Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Outfit: the Eiffel Tower is always a good idea

So here we go, the first of my two recent Paris sets! It doesn't get more classic Paris than a trip to the Eiffel Tower and even though I'm terrified of heights and hate being on the thing, I still love visiting it. It's one of the reasons that this year I've come to acquire no less than three wearable items with it on, of course including my birthday dress, but also this amazing skirt.

I get super nervous about buying border print midi skirts because I quite often alter the lengths and you just can't do that with these. If there was going to be a skirt I risked it on, though, it was going to be this one. And yes, it is slightly longer than is my preferred length for a full skirt, but with heels I think I just about get away with it. I don't buy a lot from Lindybop these days, as the sizing and quality is such a gamble, but for pieces like this they are such a good budget option.

As soon as I saw this little bow brooch as part of Erstwilder's new birthday range I had the pink accents of this skirt in mind and one of my favourite pairs of holiday shoes that the weather is almost never good enough to wear in the UK. I'm really pleased with how it all looked together but a bit disappointed no one in Paris complimented it. Too tourist? Probably. I certainly felt like one but hey, I was one. Perhaps more surprisingly, three separate waitresses complimented me at length on my hair and makeup specifically (cue awkward conversations half in English and French - I can in fact speak a little French and read it fairly well but whenever anyone speaks it to me they may as well be talking Greek). In fact, one of them asked about my hair sponges which is partly what triggered my previous post about them. The funny thing was, it wasn't any different to how I look in the UK, but I have never had a compliment from a waitress or any other passing stranger over here about my beauty regime. So I was either particularly on form, or Parisians love my style. I don't think it's a bad thing in either case, but I kinda hope it's the latter.

Erstwilder Pretty Little Thing brooch in Paris

Lindybop Adalene border print midi skirt in Paris

Lindybop Adalene border print midi skirt in Paris

Lindybop Adalene border print midi skirt in Paris

Lindybop Adalene border print midi skirt in Paris

Lindybop Adalene border print midi skirt in Paris

Lindybop Adalene border print midi skirt in Paris

Erstwilder Pretty Little Thing brooch

Erstwilder Pretty Little Thing brooch

Lindybop Adalene Paris border print skirt
Top: New Look (similar)
Belt: Marks & Spencer (similar)
Shoes: Topshop (old)
Bag: Ollie & Nic (old)

As much as I liked this outfit, it's actually the second one I photographed in Paris that was the most spontaneous but my hands down favourite from the trip. So watch this space for that one... 


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Wednesday, 24 August 2016

The cheat's guide to hair volume


Cheating at hair volume with Scunci Boost It sponges

I know, they don't look like much do they? But in fact, these Scunci Boost It sponges have sort of changed my life in that they cut down my daily hair prep time and made me feel a lot more confident about my naturally-limp hair. I discovered these sponges earlier this year, after a hunt for something, anything that would help give me some solid volume that didn't rely on hair-destroying daily backcombing. I had no idea if I'd be able to make them work for me.

But I did - and I don't think I quite use them how they were intended as I get a bigger uplift with my method, so I thought I'd share my secret after a fair few requests for some more hair tutorials recently!

Before vs after...

Cheating at hair volume with Scunci Boost It sponges

I'm not a fan of my natural, flat hair. I have a lot of hair, don't get me wrong, but it's incredibly fine and on its own will just sit stubbornly against my head as in the above left photo. When I look at that picture, all I can think is how big and gross my face looks - I like having volume to balance everything out. In the second photo, the only difference is that I now have my cheat's sponges in and a little bit of back-combing to help the hair lay in place.

So without further delay, let's show you how to do it!

1. First, middle section & sponge

Cheating at hair volume with Scunci Boost It sponges - step by step guide

Starting a good inch or so away from the front of my hair (I have a fringe, so this will be further back if you don't - think of it as needing to sit on the curve of the back of your head), I gather together a chunk about an inch deep that's roughly the width of the biggest sponge. This doesn't need to be precise, because you're going to see you will blend the top section of your hair together later, but the closer you are to the right width the easier you'll find this to get it to look neat. I gently back comb at the roots at the back of this section, because this helps the hair to stay in place over the sponge. 

The sponge itself has a standard metal hair clip stuck to the back, so try to slide it against the middle of the hair lying flat behind the section in your hand and it should look like the below left picture. If it's not secure in place, slide out and try again until it is. Once you've done that, lay the hair down like the below right picture.

Cheating at hair volume with Scunci Boost It sponges - step by step guide

2. First side sponge

Cheating at hair volume with Scunci Boost It sponges - step by step guide

This is a bit more fiddly than the middle section and might take some practice to get it to work for you. I also always find this easier on the right side of my head than the left - which could well be because often you have thicker hair on one side than the other and in my case hairdressers love to comment on how vastly different it is (great for the confidence!). Anyway, if you roughly copy what I've done top right (I actually had no idea I overlapped them until I saw this picture), you should find you have a natural 'slope' of volume from the middle sponge to the less deep side sponge. It's the same process - lift a section of hair the same depth as before and roughly the width of the sponge, backcomb behind at the foots, slide the sponge on its hair clip under, lay over the top. It's just in this case, I've taken the section of hair at a slight diagonal angle towards the back of my head, again following the shape of my skull. 

If the hair isn't sitting quite right over the second sponge, you can tweak it into place. The great thing with these sponges is they have a sort of velcro surface, so where you place the hair on them it tends to stick almost like it's sitting on a tiny brush. Bottom right I'm tweaking, bottom left is the finished result of said tweaking.

Cheating at hair volume with Scunci Boost It sponges - step by step guide

3. Second side sponge + smooth down

Cheating at hair volume with Scunci Boost It sponges - step by step guide

Now, just repeat what you did on the other side. I'm backcombing in the left picture, and on the right is when the hair is laid down over and I've tweaked and smoothed it into place. There was a lot of tweaking to get an even layer of volume over the head, but you can see it's fairly easy to get something that looks like a tonne of backcombing has been done.

4. Decorate + refine!

Cheating at hair volume with Scunci Boost It sponges - step by step guide

What I'm showing you in this mini tutorial is actually exactly how I got the hair (well, minus the curling part) in this post, which loads of people commented on. I love wearing hair scarves, but I previously hated how difficult it was to get any kind of oomph behind them with my stubborn hair. In actual fact, I often wear the sponges now as the foundation of beehives and even to give volume to ponytails - once they're on your head securely, not very much moves them so the possibilities are endless. Anyway, in this example, I tied the scarf before where the sponges start and then I use my brush to blend the hair together. I sometimes need to add a little back-comb to the underneath section of my hair, if there's a gap between the hair lying over the sponge and the hair sitting under. That usually does the trick to blend them together.

5. Final tweaks and you're done!

Cheating at hair volume with Scunci Boost It sponges - step by step guide

I use my fingers to comb the curls together neatly and then there you have it, the finished look. What a difference a few cheap bits of sponge make! And if you beef up your backcombing for special occassions, these sponges can really support some extra height.


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Thursday, 18 August 2016

Outfit: pink posies

Around the crazy house-moving period, I was determined to take some photos of a summer outfit, lest the whole of my favourite season pass us by with barely a sundress to be seen (the dog dress in my previous post ironically being snapped in spring)! It's been a blessing and a curse moving house in summer - usually, it wouldn't be a problem in the UK. Temperatures don't get up much above 20 degrees Celsius, perfectly manageable to pack boxes in. But oh no, the two weeks we had to pack and move in were precisely the two weeks we had a 'heatwave' and temperatures were up around the high 20s and even early 30s. So not only did I miss prime sun-lounging weather, I also had to heft stuff around in that - which wouldn't have been that bad, but heat in this country means humidity that makes it unbearable to even walk, so you can imagine how much fun that was and how well B and I got along during that nightmare.

We got through it though, as you do, and we did get out for this set of photos, taken after a long day of me sweltering in our old study while I worked my office job from home, which was like being trapped with a computer in a sauna (that house had serious air circulation issues). My hair had given up the ghost completely, I didn't know what to do with it, but then, it came to me - this is what hats are for. And so this outfit was born! And then I went and spoiled it all by completely overdoing my make-up. It's not coming across as Bobo the Clown in these pictures as it did in real life - thank you miracles of photography - but it's definitely not my best work, folks. For some reason, I thought the answer to a face that had sweated off most of the make-up it had on by this point was to come back at it twice as hard. Lesson learned.

I should also add as far as this outfit goes that it's also evidence of the fact I really haven't had the spare cash to buy things this summer - every piece in this outfit has been in my closet for some time now. I'm sure I'll get back to my bad old spending ways soon, but I am also working hard to not over-spend on things I don't wear since changing my habits this year. This is a lot easier to do when you don't have the money to waste in the first place ;)

All of this being told, I'm still glad we have this set even though I don't look my best and the outfit's not uber exciting, because it was the last batch we took in our favourite spot a few doors down from our rental house at the end of the road, which had the perfect floral backdrop for the occasion (remember how good the berries looked in winter?). And even though we've taken photos in this spot at least a half dozen times by now, of course it was during the very last time that the owners of the house I was in front of came and asked about what we were doing (in a nice way, they were thrilled we were using their house as a back-drop). C'est la vie.

Pink flowers, a floppy sunhat and the usual 50s inspired look

Floppy sunhat and floral top

Banned Orient pink around bag

Pink flowers, a floppy sunhat and the usual 50s inspired look

Pink flowers, a floppy sunhat and the usual 50s inspired look

Floppy sunhat and floral top

Pink flowers, a floppy sunhat and the usual 50s inspired look

Pink flowers, a floppy sunhat and the usual 50s inspired look

Topshop criss-cross floral suntop

Floppy hat and Topshop suntop

Pink flowers, a floppy sunhat and the usual 50s inspired look
Hat: via ASOS (similar navy colourway)
Top: Topshop (old)
Belt: eBay
Skirt: Peacocks (very similar)
Bag: Banned
Shoes: c/o Sandgrens (no longer available)


Those who follow along on Instagram (@ciciandmarie) know I've just got back from an extra long weekend in Paris - there will definitely be outfits to share soon :)


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Thursday, 11 August 2016

Come show me your outfits at The Vintage Carnival + ticket giveaway!

The last carnival's Best Dressed line-up!

I love how many events like The Vintage Carnival are popping up in the UK at the moment - a whole festival dedicated to the fun things from decades gone by with everyone in fab outfits - yes please! The second Vintage Carnival is being held in Nottingham so if you're free on Saturday 3rd September, why not pop along? I've got two free tickets to give away below...


It really does seem like a fun day out - if the 100 stalls for vintage shopping don't float your boat (and if they don't, I think you've landed on this blog by mistake!!), perhaps the live music, classic cars, dancing classes, hair and beauty, funfair games, quirky bars etc etc will.

But if all that doesn't convince you, how about entering the Best Dressed competition? Guess what - surprise! - yours truly is an as-yet-unannounced judge! So yes, if you do come along you may see a small brunette looking quite surprised/bemused to be sitting on a panel, wondering what she's done to judge other people's clothes...! And yes, there is a prize (and hint: you can drink one of them).

Last year's top three - with winner Jessica Bonarius in the centre

So yes, if I sound like I'm going for the hard sell it's because a) I think this event really does look fab and b) it would be awesome to see some of you there! Hopefully in your glad rags...

Enter to win the tickets via the Rafflecopter widget below, but meanwhile here's the details:



When: Saturday 3rd September, 10am - 6pm
Where: Nottingham Racecourse, Colwick Park Close, Nottingham, NG2 4BE
Entry: £6 early bird, £8 on door; concessions available

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Now excuse me while I go fret about what a judge of an outfit competition should wear...


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Sunday, 7 August 2016

Building my retro home - my favourite furniture find

Mid century modern style furniture bargains from La Redoute

So I've recently explained that I've been working hard in recent weeks to sort out my new home - and for the first time, I can decorate a place exactly how I want it to look. Part of that includes investing in furniture for a place I can't be booted out of at two months' notice because it's mine and no one can make me, ner ner (at least, as long as I'm paying the bills!).

Now, we already had a lot of our furniture that I've been building up gradually over the past year, basically as soon as I knew we were hoping to buy our own house. You might remember a post about our tv stand in fact - which, as it happens, fits nicely into our new living room. It wasn't all going to fit, though. For a start, we've gone from three bedrooms to two and what was our 'study' is now a corner of the living room. Being the savvy shopper I am, I made arrangements with the sellers to measure up the house long before the sale went through and, keeping my fingers crossed things would go to plan (house sales can break down up until the last minute in this country), set about selling off or downsizing the furniture we couldn't take with us and planning what new stuff we'd need.

I'll admit, I was worried. I can't afford high-end furniture (particularly not right now) and charity shops round my way haven't been very good the past few months. Having one too many disasters with poorly-made flat-pack furniture, I was really hoping to avoid going this route, but it became apparent it was the only cost-effective option left to us... Now Ikea is the best of a bad bunch in many ways, but while they have some awesome retro options, there's a lot they don't have too. But where do you go if Ikea don't have what you want and you're on a budget? I was at a loss... But step up, my new favourite, La Redoute!

Mid century modern style furniture bargains from La Redoute

I never really realised that La Redoute made furniture or that it was any good, until stumbling across this desk while googling. I have to add the usual apology: the pretties I'm about to show you are fairly inaccessible to North America and Australia. If you're in Europe though, you're probably going to be in with more luck. I guess that's the thing with furniture - it's just not that easy to post to the other side of the world!

This desk was a bargain for what I got, which is a very sturdy, stylish piece of flatpack furniture. This thing is absolutely solid - and to my surprise, as we constructed it everything attached together so darn smoothly - there was no trying to force joints together because a hole was drilled a millimetre out. I've never said this about building any flatpack before, but I actually enjoyed putting it together, it was so easy to follow the instructions and the finished piece was so satisfyingly perfect. Of course, I immediately put a scratch on the top because that's what I do when things are pristine and I love them - destroy them within the first 24 hours (I've since added more marks by accidentally putting the drawer back wrong post move - d'oh!). But my clumsiness aside, I wasn't expecting anything much from this desk and it sure proved me wrong. I also love the light grey colour - I've got a lot of grey in the living room and it fits right in without clashing with my mishmash of wooden charity shop finds. B also loves it, which wasn't essential but is a nice bonus ;) Flatpack win!

Mid century modern style furniture bargains from La Redoute

(I wasn't exaggerating about the 'corner of the living room' thing...)

It was a no-brainer to source the next thing we needed from La Redoute too - the bedside tables for the main bedroom. Thankfully they didn't disappoint, they have a huge range of them to choose from (I've selected some favourites below) and I found one that would fit in with our ash wood and white furniture colour scheme oh so perfectly (trying, as I was, to keep the bulk of the bedroom furniture we already had), and was slim enough that we could both have one either side of the bed.

Mid century modern style furniture bargains from La Redoute

These were so easy to put together that I did the second one on my own in half an hour. Again, it's another example of flatpack done right - everything's straight and the end result is a sturdy little table that perfectly suits a retro aesthetic.

The thing I really love about this shop is that they don't just do the odd thing that's got a retro vibe, there's a huge range to choose from. Here's my picks of the mid century pretties they're currently offering and there are an awful lot more I didn't feature too...

Mid century modern style furniture bargains from La Redoute


I should add I'm in no way being sponsored by the company, I just really love their homeware!

While I'm on this subject, would you like to see what the rooms look like as we finish them off?


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