Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Statement Necklaces

You all know how much I love a scarf, but on the days when I give my (erm..rather extensive) collection a well deserved rest, you'll usually find me wearing a statement necklace.

Here are some pointers for getting the look right;

  • Firstly a word about scale. If you are small boned and petite don’t overwhelm your frame with anything too large. Small frames look best in delicate, fine necklaces whereas larger frames can pull off more ‘chunky’ pieces. Not sure what scale you are? Compare your wrists to that of your friends; tiny wrists indicate you are small scale, larger wrists equal large scale. Mediums (like me) are somewhere in the middle. Remember a taller person may still have a delicate frame.

clockwise from top left /pale blue beads / market / white bubble necklace / Enya via Amazon / blue glass beads / market / bird necklace / market / long silver circles / fcuk/ green bib / Enya via Amazon
  • Create contrast; pair a plain simple t-shirt with a chunky necklace and wear with jeans for a polished casual look.
  • Think outside the square; markets, charity shops, Amazon and are where you'll find unique pieces.
Bib necklace / Zad @ Amazon
  • For work, try beaded collars or lariat style necklaces to add polish to your look without being impractical or OTT.
Orchard & Pearl necklace / Dangling Jewelley @ Esty 
Beaded collar / Asos
  • Keep the rest of your accessories minimal. As a rule, I don’t wear earrings if I'm wearing a necklace; if you do, make sure they complement each other without being ‘matchy matchy’.

Most importantly… Have fun, statement necklaces are a brilliant way to jazz up a simple outfit, throw one on next time you do your grocery shopping!

Linking up with Marion Berry Style

Monday, 27 August 2012

Mellow Yellow

I’m a people watcher, quite obsessively in fact. I’ll watch anyone, for any reason but my favourite thing to watch (of course) is what everyone is wearing. When we were at the Crab Festival the other week I spotted a lady wearing blue and yellow and thought she looked fab. While I have tonnes of blue in my wardrobe, yellow was in short supply so when I spotted this scarf the other day I snapped it up.

scarf/ Old Navy / top & jeans / Gap / shoes/ birkenstocks

It got me thinking about colour. Yellow is always associated with sunshine and happiness and rightly so, it’s hard to be sad when you’re wearing such a vibrant shade. Popular opinion would have us believe red, on the other hand is exciting and raunchy, grey; business-like and black is sophisticated and sombre. Pink is girlie, blue is calm, brown is homely and purple, like red is a little sexy.

So over to you, do you think colours (and there wearers) take on these traits? For me,  wearing yellow is certainly a mood booster, as for the rest, I have to say, the jury is still out..

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Not coloured jeans

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past 6 months you’re sure to be aware that the biggest trend of right now is coloured jeans. In fact, you probably have a pair or two sitting in your wardrobe.

The problem with coloured jeans (and patterned, for that matter) is that they won’t be around forever and while denim is long lasting, trends sadly are not. So while I dearly love my collection of coloured jeans (three pairs at last count) and plan on wearing them for many months to come, for now, no more, enough is enough!

top /Gap/ pants/ H & M/ belt & necklace / New Look/ shoes / birkenstocks

So today, I’m not wearing coloured jeans. The weather in the US at the moment is warm and after a year of inclement UK weather (i.e. rain, rain and some more rain) my summer wardrobe stapes are sadly lacking. You all know how much I hate baring my legs, so on a recent shopping trip I went in search of some non-denim pants to see me through the summer months. I found these gems at H&M. They are lightweight, cornflower blue, almost like chinos but straighter through the legs (most ‘chino’ style pants are tapered at the ankles which do nothing for a pear shape!). I’ve rolled the cuffs close to my ankle to lengthen my legs.

Practical, comfortable and a lovely colour, I hope these pants continue to be favourites 
long after my coloured jeans have been sent to the charity shop in post trend shame.

Confession time, do you have a coloured jean addiction? 

Let’s go to the Mall*

Ahhhh Shopping, what’s not to love right? But we all know that shopping can be a stressful experience and looking at unworn clothes hanging in your wardrobe can be downright annoying. So here are some fool proof tips to get the best from your shopping trip;

  • You know how people tell you to never go grocery shopping hungry? Well it’s the same with clothes shopping. Never shop when you are ‘I’m-going-out-in-3-hours-and- I-have-nothing-to-wear-and-I-MUST-find-something-amazing-NOW’ desperate. Sure, sometimes you find  a gem, but most of the time you end up with something  completely impractical which you’ll only ever wear once.  Chances are you already have something amazing in your wardrobe, spend your time there instead of rushing around the shops and save your pennies for a more relaxing shopping trip.

  • Shop alone or with a good (and stylish) friend. If taking children with you is unavoidable buy yourself some peace and quiet by making sure they have lots of snacks (the unhealthier the better), lots of toys, something electronic like an iPhone and set aside a few $$ for a new toy (I find a match box car works a treat). Bribery is key here, don’t be fooled, they are on to you and know you want to ignore them for an hour or two. (These tricks will work equally well should you need to take a husband/boyfriend but what works best is to leave them somewhere with beer and sport).

  • Shop for outfits, not separates. We’ve all fallen into the trap of buying a lovely new top only to come home and find it goes with nothing. Unless you are buying a dress, make sure your new purchase  will go (well) with at least one other item in your wardrobe, or else be prepared to buy a skirt, pants, shoes and accessories to go with it. Do not fall into the trap of thinking, I’ll just wear it with jeans.. boring.

top /Lauren Conrad for Kohls /pink jeans/ Gap/ tan flats/ Next

So as you can see, Jason, Max and I checked out Tysons Corner Centre in Vienna yesterday (just outside of Washington DC) and while I didn’t pick up any new threads, I  do have a shiny new iPhone  to show for my time, just perfect for future shopping trip distractions.

Do you have any fool proof tips for a successful shopping trip?

*Title inspiration for my fellow ‘How I met your Mother’ fans, thanks Robin Sparkle.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

High School Green

I love nothing more than sitting down with a good fashion magazine, in the UK Grazia was a favourite (oh how I miss you Grazia). This week I picked up what seems to be the US alternative People StyleWatch and it's not too bad. While I did a rundown of ‘Spring’ colours last week, this magazine being in the Northern Hemisphere had some hot colours for Fall, one of which being ‘Hunter Green’.

hunter green

A very wise lady* told me two very important facts about wearing colour;
1.    Most people do not like wearing the colour of their school uniform.
2.    When all else fails, dress someone in their eye colour.

Excellent advice, unless of course like me, you have green eyes and wore a green uniform..

blue belle circa 1993

I love the idea of wearing green as it goes perfectly with my colourings, but I can count the number of green items I’ve owned or worn over the years on one hand. I’m not sure if I can attribute this to the five years spent in this Merrimac High School monstrosity (my mother also has a pathological dislike of green).

So will I be wearing Hunter Green? I think I’m going to give it a go. I am currently coveting this dress from Target in 'Hedge Green'. I think it could be worn for summer (with tan belt and flats) or in winter with black opaques, boots and a leather jacket. Other options would be darker green stripes for a more casual look with black denim or of course a green scarf.

'hedge green' dress by target $27.99

Tell me, do you dress in your eye colour?

And, did you hate your school uniform?

*Polly Holman, lecturer at London College of Fashion

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Hair, there, everywhere

You may have noticed something similar about all my daily photo’s, while my clothes change, my hair does not. A side part, a pony tail, a messy bun or pinned back in a clip, essentially a few variations of the same. Why? My hair is the bane of my existence, on a daily basis we tussle, we fight and sadly I usually loose.

Since moving to the US a few things have changed; on a positive note, the water isn’t as ridiculously hard as it was in the UK, however less exciting is the fact that my beloved salon strength Parlux hairdryer and GHD straightener do not work with the US power supply. So while I’ve picked up cheap substitutes (we are only here for 3 months) I’ve decided on the odd day to leave my hair au natural.

dress / h & m/ scarf / target / hair / au natural

For today’s blog I thought I’d share with you some of the products I use to help tame the wild beast, in the hope that you might share some of your tips with me! I’ve always loved John Freida Frizz Ease products in particular the Dream Curl spray & Curl Reviver Mousse , they both promote natural waves and curls without leaving your hair feeling stiff or ‘crunchy’. A few months ago I discovered the wonder that is Kerastase ELIXIR ULTIME, granted it isn’t cheap but it’s one of the few hair products I’ve spent (squandered?) money on over the years that actually delivers on its promises of shiny, more manageable hair.

john freida curl reviver mousse & dream curl spray /  kerastase elixir ultime 

So tell me, are you a slave to styling products? What are your secrets to keeping your tresses in top tip condition?

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Printed pants & polka dot toes

Yesterday we met some friends at a Crab & Beer Festival. While it was lovely to see some familiar faces and meet some new ones, I wasn’t won over by the beer and crab. To be fair beer never wins me over, but crab, well I don’t want to have to work that hard for that little, no matter how yummy it is. The event was held at National Harbour, which is Washington DC’s answer to Darling Harbour in Sydney.

pants / H & M / top /Old Navy

wooden bangle / Mix Box

I wore printed pants. Yep, more printed pants! I picked these ones up at H & M this week (my excuse? still waiting on the damn airfreight, needed new clothes, lack of variety killing my spirit). This pair is fitted (and therefore less floaty and pyjama like) actually closer to what I had been looking for when I picked up my Zara pair, at $17 I think they were a bargain. The ultimate assurance of a good purchase? The lady in Gap exclaiming ‘Your pants are SO cute’.

tan flats / Next 

Pants aside, the real star of the show here are my revamped toenails. I’ve been desperate for a pedicure for a long time; the UK doesn’t have ‘Nail Bars’ which are so popular in Australia. Luckily, it turns out they are on practically every street corner in Maryland. Even Max is won over by my new polka dot toes.

Til next time friends xo

Friday, 17 August 2012

Turquoise and Blue

Happy Friday friends! Today, I’m wearing some of the lovely Spring colours mentioned in yesterday’s post. I picked up this cobalt blue vest and floral scarf yesterday from budget USA favourite, Old Navy. The scarf is a lovely mix of bright colours and being multi-coloured I can use it to pull together a huge number of outfits. The skirt, you've seen here before, while the turquoise colour isn't quite the ‘Ultramarine Green’ coming in for Spring, it’s pretty close. By teaming it with the blue singlet it’s almost a nod to the colour blocking trend which has been around for the past few seasons.

scarf / Old Navy

singlet top / Old Navy / maxi skirt/ New Look

silver flats / LK Bennet

We’re enjoying some lovely warm weather here in Maryland, but you could easily adapt this look for a cooler day by adding a denim jacket, swapping the singlet top for a ¾ sleeve top or the light weight Maxi skirt for some coloured jeans.

Will you be wearing Spring colours this weekend?

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Colours for Spring/Fall

Australia’s location in the Southern Hemisphere means that in theory we are always 6 months behind the fashion trends generated in the US and UK. However, sometimes this works to our advantage, because of our mild climate we can start trying out the Fall/Autumn trends during our Winter, long before the warm breezes and BBQ’s of Spring arrive.

Colour and trend forecasting is a huge business and companies such as Pantone invest large sums of money getting it right. So what will we be wearing for Spring 2012 (or Fall/Autumn for those in the Northern Hemisphere)?

In short* it’s all about;

What will I be wearing? Well it won’t be orange that’s for sure, there are very few colours that suit me less. At best, I might try some orange accessories such as a belt or bag. As for the rest? I like them a lot especially royal blue, teal green and deep magenta. Luckily, most of them already feature in my wardrobe so it will just be a matter of updating them for the new season. Stay posted for some upcoming looks incorporating these shades.

How about you? What colours are you coveting for Spring?

*Check out the Pantone website for full colour listings and associated fancy names.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

I ♥ Scarves

OK, I’ll admit, I’m lacking a little inspiration at the moment. We packed up our suitcases almost 3 weeks ago now and have been living out of them ever since. Our air freight from the UK has been delayed and a quick trip around the shops shows an abundance of autumn, when it’s 30+ degrees outside.

So what do you turn to when inspiration lacks? Accessorise..! I’ll confess, I love all accessories; statement necklaces, fun dangly earrings, colourful belts.. but today I thought I’d focus on my all time, all season favourite; the ever versatile, always amazing scarf.

There are so many reasons to love a scarf; they are reasonably inexpensive, they can jazz up a plain t-shirt like nobody’s business, and they come in every colour, weight and fabric you can imagine. Obviously scarves are great in winter, but lightweight scarves also jazz up a simple singlet top in summer as demonstrated below;

Pimkie snood, tripled

Pimkie snood, doubled

God Save the Queen; Handkerchief style

Mimco; Summer Scarf

The White Stuff; traditional knot

I’ll admit I’ve even formed an emotional attachment to many of my scarves. In the past year we’ve travelled quite a lot and I’ve developed a little habit of picking up a scarf wherever we go, they make a great souvenir, are lightweight and can be squeezed into the smallest crevice in an overstuffed suitcase. 

It started in Paris, after an hour spent shopping at Galleries Lafayette proved fruitless, I started to panic, surely I wouldn’t walk away from my first Parisian shopping trip empty handed? Indeed not, a lovely scarf (which I wore in this blog post) caught my eye and to this day it’s one of my favourites. To demonstrate further, of the four scarves I’m wearing above, the first was purchased in Verona (by Pimkie), the second is a very British God Save the Queen print from Dorothy Perkins and the third by Mimco is a treasured birthday gift from a friend who knows me very well. Viva la Scarf!

Confession time, do you have an obsession? What always catches your eye on a trip to the shops? 

Monday, 13 August 2012

Wearing Stripes

Ahhhh stripes. I love them! 

Sadly, lots of ladies avoid horizontal stripes, my very favourite kind, in fear of their widening properties. So I was really excited when my husband told me about a recent study by Val Watham disputing the fact that horizontal stripes make you look wider. In fact, wearing horizontal stripes on your top half can actually help balance out a larger bottom half. Now, I’m no scientist, so if you’re interested in the facts behind these claims please check out the article here, or just check out this picture below which demonstrates the point perfectly;

Convinced yet? 

Here are some tips for wearing stripes;
  • As with all your clothes make sure your stripes are well cut and flattering. Keep your stripes loose over any lumps and bumps, skin tight stripes, on your top or bottom half are never going to look good.
  • Stripes are great for layering; break up a stripe top up with a blazer, cardigan or scarf.
  • Be bold and go for a print clash (see my blog here) and mix your stripes with a tonal floral or polka dot print.
  • If you are still a little frightened keep your eye out for a striped scarf, it will add a touch of Parisian cool to a plain shirt.

denim shirt by Topshop buy it here / stripe skirt by Banana Republic buy it here / tan wedges by Dune.

In an attempt to prove my point, I've been really brave today and am wearing my stripes on my hips. My skirt is from Banana Republic and is a fairly thick ponte knit fabric (similar to a thick jersey) which skims over my hips, rather than hug them.

What do you think? Horizontal stripes, love 'em or leave 'em?

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Printed Pants

So, I mentioned in my last post my impulsive, use up my last few British pounds purchase of printed pants. In truth, it was the third pair of printed pants I’ve made, the other two pairs were returned shortly after purchase. The advantage of buying something in a country you are moments away from permanently departing is that there can be no second guessing, these pants are keepers!

Printed pants / Zara

My reasons for returning the first two pairs of printed pants? Too pyjama-ish and too printed. These ones from Zara are a lovely print, it’s simple and goes well with navy or white. As for pyjama-ish? Well my husband has been chuckling under his breath all day whilst making comments about me forgetting to get dressed this morning. I’m choosing to ignore him because they’re so damn comfortable. I’ve worn them today with a simple navy singlet. Our airfreight from the UK has been delayed and my options were fairly limited, regardless, I think this works.

Two of my gorgeous Blue Belle readers were keen to point out they have long beaten me to the printed pant trend. I salute you both! Check out the lovely Megan & Andrea below.

Megan working printed pants with a simple jersey top and beads. Loving the sneakers!

Andrea’s peacock print pants were made and designed by Emma Milikins, check out her website here

What do you think of our printed pants looks?  Will you give them a go?

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Jet lag

Yesterday we travelled from London to the USA, what a huge day we had. We were fortunate enough to travel with Virgin Atlantic in their ‘Upper Class’ service. We arrived at the airport in style and managed a quick Bloody Mary in the lounge before our flight (really it’s the only respectable drink at 10am?)

It doesn’t take a genius to work out what to wear when flying, especially on a long haul flight (ours was 8 hours). Loose comfortable layers are the way to go. My outfit comprised of my Gap zip leg jeans, a loose Gap navy & white stripe t-shirt, Country Road grey wool cardigan and a new polka dot hot pink scarf I picked up in Italy. I wore my silver Birkenstocks, knowing I’d swap them for some airplane socks when on board.

Ever the shopper, while Jason was finalising some last minute admin, Max and I popped out to the departure lounge to spend our last few pennies. I heard the lady in front of me gasp.. There’s a ZARA here?! So we followed dutifully behind her to the promised land. I have been coveting printed pants for a while now, but had been struggling to find the fit, style and print I liked. These literally cost me the spare change in my purse! I’m still deciding on how to wear them best, stay tuned.

printed pants / Zara 

I’ve been up since 2am this morning, Max since 4am so we could all be in for a long day.. We might have to check out our local 'Mall'.

Til next time xo

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Gold, Silver, Bronze?

We’ve spent the past two days in London soaking up a little Olympic fever. Thankfully London is at its absolute finest; the sun is shining, the cab drivers are friendly and everything, it seems, is at its brightest most joyful best. We spent a large part of our day today hunting down statues of Wenlock and Mandeville, the official 2012 Olympic mascots, dressed in various guises and dotted around all the main tourist hubs. I'm not sure who enjoyed it more; the 3 year old or 37 year old.

Wenlock, the official Olympic mascot, dressed as a pirate. 

Dress by Oasis. 
I’m wearing another Oasis dress, today a navy shirt dress with gold buttons. I’m a little obsessed (or maybe a lot neurotic) with coordination and usually only wear silver or white gold, never yellow gold. This fits in with my favoured cool colour scheme and generally makes life easier. However, I made an exception with the errant gold buttons on this dress as I liked it so much and, as an added bonus it was on sale.

Look closely, he's a shopping Mandeville , found on South Molton St, Soho

Metallic’s such as gold, silver, pewter and bronze make great neutral accessories as they go with pretty much everything. A metallic bag and shoe combination is a great failsafe evening look. As a rule, it's best to stick to one basic metallic hue for your everyday jewellery be it gold or silver (or white or rose gold). However, if you’re dressing up for a special occasions your metallic pieces don’t always have to match. Try mixing things up by layering gold and silver necklaces, rings or bracelets together.

Are you winning the style Olympics? Do you dare mix your gold, silver & bronze?  

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

di Grazia - Italy Day 4 & 5

You caught me out, yes, it’s true, I’ve been recycling outfits on this holiday. Kate Middleton eat your heart out! While it would be lovely to have enough clothes to wear something different every day, I think if I ever achieve that, my husband will divorce me. Yesterday, I wore my lovely Warehouse maxi skirt which you saw a few weeks ago. I thought it would be perfect for a boat ride to Sirmione and a day of sightseeing for my little boys 3rd birthday (we had his birthday party a few weeks ago). I wore it slightly differently this time with a simple navy jersey singlet top and Stella & Dot necklace.

Happy birthday beautiful boy xo

Sirmione is a small town positioned on a peninsula and is called the pearl of Lake Garda, it is certainly a beautiful (if somewhat crowded) spot. In a misguided attempt at holiday glamour I wore my silver LK Bennet flats, which after a few hours of walking in the sun turned rather painful on me. Luckily I spotted these super cool fish print Havaiana’s at a cute little tourist shop, any excuse for a spot of holiday shopping!

Comfy shoes thank you!

My new Havaianas, I'm in love. Buy similar here
Today we travelled up to Verona for our last day in Italy. It’s such a beautiful city and while Lake Garda was perfect for relaxing, Verona just feels like what you dream Italy will be. You may recognise my red Oasis dress from just a few weeks ago. I wore it then to a night at the pub, but I think it works equally well for a day of sightseeing with minimal accessories and my trusty brown Havaiana’s. I’m looking forward to bringing it out in the winter months with opaque’s and boots. Versatility is so important when building your wardrobe and easy to wear staples like this dress make it simple.

So, do you make your wardrobe work hard? Are you an avid recycler?

Monday, 6 August 2012

Ciao Bella!

I’ll admit, it’s taken me a few days to get my Italian Style on. After a year of winter and a distinct lack of vitamin D, far too many pub meals, bouts of insomnia, a logistical nightmare of a removal and some very sad farewells I’ll admit I’ve been feeling frumpy and let’s be honest, just a little bit grumpy. We planned this holiday months ago so we’d have a few days of family relaxing time before our next big adventure. I don’t think I realised just how much we needed it. On our first few days here I struggled, my pale and pasty body felt out of place here amongst all this beauty and there are some photo’s you most certainly won’t be seeing. But today, I feel like I’ve started to relax, caught enough sun that I don’t look unwell and finally got my summer holiday grove on.

The beautiful turquoise skirt is from New Look, a bargain at just £15, I’m wishing I’d picked it up in more colours as it’s light and practical for travelling and oh so easy to wear. The top is from my favourite, Warehouse, I love the lace and mesh detailing and the colour is just a shade or two lighter than Navy, which suits my colourings perfectly. If you look closely you might see I’m wearing my Havaianas thongs, of course I could have worn my lovely LK Bennet silver flats or Dune tan wedges, but sometimes you just have to be comfortable!

Tomorrow is Max’s 3rd birthday, so we’re taking him on a boat ride to a nearby town. Stay tuned xo

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Bongiorno from Italy!

Observations from Italy – Day 1

Lake Garda is breathtakingly beautiful. 

It is very hot, 33 yesterday around 30 today, after essentially a year of solid winter, this feels like around 45.

Pirlo is my drink of choice, it’s delicious. A combination of white wine and Campari it’s a specialty of the Brescia region.

Italian women are thin, so very thin I’d go so far as to say skinny. They are also tanned, ranging from a gorgeous golden brown to, as my husband pointed out, leathery brown. They wear heels, despite the heat and the cobblestones all the time, day & night!

The not so thin & not so tanned Blue Belle in Italy 

More from me tomorrow xo