Sunday, 27 December 2015

This year's 5 fashion lessons I wish I'd learnt sooner...

Hope everyone is having a lovely Christmas! I say this as I have again filled myself up to the point where I need to have a little sit for another hour or so...

Anyway, taking another look back over 2015 as it speeds towards the end, I thought I'd share the things I've learned about style this year. So, last year I found a new affinity for midi-length full skirts, turtlenecks, glasses, crop-tops and co-ord sets. At that point, I kinda felt like what more could there possibly be to try... how could someone get to the end of their 20s and still be finding things out about what they like to wear? Particularly things that rank quite highly on the 'duh' scale. So, I thought, there won't be one of these posts this year... but then all these ways my style has changed lately kept popping into my head and here we are.

With most, actually, all of these I just kick myself it took me so long to figure it out. They all get a very high place on the duh scale for sure. But it just goes to show, even fashion bloggers can get stuck in their ways or get it wrong... I say that like I'm some sort of Supreme Clothes Being, which is actually laughable... Of course I get it wrong!!

1. Earrings don't make my face look weird

CiCi in earrings
From this post

Yep, literally all my life I've had this thing in my head that stubbornly said 'earrings just don't suit me'. In recent years, I've been blaming it on my small head - what can I say, I'm nothing if not (il)logical. Actually, though, I hadn't even tried to wear any for the last decade, so really thinking that way was even more non-sensical than first appears. Thankfully, Jessica opened my eyes when she sent me lots of cute vintage pairs (like the above) to try out. Oh, how stupid I felt when I realised I actually love them. What a waste of all those years I could have been building up a collection... Le sigh.

2. You can have (way) too much going on

CiCi's over-complicating an outfit
From this post

This outfit wins the award for my most disliked of the year. I almost didn't post it, but I was curious enough to want to know what everyone thought and if anyone could nail what it was I didn't like about it. And my readers provided... there was just too much going on and it wasn't all coming together that well. Mostly, there's just too many colours here and they aren't all very complimentary to one another. If they could talk, they'd probably all be trying to shout the loudest to get your attention. Once this epiphany had been reached, it changed the way I thought about the colours in my outfits - now I tend to work with a 'rule of 3' - up to 3 core colours in each outfit, with the exception that extras can be tones of one of these (and black and white do or don't count as a colour depending on my mood). I have to say, so far I think it's really made a difference to how put together outfits in the second half of the year have been.

3. Quality is sometimes better than quantity

CiCi learns quality sometimes tops quantity
From this post

I am the worst person for always choosing lots of cheap pieces over one classic, well-made item that will see me through the next few decades. I don't think I've ever gotten out of the student mindset where I simply couldn't afford to ever buy anything that decent. I've still got a lot of work to do on that, but I'm definitely coming round to the idea of adding some quality items to my wardrobe. This dress from Coast was a review gift and that's probably the only way I'd ever have come to owning it, if I'm honest, but everything about it made me rethink my bad bulk-buying ways. The fabric and the cut are just so superior to a lot of other dresses I own. Lesson learned - sometimes it's worth paying a bit extra (especially if there's a sale on - what can I say, a leopard can't change her spots completely!).

4. Gold is Good

CiCi learns to love gold
From this post

Yeah, I've got no excuse for this one. I can trace the roots back to my teenage years - gold just wasn't cool back then. Silver was the only metal that ever graced my goth-y self. And then, like the fool I am, I just kept thinking silver was the only tone for me, without ever stopping to question the logic of someone who thought fake dreadlocks made with hair gel were a good look. Even though I have warm-toned skin, brown hair with a fair bit of ginger to it (in some of these photos here you can see what I mean) and every red lipstick I really love has an orange base. Thank goodness I've been reunited with gold this year. It's mostly happened the last few months and now I just can't stop myself from buying it. You'll even be seeing a gold sparkly jumper in the upcoming weeks! It's practically a neutral and it's so flattering on me, I do feel a bit silly for avoiding it for so long.

5. Pink is not just for 5-year-old girls

CiCi and pink
From this post

And continuing the theme of 'colours I've been avoiding since youth for no good reason', we have pink. Actually, I'm not even sure I liked it that much as a child and I definitely took properly against it as a teen. There wasn't much room among all the black everything. Quite like florals, which I've also been avoiding mostly until this year, I felt pink was a wee bit too girly and twee for me. And yet I've made it one of my blog colour themes and adorn myself with every traditionally feminine thing going... you see the contradictions here, right? I finally did too and now I'm adding some fuschia hues to my wardrobe at long last.

Right, I promise that's the end of the 'year in review' posts - back soon with lots more new outfit posts! 

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Monday, 21 December 2015

2015: my top ten outfits

We're not quite at the end of the year yet, but let's face it, with my second Christmas meal down I will soon be too full of food to contemplate wanting to capture photographic evidence of my inflated stomach, so new outfits are going to have to wait until the gorging has stopped...

I still love putting these kind of posts together because it's a lot of - admittedly self-indulgent - fun to look back at all the outfits I've recorded for this here blog. And then it's even more fun to try to pick favourites and remember where I was and how I felt when I was sauntering around in a wiggle skirt and over-sized sunhat (amazing, obviously). A lot of work can go into these posts, which I never really go into in great detail as it would bore everyone to tears to read that 'making of' (which is largely focused around waiting for the rain to stop, finding places to park in this ridiculous city, re-taking shots where the wind blows my hair over my face etc etc). So there's the reminding myself of some outfits I loved and the achievements made in photography, planning, editing etc in documenting them so painstakingly (and if in years to come I wonder why I devoted months of my life to this, I'll worry about it then :D).

So in short, the round-ups are here to stay for as long as I love writing this blog. And that's, of course, why I'm even here...


50s summer bombshell outfit with floppy sunhat

Wearing a big sunhat made me feel like a goddess - from this post

Why oh why did it take me so long to get a big floppy sunhat? Ok, it was the fear of hat hair, which this straw beauty certainly nailed (I looked ridiculous) - but all you have to do is wear it all day and no one need ever know the monster that lurks beneath. What they'll see is a sun goddess - particularly if paired with a pencil skirt and heels. Who doesn't want to feel like a 50s beach bombshell in the summer (er, not that I'd recommend these heels in sand)? This outfit made me feel feminine and elegant and I think I'll remember it for years to come.

Polka dot capris, clogs and a quirky bag

Monochrome with a healthy dose of quirk - from this post

I found a real appreciation for monochrome this year, as long as it was dressed up with a little extra something. Ok, that something was usually red... but I know what I like! This was one of those outfits where I loved all the individual elements separately, but even more when put together, which I didn't think possible. It was another one where I felt polished and elegant and like the best version of myself, and that was very much helped by the quirky bag and shoes. Never too elegant.

Floral 50s style shirt dress and pink clogs

It's pink, it's floral and I loved it - from this post

The teenage me would recoil in wide (panda-)eyed horror to learn that I dressed in pink and flowers and not only that, I loved every second of it. But thank goodness I don't still wear hoodies with bleeding hearts on them and jeans the width of three people as that looked about as good as you're imagining. This started as a way to wear these clogs for review purposes and became a co-ordinated masterpiece of summer girliness, if I do say so myself. I loved the way all the pinks worked together. Yes, teenage self, multiple pinks.

Denim dress, tied shirt and a strawberry wicker bag

A strawberry bag. Nuff said. - from this post

Partly I've picked this outfit because I still can't believe I actually got my hands on what must have been the most sought-after bag in the vintage community in the history of ever. But also because this was a glorious moment in my matching quest - I couldn't have been more pleased when I realised I had a red shirt with white polka dot 'seeds' on it, quite frankly. Aside from that glorious moment, this was just fun, girly and casual, and this denim dress was one of my favourite buys of the year. 

Floral wiggle dress and black accessories

The dress - and colour - I didn't expect to love that much - from this post

Yes, of course I like this dress - I wouldn't have chosen it otherwise - but it was quite different to anything I already had, largely because it has a floral pattern. At this point in April I still thought I didn't really like floral prints... but that all started to change with this dress. And after all, I love hair flowers, so not liking florals doesn't make any sense! You've seen the above pink outfit so you know this blossomed (pun intended) into a full-on love affair - and not only with flowers, but with the colour orange too. If I were to have a 'hair flower of the year' (I'll resist), it would be this tropical orange beauty. Which reminds me, I really must by some more orange things.


Tartan swing skirt, black polo sweater and red beret

There's red, there's tartan and there's fur on my boots. - from this post

Basically, this outfit had so many of my favourite things it had to make the list. Red, fur, plaid and of course, that's before you even get to the beret - my winter hat of choice. All of the outfits in this post made me feel extra amazing and this one is no exception. It's so easy to wear though - comfy and with the 1-minute plait it takes no time to throw on. So, hooray for style that is this simple but good-looking!

60s style pastel check coat

The pastel-coloured 60s dream coat - from this post

Not my favourite example of my photography work (someone couldn't use her new Christmas-present lens), but that aside this coat was a real find in the Christmas sales and this is a rare example where I haven't matched my entire outfit to death, and yet I really liked it anyway. Purple shoes with pink checks... never thought I'd see the day. This outfit was completely inappropriate to wear round a muddy nature reserve (suede shoes, what was I thinking?!), but it was my anniversary date and I was warm yet dressed up, so who cares. (I cared very much about my shoes, but thankfully they survived.)

40s style winter coat outfit with beret

I've got a dog on my head and I look a bit 40s - from this post

Ok, so I might have picked this outfit is because it reminds me of one of my favourite compliments of the year from Jessica (of Zella Maybe) who said a shot from this post looked 'like a promo photo for Call The Midwife'. It was totally unplanned that this outfit came with more than a hint of the 40s, but as it's so rare that I delve into this era I'm really glad that it did. It was toasty warm, totally comfortable and I felt stylish even though this was definitely one of those days the wind was making a mockery of my 'do. But perhaps none of that even matters because I've got a poodle on my hat, and what's not to love about that?

Rust coloured jacket, tan boots and purple check

The perfect pairing of beloved new boots and beloved old jacket - from this post

And what's better than matching your favourite rust-coloured items? Matching them both to some actual rust. Or something. Well, I did it anyway and I liked the end results. I've had this jacket for years and never really found an outfit I thought completely worked with it until this one. And oh, these boots, I had been looking for some just like them for the longest time. They are half a size too small (but came from the US so returning wasn't really an option), but I forgive them every pinched toe for how pretty they are.

Red 50s Christmas party dress and gold accessories

The perfect party dress for festive frolics - from this post

And finally, an outfit you've literally just seen as it was from earlier this week. I toyed with whether or not I should include it for that reason, but ultimately: it's one of my favourites, so regardless of when I wore it it gets to go in. This year I've been so grateful to work with many amazing brands who've let me review their lovely dresses - and while I genuinely don't/can't pick a favourite, this one is very high on the list because both it and Voodoo Vixen are amazing. When I look at this outfit, coming at the end of 2015 as it did, it makes me feel very happy about a great 12 months for this blog.

I wonder how many of you have been following me for the whole of 2015, or longer, or only a few days/weeks/months... Regardless of how long you've stuck with me, I am very glad if I've entertained you with how I dress myself this year. Do stay tuned for lots, lots more...

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Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Outfit: classic Christmas

I've gone all elegant on you this year - not a single Christmas jumper! Who is this woman and what has she done with CiCi?!

Actually, there's no mystery here other than I acquired this beautiful red party dress from Voodoo Vixen and had barely removed it from its packaging before it demanded to be accessorised with gold - gold I tell you! And what else can you do at this time of year with a lovely festive shade like this? Red and gold are the classic Christmas combination - and a little less 'elf' than red and green (mind you, not that this is a bad thing!). A jumper had no chance against this dress...

This, dear reader, is the only time I have worn a dress where B has told me it looks nice - without me first parading around in front of him going 'weeeeell?!' Unprompted praise... it must be special! I have to say, when I first got it didn't look that special as it swamped me, but now that a tailor has altered it so that the shoulders are shorter and the length matches how it appeared on the model (cost me £20), I'm completely in love with it. This, by the way, is something I have to do with practically every non-petite dress - it's not that this one is exceptionally large! I usually lean towards fitted dresses, but I honestly am as pleased as a kid in a party frock here and it just goes to show that not all flared dresses drown me as I fear they will (especially not with a little stitching help). B particularly admired the neckline saying it was the 'right shape' for me. I think he might be onto something there, it does seem particularly flattering.

I also have to thank Holly of Alternate Normality for meeting my last minute request for this pretty gold hair flower. I'd given up trying to find one anywhere by the time I came across her range of Christmassy styles. Well-made and well-priced (and so helpful!), I recommend her shop to those in the UK particularly.

And lastly, we had to move no fewer than five pieces of furniture (not counting the tree itself, which was also dragged a foot along the floor) to get these pictures - including two huge sofas. I quickly remembered why I never take photos indoors!

Voodoo Vixen Blair party dress with festive gold accessories

Voodoo Vixen Blair party dress with gold brooch and hair flower

Voodoo Vixen Blair party dress with festive gold accessories

Alternate Normality gold hair flower

Voodoo Vixen Blair party dress with festive gold accessories

Voodoo Vixen Blair party dress with Chronically Vintage gold brooch

Voodoo Vixen Blair party dress with Chronically Vintage gold brooch

Voodoo Vixen Blair party dress with festive gold accessories

Voodoo Vixen Blair party dress with Chronically Vintage gold brooch

Alternate Normality gold hair flower

Voodoo Vixen Blair party dress with festive gold accessories
Hair flower: Alternate Normality
Dress: c/o Voodoo Vixen 'Blair' (out of stock on their site - try Blue Banana)
Shoes: (out of stock) Chelsea Crew via Zulily

And can you read what my darling little brooch says? Probably not, so I will tell you: it says 'Seasons greetings' - and indeed, it's warm seasons greetings from this blogger as Christmas fast approaches... All my shopping's done, hooray!

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Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Wishlist: cute (and sometimes classy) Christmas novelty-wear

Is it fair to say that you either love or hate Christmas jumpers? I do get it, honestly. Not everyone wants to wear a jumper with a Christmas pudding and pom pom snow on it (yes, of course I have one of these). The good news is you don't have to go the OTT jumper route, as this year repro brands have given us a tonne of more tasteful vintage style novelty alternatives. And it doesn't stop there, jewellery and accessory makers are on board too. So it's pretty easy if you'd rather just add a touch of christmas to your outfits (or more - the woman in the pom pom snow isn't going to judge).

There's only two weeks to go and in the UK, Christmas Jumper Day (18th Dec) is fast approaching... Come on, join me in my appreciation for seasonal novelty-wear! I even picked some more subtle pieces... Oh and obviously, I've already adorned myself in snowflakes so far this month, but I'm not done with festive-wear just yet... Nothing less for my favourite holiday.

By the way, I've actually posted this a bit sooner than I was intending to, as I noticed several of the items below are selling out fast (hence links to similar items where I've spotted this). So run, grab them while you can!

2. Lindy Bop Gilda Green Alpine Print Swing Dress
[Almost out of stock - but print also found on this very similar dress]

Come on, how can you resist these - even if you've never worn a Christmas jumper in your life? You could have a very subtle snowfall pattern, a hint of tree ornaments, or stripes that have a touch of the candy-cane about them...  Or, you know, you could have a wintry alpine scene or Bambis in the snow. I'd happily wear them all - although considering I do have a Christmas jumper with dogs on it, perhaps I've got the animal thing covered.

4. Lindy Bop Bacall Red Knitted Jumper
[Now out of stock - try the navy version]

There's been a huge amount of Christmas-themed knitwear from repro brands this year - so much so it was difficult picking some favourites! That's partly because a lot of it has the Fairisle thing in common so some pieces are quite similar. Still, though, if you're looking for something different it's out there - you could easily wear 4 any time of the year but the colours are wonderfully festive and the shape is wonderfully vintage-inspired. And 5 I just love for being a bit different - the cute pussybow is a lovely touch too (warning: it's selling out fast).

3. ChronicallyVintage Vintage Aged Gold Tone & Rhinestone Christmas Tree Brooch
[Now sold out - here's another!]
7. Skinnydip Christmas Tree Cross-body Bag
[Now sold out - but you might like this]

I can't even pick a favourite here and I had to stop myself looking for more - novelty accessories are everywhere this year. Erstwilder has a great range, with this Ginger brooch one of many and Tatty Devine have lots on offer too, like this cute necklace. You've seen the black version of the Vendula bag, but the silver is really fun for this time of year especially. Spend some time on Etsy and you're going to find tonnes of vintage festive pieces in Jessica's shop, and fun 'fakelite' brooches like 4 and 5 above. 5  is particularly gorgeous, I think - I love how the confetti glitter has become a snow blizzard.

So, are you going to be rocking any Christmas novelty-wear this year?

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Sunday, 6 December 2015

Outfit: countdown to Christmas in matching snowflakes

That's right, it's the C word. It's December now, so it's pretty much going to be all over blogs for the next few weeks and who am I to resist... I gave you a Christmas jumper with dogs on it last year, but as much as I will always love ridiculous knitwear, I'm quite pleased to bring you something more festively sophisticated this year in the form of matching snowflakes. Because why wear one item covered in snowflakes when you can wear two?

First up is this beautiful Emily & Fin dress. I love a good novelty print and this pattern is both quirky (but not too OTT) and pretty, and of course perfect for Christmas. Not only that, the shade of teal is really lovely and I don't have enough in this colour, for sure. This is the first piece I've owned from this British brand and I was pleasantly surprised by the quality. When things have a higher price tag, I get pretty annoyed if I don't think they warrant it, but not the case with this dress. The way the material on the skirt hangs with all its pleats in particular, the thick cotton and the ruching details around the neckline all point at better quality. The only downside is that because it's cotton, it sure does crease (I promise that wasn't just me being lazy). But still, isn't it lovely? Word of warning: these dresses run on the large side for the waist vs the size guide, but everything else seems spot on (I'm in the smallest size here and have added my own waist belt to pull it in a little).

Second, we've got another gorgeous bag from Vendula - another great British brand. I think their AW range is really on form this year - I absolutely love my New York clutch (seen here and here) and couldn't wait to style this bag, which is a perfect day bag for the colder months. Again, their bags are on the slightly pricier side for vegan designs, but again the quality is worth it. This one is filled with pockets and compartments, again has two choices for straps (there's a cross-body one not featured here) and is very sturdy. That's before you even get to the fact it's covered in snowflakes and is the perfect companion for this dress!

I will never, ever get tired of matching things. I will also never, ever get tired of Christmas - especially not Christmas novelty-wear...

Emily & Fin Rose dress in teal falling snowflake + Vendula Snowflake Grab Bag

Emily & Fin Rose dress in teal falling snowflake + Chronically Vintage earrings + beret

Emily & Fin Rose dress in teal falling snowflake + Vendula Snowflake Grab Bag

Emily & Fin Rose dress in teal falling snowflake + Vendula Snowflake Grab Bag

Emily & Fin Rose dress in teal falling snowflake + Vendula Snowflake Grab Bag

Emily & Fin Rose dress in teal falling snowflake + Chronically Vintage earrings

Emily & Fin Rose dress in teal falling snowflake + Vendula Snowflake Grab Bag

Vendula London Snowflake Grab Bag in black - inside

Vendula London Snowflake Grab Bag in black

Emily & Fin Rose dress in teal falling snowflake + Vendula Snowflake Grab Bag

Emily & Fin Rose dress in teal falling snowflake + Chronically Vintage earrings and beret

Emily & Fin Rose dress in teal falling snowflake + Vendula Snowflake Grab Bag
Beret: eBay
Dress: c/o Emily & Fin
Belt: New Look (similar)
Gloves: eBay
Tights: Primark (last year)
Shoes: Miss L Fire (similar)
Bag: c/o Vendula London

The (very) eagle-eyed readers among you might recognise these earrings - they are, of course, one of the many pairs that Jessica gifted me (see if you can spot them!) and this outfit is proof that I'm having a lot of fun adding them as the icing on top of my looks at the moment.

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Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Dressed app - outfit planning at its most fun

Dressed app review

I genuinely don't know how many of you will have already come across this app, but I love it so much I had to share it. Basically, it's your virtual wardrobe on your phone - and for someone like me whose clothes are all crammed away out of sight and I'm losing track of them all (first world problems), it's been amazing for reminding me what I have when planning outfits for this very blog. It's basically the Clueless computer made real...

It's the brainchild of Kara who also writes this style blog (I love that a fellow blogger was behind it!) and the idea is you upload images of your clothes, preferably from online shop photos that have been properly shot with the right lighting etc and then you tag them in various ways e.g. by type, season, colour, brand, occasion. Therefore, as you go you build up a digital wardrobe that can be sorted in whichever way you choose to help you find things that work together.

So you have these main categories on the left (and you tag the pieces you add as above) and on the right is what it looks like when you're putting your outfits together. Guys, it's SO much fun!

Dressed app review - Clueless computer made real

Of course, you've already guessed what the drawback of this app is haven't you? Yep, how long it takes to add your clothes to it. And how frustrating that can be if there isn't a good image online of it, which happens a lot when brands - naming no names, ASOS - only show clothes on models, who inevitably drape their hair and hands all over everything and never ever face the camera head-on (damn you why must you always turn to the side!!), which just looks crap in the app. But most fashion brands do provide helpful images - or you might get lucky and can pinch other bloggers', or your own if you blog (this has worked for me - the purple bardot top and the tartan skirt below are better examples of this) - as it's a personal app no one's going to know or care where you get the images from (although I can't say for sure that's not breaking copyright laws in the UK so don't quote me!). The main thing is making sure they're well lit and that they're straight onto the camera and 'worn', or they won't look right on your mannequin. I'm going to guess this works particularly well for me as I wear so much modern and repro clothing, and vintage wardrobes might be more time-consuming to add, saying all this...

Anyway, the image editor is great and is sophisticated enough to remove a lot of white backgrounds completely automatically, or it has the option to use a manual 'eraser' so you can do it yourself if that doesn't work. It feeds the perfectionist in me...

Dressed app review - Clueless computer made real

So, once you've started adding things, you end up with your little wardrobe. And you can sort it - you can see I've sorted by type on the left there, but you can do colour and so on and on. The categorisation abilities are awesome.

Dressed app review - Clueless computer made real

I'm nowhere near even a fraction of my wardrobe being in the app (although all of my bags are in - YES! Thank you, comparatively tiny bag collection) - but I am making a point of adding every new piece now. Otherwise, I'm adding older things as I think of them, or want to use them in an outfit idea. This app has been a humungous help in planning the outfits I wear on this blog - and I can imagine for holiday wardrobes it's going to be incredible. I am that person trying to meticulously plan what I'll wear for a week away - partly because I'm taking photos of everything every 5 seconds for this blog! - and it takes a lot of the pain out of that...

Dressed app review - Clueless computer made real

And this is what outfits look like when you've 'built' them. Both of which I've now featured on this blog - here's the one on the left, and the one on the right. The right I tweaked slightly in reality, because that is one thing that isn't as great - sometimes things look amazing in the app and don't quite work in real life because of differences in how things hang and slight colour discrepancies. I don't see how it could have accounted for that though! And in above right's case, it was only the top I switched out, as it was a bit more 'cream' in real life than I wanted.

So there you go, my favourite new toy that is keeping me nice and occupied on my commutes at the moment. What do you think? Do you use this app, or would you? For a couple of £, it really does feel like a bargain to me and could even be my all-time favourite app! Needless to say, every single one of my girlfriends I show this to in real life gets incredibly over-excited about it... I should also point out that I purchased this app and this review is entirely un-sponsored, I just really love it!

EDIT: I forgot to include the link to the app and have found it's for iPhones only - apologies Android users...

PS I've now picked the winner of the Chronically Vintage vintage goodies and my congrats goes to Chiarina from Italy who won the fab prize (chosen at random)!

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