Casual stripes

It seems like a long time since these photos were taken, it is definitely too chilly for sandals and bare legs in the mornings now! I have written a few times about buying the best you can afford and this gorgeous stripy French Connection dress may not be cheap but it wears a darn sight better than the cheaper equivalents in my wardrobe. The cotton jersey is super soft and breathable which I really love. I am always warm so anything that can help keep me cool is a winner in my book! As the main colour is navy, I was going to go down my usual route of red lipstick and accessories but even I like mixing it up occasionally! ;) I used to be really self-conscious about my legs as I am covered in old scars and bruises. I'm sure to anyone else they are practically invisible but it has taken me a while to become more confident in going out without nude tights. Isn't it strange what people worry about?

Dress: French Connection, shoes: Nine West
I had just been to have my hair cut before we took these pictures hence why it looks so big and bouncy here! I don't often have pictures of the side of it but this gives a slightly better look. My hair is so thick that it has to be graduated at the back otherwise I end up with a complete mop top! 

These shoes have been in my wardrobe for a very long time (check out them in action from April 2011!) and although they are looking pretty dog-eared, I can't bring myself to throw them away as they are just so comfy, especially when it is warm!

I always think that this park near our house feels like Narnia (I blame the lamppost!) We are really lucky to have plenty of green spaces in Cheltenham and I do feel very lucky that this is all on my doorstep. I really need to get out and explore the town more though so if anyone has any recommendations, please let me know! 

A 1950s inspired gingham dress...

There's something so easy about wearing a dress in the sunshine and this cute gingham dress from Matalan is a cute 1950s inspired addition to my wardrobe. Sales shopping can be dangerous but as promised, this dress is fun and practical and I have already got a lot of wear out of it. Monochrome can be tricky but I love it with a couple of splashes of hot pink as it just feels so fun! I didn't wear this outfit for any special occasion but I wanted to make the most of having bright weather before I retreat into the comfort of cosy jumpers and berry tones. These photos were so difficult to take, I am so pale that if I brightened them much more I was glowing onscreen, haha!

Matalan black and white gingham dress, monochrome, 1950s inspired, Clarks pink suede flat shoes, Bourjois Ping Pong velvet matte lipstick, hot pink belt, Accessorize cat eye sunglasses (1)
Dress: Matalan, belt: Matalan (with dress),  shoes: Clarks, sunglasses: Accessorize
Whilst I love red lipstick, hot pink feels less serious and this Bourjois lipstick was a welcome addition of colour. I'm loving having shorter hair again, it is so much easier to straighten! Looking back over old posts, it strikes me how young I look in a lot of them and whilst I'm hardly old now, I look a lot closer to my age with short hair. I do sometimes miss having longer hair but cutting it all off was the best decision I made and I still love it a year and a half later!

Matalan black and white gingham dress, monochrome, 1950s inspired, Clarks pink suede flat shoes, Bourjois Ping Pong velvet matte lipstick, hot pink belt, Accessorize cat eye sunglasses (1)

You know how much I love a full skirt and this one is perfectly swooshy. I was going to wear my hot pink heels but I felt a bit too wedding-y with them on and I love the freedom you get with flats, especially when you are skipping around Tesco! 

Matalan black and white gingham dress, monochrome, 1950s inspired, Clarks pink suede flat shoes, Bourjois Ping Pong velvet matte lipstick, hot pink belt, Accessorize cat eye sunglasses (1)

Are you a fan of fifties frocks?


Summer seems like a long time ago now but bright colours are in constant rotation in my wardrobe, however gloomy the skies are outside. This midi dress was a total impulse buy;  a fitted jersey midi dress is so far out of my comfort zone that it is laughable but the jazzy pattern really drew me to it. The print is full of my favourite colours and I have all kinds of plans for what to pair with it. I mean wouldn't this teal blazer look ace?! I was initially very self-conscious when I went out in this but actually once I got used to wearing something so bodycon, I felt pretty darned cool. I am breathing in massively here but I think the addition of the print helps, it seems to distract the eye from paying too much attention to any lumps and bumps you would rather have ignored! 

Dress: Oasis, camisole: H&M, shoes: Clarks
I really love the crochet collar detail on the top of this dress but the bodice is so low cut that I had to add a bandeau top underneath to preserve my modesty. I guess a sliver of skin helps to stop it looking too frumpy so I can't complain too much! This Bewitching Coral Max Factor lipstick is one of my favourite lippies and it matched really well- I love it when a plan comes together!

I mean would you expect me to be wearing any other shoes with this outfit?! It seems like I have barely taken this coral pair off recently but they are just so cheery and I want to make the most of wearing them before the rain stops me wearing all of my lovely suede shoes!

Which clothes would you never wear? Any tips on introducing midis into my wardrobe?


Apologies for the distinct lack of posts recently on the blog. We have had a family bereavement and as you can imagine, it has been a tough time for everyone. I'm hoping to be back soon but in the meantime, thank you for all of your lovely messages, they really do mean a lot.

A return to reading...

This post contains a book that was sent for review

It's weird. I never realised how immersed I was in the world of books and publishing until I moved jobs. It was very strange to go from being surrounded by stacks of books to only having them at home. I have always loved books but I didn't realised how much I missed them until recently. Unfortunately time constraints and a rising level of stress has meant that my reading has suffered massively over the last few years but I have been making a conscious effort to switch off the TV and my laptop in the evening and curl up with a good book instead. My new job also allows me a slightly longer lunch so I'm able to whiz through a chapter (or ten!) during the day too. The best thing though was when my friend Tash decided to start a book group last year, it is super fun when we get together and although I have missed the last couple of sessions, I still manged to read the books. I really enjoy it and it has forced me out of my comfort zone to find new books and authors to love. I'm always on the lookout for new books (don't tell Mark and my poor buckling bookshelf) so please do share your recommendations!

Farfetch Curates Design Book, The Knockoff, The Talented Mr Ripley, The Light Between Oceans, Never Let Me Go, Fingersmith books, reading, relaxing  (2)
The Knockoff by Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza, The Talented Mr Ripley by Patricia Highsmith, Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman, Fingersmith  by Sarah Waters and Farfetch Curates Design
These are some of the books I have read recently and although I wasn't a massive fan of Never Let Me Go (It fell flat for me as I just couldn't connect with the characters) I have really enjoyed the rest, especially The Talented Mr Ripley. Nicky, you will be pleased that I really loved your latest pick for book group, no moths in this one! ;)

Farfetch Curates Design Book

Whilst I tend to read fiction, I have a lot of non-fiction on my TBR pile too, including the lovely Farfetch Curates Design book which was sent to me c/o the publishers Assouline. Whilst it is much smaller than you would expect for a coffee table book, I really enjoyed reading it and it is a really pretty package. It's the second book in the 'Farfetch Curates...' series and I am going to have to order the food one too as it looks great! Whilst £16 isn't cheap, the book feels like a lot of care and attention has gone into it (bonus: it smells amazing too!) and it would make a lovely gift for anyone interested in design, especially as it doesn't take up tons of room when you have a tiny flat!

Apparently Dundee is one of the new design capitals; the first city in the UK to be recognised by the United Nations as a UNESCO City of Design which is pretty cool. I wasn't a massive fan of the city when we visited Scotland last year but it sounds like we might need to make another trip up! I wish I could share all of the pages in this book, there are some beautiful pieces inside, including some amazing bus stops (not a sentence I ever thought I would be writing on this blog!) and some really inspiring people too. 

Are you a reader? Which books do you love?

P.S. I was sent this book to review but if I didn't love it, I wouldn't feature it!

Getting out of a clothing rut...

Recently I have been trying to cut back on how many clothes I buy (not that you would know from the state of my wardrobe) and focus on only buying things that are both fun and practical. This H&M top is one such purchase; I spotted it on my lunch break a few weeks ago and was umming and aahing about whether to buy it but I caved eventually as it is just so versatile. Since wearing this to work, I have worn it with my black jeans and a leather jacket to go to the pub, a bodycon skirt (remember those?!) and with various coloured blazers to jazz it up. The longer length means that it skims over my tummy (the part of my body I am least fond of) nicely and looks snazzy with minimum effort on my part (always good when you are feeling lazy!) This teal blazer is another old favourite of mine and I am determined to find the same style in navy as I wear it so often!

Blazer: Miss Selfridge c/o Matilda, top: H&M, trousers: ASOS, shoes: Clarks
I really love the cool scribble print of this top and the gold detailing (does it count as a necklace?!) means it doesn't need any extra accessories which can only be a good thing! As usual, I am wearing my favourite red lipstick, I know it's not exactly ground-breaking but I just really, really love it! 

I set myself the challenge of beating my previous record for not repeating a work outfit (I went 14 weeks at the start of my last job!) and so far it's going well. It's been nearly 9 weeks since I started my new job so I've got another 6 weeks to go! ;) Whilst I have repeated certain items (like these trousers) I don't allow myself to recreate an outfit with very minor differences (e.g. a different white top) so recreating this look with black jeans would count as repetition. It may seem silly but I've found it's a good way to get me out of a clothing rut and to wear more of my wardrobe. I don't know if I will be enjoying the challenge as much in a few weeks but we shall see!

How do you get out of a clothing rut? What's the longest you've gone without repeating an outfit?

The Maria uniform...

Guess what? It's Maria wearing stripes and red lipstick again! I know, this has been a bit of a uniform for me for many years now but when they look so good together, who can resist?! I picked up this cute striped dress on my lunch break (working in town is lethal!) and wore it into work the next day. I have no self control and new clothes are the hardest thing to resist. I love the 1960s shape of this and I felt pretty darn cool in this outfit. It was also super fun to wear which is always a good thing! I couldn't believe that I was resorting to thick tights so early in the year but I guess summer never really got started. Autumn is my favourite season (blogger cliché alert!) and I can't wait to try this with black boots and burgundy or green tights once the leaves start to drop! I really wanted to wear my favourite red bag with this outfit but a bag that small is just not practical for work, however cute it is! 

Dress: New Look, necklace: Dorothy Perkins, tights: Tesco, shoes: c/o George at ASDA
This Max Factor lipstick is my absolute favourite, it is just so bright and it matches my red necklace so well. I have had this necklace for nearly a decade and although it's not exactly high fashion, I can't bring myself to throw it away - I just wonder at what point can I call it vintage?! 

I was worried about this being a little bit short but some trusty black opaques and my beloved block heel shoes made me feel much more comfortable. I have quite short legs so anything that helps them  look longer is a winner in my book!

What's your uniform?