Cold has stopped play – some work outfits from last week

I’ve been suffering from the really bad cold which is going around, which means that I have been living in my p-jays since Sunday, so with little to write about and no back log of saved ideas generated yet, I thought I’d give a round-up of a couple of outfits from the end of last week

 Thursday’s work outfit

 As I haven’t ironed for what seems like a millennium, by the end of last week I was struggling to pull suitable work outfits together.  The company I work for has a dress policy, but depending on the department you work for, depends on whether it is followed or not.  Sometime the policy isn’t even followed in the same department – it’s all very wishy-washy to be honest. 

I work as a PA to a Company Director and as I regularly have to meet and greet guests from reception I always like to ensure that I dress smartly Monday to Thursday, and that sometimes extends to “dress down Friday” if we have a VIP visitor coming in.  I generally stick to dresses and skirts for work which I can dress up or down with jackets and cardigans if I’m going out afterwards.  Dresses are my favourite though as I feel that they are so easy to just pull on and go!

Anyway, due to general malaise on the ironing front, I was only left with couple of ‘dress down Friday’ style skirts and a dress which needed the button sewing back on (I always plan to do stuff like sewing on buttons at the weekend, but then Monday rolls around and it’s still not done – note to self: must get better at planning my personal time!).  I was already running late and so struck with a mild panic I turned to my Tim Gunn mantra and decided to go with a dress-down Friday skirt and “make it work”.

  Work outfit - thurs

The sweater was another outlet bargain from LK Bennett in Portsmouth (£19 from £99 if I remember rightly).  It’s a gorgeous silk mix fine knit with ¾ length sleeves.  I put a navy Primark vest on underneath for modesty/warmth (air-con battle at work anyone??).  The skirt is from White Stuff and I’ve had it for a while.  I usually wear it with funky coloured tights and my Duo brown riding boots.  This time I added my purse friendly and amazingly comfortable caramel court shoes from Marks & Spencer.  These little beaut’s are a mere £19.50, they look exactly like the LK Bennett Sledge Court, as worn by every member of the Middleton family (even the dog; it’s true, I saw it on Mail Online…..) but most importantly I can testify that they are so comfortable that they can be worn for an 8 hour-long girls night which includes about 4 hours of dancing.

Friday’s Outfit

Dress down Friday saw me wearing my Boden dark denim A-line skirt, a multicoloured vest from Next with a Gap cardigan and my brown riding boots from Duo.  The belt was a bargain from Primark for about £3!  Normally, I would have worn this outfit with the vest pulled out over the waistband of my skirt – a hangover from always trying to cover my bum!  However, I decided to tuck it in and stick the belt on and I was really pleased with how it looked.  It’s amazing how my brain tells me to dress in a certain way in an effort to hide my lumps and bumps but in doing that I can often end up looking bigger than I really am.  The sartorial equivalent of putting your head in the sand…..

Friday work outfit

 

Here’s where you can buy the items or similar:

BLENHEIM SKIRT  Product Image Product Image

Everyday A-Line Skirt  Camara Tan Leather ladies-boots list 

 

 

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LFW – Clements Ribeiro

I saw online a few dresses Clements Ribeiro sent down the catwalk at London Fashion Week, and if they carry on their collaboration with Evans I really hope they bring some of these styles to the masses.  I would wear both of these looks and I think they are absolutely adaptable to fit larger sizes.

The clash! Stripes and checks were contrasted with pretty graphic florals

How gorgeous is this dress?  Both the shape and the floral pattern are beautiful, a real blend of modern vintage – I love, love, love it!

Bloomin' marvellous: Clements Ribeiro went heavy on the florals but shied away from traditional prettiness, instead giving them a graphic edge

I’m not sure I like the collar on this dress, but the length and the sleeves are pure class.  It’s accessorised with a thin black belt but I think it would look equally as good with a wider patent black belt too.

Buy similar outfits:

Joe Browns dress at Simply Be

Floral Lace Shift Dress

Black lace dress at Marks & Spencer

Peach Lace Print dress at Debenhams

 

 

Date Night Outfit

My lovely hubby took me out for dinner on Saturday night and as I had my suede boots out from photographing them for my last blog I thought I’d give them a trip out (I had checked the weather report – no rain was predicted, so it was safe!). 

LK Bennett Dress

I decided to wear my bargain LK Bennett dress which I picked up for a total steal at the outlet store in Gunwharf Quays, Portsmouth.  I wore a black vest from Primark underneath it along with my M&S suck it all in tights.

We had a really great evening, eating, drinking and chatting.  I hadn’t told him that I’ve been doing this blog.  I’m not sure really why, I think it’s because I was worried he might tease me I guess.  Anyway, I had to ask him to take this picture of me, which caused much head scratching but the cab turned up before he could ask more.  Unusually, he remembered and brought it up in the conversation later on in the evening and took advantage of my wine-fuzzled head, so I ‘fessed up.  Of course, my fears were totally unfounded and he was totally supportive and maybe just a touch impressed, which was pretty cool. 

During the day I took advantage of the lovely, sunny, spring weather and walked to the next local town (about a 40 minute walk), to meet a good friend of mine who is having a bit of a bad time of it lately.  I got there a bit early and popped into one of the charity shops and found an amazing, brand new weekend bag by Jasper Conran for Tripp.  Well, I think it might be a laptop bag but it’s really quite big and it zips right open and it’s plenty big enough to fit clothes for one night away.  Not bad for £7.50!  Me and hubby will be away for one night on Saturday (a night in a country manor house which was a wedding gift from my best friend since school), so it will get its first use!Weekend bag 2Weekend bag 3Weekend bag 1

 

Where you can buy a similar outfit:

Lizzie Jersey Printed Wrap Dress  Laurel Black suede ladies-boots list Bodysensor™ 60 Denier Secret Slimming™ Tummy Tuck Tights with Magicwear™ Technology Fairtrade Cotton Rich Strappy Vest with Stay New™ Mood Mini Pearl And Pink Patterned Bead Stacker Necklace

 

 

A Girls Right To Boots

 

Being a woman of the curvy variety, I have the ubiquitous love of handbags, shoes and accessories – because no matter your size – they still fit! But mostly I’m a shoe girl. Even as a young girl I was hooked and used to weep when my feet grew and I could no longer wear favourites in my wardrobe. I vividly remember a black patent leather pair which I stubbornly squeezed my too large feet into for a day out, only to be in total agony within 30 minutes of leaving home.

In my previous post I talked about how I evolved from teenage fashion sloth into a clothing magpie (actually, there is a shocking amount of sparkle in my wardrobe, but that’s probably another blog all together….). A massive element of that transition, which I forgot to mention in that blog, was my discovery of stretchy suedette boots.

I got my first pair in the sale at Ravel for £15 in black microsuede. I took home my purchase, convinced that they’d be going straight back, and tried them on with a long skirt. Hang on, I thought, these might look nice with a shorter skirt. And so I dug out an old impulse purchase from the back of the wardrobe and slung the whole ensemble on.

The next day I went and brought every pair they had left in my size, which was another black, a brown and a navy pair. I literally wore all of those boots until the heels snapped in two!

Since then knee length boots have been my absolute wardrobe staple, and as you can see from a small selection in the picture below, I have a pair to go with every outfit…..

IMG_1634

In the past I’ve brought them from all sorts of shops, particularly the microsuede ones as they stretch to fit your calf.  In recent years my purchases have been limited to Evans and Duo almost exclusively.

I tend to only have minimal success with Evans, as my feet aren’t particularly wide, it’s just my big ol’ calves that cause the problems.  Some of the boots from Evans can tend to feel like my feet are swimming about in them.  Duo, however, are my absolute FAVOURITE. 

Duo make boots in all sorts of foot and calf sizes, catering for women with large or tiny calves.  They only have a couple of stores (or ‘fitting rooms’ as they call them), but their online service is second to none, and even if you go into store I don’t think you can take a pair home that day, they are always sent to you from the warehouse.  Anyway, back to the ‘fitting room’.  The one in Covent Garden is all done up like a plush boudoir.  It’s so busy that you have to take a ticket and queue up to see one of their fully trained fitters.  Every now and then I’ll just go into store and try on some of their new styles so I can get a feel for what fits well on me – just in case a style I like goes in the sale and I know without having to buy all different sizes exactly what fits. 

Once you’ve had your fitting and made your purchase, your sizes are kept on file (although if you’ve lost or put on weight this will obviously change).  In the past when I’ve not been able to get into store, I’ve phoned up the enormously helpful customer service team and they’ve gone through what boots I’ve purchased before and if the new ones I’m looking at would benefit from going up or down a couple of inches in calf size/foot size etc in relation to my previous purchases.  They also have classic styles which remain season after season, some of the detail might change but the shape and fit of the boot remains the same year in, year out.

If you look at their comments, Duo have customer all over the world who just come back time and time again because of the quality of the boots and the service.

I’ve added below a picture of my absolute favourite pair of Duo boots.  When I was a little girl, I remember watching my aunt get ready for a night out with her friends and she had this amazing pair of black suede long boots.  Even now if I close my eyes and think really hard I can still smell the perfume she put on mingled with the smell of the leather.  Since then I have always lusted after a pair of my own, but could never find ones that fitted my requirements.  They were either too flat or looked like hooker heels!  Then one day the pair in this picture turned up in Duo, in the Sale!  I think I paid about £60 for them, which if you could feel the leather, you would agree is a total bargain.  They are leather lined in the most beautiful, butter-like pale pink leather and there’s a slight platform at the front which makes them really comfy to wear for long periods.  The only downside to them is the fact they are suede coupled with the miserable British weather.  Despite the fact that I’ve treated them with a rain protector, I NEVER wear them if there is a slight chance of rain because I want them to last forever!

IMG_1638

I think they look amazing with anything I wear, and if I’m going out after work a change of boot into these really makes the whole outfit look classier.  If find myself trotting around like a show pony whenever I have them on, they do something to my whole, living being.  Aside from fuelling my inanimate object love affair, they also look really similar to ones I’ve seen Kate Middleton wearing, and she’s one classy chick!  Here’s a link to a similar pair Duo are currently selling, maybe they can become your favouritest boots in the whole wide world too. 

Laurel Black suede ladies-boots list

Anyway, I’d say have a look at Duo and see if they can make a big change in your wardrobe like they did in mine.  I’d also really love to hear if you have a boot specialist you use when buying boots for large calves.

Have a great weekend,

Kellie xx

1991-2000 : My Fashion Wonder Years

It took me a long time to learn how to dress my shape and find my own ‘style’. As a young child I was a total princess and most of the photographs of me from then see me styling up my outfit with plenty of accessories – something which hasn’t changed to this day…..

Accessorising from a young age

Accessorising from a young age

However, my brothers were my best friends and living in a tiny village we spent summer after summer going on adventures and camping out. As I moved into adolescence and my body was changing I was ashamed of it, I didn’t want to be different to them and I spent many of the oncoming years coving myself up in shapeless tracksuits and t-shirts which only accentuated my curves and size, rather than hide it as I wanted to.

I have always harboured that passion for clothes though, and would dream about all the things I would wear when I had the body I wanted rather than the one I had. Despite winning a place on a highly sort after fashion course, I continued to shackle my body with bit, baggy and unflattering clothes. I never really liked anything I owned, it was all purchased because of what it covered. I had a self imposed ‘uniform’ for work and an array of huge jogging bottoms and men’s polo shirts (mostly from my uniform from the pub I worked in part-time) for casual wear at the weekends.

This carried on well into my 20’s. When I started at the company I work at now back in 2000, I was informed in my first week that they had a dress down Friday policy. The thought of this evoked the same fear I had when we had dress down day at school– only it was every week. I had one casual top which wasn’t part of my ‘work uniform’, but wasn’t a pub polo top. And I wore it with a long black skirt – every Friday! (I met my husband at work, and he still talks about my Friday top!)

Sometime in 2002 I became of a TV show called “What Not To Wear”. I will not beat around the bush, Trinny and Susannah revolutionised my life! By watching that programme, and seeing women who sometimes matched my body shape and size, end up dressed in really lovely clothes opened a floodgate for me. I sat up and realised that maybe I could wear something like that. Slowly but surely, different items made it into my wardrobe – a form fitting t-shirt here, a fine knit cardigan there. I was finding my feet and losing my fear.

Then in 2005 they released a book called “What You Wear Can Change Your Life”, and that was it – I was off. This book was all about what sort of colours suit you best, and when I’d worked out what I should be wearing I headed out shopping – literally the same weekend I read it. I remember walking into Primark in Tooting High Street (one of the first one’s open in South London at the time) and it was like the Trinny and Susannah gods had waved a magic wand – I literally got 3 skirts, 6 cardigans, a few scarves to compliment each of the looks, a couple of gorgeous tops which looked like they were from Monsoon rather than Primark. I still remember the elation I felt on that trip to this day. I’d found my style and what sort of colours suited me and I literally wore those clothes until they fell apart.

Since then I’ve never looked back. I only ever wear clothes that make me feel good and never just sling something on for the sake of it. If I wear sportswear at home for housework (or actually, shock and horror, working out!), I always change to leave the house and would never walk outside in it. My husband sometimes despairs that we can’t just jump in the car and go somewhere without a quick change, but he tells me he’s glad that I make those extra efforts with my appearance.

Red top + Denim skirt

I’ve attached a picture of today’s dress down Friday look, and were all sale purchases. The top is a couple of years old and is from Phase Eight and the indigo denim skirt is from Boden. Tights are from M&S (best ones by far!) and the ballet shoes are from New Look.

I’d love to hear what stylish outfits you wear on dress down Friday at work!

Skirting the Curvy Issue

I’ve been searching for a navy skirt for my work wardrobe for months, nothing – absolutely nothing –  out there fits my requirements.  For me the perfect navy skirt must be:

  • Knee length – just below the knee but not on or above it –  but also not calf length
  • A classic, French navy – NOT netball skirt navy (who remembers those awful knickers)
  • Not too trendy and quirky, but absolutely not mumsy either
  • A good quality fabric which won’t look shiny
  • Machine washable!
  • Preferably with a bit of stretch
  • Within budget – at a push £50 max

And here’s the clincher………….

  • available in a size 18-20

On the surface my long running search for the perfect navy skirt would be easily fulfilled by an hour or two shopping or a 20 minute search on the internet.  And yet this elusive wardrobe staple still refuses to make itself known.  And I think I know why.

If you’re of a certain size and shape, trying to locate and purchase affordable, good quality, chic and classically stylish clothes is virtually impossible.  If I wasn’t so worried about my ample derriere and thighs and was willing to pay £90 I could visit Planet and buy a pencil skirt, the only style available in navy.  I could also buy one in a couple of styles from M&S for a very reasonable £26, but I’d also risk seeing my nan wearing it and would probably be so charged with static electricity that I’d probably need my own earth wire.

A quick glance at the online sites for Evans and Simply Be, to name a couple, shows the same thing.  Whilst lots of these stores are really starting to cater well for amazing going out wear and fun, ditzy print dresses, obtaining stylish and classic clothing can be really difficult and often shows up more misses than hits.  And those misses only serve to make me feel bad about myself for not fitting into the ideal size 10 or 12.

There was an article in The Mail earlier this month about a new range of clothes at Evans which is being modelled by bloggers who are proud of their shape and write about their style choices.  After reading the article and trying to ignore the vitriolic comments, I clicked through and read a few of the blogs.  Their confidence and appreciation of what they have got really rung a chord with me, in fact I have since read every blog written by Georgina of FullerFigureFullerBust – such was my admiration.  And whilst I love what they’re wearing and the general air of joie de vivre, the gorgeous fashion depicted isn’t what I wear every day in reality, so I set out to find a blog that did serve that requirement.  But I couldn’t find one.

So ultimately this search is what has prompted me to start this blog, can I be alone in this sartorial dilemma?  So whilst I’m on my hunt for the Mary Poppins of navy skirts, which (I imagine?) will make my work wardrobe complete, I’m going to share some of what I believe to be wardrobe hits with the world wide web, and hopefully a reader or two.