’ve spent hours scouring the charity shops for than simply buy something vintage-inspired and unoriginal at the click of a button.

Which is why, when I was faced with the sombre task of having to turn down an invitation to the opening of a new vintage venture by the British Red Cross recently, I kicked myself. Hard.

Opening its doors to the public for the first time on 19 October was Shrewsbury’s answer to Aladdin’s Cave; a wealth of original vintage and retro treats  all crammed under one pretty little roof…

Staff celebrated the opening of the shop – the first of its kind for the British Red Cross – by treating their brand new customers to a vintage-style feast of tea, cake and cucumber sandwiches whilst they shopped. I won’t lie, I literally died a bit inside when I heard about this – if I’d have been able to make it up there for the day then I guarantee I would have been bashing people out the way in a bid to guzzle tea and get my mitts on that b-e-a-utiful dressing table set below. And I probably would have weighed up the pros and cons of dragging that glorious dressing table, avec contents, home on the train whilst repeating the customary ‘I regret nothing’ mantra.

 

 

In a nod to the theme, the shop also had a team of stylists dressed in full vintage regalia who were on hand for the day to help people get into the mood and pick out some glamorous gems to take home with them.

Red Cross staff and volunteers have worked tirelessly in the run up to the shop’s opening, transforming the Tudor building on Shrewsbury’s Mardol Street into a vintage-inspired shoppers’ heaven, complete with historical Red Cross posters. And judging by these pics, I’d say they’d done a pretty damn good job at doing so too.

For those of you who don’t live locally or won’t be frequenting Shrewsbury on you future travels, fear not – this is merely the first in a chain of stand-alone vintage stores that the Red Cross are planning to open throughout the country; one may be coming your way throughout the course of 2012, so keep your eyes well and truly peeled.

I wish all of Shrewsbury’s local residents and fashion enthusiasts the best of luck in rifling through that menagerie of vintage wonder, because if I ever happen to “accidentally” get on a train and not get off again until it stops in Shrewsbury then I will be buying the LOT.

All of the above images are courtesy of Nick Robinson/APEX.

The Pearly Queen

The old saying goes that you should never judge a book by its cover, but when it comes to the packaging of beauty products I’m 100% guilty of doing just that very thing. Judging. Many a product has been purchased on the premise of what it’ll look like on my dressing table much to the detriment of other products which probably work just as well, they’re just not pretty enough to make it home with me (it’s like I have beauty beer goggles, or something like that).

It’s a particularly bad practice of mine and I know I should try before I pass judgment on what’s within, but I just can’t help being drawn in by something that looks, well, nice. It’s that simple.

So when something comes along that’s just as good on the inside as it is the outside then it’s a bit like winning the beauty jackpot; shallow as it is, it almost certainly guarantees I’ll purchase it again and again.

And this is exactly how I felt last week when I was lucky enough to preview the outcome of a collaboration of products between fashion supremo Pearl Lowe and a new premium beauty brand, DP London. Pearl, as many of you may already know, is best known for her vintage-inspired line of clothes for high street favourite Peacocks, whilst DP London is a relatively new brand on the scene, and one which is definitely going to be making an impact over the next few months.

Adding to the launch of several hot new home and body products by DP London is the introduction of Pearl’s first foray from fashion into home and lifestyle with a limited edition candle collection…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And it’s not just the packaging that’s immense. The Spiced Punch candle (pictured above, the one I literally ran home with) is a lovely warming winter scent. Think rich mulled wine and you’d be there with this, which will be perfect for the coming colder months (so long Glade Plug In, your days are numbered). For £30 you can snap this up, OR for the same price you can purchase Pearl’s limited edition boxed trio collection – three miniature candles in Spiced Punch, White Flowers and Citrus Flowers. I kid you not, Citrus Flowers is literally to die for.  Plus, all of the candles are made purely from 100% natural wax and are free from palm oil and paraffin.

So now we know all about Pearl, what about DP London? Who the hell are they and why will they change your life? Now, I could sit here and give you a hundred reasons why you should go and check them out, but I’ll spare you all of that and just show you instead…

DP London Body Oil, £34 for 100ml

DP London candle trio, £25 for 3x 50g

Individual DP London candles, £28 for 190g

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My top tip? Nab that body oil right now – it’s going to be HUGE. I tried some out and unlike other body oils it sinks right into the skin without leaving that rancid greasy residue some others have the tendency to (hello, massive dry cleaning bill).

Like Pearl, DP’s main ethos is to create products that use natural rather than synthetic ingredients, thus making them better for you AND the environment at the same time. All the products are reasonably priced (considering the time and effort taken to create them) and the packaging is uber chic – sometimes less really is more.

If, like me, you constantly need to be within 5 meters of some lush looking things like this then you can get in on the act now. Visit Selfridges or ASOS.com for Pearl’s home hotties, or, if you want more of a spend up (and why wouldn’t you) then you can get everything in one hit from DP London.

Glossy galore

There’s always a risk when venturing out to spend my hard earned cash (well, aright, earned) on ever more new beauty products that what I’m about to buy will a) not work at all on my skin, b) make me break out in a horrendous beard of spots, c) be total rubbish or d) all of the above.

The problem is, I just love nothing more than trying new stuff – face wash, mascara, eyeshadow, fake tan: you name it, I’ll slap it on and hope I wake up looking like Kate Moss. The downside to this, however, is quite simply how much all this stuff ends up costing.

So when I spied something that combined my love for having new things with an affordable price tag, I literally couldn’t whip the old credit card out fast enough (and believe me, it’s just about the only thing I’m quick at).

Enter Glossybox, the one-stop solution to all your cravings for new and indulgent products at a very affordable cost. The concept is simple enough; for £12.95 a month (the box itself is a tenner, the rest is P&P, which is actually quite reasonable) you receive five varied beauty samples – some of which are high end, well known brands, some are just entering the market and others have been around for a while but aren’t that well known yet. Some products will be miniature sample sizes, others will actually be full size products. And the other bonus? Anything you really like can be purchased from the main retailer at a discounted price once it’s been sampled.

I subscribed in July and was put on the waiting list for this month’s (patience is not a virtue of mine) and when it finally arrived this is what I got…







 

 

 

 

 

 

Out of everything, the thing I loved the most was the HD Brows kit – a versatile product that can be used to fill out the brows (hello overplucking nightmares) or more simply as eyeshadow. I won’t lie, the shampoo sample didn’t even touch the majority of my hair (but did smell nice), and if it wasn’t for the fact that Liz Earle got her mitts into me last month with her Cleanse and Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser then I’d probably rave about the Omorovicza Thermal Cleansing Balm.

Overall this is a pretty impressive deal and even though I did promise myself I’d stop after one subscription, well, I lied. I’m having another. (And don’t even get me started on the whole packaging conundrum – do I recycle the box/do I not recycle the box and if so which freaking bin does it even go in? Seriously.)





The Best of British

It’s one of the most overused cliches in the world of cliches, but this week I stopped for a mere moment amongst the chaos of normal life and realised that time really does fly by. I’ve been blogging for exactly one year now, and what started as a way to appease my love for all things aesthetically pleasing has suddenly become something much more. This week was testament to that, when, on Friday, I found myself standing in the window of my local British Heart Foundation frantically stripping the mannequins of their dignity.

No, I hadn’t finally cracked and jumped on the train to crazy town, I was, in fact, taking part in the BHF’s fashion blogger challenge in aide of their BIG Donation scheme, and when the email inviting me to participate dropped into my inbox a couple of months ago I honestly think I stopped breathing for a while as I contemplated the thought of being allowed to style their window display HOWEVER I WANTED using stock from the shop.

This year’s third BIG Donation stock appeal is the BHF’s largest and coincides nicely with the chain’s 50th anniversary. The reason it’s such a big deal this year? Well, apparently even charity shops are suffering under the strain of the recession; the BHF alone has reported a 36% drop in household donations as commercial collectors swoop in and steal the good stuff before it even makes it to the stores. Charity is big business, so it seems.

So this year, the BHF called upon several local bloggers – myself included – to help give a new edge to the campaign and raise awareness of the continual need to donate unwanted items. I knew it was something I had to do without question when I realised the true worth of my wardrobe – just 22 dresses sold by the store can fund a BHF heart nurse for the day – that means my wardrobe alone could fund one nurse for the best part of a year.

I turned up on Friday morning armed with a selection of said dresses (I couldn’t part with them all. I tried. Fashion cold turkey is not a good place to be) and, strangely, a stomach full of nerves. I mean, what if I couldn’t find anything inspiring to work with – we’re talking charity shop here, not Topshop – what if everything was just old and musty and…brown (for some reason I envisioned everything to be brown. I don’t know why). I won’t even lie, I was up the best part of the night before wrestling with the idea of collecting leaves from the garden in order to make my display more interesting, you know, “just in case.”

Well, I needn’t have worried in the slightest. The charity shops of today are so far removed from that awful stereotype of what they used to be that they practically are Topshop these days. Okay, so there was some brown, but my socks were well and truly knocked off at how colourful and just generally nice everything was. After being given a tour of the back room (stock galore, I felt like a cheaper version of Carrie Bradshaw when she goes to the prop cupboard at Vogue. Except I wasn’t drunk on Martini – or anything else, for that matter), then the ladies plied me with tea (they know how to butter me up, clearly) and off I went a-rummaging.

And here’s how it went…



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After I’d finished and was saying goodbye to Jan, the Assistant Manager, she turned and whispered slyly, “It’s so nice to have a young window display because, really, that’s what we want. We want the young people in here making it fashionable and fun.”

And so now you’ve heard it from the horses mouth, go forth, young people, and DONATE.

The fabulous four

I’ll keep this short and sweet. If you buy anything else this summer, make it one (or all) of these…

Lips: It was kind of inevitable that Topshop would branch out into make up eventually. And when they did, it didn’t disappoint. My favourite lipstick of the moment is this jazzy number, aptly called Brighton Rock. At only £8 it’s a steal.

Nails: Unable to afford a luxury Manx manicure and having spent the equivalent on metallic nail varnishes that, in all honesty, were a waste of time/money, I died a bit last week when I came across these luscious falsies. Not everyone’s cup of tea I know, but if you’re looking for something a bit different then head to Superdrug immediately and snap these up for £7.10. Also available in Molten Silver.

Face: The latest skin craze sweeping the West actually originated in the East; B.B creams are the product of the moment. B.Bs – which stands for either Blemish Balm, Blemish Base or Beblesh Balm – have long been used by skin-savvy women in Asia and each one is said to have unique skin healing properties, be it anti-wrinkle, anti-blemish or the promotion of even skin tone. However, those wise owls at Garnier have cottoned on to the concept and created a B.B cream that rolls all these properties into one. This hybrid formula offers to hydrate, protect skin from UV damage and even out skin tone and texture in one clean sweep. I’ve been using this for little over a week now and can testify that it does exactly what it says on the tin. If you haven’t got some yet then make a dash to Superdrug now; it’ll be the best £9.99 you’ve ever spent.

Eyes: When Max Factor discontinued their 1000 Calorie mascara a few years back I shed a few silent tears; it was the best. Nothing since has quite compared to that and I was all set to splash out on some Dior Backstage gubbins when a friend happened to introduce me to this. At only £10.99 it was an option that saved me a tenner and didn’t disappoint – even on my stubby, pathetic excuse for eyelashes.