Sunday, 27 July 2014

Outfit: the tropical trousers are back

Some of you out there, I know, have been following this blog for long enough to have seen these trousers before... perhaps you liked them for their quirkiness, or perhaps you thought they were crazy then and they're no less crazy now and are suddenly wondering why you take anything I say about style remotely seriously. Either way, they're baaaack...

Actually, that's not quite accurate. The original trousers were a) a size smaller and b) had a ketchup stain from a bbq that I ironically blogged about just before, when they were still in pristine condition. Having tried to a) kid myself they weren't so tight I couldn't actually sit down without cutting off blood supply to my legs and b) remove said ketchup stain only to bleach the fabric until I'd removed all of the print in an area roughly the size of an orange, I forlornly threw them in the bin. And then promptly ordered another, bigger pair on eBay, where they seem to still pop up to this day. You could own a pair too! What? No? But look, they go so well with a big hair flower.

And because they're every so slightly too big for me now, the legs are loose enough to roll up higher than before, which I quite like for my short legs.

Casual summer 50s pin-up

Motel Jodie Jeans

Motel Jodie Trousers 50s style
Hair flower: Accessorize (old)
Shirt: Florence & Fred, Tesco (old, similar)
Capris: Motel (old, but still popping up on eBay - search for 'palm leaf')
Belt: vintage
Shoes: Swedish Hasbeens, Heart Sandals (mine are from ASOS)

Who gets to actually live on a street like this... which, I add, is about a two minute's walk from Cambridge city centre. Could be my perfect place to live...

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Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Wishlist: the best bardots

I haven't done a wishlist type post for such a long time (perhaps it's a hideous idea and everyone will hate it!)... I've got lots of outfit posts in the pipeline, but this was fun to do meanwhile while I finish those off. This one's dedicated to one of my favourite separates - the beautiful and always a little bit sexy bardot top. What I love about these is the ability to turn even jeans into an outfit that's a bit 50s, super-feminine and looks like you've made an effort - while still being effortless and pretty comfy (especially if you've got a strapless bra that doesn't kill you). I love that this retro favourite has come back into fashion this summer!

These styles are all under £25, most are in fact half that... 

The best bardot tops from SS 2014

Stripes, dots, gingham... all classic prints, but I love the palm trees too for something a bit different! And the ruffled coral number I couldn't resist - great colour and a lovely peasant/gypsy top vibe about it, there's quite a few like this around. Like #4, although while I love the print, it's probably on the short side for my less-than-flat tummy...

...Although, a lot of the bardot tops available at the moment are crops (ASOS has got lots in plain colours especially) and as I recently discussed in this post, crops can be a good length with high-waisted skirts/jeans/shorts. In fact, they can look better as you don't have to tuck anything in and deal with bunched-up material (bane of my superficial life).

What do you think - have you found any awesome off-the-shoulder numbers out there I should know about? Although perhaps don't tell me about too many, I've already bought one of the above, which I'm sure will be popping up in an outfit post some day soon ;)

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Sunday, 20 July 2014

Outfit: capsule wardrobe - classic polka dot dress

What better for an instant dressy retro look than a simple, but well cut, polka dot dress? I always feel polka dots are somewhat of a staple of the modern day pin-up's wardrobe - especially loved by brands like Collectif and Vivien of Holloway. So it was about time I got myself one (that fit, I've had two that I 'grew out of', eh-hem).

In fact, I didn't get myself this one, as it was one of my birthday presents from B this year. He - some might say very bravely - ordered this dress from US online store Modcloth and then had to pray it fit. But by some small miracle - as I am not an easy person to fit a dress on, particularly with buttons - it did! So off we went to nearby pretty Ely, so I could twirl about in it near some roses.

Ollie & Nic Corinne bag in blue

Modcloth polka dot shirt dress black

Black and white dresses are fun because you can pretty much accessorise in any colour you like. My blue choice was largely down to the fact my new bag is blue and I've got new toy syndrome and want to take it everywhere... I have no more favourite reasonably-priced handbag designer than Ollie & Nic. I've never seen a bag in quite this colour until now and I just adore the barrel shape. It's perfect for lugging a DSLR around, too, which is pretty useful!

Pin-up style polka dot shirt dress

Totally matched my belt to my backdrop...

Even though this is a shirt dress and my bust will have a go at popping/gapping most buttons, it wasn't that much of an issue with this style. It did pop them a couple of times when I had my bag strap bumping against them, but the main thing is they're not gapping and the empire line, for once, is in the right place! I think this is all due to the fact the dress has some degree of stretch in it.

Hepcat dress Modcloth review
Belt: Miss Selfridge (old)
Shoes: Marks & Spencer (available in black and nude)
Bag: Ollie & Nic ('Corinne' - on sale at Surfdome)
Cardigan (below): Hell Bunny

And as this is the UK even though it's technically the height of summer, when I took these photos it was actually quite chilly. As usual, I had a cardigan in tow - and it was about time this lovely Hell Bunny cardi got a second mention, as I'm wearing it to death at the moment. Such a beautiful colour and I can't get over the embroidery.

Hell Bunny 50's Hummingbird Cardigan

Hell Bunny 50's Hummingbird Cardigan

Half up-do beehive

I would quite like this lamppost with hanging baskets in my garden please.

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Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Make-up: the lipstick-wearer's must-haves

I wear lipstick a lot, especially at the weekends - and preferring bold reds and pinks in matte finishes, I find there's a few extra tools that really help perfect a strong lip. Matte lipsticks in particular can be quite drying and cause your lips to flake after a few hours, along with wearing off patchily, so these tips should help combat these problems (which aren't, y'know, life-threatening, but are annoying!). I imagine most would be useful for other colours/finishes too - especially those that require an even finish that's distinctly different to your natural lip colour.

These are the products I wouldn't be without...

L-R: Lip scrub, matte powder, lip pencil, lip primer, lip brush (product details below)

And here's what I do with them!

The primers

These two tools are my essentials for creating an even, long-lasting finish that protects against the dreading flaking. Before I put my lipstick on, I'm at my lips with the scrub to remove any bits of dry skin (gross, I know, sorry). If you've got any flakes already, most lipsticks will only make them stand out like a sore thumb/make them worse. This product smells absolutely divine - good enough to eat, which is funnily enough what Lush recommends you do with the excess as it's made from sugar (again, gross - I can't bring myself to actually do this!).

Then, on goes the primer - and I've never found anything that betters this one by Mac. It's the perfect texture (not too greasy/balmy) and stops matte lipsticks from drying your lips out, without affecting the finish and making it shiny. Out of all of the products in this post, this is the #1 I can't live without. I'm never sure if it helps lipstick to last longer, but it certainly doesn't make it wear off faster either!

The definers
Nutrimetics Lip Defining Pencil (so old this version isn't sold now)
Before I apply lipstick, defining my lip shape with a pencil tells me where the lipstick needs to go - my cupid's bow isn't quite even, so I use the pencil to correct and perfect. Or if I feel like having an extra big pout, to draw the shape I want ;) The one I've pictured was a gift years ago and probably isn't even sold anymore, but it's still going strong! It's a bit darker than my natural lip colour as I use it as a guide, but if I wanted a perfectly crisp lip line I'd probably need a liner in a matching shade to my lipstick. Bonus is that wearing liner on the edges helps to stop feathering. Lots of people would recommend filling in your lips with the liner to give a better base for the lipstick, but I've never noticed a difference in staying power, but I do notice it can affect your final colour and make your lips dry, so I skip that.

When that's done and I'm ready to put the lipstick itself on, I use a lip brush to colour in the shape I've just marked out, making sure I go right up to the edges of the liner. Basically, I find the only way to neatly go to the edges of your lip shape is with a brush - it just gives you more control. This Boots brush is my favourite because it's cheap and has a cap (which isn't the one featured top left - whoops- it's actually that bit on the base of the brush). Once that layer is on, I'll top up from the tube to get the full whack of colour.

And then blot and reapply, of course. Coincidentally, I haven't featured a picture here as not the prettiest thing in the world, but I find the best way to blot lipstick is to use a face wipe that's dried out over several hours - there's none of that fibres sticking to you like with tissues this way. You have to be a good planner to have this to hand though!

The finisher (optional)
Urban Decay De-Slick Mattifying Powder (Sephora)

This is a neat trick I've picked up from other blogs - but warning, it's a messy one! If you've got a creme or semi-matte lipstick you want to take the shiny edge off, dabbing some matte powder over the top, once you've blotted, helps with this. But obviously, using any kind of puff, pad etc will stain it, so it's messy because the easiest way is to use your fingers by picking up as much product as you can on one and dabbing on.

Perfect finish for red lips

And you get the idea... although I wouldn't say this was perfect, I'm no make-up artist... but it's good enough for me. And more importantly, doesn't dry my lips out, feather or fade too quickly...

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Friday, 11 July 2014

How to: break in Swedish Hasbeens (or any other kind of stiff leather sandals)

A little while ago, someone asked me over on Instagram (@ciciandmarie) how I broke in my Swedish Hasbeens? And although it feels like it should be as simple as breaking in any other pair of shoes, the fact they asked in the first place kind of hints that it's not. Swedish Hasbeens have possibly the stiffest leather I've ever tried to force my feet into - and they can rip your skin to shreds if not handled with care. Same as any other sandals with super-thick new leather can...

But once you've broken them in, oh can they be worth it. They really can go from 'Argh! How is this ever going to be comfortable? I'm going to throw them in the bin!!' to the pair of shoes you pick up every time the sun's shining. And having now broken in two pairs, I feel like I've learned a few minor lessons to make the whole process a bit more painless... 

Your essentials:

Tutorial - breaking in leather sandals

  • Cotton socks - go for normal thickness, you don't want to over-stretch your sandals. And make sure they're either light or colour-fast, you don't want to stain the wood. I'm not sure how easy it is to stain the wood, but why take the risk (especially if you've spent a lot of money on Hasbeens)!
  • Anti-blister stick (I like the Compeed one pictured), or vaseline - key in your defence the first few times you wear the sandals against bare skin as it minimises the friction that causes blisters. If you don't have an anti-blister stick, vaseline can act as a cheaper substitute - it's just a bit oily and messy and doesn't do the job quite as well as the proper stuff.
  • Blister plasters - but don't get Scholl as pictured, go for Compeed which I actually found are much better, having tested both (thoroughly!). The Compeed literally don't budge and peel off easily - the company also claims it helps to heal them (I'm dubious, but they don't get worse at least). Get a set of mixed sizes - you don't know where a blister might pop up or how big it could be! (And believe it or not, Compeed aren't sponsoring me for this post, but perhaps they should be ;) )

Step 1: put on some socks and don't go anywhere!

First of all, don't even think about walking them out of the house yet. I recommend the first thing you do is poke at the straps to get an idea of what the leather actually feels like brand new - particularly around the ankle - as this will help you judge your progress later on. Then, dedicate a few days' wear to the great indoors - and don't attempt this with bare skin. Slip on some socks - and I put them on the tightest hole I can stand as the leather will stretch a bit as you break them in and the faster you can do this, the sooner you can wear them. I also feel like if you break them in from a tiny-bit-too-tight the whole sandal moulds to your foot a bit better, although I have no proof! I think the socks look kinda cute...

Step 2: dare to bare your skin, but not without protection!

Once you start to feel the leather has eased a bit, you're ready to try without the socks on (another reason to make them slightly tighter than is ideal to start with - but running your fingers along the inside back heel strap to see how much they've softened will give you an indication too). As before, the first time you try wearing without socks, stay inside and test them out. After a few minutes you're probably going to suss out the problem areas, where the pesky blisters could form. Attack said areas with your anti-blister stick (or vaseline) immediately - and be generous! If you work on the assumption such initially hard leather is bound to give you blisters, you'll go in with the right attitude here... If they get too painful, go back to step 1 for a bit and don't risk getting blisters.

Step 3: take them out, but take it easy

You're ready to take them out now. You'd be wise to continue to use your blister prevention salve and don't go anywhere without a packet of decent blister plasters. The first times you go out in them, make sure you're not doing more than 20 mins walking tops, ideally less. And if you feel the beginnings of a blister, don't hesitate to put a plaster on before it even has chance to develop. 

Swedish Hasbeens Heart Sandals

And aren't they lovely? I took mine out to a picnic, hence the blanket... To me, they're worth the patience and I kind of like the challenge and the fact they fit themselves to my feet.

Swedish Hasbeens Heart Sandals Red

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Friday, 4 July 2014

Outfit: pin-up picnic

There's little I like more than summer weather and picnics - it combines two of my absolute favourite things: sun and food.

And if it isn't ridiculously hot, which in the UK is quite a common occurrence, it's probably a good time to bring out my favourite denim capris. They're a Collectif style from a couple of years ago - but if you like them they've got some similar at the moment, so you know where to look! They're super comfy, which always surprises me as they're quite a wiggle to get on and a snug fit. That snug fit seems to have the massive advantage of holding everything in. They also have lovely sailor-style details on the buttons...

Marilyn high waist rolled up jeans

As you can see, I'm pairing my capris with an appropriately pin-up style top, which in this case was an absolute bargain buy from Asda, of all places! I love the pattern and the bow detail in the centre, which you can wear looser or tighter because you tie it yourself - which changes the dip of the sweetheart neckline.

Marilyn Monroe style capris

George @ Asda gingham vest top

And no pin-up look would be complete without a flower tucked into the side of your hair...

Asos pin-up hair flower

Or a pair of cute shoes, which in this case are another bargain buy I keep finding myself reaching for as they're both comfy and add an instant retro touch to outfits with their knotted strap. I love them so much I've just bought a second pair in red...

Pin-up ballet pumps

50s pin-up capris
Hair flower: ASOS
Top: George @ Asda (new, but already out of stock - similar)
Capris: Collectif (old, but they often have similar or try these Oasis ones)
Shoes: H&M
Lipstick: Nars Heat Wave (get it at Sephora)

And as no post about a picnic is complete without a picture of someone stuffing food into their face, here's B tucking into some cheese...

As this feels a touch mean and he wasn't exactly thrilled I wanted to put this photo out into the world, I've allowed him one arty shot too, complete with fluffy pollen floating towards his face.

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