Quick Style Fixes for Busy Mums

It's not vanity. It's self-respect.

Archive for the category “Great value shopping”

Heavenly Trousers

I love going home because there’ll always be a WAD of style supplements by the bed, saved for me by my gorgeous mum.

After flicking through them yesterday, a few things stood out.

White is everywhere. Monochrome is everywhere. Jacquard is everywhere. And this spring, everyone’s talking about the ‘wowser trouser’.

Here are a few to start us off, all from Asos, because they are brilliant and I am tired. 

Asos monochrome check, £45:


Asos Geo Tile Print trousers, £35


Micro Geo trousers, £30:

micro geo

Whistles Fluoro Jacquard Trousers, £125:

whistles fluoro



Asos have styled them brilliantly – simple and wearable for the everyday, and worn with plain black or white on the top half.

Admittedly, they’ve been sexed up here with heels, but if you want something a bit more casual, I’d go for a REALLY plain black flat:

Like these from Dune, £55:



Or these lovely ones, £25:liberty I am now obsessed with Asos.

What are you lusting over for Spring?


I fancy her clothes and Gap printed shirts

What I loved about Bristol when I moved here from London seven years ago was that, when meeting someone for the first time, what you did for a living was never the first topic of conversation. People were much more concerned with what you did for pleasure, what you did at the weekend, and whether you liked cider.

Bristolians, by and large, place more emphasis on inner happiness than the outer trappings of success. That’s why the city has a reputation for being nonchalantly stylish, and that’s why I love it so much. It’s not about being immaculately groomed – it’s about carefree dressing. You need clothes that will take you from work, to the pub, to a gig, or to the coast at the weekend, at a moment’s notice.

So most of the Bristolian women whose outfits I have blogged about have a certain ‘Bristolian essence’ which I would best describe as nonchalant, cool, a bit scruffy, occasionally androgynous, and infinitely versatile.

And as a means of showing what I mean, and showing off a bit because I’ve learnt how to make an online collage, here is a quick snapshot:-

Scruffy Chic

And then this morning I met a woman whose outfit again sums up all those things I have come to love about my city’s style. Yes, it’s a new  ‘I fancy Your clothes!’





I love this look – everything really works, the bleached out grey jeans and the battered Bertie boots are perfect together. The woven belt, bird-print Gap shirt and soft cardie have a Little House on the Prairie feel, updated with an edgier vibe – which can only be a good thing.

CarolAnne’s Quick Style Tips:

“When you’re a mum, don’t try to dress for anyone but for yourself – you can still wear what you love, you don’t have to worry about dressing ‘like a mum’. Even I was a pregnant this was something I’d aim for, I never wore maternity clothes, I’d just buy bigger sizes and wore everything really tight! If you loved fashion before, don’t give up on it now, and sooner or later you’ll feel comfortable in your own things again.”

CarolAnne’s bird-print shirt was the killer for me, and who would have thought it would come from Gap? Now there’s a shop I haven’t thought about or visited for a couple of years. This bird-print shirt made me rethink my bias and am I glad I did.

A quick scroll through their printed shirts online shows that someone, somewhere in Gapland knows how to design a good printed shirt. And to top it all off, some of them are on sale. Here are my top 5:

Shrunken Boyfriend Shirt in Blue, £29.95


Teacup Print Shirt, £29.95

Teacup print popover shirt - red

This is beautiful, £29.95:

New tailored print shirt - navy print

This Polka Dot shirt has a seventies feel that I dig a lot. £19.95 on sale:

Pocket popover shirt - polka dot

This has got a Cat Print. Need I say miaow? £29.95

Fitted boyfriend cat print shirt - neon pink

You can see the whole collection here and remember – hanging up a shirt in the bathroom while you have a hot bath is almost as good as ironing it.

Cuff bracelets are amazing.

Once in a while I get flashes of inspiration so powerful I feel like Brian Cox must feel ALL THE TIME, especially when he’s looking into a sunset, contemplating life’s energy.

Or posing next to a tiger cub… look. It’s hard to say what’s cuter.


Anyway, what? Oh yes. Flashes of inspiration.

I had one this week and here it is.

Cuff bracelets.

They are so cool. Why have I not realised this before?

This very cool street style tumblr has, obviously.

I love the contrast of the slouchy luxe jumper with the metallic cuff. Then it’s all set off by the red polish. Divine.

street style cuff bracelet

It’s also such an easy look for a busy mum to pull off. If you have a massive oversized jumper lurking around somewhere and some bright nail polish, all you now need is a metallic cuff and you’re away.

(If you’re looking for a huge grey jumper like the one above, check this one out.)

Women, embrace metallic cuffs, and watch in amazement as:

1. Your arms look thinner.

2. You feel yourself getting stronger and more assertive, as you feel a bit Amazonian. Harper’s Bazaar said it best: “Worn on one wrist or both, statement or subtle, the cuff has the ability to toughen an outfit whilst retaining luxury and sophistication.”


If your wardrobe is plain and utilitarian, so much the better. These cuff bracelets need a simple canvas from which to shine.  And, as Harpers & Queen reckon a metallic cuff should be in every woman’s top 10, what more convincing do we need? I am on to a good thing.

Here are just a few I found online to kick-start you off:

UNDER £10:

River Island Gold Tone Minimal Cuff, £8

river island

Embossed Mango Cuff, £3.99:

mango cuff


Top Shop Metal Layer Cuff, £12.50:

top shop cuff


These cuffs are hammered for a more rustic look. Approx £20.30 from this Etsy seller:

hammered cuff bracelet


Aspinall’s Cleopatra Cuff is a bit gorgeous. £125.


Stella & Dot’s Petra Bracelet, £85:



Do you know a wonderful source for cuff bracelets I haven’t mentioned? Tell me here – I’d love to know.

Have  a great weekend and hope you get lots of sleep, lie-ins, breakfast in beds and the odd cuddle.

Pugs, cats, and a fine selection of puns. Visit this shop now.

It’s amazing where aimless internet browsing can take me. One minute I’m falling asleep while reading about email marketing, the next I’m sitting upright in my chair and shouting: GADZOOKS.

For I have stumbled upon a GLORIOUS WEBSITE selling wonderful clothes. Allow me to introduce ModCloth.

ModCloth was set up by a US couple with a love of vintage clothes. You can read more about the founders here or just look at this cute picture of them with a pug.

Right, that’s the science part over. Let’s get down to business. Please note all prices are in US dollars…

I love this Dance Floor Date Dress, $57.99.

as well as the Jenna Field Good Dress, $155.99:

They have a gorgeous selection of vintage-looking one piece swimsuits, of which this little Emerald beauty ($89.99) stood out for me:

If I ever buy a playsuit, it will be The Dusk to Awning Romper for $79.99.   

What else? Well it was hard to pick a favourite from this selection of necklaces but this Luxe-y to be your Friend chain necklace for $33.99 is pretty cool.

as is this Spiky Blue necklace for $24.99 – will look great with a tee.

Top punning marks as well for the I Will Walrus Love You necklace.

You can also buy cool things for your home, handbags, shoes – look at this little pair of beauties: Clouds in My Latte bootie, $42.99

The list is endless. Luckily because the website is so beautifully designed and such a joy to navigate you won’t even notice the hours flying by as you browse. Fortunately for us, ModCloth ship to the UK (allow 10 days for delivery) and they even sell iphone cases with cats on them.

I literally couldn’t ask for anything more. God bless America.

If you do one thing this week – snap up a vintage dress for £10.

Dresses are like home for me; I always go back to them.

All these dresses are picked from Asos’ marketplace; a place for independent boutiques and girls just hoping to make a spare penny. I’ve written about Asos marketplace before, here, but the site is so vast and brilliant it needs repeat visits.

Just check with the traders about their return policies as every one is different.

Lovely lace dress, size 8, £10. Perfect for cups of tea, stroking kittens and breaking hearts. If you have the boobs to fill those cups I take my hat off to you.

Vintage vine print dress, size 14, £10. I love anything with a print, and anything that can be belted. This is a winner for autumn and those sleeves are so flattering.

1980’s long checked dress, size 12, £10. This is such a gutsy sexy dress. As the model so aptly demonstrates, it needs a belt, attitude, and a swoosh of hair.

Vintage tea-dress, size 12, £10.  I wouldn’t sit down to drink my orange juice either if I was wearing a dress this perfect.

Blue-green vintage sleeveless dress, size 12, £10. I think I’ve died and am in heaven. I’d like 20/20 vision and Ryan Gosling’s number. Honestly, you don’t get much better than this. Super flattering, great fabric, lovely colours, great shape. In fact, forget you saw this, I’m getting it. THIS DRESS DOES NOT EXIST. YOU ARE SEEING THINGS.

So there you have it ladies, beautiful frocks for a £10. You’ll be helping independent traders and reducing the amount of disposable fashion on the planet – the only excuse, surely, you need this week for a spot of online shopping.

What is your favourite dress here? Which Asos boutiques do you love? TELL ME. I NEED YOUR BRAIN.

The challenge of the yellow shorts solved!

As Face, or Fingers, or the other one in the A-team used to say – I love it when someone tells me what to wear. (I’m paraphrasing here.)

I didn’t use to, certainly not when I was 14 and I wanted to go out in my brother’s old boxers which I had crudely stitched together at the back to them make tighter. I wore it with my Levis 501 t-shirt and tried to sneak out of the front door. Surprisingly, my mother was having none of it. Major row erupted.

But now, when people make sartorial advice, I take it. And so, Sara, I took your advice of teaming the tricky-but-promising yellow shorts with a fitted shirt.

Here is the result:-

This was taken at the end of the hottest day of the year so far, so everything looks a bit rumpled. I could also do with a tan. But apart from that, it’s a bit of a revelation to me; high-waisted shorts + fitted shirt = whole new look. This could also work with brogues or nude wedges instead of flip-flops.

I hope that this will inspire some of you to walk into a charity shop and try on something that you wouldn’t normally think of wearing. It might make you see yourself or your body in a new light, revive something in your closet that you haven’t worn for a long time, or make you feel like a 1950s starlet.

I live in hope.

PS – Thank you, Sara, whoever you are. You can come again.


A ‘wow’ dress

I have spent years stopping stylish women on the street and not letting them pass till they revealed where they’d bought their outfit. Yes, I may have scared some of them, but more importantly, I learnt an important lesson. Where women shop has almost no bearing on the end result.

More important than the label, it’s the way a woman holds herself when she’s wearing something perfect. And, to me, what makes a woman stand, move, and behave differently, is the right dress for her.

This lovely lady of wonderfulness I bumped into at my local library is a perfect example. One photo is a bit blurry but I wanted to include both:-

What I love about her look is how confident it allows her to be. The dress is tailored perfectly to her shape, that lovely nipped in waist accentuates her curves, and the pattern is floral but not insipid; it’s got a hint of drama about it, which is perfect for mums wanting quick definition.

As Jeanette shows, all this dress needs is sunglasses and flats and you’re ready to walk out of the door and conquer the world. Thank you Jeanette!


Her Quick Style Fix Tip: “Debenhams are offering a free personal shopping guide at the moment. I went yesterday and had a service with their in-store stylist, who recommended this dress.”

This is such a great idea – let’s all go tomorrow, shall we?

Beautiful shoes on a budget

When it comes to shoes, there are three little words I love hearing. “Are those Zara?” Especially when the shoes in question were £10, from Barratts.

These were the ones that prompted the question from my friend Tamsin. I spotted them on my way to buy a friend’s birthday present.

I don’t think they look very good on the website, so I took my own photo.

These shoes are perfect. I’ve worn them all day and not had one blister. In fact, I’m reluctant to take them off. So lovely are they, I went on the Barratts website to look at some more and I’ve passed a very pleasant hour.  Here is my pick of the best.

Barratts are on sale so take advantage now. (They aren’t paying me to say that. They don’t even know I exist.)

I like these Marc Jacobs-esque stripy sandals reduced from £28 to £15. Team them with neutral colours on your top and bottom half for a modern look.

These glittery t-bar shoes (again reduced from £28 to £15) are gorgeous. Again, I’d wear them with a neutral colour palette – jeans, simple t – and a poppy nail colour.

I might have a thing for animal print, but even the most hardened opponent might be swayed by this gorgeous pair of sandals, reduced from £28 to £15:

Now heels. Again, the colours for this are spot on. I would wear these with tailored blue jeans and a simple blue v-neck. These shoes aren’t garish, but wonderful. Tri-tone pointed court shoes, reduced from £32 to £10:

And finally I like these grey biker boots, reduced from £20 to £12 – I’d wear with grey skinnies or simple grey leggings and an oversized jumper.

There must be dozens more gems on the website but these were the ones that most struck a chord with me. If you do end up buying any of them, drop me a line! I’d love to know.

Finally, this is how I wore my new sandals today; simple. You can tell how much I like them as I couldn’t stop looking at them.

Sandals: Barratts, Jeans: Mango, Jumper: M&S

Brogues and a denim shirt

I love a soft-as-butter, faded, tailored denim shirt. They’re just so easy for casual day-to-day wearing, and a more structured, quirky alternative to cardigan. You can dress up with oversized earrings and red lippy for evening but during the day all they need are a good pair of jeans or maxi-skirt. I decided to team mine with my trusty Levi Curves and some pale blue brogues for an easy androgynous look that take seconds to put together. The pale pink t-shirt underneath the shirt ends beneath my hips (the widest part of my body) and on my thighs, which are thinner, for a more flattering look:

If you’re new to double denim, try wearing fitted items rather than baggy; it’s an easier look to pull off and can be more flattering.

Pink t-shirt: Charity Shop find, think it’s H&M, Denim shirt: Limited Collection at M&S, Jeans: Levis, Brogues: Clarks

The shirt is about 7 years old and I love it so much I haven’t bought one since, but there are loads of good ones around. I saw this shirt on Ebay for about £12 – click here if you want to bid on it.

Clarks do a great range of brogues which are really comfortable and not pricey (and they’re on sale) Check them out at: http://www.clarks.co.uk/c/womens-shoes/brogues Mine were called Henderson Way.

I would love to see your denim shirt and brogue photos – please get in touch if you take one and we can start a movement!

BHS – a revelation.

We spent the weekend at my marvellous in-laws, who kindly offered to have P. for a few hours on Sunday morning. My other half (let’s call him B.) and I went out for coffee in the town centre. Then, because B wanted to return a jumper which had gone bobbly, I kindly offered to accompany him to the shops. I know – selfless.

In the vast shopping centre I spotted BHS, and found myself being inexplicably drawn in. B. saw the far-away dreamy look in my eyes and wisely decided to give me an hour to myself to browse. Full of joy at being footloose and pram and toddler free, I went off to look around the store. Ladies, I can’t even begin to tell you what a revelation it was.

I’m going to start with some of the clothes I road-tested. Hold on to your hats.

These coral wedges (£20)made me look a few kilos skinnier and had the uncanny effect of making every outfit I tried on in the store look amazing. The photo makes them look quite cheap; they look better in real life. They were also comfortable and not too high.

They looked fab with these Aztec Print Shorts (£20) which made my short legs looks a bit longer.

They also looked amazing with this ridiculously comfortable Brown Leopard Print Dress Wallis dress (some BHS stores stock Wallis) £40. Again, the picture doesn’t do this dress justice; it’s very flattering for all sorts of wobbly areas and I realised that leopard print dresses are just so wonderfully vampy.

I loved the cheeky little nod to Chanel on this Peter Pan collar top (£12).

And this Belted Denim Dress (£32) was stylish, comfortable, and would work anywhere; a must for mums at all stages of motherhood.

I also tried on loads more shoes which were gorgeous and ridiculously cheap, a pair of printed trousers which I can’t find on the website but were the best printed palazzo trousers I have ever worn and were super flattering on the bum. I loved the broderie anglaise effect pyjamas I found under their Sleep Lounge label (again, not very well represented on their website.)

As if that wasn’t enough to tempt you in, may I remind you that most BHS stores are vast; there is lots of space for prams. Because BHS is not at the cutting edge of fashion, you don’t have lots of teenagers jostling for space in the changing rooms, so if you pick your time wisely you can have the store more or less to yourself.

The changing rooms are normally big enough to accommodate a large pram and yourself; perfect for mums with youngish babies. The one I had today was massive. There were no queues for the changing rooms (again, BHS’s relative untrendiness will work in your favour here.)

And finally, the cafe was another revelation. It was spacious with lots of retro white Eames style chairs, dozens of high-chairs, and lots of smiling staff. There were changing facilities and a great menu and it was all just one elevator ride away. You wouldn’t get that in the Gap!

I walked out of BHS an inspired woman. This is one British store supplying decent, wearable, fashionable clothes for women which are easy – dare I say pleasurable? – to try on and buy. Yes, there are some boring clothes in there which don’t do anyone any favours, and you do need to be willing to look a bit carefully to find the gems, but you will find them. Do not be put off by the difficult-to-negotiate website which does not do justice to the clothes themselves; this is one store you should definitely visit. I’d love to hear your feedback once you have….

PS Doesn’t Roger Federer look lovely in a suit? Another revelation.

(image taken from http://www.stylebistro.com)

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