Jazzy tights and kicky pleats...

Every Monday morning I count my blessings that I work in an office where I can get away with wearing casual clothes, especially when I wake up with a very specific outfit in mind. This was what happened with this outfit and once I had visualised it, I couldn't wait to wear it (I know, I don't get out much!)  There was something just so fun about it and I felt super sassy for the whole day which is never a bad thing! I have big plans for this skirt in the spring, wouldn't  the gunmetal blue/grey look ace with this sheer blouse or this jazzy Monki one? Apologies for the slightly dark photos, I wanted to take outfit pictures but it was drizzling with rain so we decided to save the camera and stay undercover... 

Top: H&M, skirt: Warehouse, tights: c/o Marisota, necklace: French Connection, shoes: Marks & Spencer
I'm not sure what is happening with my hair here but I am impressed by its attempts to make itself into a fringe... This pink Revlon lipstick is one of my favourites, I am going to need to repurchase it soon, it has nearly worn out I have worn it so much. This necklace is another old favourite of mine, it  is subtle but it jazzes up a high neckline nicely.

I am a massive fan of Essie's nail varnish and Essie 'Aperitif' is my current favourite red. It is a bright classic red and immediately makes me feel more polished when I wear it- quite an achievement when you realise just how clumsy I am... I love the natty gold buttons on this skirt too, I can't resist shiny accessories!

I bought this skirt just after we moved in the summer and have been waiting for winter to wear it with tights as it is a little on the short side otherwise. The pleats on the skirt are uber flattering (definitely the best way to hide food baby!) and these Marisota tights are delightfully jazzy. They are certainly a talking point and probably a bit of a Marmite piece but I am firmly in the love camp! I have just realised how closely I match the balcony decking too, one to add to the unlikely style inspirations list I guess! ;)

Are you a fan of jazzy tights?

Leon vegetarian squash, corn and bean stew recipe...

Cold nights call for warm stews and casseroles and this Leon recipe is another veggie favourite that is pretty quick to pull together when you want something hearty. It all ends up looking a bit orange, but you could add peas or green beans if you wanted to add a bit more colour! I always make a huge batch of this and it tastes even better for lunch the next day, the flavours mature really nicely overnight. It also freezes well so there is no excuse not to have a 'proper dinner' when you get home from work! ;)

Lady Danger...

This post contains items that were sent for review

My love for Whistles is well documented on this blog and although I am a massive fan of their oh so cool designs, my bank balance is less fond. As a result, I spend a lot of time stalking their designs on eBay (obsessed me?!) and it's always very exciting when I actually manage to win an auction. This little red dress (yes another one!) is my latest purchase and I spent the day after it turned up, swooshing around Cheltenham in it. This is definitely a 'look at me' dress and it was perfect for putting a spring in my step and cheering up a wintry morning! I have been feeling a bit down recently so this outfit was just the confidence boost I needed. It was also the perfect blank canvas for the beautiful Clarks shoes that I was lucky enough to be sent to feature (scroll down for more details!)

Dress: Whistles, shoes: c/o Clarks, tights: Tesco
MAC Lady Danger is a gorgeous orange-y red and although it is quite bright against my pasty pale skin, I couldn't resist as it was the perfect match for this dress. I didn't realise how low cut this dress actually was and the top button is pretty loose so I spent most of the day rebuttoning it and trying to avoid the disapproving glances I was getting in Waitrose (oops!) My hair seems to get shorter and shorter (funny that!) every time I got to the hairdressers- I would love to go as short as the lovely Lil but I'm not quite that brave...yet! 

You know I can't resist a natty bow and this cinches my waist in nicely. I'm not usually a fan of sleeves on dresses but these ones balance out the lower neckline and mean that I don't have to cover up with a cardigan- always a good call when I am layering up in winter! Any dress with pockets gets a thumbs up from me and these drapey pockets are ace.

When Clarks got in touch about working with them recently, I was absolutely over the moon, they are a long term favourite of mine and I was so chuffed to be asked. I was sent a voucher to use instore and after a lot of umming and aahing, I picked these beautiful pointed flats. I love the snakeskin printed leather and slight metallic sheen - they are some good looking shoes! The leather hasn't softened yet so they're not the most comfortable but I know from experience that given time, they will be like heaven for my feet!

Which outfits put a spring in your step? Are you a Clarks fan?
P.S. Clarks sent me a voucher to trial some shoes but if I didn't love them, I wouldn't feature them!

Moroccan inspired...

I have noticed recently that I keep buying outfits that I would love to have worn when I was younger.  This Warehouse dress was (another) sale bargain and although it is ridiculously short (I didn't realise just how miniscule the skirt was until I saw these pictures) I really love it. I am more than happy to be getting older (hopefully the wisdom is on its way soon!) I am a little bit worried that I look a bit like mutton dressed as lamb, I don't think I can really pull off short skirts anymore but I imagine my grey cable knit tights would look pretty nice with this and help to tone down the shortness of it all too...

Dress: Warehouse, necklace: Accessorize, tights: Tesco, boots: gift from my parents
I am hoping to share some of my favourite lipsticks on the blog over the next couple of weeks and this Bourjois Rouge Edition Velvet lippie (shade 06 FYI) is sure to make an appearance. I picked it up for a couple of quid at Boots before Christmas and I have no idea why it was reduced as it was brand new and untouched. Ah well, Boots loss is my gain!

I have had this necklace for years (how young do I look in this outfit post?!) and it was the perfect way to tie in my brown accessories without distracting from the pattern too much. I wasn't entirely sure how flattering the contrasting bodice would be but it actually sits pretty close to my natural waist so manages to nip me in in all the right places! The print on the skirt reminds me of Moroccan tiles, I blame Pinterest for my new found obsession!

I have had these boots for years- I got them as a gift from my parents for doing well in my GCSEs (an age ago!) and they have lasted remarkably well, I haven't even needed to get them resoled in the 9 years since I have owned them! They always make me feel like I should be in a pantomime - they are pretty swashbuckling and even have a fastening across the back of them but I do love them!


Graphic prints...

Recently you may have seen people sharing their first Facebook profile pictures and whilst mine isn't too horrific, (this one on the other hand...) it took me on a lengthy trip down memory lane. I have never been particularly cool (shock horror!) but this dress really reminds me of something I would love to have worn when I was 19 or so but didn't have the confidence. Warehouse is one of my favourite brands at the moment and I am powerless to resist their sales! This dress cost a mere £12 and is one of my favourites as it is just so darned comfy (and fun with it!) I last wore this for my Nanny's birthday meal back in December and it is the perfect dress for wearing to the pub or out for a couple of drinks, it looks pulled together but is still ridiculously comfy thanks to the soft cotton it is made of. I think it may be a bit short to wear to work, but I am sure to get plenty of wear from it at the weekend. All I need now is someone to invite me out for drinks! ;) 

Dress: Warehouse, tights: John Lewis, shoes: Marks & Spencer
I have been trying to experiment with my make-up more recently and I thought this turquoise Max Factor eyeshadow was the perfect match for the dress. Unfortunately it didn't photograph very well and has made me look a bit washed out in these photographs- better luck next time I guess! I really like the t-shirt collar on this dress, it just adds to cool factor for me and helps to break up the pattern too...

I love the contrasting hems and waistband on this dress, they help to add a bit of definition to something that could be overwhelming. It was a little short for my usual nude tights so these John Lewis velvet touch tights were the perfect accompaniment. I picked them up in their sale a few years ago along with a few coloured pairs and they have lasted really well, quality hosiery is well worth the money!

Which clothes make you take a trip down memory lane?

Cosy winter essentials...

It has been a while since I have shared my winter essentials (over 2 years in fact!) and although I still love cosy tights and comfy pyjamas, I have added a few products that I can't live without to my list. I got this Ren Flash Rinse 1 Minute Facial free with an M&S order before Christmas and it is literally saving my skin at the moment. I want to try some more Ren products but not sure where to start, any recommendations? I have raved about the Dr Jart Platinum BB Cream many times before and can't recommend it enough, it's expensive but oh so brilliant!. It's difficult to explain just why I love it so much but it has improved my skin so much! These Burt's Bees Lip Shimmers (FYI I have Rhubarb and Cherry) are my new favourite lip product, they have a lovely wearable tint and taste and smell minty, what more could you ask for? 

I got this lovely Tassimo mug for Christmas from my parents and I couldn't be happier. I have been taking a cup of coffee into work each day and this has replaced my beloved coffee cup which went to the great draining board in the sky (sob) These earmuffs were a recent sale purchase from Accessorize and they couldn't be jazzier- yes they are both furry and bejewelled! ;)

I am a massive fan of scented candles and this RHS Vanilla and Cinnamon candle is the perfect wintry scent, I'm onto my third candle this year! I bought this in Waitrose and I think it may have been a limited edition one for Christmas as it seems to have sold out instore now which is a shame as I absolutely love the smell!

These slippers are probably my favourite thing that I bought this year. They were supposed to be £10 but  I got them for a mere £1.75 (The cashier must have scanned them through wrong!) and they keep my feet so nice and warm. I have been spending most of my evenings curled up on the sofa underneath my new throw (I love you IKEA!) with a big mug of Hotel Chocolat Christmas drinking chocolate (another very lovely Christmas present!) to keep the chill away and although I'm not a fan of the dark evenings, there is something quite lovely about not having to go outside!

What are your winter essentials?

Lazy Sundays...

Whilst it's not the most exciting outfit, this is a pretty standard look on a lazy Sunday for me. I can't be dealing with wearing anything too structured but occasionally you have to leave the house and pyjamas are not acceptable attire so this outfit is the next best thing! I wasn't going to take or share these photos but this blog is supposed to be about my everyday outfits however dressed up (or not!) I am! I last wore these leggings with my favourite oversized shirt but this long ASDA tunic top is a much cosier alternative for a lazy weekend! I got it from my friend Matilda and it goes perfectly with leggings and skinny jeans. I do always worry that I look slightly pregnant with the empire line waist but it is so comfy that I don't even mind!

Top: ASDA via Matilda, leggings: Monki, boots: c/o Duo
Please excuse my tired looking face but I try to give my skin a bit of a break at the weekend and not wear make-up. I am only wearing my Revlon's Just Bitten Cherish lipstick here and I love the lift it gives to my face. I am a firm believer in the power of lipstick and plan to wear a lot more of it this year, please send over your recommendations for which lipstick I should try next!

I have raved before about how much I like the gorgeous watercolour finish of these leggings so I won't bore you with it again but needless to say, these are pretty darned awesome and because they are velvet, they are really warm too, Paired with my trusty ankle boots, I was snug as a bug in a rug!

What do you wear on a lazy Sunday? Any recommendations for which lipstick I should try next?

Just be COS...

Oh ho ho, my puns do make me laugh! ;) I have written a lot recently about pushing myself out of my comfort zone and this Cos dress has been hanging in my wardrobe for about six months (ever since the lovely Alice sent it to me) until I plucked up the courage to wear it a couple of weeks agoCos is a shop that has clothes that I really love... just on other people. Modern and minimalist is not usually my style but this dress could be the exception, maybe 2015 will be the year of cool for me?! I love its cool architectural shape and colour and neon accent but I wasn't sure just how to wear it. I was going to push it to the back of my mind (and my wardrobe) again but I decided to bite the bullet and just go for it, I mean what's the worst that could happen?! Paired with my favourite shoes, this immediately felt more wearable and I decided that Tesco provided the perfect opportunity to try this 'look' in public ;)  It was a really windy and grey day when we took these photos but I'm trying to embrace how dramatic the wind made this  look, rather than worrying about how flattering it is. 

Dress:Cos gift from Alice, shoes: Marks & Spencer
With the dress being such a statement (well, for Cheltenham at least!) I kept the rest of my make-up pared back, opting for peachy neutrals to keep the focus on the dress. I bought Mac's 'BlushBaby' blusher from the lovely Alex a while ago and it is the perfect neutral for when I want to look polished but without adding too much colour to my cheeks. It doesn't look like much in the pan but is a really lovely colour once on and gives you a perfect healthy flush. I have been wearing Max Factor's Wild Eyeshadow pencil in 'Savage silver' a lot recently, I tend to smudge it over my eyelids to give them a bit of definition without it taking too much effort, ideal for when I am trying to get out the door in the morning!

I wasn't sure whether to belt this or not, but after trying a few I realised that none of them looked quite right so I decided just to wing it. There is something very freeing about wearing a cocoon shape and although I will always love my fitted dresses, I plan to play with proportions more this year. 

How would you style this dress? 

Swinging sixties...

I wasn't planning on doing any sales shopping but I found this beautiful Wallis red biker style coat (amongst a few other things!) when I was supposed to be looking for a coat for Mark instead (oops!) and have barely taken it off since. I did have a little red coat a few years ago but I sadly grew out of it (sob) so I have been on the hunt for a replacement ever since. We decided to try another location for these pictures. There is a beautiful quiet garden in the centre of the estate that we live on and it made such a beautiful backdrop- even if it was slightly more public than my usual spot! The temperature has finally dropped below zero here in Cheltenham and I have enjoyed bundling up in cosy knits and my favourite scarf to keep out the chill although I think I am probably the only person to enjoy it being this cold! I think you can tell how chilly it was from these pictures, that is frost on the ground and those are some gritted teeth I have there ;) 

Coat: Wallis, scarf: c/o Meadham Kirchhoff x Amazon, jeans: ASOS,shoes:Marks & Spencer
This top was another sales bargain and I love the swingy sixties shape and high neckline, even if it is a shape I would usually shy away from. The fact it manages to hide my (ever-growing) food baby can only be a good thing! ;) It is strange, I have put on a fair amount of weight over the past couple of years but my style has been way more interesting, I guess as your body changes, so does your attitude. This necklace was the perfect match with the high collar and jazzed it up just enough for a post-Christmas meet-up at the pub, which is always a sartorial challenge for me, I can never get the balance of smart and casual right! I imagine I will be wearing variations of this outfit into work over the next few weeks, how cool would this top look layered over a striped tee? 

Top: Warehouse, necklace: French Connection
You know how much I love these jeans and they work just as well dressed up as they do more casually. I am also on the lookout for a replacement for these shoes, they are so darned comfy and I am a little bit worried about what I am going to do when they fall apart, eBay hasn't thrown up anything as yet but I am hopeful!

What have you been wearing to keep warm this winter?

Black cherry...

From one Christmas outfit to another! This was the outfit I wore for our third (!) day of Christmas festivities which we spent with Mark's family and I was really pleased with how it turned out. I spotted this French Connection dress in the ASOS sale (are you spotting a pattern here?!) and stashed it away to wear for either Christmas or New Year. This felt like a very sophisticated look for me, I think 2014 was the year that I first felt like a grown up and my wardrobe is finally starting to follow suit. You wouldn't imagine that a bodycon lace dress would be all that comfortable but actually the jersey is so soft and stretchy, you forget that the dress is squeezing you in, in all the right places ;) Although I wore this on Boxing Day, I imagine this dress could be be pulled out for nearly any party or whenever I want to feel sassy, it is definitely another one of my favourite things that I bought this year!

Dress: French Connection, shoes: New Look, bracelet: L K Bennett (gift from my parents)
Although I'm more than happy to wear bright lipstick, I am wary of darker berry and purple colours as I worry that I look a bit too much like I am playing at dress up rather than looking sophisticated (a long term problem of mine!). This lipstick is a Max Factor one and although the name has rubbed off, I think it is this shade and I was pleasantly surprised with how easy it was to wear. Maybe I need to brave my Revlon 'Black Cherry' lipstick next?

 I'm not normally very good with sleeves but these ones are super light and fairly delicate (I was so paranoid about ripping them!) and Mark's parents house is fairly cold so I was able to get away with them. You can also (almost) see the beautiful L K Bennett charm bracelet I got from my parents too - it is absolutely beautiful and I am very lucky girl indeed! The draping at the waist is pretty unusual but it draws the eye to my waist rather than my hips which can only be a good thing!

These shoes from New Look are probably one of the cheapest pairs in my wardrobe but they are very comfy and the nude shade is super flattering, even on my pasty legs! They were worn to nearly all the weddings I went to this year and I love them so much that I have even bought a backup pair for when these ones completely fall apart!

How did your style change in 2014?

The Maria dress...

Anyone who has ever met me knows how much I love a little red dress, they were even the centrepiece of my #simplybereal moment which I shared recently! When I saw this Boutique by Jaeger dress on ASOS, I was smitten, it is red, swooshy and is even called Maria, how could I resist such a perfect dress?! The fact that the model had short dark hair was just the icing on the cake for me! I managed to snatch the last one in my size when it went on sale and I  was originally going to save this dress for the summer as it is made of 100% cotton but the swooshy shape was perfect for a (slightly dressed up) Christmas Eve outfit. A fifties style skirt hides a food baby brilliantly! ;) Don't worry, I did have a cardigan on with this but it didn't photograph very well... the sacrifices we make for blogging eh?! 

Dress: Boutique at Jaeger via ASOS, belt: Miss Selfridge, shoes: Marks & Spencer
I am always tempted to bust out the glittery and shimmery make-up at Christmas but I managed to restrain my magpie instincts and go for a pared back look which was perfectly topped off with my new Burt's Bees lip shimmer in Cherry. It gives a lovely wash of colour but doesn't need constant touch ups and as it is also a lip balm, my lips have never been in better condition! I love the Bardot/ boat neck style of this dress, it is a super flattering cut and you don't need any jewellery to jazz it up- winner!

I have owned this belt for years and although I have only worn it a handful of times, I am loath to get rid of it as it is just so darned cool! To be honest this dress probably didn't need a belt but it was the perfect excuse to wear this belt which was just fancy enough to be festive. 

Midi lengths are always a bit tricky for me, I tend to look best when a skirt finishes just above the knee but a longer length is much more elegant. I think I will have to look to the lovely Sophie for some style inspiration, she can rock a midi better than anyone! 

What would your perfect item of clothing look like?