Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Outfit: snowflake fairisle jumper and lace-up boots

Right, that's Christmas done for another year... Mine has been lovely, filled with all my favourite festive pastimes which can be broadly summarised as: eating, presents, family, dog walks, online sales shopping, multi-player gaming and more eating. I've managed to wangle over two full weeks off work, hence the writing of this post is brought to you from the comfort of a sofa and not a commuter train or my office desk. Bliss. Miraculously, for the second year in a row I didn't get my annual Christmas illness either - hooray!

One of my Christmas presents this year was a patterned jumper. Now, I have a lot of respect (and astonishment) for anyone who buys me clothes as presents for three key reasons: 1) I'm as fussy as hell 2) my body is no shop on earth's idea of standard sized and 3) certain fabrics really irritate me to the point I can't wear them. Jumpers I therefore consider to be my clothes nemesis. I like few, fit fewer (particularly in the sleeve department) and about 1% are acceptable for my irritation levels. So it probably surprises no one that when I unwrapped a jumper it went back to the shop a few days later. On a serious note though, I can't be the only one who'd sooner burn than wear itchy knitwear (I mean the offending item, not me!)? Why do they even make this stuff? In this day and age of man-made fabrics there's no excuse for it in my mind...

Anyway, I managed to swap it for another one of the same price and could even get away with not rolling up the sleeves (this goes down in history as a first), which is lucky as they're rather pretty on the ends. And while the main pattern features snowflakes, it's subtle enough to be ok for the rest of winter, I think. Hence no red, green or sequins went into the making of this outfit post ;) 

Oh and it's also the first blog outing for my new most treasured clothing possession - a pair of BAIT boots. How I've adored every pair of shoes that company produces for over a year now, but my feet are an even more abnormal shape than my body, plus I don't know what my US shoe size is so I've never risked it, until now... US readers - please settle this once and for all; are women's shoes 2.5 sizes larger than UK, or is it 2?? Every website offers conflicting advice! So, the boots cost a fortune to get through customs and of course they're too small (even though I ordered 2.5 up, sigh)... But I'll take the pinched toes in order to strut around in their beauty. Considering how short my legs are, I'm very lucky the top of the boot didn't finish so high up I couldn't bend my knees!

Fairisle jumper, denim skirt and knee high lace-up boots

Fairisle jumper, denim skirt and knee high lace-up boots

Grey chunky knit beanie and fair isle jumper

Fairisle jumper, denim skirt and knee high lace-up boots

BAIT Hazel boots in tan

Fairisle jumper, denim skirt and knee high lace-up boots
Hat: New Look (similar)
Jumper: Topshop (recent sale purchase - check stores)
Belt: Dorothy Perkins (old)
Skirt: Warehouse (similar - grey)
Tights: Primark
Boots: BAIT

And now, back to that tin of chocolate biscuits...

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Monday, 22 December 2014

Favourite five outfits from the year

Well, I don't know what it's like in your neck of the woods, but today in Cambridge we're experiencing some sort of baby tornado (note: this is my British exaggeration for it is very windy). It's also quite mild and what I should be doing right now is ice-skating at a pop-up rink near the town centre. B and I have had this planned for months ever since we heard it was coming to town... However, because it's quite warm and the rink is outside, we abandoned our plans - as while I quite fancy some festive skating, I don't fancy festive swimming. Which is what the poor souls on the rink were doing every time they fell over (confession: we did stay and watch for about 20 minutes, me trying desperately to get a good shot for Instagram - it was very funny. People were actually falling over with a splash!). 

Anyway, here I am instead moving on from the things I've learned about dressing myself this year, if you'll excuse the second (and final, I promise!) retrospective post to look at my favourite outfits from 2014. I found as I was going through that my favourites were the ones that came with some sense of small personal triumph... 

The 'I'm a tourist but I refuse to look like one' outfit
From this post

I love a good city break, but despite the hours of endless walking I simply refuse to wear trainers. Or any other kind of sporting/outdoor weather/comfort gear, for that matter. My life philosophy when it comes to these kind of 'practical' clothes is essentially: there has to be another way!! And I think I cracked it with this outfit in Paris. It wasn't especially warm when I went in May, but this jumper dress paired with leather flats, thick tights, a lightweight tote-style bag and mac (not pictured here, but is in the post) did the job. And I especially liked how well pinned down my hair was in this up-do with a scarf on top. It simply did. not. budge. The windy top of the Eiffel Tower is no match for this 'do! At least, I assume so, as I am terrified of heights and didn't find out... So for staying stylish yet comfortable, this outfit makes the list.

The 'The more I look at this, the more I like it' outfit
From this post

Or perhaps the real reason I like this outfit so much is that the photos all have this stunning, moody beach backdrop... and who can resist a stunning, moody beach? Nonetheless, I had to include this outfit because I was at my absolute grumpiest moments before and indeed during the shooting of its pictures, as I was still changing its component parts on my way out the door. I was convinced it was my worst outfit EVER because so little planning and so much frustration had gone into it... then I went back through the photos and had a pleasant surprise. It was actually ok! More than ok, I actually kind of liked it. It wasn't the most innovative outfit in the world, but it was kind of elegant in its simplicity. And every time I look at these photos I seem to like it a little more. So in it goes to my favourites from the year, for proving me wrong and that sometimes simple is good.

The 'I am incredibly pleased with this high degree of matching' outfit
From this post

Red and blue is probably my favourite colour combination of 2014 (and is, I've just noticed, also fairly prominent in the outfit below too, whoops), so imagine my joy in discovering that not only did I have a dress already with red and blue stripes on lurking in my wardrobe, but also a whole host of accessories to pair with it. Some might say I've taken things a little far in this outfit... but regardless of whether this level of OCD matching floats your boat, it certainly did mine. I never feel as well put together as when I've got a really well colour co-ordinated outfit on. And although there were several outfits vying for the crown of 'most matching outfit of the year', this one just about topped the others with its head-to-toe thoroughness and takes its place in my favourites.

The 'I still can't believe how perfectly this dress fits' outfit
From this post

I took things to my local tailor so many times this year that not only are we now on first name terms, he knows my measurements better than I do. So when Lindy Bop started selling petite versions of some of their most popular styles, I couldn't pass up the chance to get my hands on a swing-style dress that didn't need extensive alterations. But I wasn't prepared for just how perfectly this dress fitted - it was like it actually was tailor made for me. It's one of few, few times in my life I've bought an item of clothing that didn't make me feel like a bit of an abnormally-shaped failure at life because usually there's always something a bit off and I have to decide if I can live with it or afford the alterations. So for how good this beautiful dress made me feel from the start, it's in the list!

The 'I'm finally wearing actual vintage, and I like it!' outfit
From this post

Perhaps strangely for someone who claims they blog about vintage style, I can count the number of vintage things I own on one hand. I've discussed the reasons why I buy new before, but when I decided I wanted a Pendleton style wool jacket I knew I was going to need to shop vintage for once. I bought this online and when it arrived it took me a while to get used to the slightly boxy shoulders - there were moments of panic that my head looked like a tiny pea perched atop them. Realising this was probably more due to my likely irrational fear that my head is too small than the jacket's fault, I got over it... I then puzzled about how to actually wear it, but once I'd blended with my usual modern twist I was really happy with this outfit and I have to include it here to mark the brave (for me!) steps into the vintage world.

So, do you agree with my choices? Any outfits you've worn this year you're particularly pleased with? Drop me the links below... Or write your own post ;)

And that's probably it from me before Christmas, so hope you all have a lovely one! x

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Thursday, 18 December 2014

My Very Important Fashion Lessons from a year of outfits

Now that I've done the token Christmas post, the only thing for it is to start looking back at 2014... Too soon? I hope not!

In 2013, I think it would be fair to say I got into a bit of a style rut. My outfit purchases could have been broken down into two categories: 1) pencil skirts/wiggle dresses and 2) things to wear with pencil skirts/wiggle dresses. After a year of restricted walking, I got pretty bored of my clothes - it didn't help that fitted skirts are basically the basis of my entire work wardrobe too. You really can get sick of wearing the same thing day in and day out!

So, the start of this year saw a resolution to look beyond the pencil skirt - and I'm pleased to say resolution accomplished! Although I did fall at the last hurdle - after almost a year of not buying a single pencil skirt, I suddenly realised I wasn't over my addiction when a wiggle of the knitted variety landed on my doorstep. I hadn't even realised what I'd done... it was £8 in a sale - my bargain-hunting brain must have gone on auto-pilot. This relapse aside, I stuck to what I said and invested in flared skirts and not one, but two pairs of trousers for work (haven't quite got round to sharing these yet)... and it made me realise, this resolution was just the start of a bit of a 'revamp' in my style this year (this is an exciting way of simply saying: I spent money on other things besides pencil skirts). 

So, I thought I'd recap my five favourite things I've learned about dressing myself this year... and challenge future me to keep adding to this list!

Full midi skirts CAN suit me
From this post

For years, while I've loved 50s style I've been completely terrified of below-the-knee, full skirts that everyone else seems to wear so wonderfully. I'm 5ft 2" and my short legs are an important factor in my lack of height... and every time I tried to wear a midi-length skirt I heard my mum's voice in my head calling it my 'witchy look' (your guess is as good as mine). But finally, the penny dropped - the problem wasn't the shape of the skirts, it was pure and simply the length. Through trial, error and mutilated clothing, I discovered my ideal full skirt is 25" long, and the most I can get away with is 26" - anything else and it's too short or we're in witch territory again. Most shops sell these kind of skirts - attached to dresses or otherwise - more around the 27" or longer mark. So all I have to do is get them altered and suddenly, they look alright!

Turtlenecks are Good
From this post

I've always subscribed to the belief that someone as proportionately chesty and petite as myself would look like a no-necked fool with a cushion shoved up their top in a turtleneck. Needless to say, there wasn't even one of these in my collection before this year, my fear was so great. But then, shops started selling these wonderful 'high necked' varieties that weren't quite a full turtleneck with yards of material folded over and suddenly I got into it. And if the turtlenecks are in a dark fabric, the cushion problem doesn't seem quite so apparent either due to the wonderful shrinking effect of black, navy and friends - but generally, as long as the tops are fitted, it's not as bad as I'd pictured. From now on, no cold neck for me...

Co-ords are for life, not just 2014
From this post

Co-ords were a big thing this year - and really the first time the idea of an outfit of matching top and bottoms had properly entered my consciousness. Which is silly, because the vintage and repro world has been onto this for years and I'm supposed to know about this stuff... needless to say as soon as I realised there were some great repro sets around I had to have one! I bided my time and got a couple in sales, including this Collectif set here. It fits beautifully - and the great thing is that I can pair the component parts with other clothes - hooray for value for money. I'm not sure if the modern fashion world will continue on with its love of co-ords into next year, but I'm certainly going to be hanging onto mine.

Glasses are an accessory, not a nuisance
From this post

I've never seen myself as a glasses-wearer, which is ridiculous as I can't see past the end of my own nose. I can't remember if I've ever told the story of how I think I cursed myself with poor sight after wishing fervently at age 11 I could have glasses like my best friend... be careful what you wish for! Of course, once I got my wish and my first pair of glasses I instantly hated them. I got away without wearing them for years and then got contact lenses, and banished glasses to when I was going to the gym and they were the least of my worries in terms of how I looked there - I essentially hoped the glasses would somehow detract attention from my red, makeup-less, sweaty face (yeah, that worked). Over the past year or so I've bought a few new pairs of frames and gradually come round to the idea of them, but it's only really this year that I've started incorporating them into my outfits. Turns out, all I needed to do was think of them as another way to make things match - and we all know how much I love matching things. Oh, and buy another pair. And we all know how much I love buying things.

Crop tops are not the enemy
From this post

Ok, so this one isn't ground-breaking - in fact, I think I was the last person in the entire world to realise that the modern fashion trend for crop tops this year would work incredibly well with my own, a little less modern wardrobe that is full to the brim with high-waisted everything. It was one of the slowest lightbulb moments to ever happen in the history of the universe. Hence it's last on this list, as I'm still a bit embarrassed about it and half of me is hoping everyone's stopped reading by this point... But if you are still hanging in there, all I need to say is it was a revelation for me that modern crop tops could be used to create 50s styles and once I had finally twigged, many of them joined my closet. And I never said this was going to be cutting-edge fashion lessons...

Anyone else had any style revelations this year? How has your style changed?

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Saturday, 13 December 2014

Christmas: the tree, the jumper and the awful wrapping

Ok, small confession first. I put my tree up in mid November. I know, I know, I can feel some of you wincing... but, this isn't usual behaviour, I was just really excited this time because it's a new tree (and the first B and I have owned together). And I have zero restraint with new things - clothes, food, giant festive trees... if it's new I must wear it, eat it, decorate it, right away. I will admit, it did feel a bit wrong and I had a bit of an internal crisis about whether or not I was ruining Christmas... but then I got a grip and up it stayed. Which is good because putting decorations on a 7ft tree took about an hour and doing that twice in one year really would ruin Christmas. Yes, an hour - it's a really stressful activity for a perfectionist. Unless you can live with similar baubles next to each other and an unequal spread of decorations throughout a tree. And don't even get me started on tree-light dispersion (and just how long that part took).

Anyway, another Christmas tradition that's started in recent years (perhaps just in the UK?) is Christmas Jumper Day. One Friday a year around mid December we're encouraged to wear a festive jumper to work etc. I love it because it means I have an excuse to buy a ridiculous piece of knitwear each year. And even better than that, this day is in aid of Save the Children so by buying and wearing said knitwear it helps to spread the word. (Which reminds me, do donate if you feel so inclined.) This year, however, I think I outdid myself with my jumper. I thought I had it nailed last time with pom-pom snow, but this year... I've got dogs in santa hats. If I could design a Christmas jumper, this would be it. Incidentally, my dream is to one day receive a puppy for Christmas with a big ribbon bow around its neck, a bit like in Lady and the Tramp ... but how on earth do you hide a puppy before giving it to someone as a present? I haven't got that part of the fantasy worked out yet.

And one last word on Christmas... for all my ardent perfectionism I am literally the worst present-wrapper ever. And it kills me. I try so, so hard but I can't cut in a straight line and every time I fold the ends into triangles, they're misshapen, wonky and usually have jagged edges from where I've cut the paper horrendously. So, unlike all those other bloggers who have beautifully wrapped gifts that look like something out of a shop window, mine look like the dogs on my jumper wrapped them. So these days I just hope that people will think it's, er, quirky and, er, love me for it. And that they'll know I really did try... but unfortunately the more I try, the worse it looks. So while I'm wrapping a real present in the photos below (blogger multitasking at its finest), there's no way I'm showing you the details. Although if you look closely, you will see a corner where it started to go wrong...

ASOS dog Christmas jumper

CiCi Marie and a Christmas tree

Christmas jumper and blackwatch check trousers

CiCi Marie at Christmas

Nope, that's not wrapping to be proud of. If anyone's interested, the jumper is from ASOS and the trousers are from Collectif - more to come on the latter another day, perhaps, as they have the most amazing high waist. And yes, this is my living room and the beautiful tiles in the above photo belong to the fireplace. When I've got things a bit more finished in here I'll show you it properly!

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Monday, 8 December 2014

Photo diary: winter fair and dressing the part

This is another one of those posts that I start writing and think: why on earth would anyone care about this..? Is anyone going to actually read this? And now that you can't wait to read on, that, my friends, is why I'd make the world's worst lifestyle blogger. Not that I've ever really understood what that term means, but I assume it's something along the lines of blogging about your actual life, rather than just what you wear in it (weird). Mind you, what I wear is generally x100 more exciting that what I do, which can neatly be summarised as: 1) go to work 2) shop online for clothes 3) put new clothes on and take outfit photos. Like I said, good thing I'm not writing about what I do... oh, wait a minute.

Anyway, that's a long-winded introduction to something I did actually do that involved neither 1 or 2 of the above... and only a bit of 3. It was definitely not all about the 3 for once... just a bit about it. Because I don't think I'll ever be involved in any exciting activity where planning what I'll wear for it isn't part of the fun. And that's just this blogger's lifestyle...

And my life also involves living in a really great part of Cambridge that I rarely talk about, but love a huge amount. The first weekend of the year the local community puts on a winter/Christmas fair down the length of a main road (that my road is attached to) and the local businesses and shops do a parade and put out stalls... which are mostly food stalls, as all the best stalls are. Actually, things I do number 4: eat. I love food, I really do - and this fair for me is all about seeing what tasty treats are on offer each time. But don't worry, I spared you pictures of me eating (the internet breathes a sigh of relief) and instead took them of pretty things like the amazing vintage shop that's a minute's walk from my house, my beautiful new Hell Bunny coat and furry boots. You'll be seeing those again soon when normal blogging business is resumed... assuming you come back for more ;)

Featuring Miss L Fire Alpine boots in black

View from the bridge of Mill Road winter fair, Cambridge

B and his cosy new scarf that reminds us of Space Invaders

The Old Chemist Shop Antique Centre, Cambridge

B does some Super 8 filming

Me in a beret again

We are Mill Road apparently

Mill Road Winter Fair parade

Hell Bunny Millie Coat in grey

I'd like to add that these burgundy tights are fleeced-lined and that fleeced-lined tights are one of my favourite things in the world right now. If you're in the UK, you can pick them up at decent enough quality from Primark for silly money (and your frozen legs will thank you for it).

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Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Outfit: the check jacket - cosy casual edition

If you hadn't already guessed, there's a bit of a running theme to my autumn style posts so far... I've become obsessed with checks. It's got to the point where I can't remember the last time I bought something that didn't have checks on it - although that's largely because I shop so much I lose track past a month - but still, that's a lot of plaid for one woman! Weirdly, though, the only checked things I owned before were three dresses. Clearly there was a gap to fill... Clearly.

Anyway, you might remember I shared some of these early purchases (oh yes, there's been many more since) and mentioned that the Pendleton-style jacket featured was a very rare piece of actual 50s vintage in my wardrobe. It's actually quite hard to style, as the colours don't go very well with much that I own and the pattern doesn't really look great with any other patterned thing either. But despite this, I LOVE it and have basically decided to accept the fact that when I want to wear it, rather than throwing on any old coat over the top of an outfit, I throw any old outfit underneath a coat. Anyone else have outerwear you style a whole look around? Considering how much you end up wearing jackets and coats in the winter in the UK, it's actually not that silly an idea...

So here's how I'm wearing it for casual wear... these photos were taken on a beautiful autumn day at Cambridge's botanical gardens. And take note of the hat, this is not the last you've seen of them on this blog - it's beret season now!

50s Pendleton style plaid jacket in light blue - with belt

Back shot of Pendleton style plaid jacket in light blue

Pendleton style plaid jacket in light blue

Pendleton 50s style plaid jacket in light blue

50s Pendleton style plaid jacket in light blue - worn open

50s Pendleton style plaid jacket in light blue - with belt
Hat: Primark (old - similar)
Jacket: vintage via Rokit
Jumper: New Look
Belt: New Look (old)
Jeans: Miss Selfridge (similar)
Boots: Oasis (old - similar)

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