Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Learning to love glasses + buying frames online that suit you

As I've mentioned before, I've never quite embraced glasses-wearing, even though my sight is so poor that without lenses I couldn't even blog because I can't see a foot in front of my face to see a computer screen. But I'm really trying to give glasses a chance and involve them in my outfits more... and of course my obvious solution was to just buy myself a new pair - clearly I'd love them if I just got some new ones! 

And then, I realised I've properly - not just 'maybe they're under the bed somewhere' - lost my pair of black vintage frames as seen here. After turning my house upside down and having a tantrum I decided it was a sign from the shopping gods (that's a thing) that the time had come to finally buy frames I've had my eye on for a while... because they're black too, and while I had the others I obviously couldn't justify having both (there is, after all, some method to my shopping madness). Some might think I purposefully lost the others... actually I think that - I know what I'm like. Regardless of the hows and whys, the new frames became mine... 

Rayban rx5226 catseye in black

In case anyone wants to know, they're the Ray-Ban RX5226 in black.

And rather than the usual shopping guilt/regret where I agonise over returning anything that cost me more than £50, from the word go I knew I was going to keep them.

Rayban rx5226 catseye in black

Rayban rx5226 catseye in black

It was another triumph of online shopping! You see, I refuse to buy my glasses in an actual shop, where you can try them on first - the choice is too poor, the prices are too high and there'll always be a 'helpful' shop assistant just waiting for the moment to push any other pair into your hands rather than the ones you actually want. When you can get such good prices online and can take a decent amount of time to decide if they suit you, I'd never go back now!

Rayban rx5226 catseye in black

But there is a bit of a knack to doing it and getting it right and I think it helps if you've already got another pair/pairs that suit you first... 

Rayban rx5226 catseye in black

So here's how I think it can work quite well to buy frames online that should hopefully suit you.

Ideally, use an old pair as a size guide
Use the width and depth measurements from another pair for guidance - I've got quite a small face and I never want frames that are wider than my favourite pair. Pretty much all websites will list these measurements to help you and if they don't, I'd find another retailer who actually knows what they're doing instead (it makes about as much sense to me as not listing waist and hip measurements).

Get on Google image search
You'll find most frames you can buy online are brands that are quite widely available and being sold by several stores... and where something's widely available, there's selfies! Google the frame number to find as many pictures as you can and especially note how big or small the frames look on different shaped faces... this is also where knowing if you've got a relatively larger or smaller face can help as a comparison point. Note the difference between those who have heart-shaped, oval, square etc faces. If you don't find much looking up the frame number, the brand and the general shape e.g. 'cat eye' can work well.

Do a 'virtual try-on'
Find the best price after a thorough search (and don't rely on Google Shopping for this), but also look around to find a seller who offers a virtual try-on if yours doesn't: there's a few big US sellers in particular who let you upload photos or even use a moving webcam to see how the frames might look on your face. I find these really helpful - adjust the frames to roughly the width of a similar pair and you'll get a really good idea of if the lens depth and shape are right for you before you order. It probably won't be perfect, but it'll sure help to pick up if anything is really ill-suited.

Give them a chance
Most companies will have a generous returns procedure (always check it first when ordering frames with a prescription!) that allows you some time to wear the frames before deciding if you like them. Don't feel you need to decide right away - I like to wear them for at least a few hours and just check in the mirror now and then and get used to them before I decide if they're right for me. I nearly always don't like them the first time I put them on, from the shock of seeing something different!

So that's how I think you can shop 'blind' as it were - pun definitely intended! But you tell me - did I do a good job?? Would you/do you buy glasses online?

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Thursday, 22 January 2015

Outfit: fluff, cable-knit and ice-queen colours

I guess this post could also be called, 'So... we meet again, pencil skirt' as last year I went out of my way to avoid buying, wearing and generally worshipping our wiggly friend in an effort to get some variety into my wardrobe. I told myself I wouldn't buy any as the 109 I've already got were surely enough (yes, I exaggerate a little)... and then, as I admitted before, I came across the one in this post for £7 and bought it on auto-pilot.

But... oh well. It was £7 and also, it's a casual type, which at least I have slightly less of. And, brace yourselves... wearing it resulted in a winter outfit with no plaid or berets. I mean, I haven't checked, but I think that's a first since the seasons changed as far as this blog goes. You were probably all beginning to think I couldn't leave the house without one or the other - actually, so was I. And if I'm completely honest, this whole outfit came about as a result of forcing myself to try give them up for a day. But hey, I did it!

Something else I do quite like in the colder months, though, is fluff. Although, not (modern, cheaply produced) angora fluff since all of those horror stories came out and nothing that is itchy - as we know, I can't tolerate itchy. I've never found any logic as to when one fluffy jumper will be itchy where another one won't... cheap or expensive, it seems completely random. This one wasn't and it's also very warm... and I love pale blue in winter, it just feels so ice-queen somehow, doesn't it? And this jumper was available in petite, so no sleeve-rolling.

50s style fluffy jumper with knitted pencil skirt

50s style fluffy jumper with knitted pencil skirt

Light grey Primark handbag and black cable skirt

50s style fluffy jumper with knitted pencil skirt

Fluffy jumper and neck scarf

50s style fluffy jumper with knitted pencil skirt
Scarf: Accessorize (old)
Jumper: Miss Selfridge (similar)
Belt: Miss Selfridge (old)
Skirt: Peacocks
Tights: Primark (check stores)
Shoes: Clarks (similar)
Bag: Primark (check stores)
Bow ring: Pandora

The joy of taking outside photos was at its finest for these pictures, as a frighteningly well-spoken woman started yelling 'advice' to me halfway through this shoot (as you can see, this road is rather nice and a stone's throw from the city centre, so I should have expected this in Cambridge probably). Of course, I really appreciated posing tips from someone who doesn't know me, or why I was taking these photos, and, I mean, I don't want to sound prejudiced or something, but I'm fairly sure had never read my blog. Yeah. And of course, yelling at someone 'RELAX YOUR HAND - THAT'S YOUR FRIEND YOU'RE POSING FOR' so loud everyone in their houses you are two steps in front of can hear (and with a huge grin on your face) is really relaxing. Thanks, kind stranger. Many photos of scowls were captured (and discarded!). Anyone else in the outfit photos game had some gems of 'advice' from kind souls passing by?

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Saturday, 17 January 2015

Makeup: Mac Chili lipstick - an autumn/winter matte

It's been a while since I introduced you to another lipstick from my collection - you may have thought there couldn't possibly be any more, but it's quite amazing how many red lipsticks one woman can have. When you wear reds as often as I do, you become hyper aware of the very subtle differences between each colour, which completely justifies owning a ridiculous number of them, of course (of course). This is partly why I wrote a list of my top 5s a while back (before I'd got a decent camera, apologies) - and yes, this was one of them, but I've never shown you it properly so here it is.

And now's the best time for it, as it really works well with the darker colours of cold-weather clothes; it's essentially a brown red. I actually think it's perhaps even slightly browner than these photos came out, but this is pretty accurate as to how it looks on me. I'm not sure it's going to be a colour for everyone, but if you've got warm tones to your skin or hair it might be worth a go if you fancy a change from a standard postbox red. I don't know about you, but sometimes I just feel a bit more brown than red... Which might be something to do with the copious amounts of leopard print I wear!

Mac Chili matte lipstick review

Mac Chili matte lipstick review

Mac Chili matte lipstick review

  • Unique, pigmented colour - what Mac are good for!
  • Truly matte
  • Not the most expensive lipstick out there
  • A great twist on a classic red lip
  • Very drying, needs a primer underneath
  • It's not going to suit everyone, you definitely need some warmth in your colouring because of the brown undertones
  • Casing - I'm always keen to point out I don't like the Mac tubes because they're identical and the names of the colours rub off... 

And while I'm here, I did my first ever guest blog recently on the topic of buying shoes for awkward feet. If yours are half-sized or narrow like mine, you might be interested to read my ramblings on the subject over at Shoeperwoman.

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Monday, 12 January 2015

Outfit: wintry pops of red

So, there's no escaping that it's full-on winter now. During the week I forget what daylight looks like, during the weekends I freeze taking blog photos... At some point it will snow and it'll take 5 hours to get to work. Generally speaking, it's my least favourite season (can you tell?!). But every cold, sleet-filled cloud has a silver lining... And that lining is berets. Oh, how I love their jaunty angles, Parisian chic and ability to make it look like I tried (today's hair took about a minute - a minute!).

And this one being a red beret it is obviously extra brilliant as who doesn't like red accessories? Especially when it allows your matching obsession to reach a new level... That's right, I've matched myself to a house. And if that wasn't enough for you, also some berries on the ground. Which I promise I didn't put there. Smashing that accessorising resolution... 

I've always loved this house but it took me a year to realise it'd make a great backdrop - which is ridiculous as it's about five doors down from where I live* and I see it nearly every single day. And that's probably as close as we'll get to seeing my place as unlike this house there's always a car parked right in front of it. But it's nowhere near as pretty as this one anyway so who cares? There is part of me that thinks it's sacrilege to paint a nice old 1880s house like this, but the other part of me just can't resist a red window frame.

Oh, and check out the boots. The Miss L Fire ones I mentioned before... That's right, I spent a fortune on not one but two pairs of boots this winter and you know what? Je ne regrette rien. 

* Talking about where I live, some of you might have received panicked comments over the weekend about the fact a For Sale sign was nailed to my house on Saturday afternoon (sorry to you in particular, Jessica!)... so, for the entire weekend I was convinced that I was about to be turfed out of my beautiful house I've spent so long 'doing up' recently - as much as you're allowed to in rentals, anyway. Turns out it was a false alarm and the moronic company - House Simple, for those of you who are ever looking for an online 'estate agent' - put it up by mistake. Without our permission, might I add. They just nailed it up when we weren't looking, even though we said we thought it could be a mistake. Please no one ever use them!!

1950s style outfit with plaid full skirt, fur boots and beret

Miss L Fire Alpine boots in black

Plaid full skirt with waist belt

1950s style outfit with plaid full skirt, fur boots and beret

Red beret with black turtleneck

1950s style outfit with plaid full skirt, fur boots and beret
Beret: Joy (all colours available)
Jumper: New Look
Skirt: ASOS (you might get lucky with returned sizes)
Belt: Marks & Spencer (old)
Tights (fleece-lined): Primark (in stores)
Boots: Miss L Fire (@ Zalando)
Bag: Ollie & Nic (similar)

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Tuesday, 6 January 2015

2015: photographing, writing, accessorising, sewing and sobering

Ah, resolutions. The way I look at New Year's resolutions, it seems they are admirable life goals that all have one thing in common - they are so ridiculously admirable that they're virtually impossible to achieve. And if they weren't, you would probably just do them at any old time and wouldn't have to keep setting the same challenge at the start of every darn year. Case in point: every year, I resolve to drink the recommended amount of water every day. Every year, I do this for approximately one day, get taken aback by how little my bladder can cope with the sudden influx of fluid and revert back to my bad old 'a few cups of tea a day will do it' ways the very next day. Every year. No matter how good my intentions, turns out I really like tea and water just takes up space in my body that tea could have. But also, this goal is just too extreme a change to keep up - it would be more sensible to set the challenge of drinking one more glass of water a day - that, I might actually do (note: I probably wouldn't make it to February).

However, in 2014, I set myself some goals, partly linked to this blog. And the great thing about these was that they were achievable and the fact that I'd shared them publicly meant I was about 99% more likely to do them. Because, turns out, I can use my fear of failure for motivation - and there's no more public arena of failure than in front of the whole internet. Not that I'm ever expecting a reader to grill me on which resolutions I kept - it would be very strange if any of you even remembered I wrote them in the first place. But still, you could. And apparently that's enough for me!

For the record, I have basically kept most of them, although with varying degrees of success. I've worked hard on improving my blog images, I've bought things that weren't pencil skirts, I've shared more of my life (whether you cared or not!), I got over my dental angst and restarted my Invisalign treatment and I did take better care of my nails generally (they even had nail varnish on them about 50% of the time). 

So, here's 2015's goals...

Keep up the good photography work

In early 2014 I got a DSLR and an attitude change towards the pictures I put on this blog. Putting up dark, blurry photos taken in my bedroom frankly started to depress me because that's not what I wanted this blog to look like. I would never say you need a camera like mine (which, by the way, was the cheapest possible Canon DSLR) to have nice blog images, but in my case, it both helped and was the huge investment I needed to trigger a change in approach mentally. I go into 2015 with a brand new lens (thanks, Santa!) and I can't wait to get to grips with it. Oh, and expensive equipment and learning how to use it isn't the only key to continuing to improve my image quality - I also need to stop getting so nervous before shoots that I'm miserable in 90% of photos. B has become a bit too well acquainted with my 'when will this be over?' face.

Write more, write better

Over the last year I've tremendously increased the number of blogs I read and it's taught me one very important thing: I pour so much effort into my pictures I've forgotten to give any thought to the writing. In a time long ago, I thought I wanted to be a writer - all it took was a degree minoring in creative writing to knock that out of me, but writing is still something I can enjoy - particularly if I'm not then forced to analyse my authorial intentions in a 2000 word essay. And it's taken too long to realise that I can love to write again on this blog, as I've become so wrapped up in the images. Although I work full-time, 8 hours a week are spent sitting on a train with my phone and there's no reason I can't write this blog then, although please, Google, improve your AWFUL Blogger app!!

Remember to accessorise

Ok so it's not really that I outright 'forget' to accessorise my outfits, it's more that I've had a fairly lacklustre approach to it in recent years which makes it look like I have. What's actually happening is my money buys all the clothes and not the things to go with them (it's the money, you understand, not me). Towards the end of 2014 I did make a real effort to buy a few more bags - we're talking Primark largely, so I'm hardly breaking the bank here... and the difference it made to the choices for my outfits was great. Because, what essentially happened, is that there were more things to match other things to. And yes, for the 100th time, I'm obsessed with matching. And this doesn't stop at bags, there's so many ways to add extra levels of interest (and matching) to my outfits out there... I particularly see the appeal of scarves and brooches, which again Christmas has helped me out with (as all will be revealed).

Master basic sewing

Something else Santa - or rather, B to give him due credit - gave me is my very first sewing machine. Currently, the only thing I can do with a piece of thread is re-attach buttons. And I'm fairly sure I'm not the best at that. This is partly because I'm incredibly impatient and once I've failed to thread a needle five times I'm likely to have a hissy fit and give up, but also because I've simply never learned to do anything more skilful. So, the aim is to self-teach at least the basics so that I stop spending so much money on the same simple alterations time and again (basically, shortening everything). As I said recently, it really is bad when your tailor knows your measurements by heart. However, it's fair to say I'm starting from a point of zero skills and having had a go at re-hemming already - took all day, punctured thumb deeply with needle twice, result is wonky, patchy and looks awful - this one has failure potential written all over it!

Not just Dry January... Dry 2015

Cancer Research UK is trying to get the nation to quit the drink in January, but I'm looking to go bigger and give it all up for the whole year. While I'm not a big drinker currently, I am very socially awkward and I appreciate drink's transformative powers to make me a more outgoing, bubbly, generally more-tolerant-of-other-people-I-have-little-in-common-with person amongst others. And I really like a spiced rum and coke now and then. However, it's come to the point where my body's refusal to process alcohol without making me feel very poorly - especially after wine - is probably something I should stop ignoring. I don't know what my problem is (answers on a postcard please), but I do know it's not normal to throw-up after one glass of wine - I mean I know I'm small and a lightweight, but seriously, a mouse could probably hold its drink better. So I write this intention to at least try to be alcohol free for one year to see if I can do it and then, if I can, if I can sustain it in the years to come. I think my body will really thank me for it... Well, it hopefully won't vomit, which is all the thanks I need.

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