A Random Giveaway

30 January 2011

To celebrate the end of January and the continued blog support I've decided to hold a little giveaway  with a few random items I've collected.  Most of them were purchased by me, albeit gradually and they're just a few items I love to have in my life.

a random giveaway

The prizes are:
A pair of Asos Two Tone Over the Knee socks to pull up or roll down
A Cath Kidston Mug which I may need to buy again for myself
A mini red Moleskine notebook for any quick musings, blog related or otherwise
A black Models Own x Wah Nails nail art pen to try out some leopard print, spots or stripes
A small box of Ping Pong Jasmine Tea to try out with your brand new mug!

The competition is only open to those in the UK and Europe as I'm posting it myself and it weighs a fair bit.  I will try and think up some smaller giveaways that can be posted worldwide in the future.

All you need to enter the competition is do the following:
1. Ask me a question to be answered in a future FAQ post.  There is no random.org number choosing to win this competition; make the question as interesting, thought provoking, abstract or as simple as you like and it could win the prize.  It could be about fashion, knitting, New York, London or even about blogging in general.  Bear in mind I can't answer anything too personal and if you comment saying 'Nice blog! Follow me?' you won't be entered.  Leave an e-mail address so I can contact you if you don't have a blog.

2. Make sure you are following by Blogger, Bloglovin or Facebook.  You wouldn't want to miss out on any more competitions, would you?!

Simples.  The competition will close on Monday 28th February (hopefully I will have worked out by then the best way to send the mug) and I'll post the answers plus the winning question.  Any tweets about the competition will be welcomed but bear in mind it won't help you win!  Ask away!

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Old vs New

27 January 2011

I like old things.  I like new things.  But which is better?  There's only one way to find out, FIGHT!  Okay Harry Hill references aside, I feel as there's a constant battle in my wardrobe between the old favourites I love and the new purchases I'm still getting to know.  I'm the first to admit I'm a slight shopaholic, with the magpie-like tendencies of wanting to acquire new things but I also want to make more of what I already have and remember the reasons why I chose such items in the first place.  I think this will be my 2011 mantra and ultimately aid me in culling some of my forgotten items.  Let's see how I've fared in one of those very few and far between 'Outfits of the Week' posts, with pictures taken in between hermit-like days of dissertation writing.

hat polka dot skirt grey lace top

polka dot skirt grey lace top

close up panther ring

Hat - H&M
Cardigan - Charity Shop
Top - New Look
Bodysuit - Asos
Brogues - Office
Belt - Battersea Boot Fair
Jewellery - Brooklyn, Forever 21, Topshop

First outing with my new hat!  I do want to become a bit more of a hat person as I loved wearing my straw number I bought at the yard sale over the Summer.  I went for the brown version of this hat as it looked like it would suit this transitional sort of weather and also contrasts nicely with my hair.  The only problem is that it kept trying to blow away and I dropped my phone trying to rescue it!  Bad times!  The lace top is quite an old item I bought in New Look towards the end of 2009 and the skirt was purchased in New York back in June.  The 'Old vs New' rating is maybe about 6?  It's hard to define when exactly an item becomes old as my style seems to change frequently and certain clothes no longer seem relevant.  Does it matter whether you've had an item for several months or several years?

asos white top maxi dress

suede boots tattoo tights

Dress - The Scarlet Room
Tights - Urban Outfitters
Satchel - Tom Brown
Jewellery - Forever 21, Topshop, DIY

I think the oldest items in this outfit are the tights and dress bought in May and August respectively, but everything else is a lot more recent.  I layered another Asos bargain top (this colour sold out but it went down to £6) over the maxi dress to create a more layered look, which also harps at the anti-fit trend I mentioned earlier.  The problem with anti-fit is that it doesn't photograph very well (the main photo could have very well ended up being in the rejected folder), but in reality I felt perfectly fine and comfortable.  I've also had fun bonding with my new satchel; it's very fiddly to open but I love the simplicity of the design and authentic back-to-school feel.

tartan tights black brogues

Jacket, socks, necklace - Topshop
Dress - Asos
Brogues - Office
Tights - Calzedonia
Ring - Forever 21
Belt - Angels Sale

When I buy things, I like to have multiple ideas in mind as how to wear them and make each outfit different, which can be a challenge with this distinctive dress.  I find that what makes it look interesting are the tights and accessories I pair it with, so I reverted to my trusted tartan pair bought in September 2009.  Even though I have so many pairs of tights, I can always rely on this maroon pair to add a slight schoolgirl edge to an outfit so they're constantly being worn and washed.  The leather jacket is also rather old, bought in my pre-blogging days in October 2007 after my first ever student loan payment.  I think a lot of Asda Smartprice may have been eaten that month.

yellow asos dress grey blazer satchel
I wish I could take more pictures outside, all of my indoors ones have turned a bit blue.  I blame Flickr!  If only I were brave enough to take them in the shared garden...thanks to my friend Claire for taking these!

circle scarf horse necklace

Wednesday (again)
Jacket - East End Thrift Store
Circle Scarf - American Apparel
Dress - Asos
Tights, bracelet - Topshop (lace and green pair layered)
Shoes - Ebay
Satchel - Tom Brown
Jewellery - Forever 21
Nails - Models Own Purple Ash

I had to pop down to London randomly for the day and in a effort to look vaguely smart, yet still creative, I decided to wear my brand new Asos dress.  It's a truth result of the word-of-mouth phenomenon, I'd see it on Katie in blue, who'd previously seen Alex wear it at fashion week.  I think I  must have also seen it on this blogger and subconsciously put it to the back of my mind, before I saw it again on one of my frequent Asos visits and decided to buy.  I don't often wear a lot of brights and I know I should really make the most of the whole skin-tone-contrast thing, so I decided to go for the aptly named 'oil yellow' shade.  Unfortunately I managed to spill my Chipotle on it and without the disguising virtues of black, it was visible for all to see later on.  Now where's my Stain Devils?  The blazer is the oldest item in this post bought way back in April 2009.

dissertation is complete

I'm so happy I finally handed my dissertation in!  I apologise for all of my Twitter rants about it, it's quite tricky to write academically when you're not used to it and I've a new found respect for all the fashion marketing students (as well as any student who does an essay based subject).  My topic was the whole 'Bloggers as Brands' aspect and it was definitely interesting to research (aka read about 500 blogs) and get my teeth into the whole phenomenon.  My conclusion was slightly rushed in the end everything got a bit muddled with numerous articles popping up at the last minute; I could've gone on for ever but only had 7,000 words in which to do so!  Despite the crazy amounts of Harvard referencing (had to pop Elisabeth and Disney Roller Girl in my bibliography, very surreal), I'm glad I chose this as my topic as it's something very personal to me.  I should've asked you this earlier, but do you think fashion bloggers are the new fashion brands?

Thanks for all the comments on the previous Tumblr related post, but don't fret; I'm not jumping ship!

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23 January 2011

Blogger and I have a strange sort of relationship.  I am in love with its feeling of community and affinity with all that is Google.  I dislike its clumsy way of replying to comments, lack of freedom with creating posts and the weird formatting thing it does to my links page (ok maybe I am partially to blame).  Recently my eyes have wandered to Tumblr; it's not quite an affair but a definite flirtation.  As much as I love blogging here, I can't really churn out posts due to the general indecisiveness when I write.  My Tumblr allows me to catalogue all of my recent inspirations and keep the origins intact, it's not really a replacement for this blog but a welcome friend.  Similarly to the post where I made up my own Spring 2011 trends, here are some bits and bobs I've liked, reblogged and found myself.
I have provided links to the original blogs where I can, but have inevitably used Tumblr as a virtual middleman when finding and retaining these images.  Through subconsciously gathering what I like, I can now deduce that I'm obsessed with crazy layers, maxi-skirts, collars and random prints.  Lovely jubbly.

December Tumblr Archive
171 Tumblr posts in one month?  That'd be unheard of for me on Blogger!

I especially like the archive feature, where you can view all of your previous posts at a glance.  It seems that in December I was quite partial to baggy jumpers over skirts, vintage-style coats and yet again, more maxi skirts!  It'll be interesting to see how what I like changes throughout the year; what are your thoughts on making these sorts of posts a regularity?

denim shirt high waisted skirt
Where did this image come from originally?  I can only link the Tumblr I saw it on...  
Now I know it's from here, through the magic of comments...

I've definitely become a fan of this new platform and I love the way it's so easy to remember the sources with its bookmark button.  Unfortunately the origins of certain images can sometimes get lost,  which is a shame (I've started a Tumblr patrol for a few bloggers to keep an eye on things).  It can  become simply about the image, rather than the person behind it as they're taken so far from the original context.  I've tried to rectify this by visiting some of the blogs in question and have found some great new reads as a result but unfortunately when pictures aren't credited properly, the image is just one of many floating around the internet.

Have you stepped over to the other side yet?  Did you step right back into the Blogger (or even Wordpress) garden?  Ultimately I am using Tumblr as an addition to this blog and the two will never really become blurred,  as still I do love to waffle on a bit here but not over there.  I now have two, the first being a general fashion-related scrapbook and the second for knitwear inspiration and there's no doubt I will turn to them once Uni work becomes more stressful. Link me your Tumblrs if you have them and let me know why you love (or even hate) them!

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Pressies, sales (and a few other details)

19 January 2011

kenzo influence olsens luella books

Christmas may be all but a distant memory to some but due to monetary gifts and the wonders of internet shopping, it's only now that I've managed to meet some of my presents.   Inevitably I spent some of the money on less exciting things like pre-pay Oyster top ups and bottles of Volvic, so it's slightly blurred as to whether these items were from others or just presents to myself.  A few of the more definite gifts were these books my Mum treated me to; as a fellow fashion obsessive, she understood my need to have them.

kenzo book

kenzo pop up book

The Kenzo book was the one I was the most excited to receive, after only having a quick flick through in the V&A shop.  I love how tactile the book is, with pages which fold out and pop up and I can't wait to have a more in depth look once my dissertation wiring is over.  Also looking forward to finally reading Luella's Guide to English Style and Influence for obvious reasons.

tom brown leather satchel

I also finally bought myself this leather satchel, which I guess you could say was mostly funded by my Aunt.  As I ordered it a few days after Christmas, I assumed it would take a while to come and had it sent to my Uni address.  Little did I know that it would arrive a day later and there would be some sort of Royal Mail Redelivery rigmarole to finally get it in my hands last weekend.  It's exactly what I'd hoped for (you can see I've been loving it for a while as it's in my background) and is the exact same design as the Cambridge satchels, which sell for around £20 more!  I hope they bring more colours and designs out, as I quite fancy the navy.

topshop antler ring

Now onto the sale buys.  My only offline sale purchase was this hugely impractical antler ring from Topshop, which fills passers by with fear.  

selfridges delivery box

yellow polka dotted box

nine west vintage america shoes
Thanks to Miss Rocks for the photo

I never expected to ever be able to order anything from the Selfridges website but lo and behold I managed to spot these Nine West shoes for the lowly sum of £19!  I loved the vague creeper relation and vital heel height to keep the illusion going and the fact they arrived perfectly scruffed up.  I don't normally like paying for postage but in this case, you get your money's worth.  I wasn't expecting the bright burst of yellow as I opened the box and the crazy amount of tissue paper, but the packaging  almost excited me as much as the shoes themselves.  I wore these heels to the Next event and they were really comfortable, though a little big for me.  Insoles at the ready.

asos lace maxi dress

You might have guessed that Asos would feature quite heavily in my sale buying.  I think the allure of free delivery and returns makes me never think twice about placing an order and I even have a dedicated 'Go in the sale' bookmarks folder to keep track of when things go down.  I'd been coveting this lace dress for a while and actually ended up ordering it 4 times as it went down further to £23.  The first time I tried it on was disheartening, as I'd just eaten a massive Nandos feast and there's no zip enclosure but a few days later I braved the bigger size and found it pulled on a lot more easily.  I guess this shows that you should always buy the right size and not take the label to heart.  I can't wait to wear this in summer, chucked over a bandeau and bike shorts but for now, tights and a long vest will have to do.

holly fulton asos leggings

holly fulton for asos leggings

As a massive Holly Fulton fan, I was pleased to see some of her designs in the sale (though maybe Holly wouldn't see it that way) and ordered the shoulder pad dress and these printed leggings.  Unfortunately I didn't really like the dress on me but my Mum happened to pop in my room and snap it up, so at least it's within the household if I ever change my mind.  I kept the leggings as they seemed more up my street.
h and m brown trilby hat

Somehow I'd avoided going into an H&M store for about 3 months, until about a week ago.  My friend gave me the knowing look as we headed in, and I kept thinking to myself 'You're doing really well' as I walked past everything.  That was until I saw this hat.  I've being trying to search for a hat to fit my gigantic head for a while, so was pleased to discover that H&M doesn't assume all women have the same sized heads and actually stocks them in small, medium and large.  It's also 100% wool so an unexpected sort of quality for £7.99.  Have you seen much in H&M recently?  Somehow they've tracked me down and sent me a catalogue, though I'm not quite sure how...

topshop longline bra

I thought I'd include this purchase as I intend to wear it as a top, but I'm pleased I finally managed to find a bralet in my size. Now I'm not really a massive fan of cleavage but I really love the construction of these sorts of things, and think that the juxtaposition with a high-waisted maxi skirt (and possibly a sheer shirt over the top) will possibly make me feel a lot more comfortable.  I have an outfit in mind but will have to wait until it's a lot warmer to try it out...

red tops topshop american apparel

I'm also still loving the cranberry hue at the moment, and went for a brighter version in the scalloped Topshop top and a more earthy tone in the American Apparel peter-pan shape.  The AA number is a result of the Groupon deal they did inconveniently before Christmas, which I somehow couldn't resist!

I think my 'shopping ban' will have to start in February, as it's all gone out the window this month!  It's tricky as I want to try and go for quality over quantity this year, but somehow I still end up browsing Asos and Topshop at all kinds of crazy hours of the day. I don't really want to enforce a limit but I do need to sort out my spending and start saving for a new camera (plus the very scary graduate collection I have to knit).  What are your shopping thoughts of the moment, have you been buying much recently or nothing at all?

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So what's Next?

16 January 2011

close up vip pass

winnie and jen
Jen and Winnie smile for the camera

next mock shop

I must admit I had been neglecting my visits to Next recently, so was very intrigued when I was invited to their Blogger Event at their Leicester base.  I'm always excited to meet fellow bloggers, but usually this tends to take place in London (or even Birmingham) so it was a bit like a fish-out-of-water Sex and the City 2 type situation, with a bus load of bloggers in a very far-flung setting.  Despite the change of scenery, we managed to transfer our online conversations to real life and it was nice to see many a familiar face on the bus (and even those that weren't, I may have still gurned at so I apologise) and feel a sense of belonging.

bloggers at next

breakfast buffet

next spring summer 11

next trend presentation

After a quick breakfast nibble, we were given a lowdown on how Next had interpreted the seasons trends, tailoring what was seen on the catwalks and street to fit their customer.  We were shown a few pieces and allowed to give feedback and suggestions to the range so it will be interesting to see if any of it is taken on board.  I championed sheer maxi skirts, red lace dresses and Basso and Brooke style prints (so basically everything from my SS11 trend post) and will be stalking my local store in earnest.

paintbox colours

close up notes
My crazy handwriting, a £10 in the post if you understand a word I've written*

next spring summer fabrications

next collared white summer dress

next locker room trend

paintbox trend inspiration


Even without our feedback, it was great to see the direction Next is heading in for SS11 with some really nicely embellished pieces, fun prints and sheer shirts in a variety of colours.  I wasn't the only one who let out a yelp of delight at the sheer, white collared dress you can see in one of the pictures above.  Even from a distance I could tell it was the perfect versatile dress for summer and that some collective website stalking would take place over the blogosphere.  All very exciting.  Afterwards it was time for the style challenge and the chance to put my SS11 trend interpretations into practice.

next bandeau tops

next striped jumper with black maxi skirt

next sandals with grey tights

next white blazer outfit challenge copy
Everything I'm wearing here is Next, apart from the jewellery and tights.  Random fact: The shoes were two sizes too small and the skirt two sizes too big!  And as Tyra might say, I've lost my neck!

Somehow my ramblings were edited into a video, I think I'm using my telephone voice and have never said 'love' so much in my life...

At Next HQ they have a 'mock shop', which could also serve as some sort of time travel device as it shows some of the product that will be in store come February.  We were given a key item to style up and were let loose in a Supermarket Sweep (sans Dale Winton) kind of way, with an array of sizes, colours and pieces to put together in a set amount of time.  I was given a white linen blazer to style up, which admittedly wouldn't have been my first choice and I did delay myself slightly by chatting to some of the lovely people at Next and Jam, before realising that heck, I had a photoshoot to do and a video to film.  How do these celebrities do it?! It took quite a bit of time to get the anti-fit look I wanted (you can see in one of Winnie's photos that I had armfuls of stuff) but I had a very vague Junya Watanabe reference in mind I wanted to achieve (I didn't even attempt to pronounce this in the video).  As bloggers we're used to styling ourselves, but it is very rare that we have to do it in front of each other (sometimes squeezed into the same changing room) with unfamiliar clothing, but in the end I appreciated this part of the challenge and the chance to try something different. I somehow ended up wearing tights and sandals, which I swore I'd never do and surprisingly I quite liked the outcome.  Result!

bright flowers

blogger round table

winners next style challenge

style challenge winners

It was quite interesting to have a competitive element throughout the day, as it's not often that us bloggers are pitted against one another, normally co-existing in our own spaces in the web.   However, it really was the taking part that counted as I got to speak to so many interesting people, eat some tasty food and learn a lot more about the design process of a shop that isn't always on my radar.  A few  other high-street shops could do with taking a leaf out of their book, with regards to their efforts  and understanding of blogs and social media. Five deserving winners were chosen from the styling challenge and will have their looks shot on models for the Next Bloggers Lookbook, so look out for them!

topshop jacket shrug and cos silk shirt

jewellery and leopard nails close up

Jacket, shrug, tights, watch necklace, ring - Topshop
Silk Shirt - Cos via Mary's Living and Giving
Leather shorts - c/o Very
Shoes - Nine West
Bag, gold necklace - Brooklyn Flea
Fairisle socks, Cross Ring - Forever 21
Photos - c/o Jazmine, who got told off by security for taking these!

It was certainly a relief to get back into my own clothes again, though it's very likely the sheer skirt will be purchased next month and teamed with existing items in my wardrobe.

 vintage bag
I loved Emily's vintage bag and somehow got a picture of it on a moving coach.  It was also nice to see Elisabeth, Kit, Carrie, Lucy, Jill and Shini and meet Sarah, Sophie and Becca at the event among a few others I need to track down.  I hope they all upload their videos!

So seeing all of the fabulous bloggers made me realise how happy this part of my life makes me (blogging is now my main hobby on my CV, woop) as it was like meeting up with a huge group of old friends and like-minded people.  I just wished it could've gone on for longer (though Winnie and I did end up chatting in Leicester station for two hours afterwards, which could've easily gone on longer if I didn't have vital food shopping to do)!  What are your thoughts on Next as a brand?

*I jest, sorry! Thanks to Next and Jenny at Jam!

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