Christmas is coming and if like me you’re part magpie you’ll have your eye on some sparkly gifts, whether for yourself or as gifts for your loved ones.
For some beautiful and fun jewellery look no further than Jewellery Box.
This UK based small business is a favourite of bloggers, having sponsored the Bloggers Blog Awards, which I attended back in September.
The team very kindly sent me some really lovely pieces to share with you all.
I love this necklace, there’s something very soothing about tessalating shapes. The silver chain is delicate with a lobster clasp. Perfect for work to add a little quirk to a smart office look. For something more seasonal, how about this dainty snowflake? Adding this to my Christmas Day outfit I think.
To go with the necklace, these star earrings! So pretty and cute. Then to finish it off another star, this time in gold, around my wrist – although it might go better with Boxing Day’s ensemble. Everything is beautifully packaged, making these items perfect gifts for your friends and family (or yourself!)
As a specs wearer I am always looking for cool new frames to buy in time for my biannual check up/prescription change.
When the team at Warby Parker got in touch about their cool new range, I had to share.
The concentric collection is pretty fun, a circle of colour in clear frames with contrasting arms. I think they look great but also don’t detract from the weather’s face.
These might be my favourites, I love a touch of tortoiseshell.
One of the things I have found with wearing glasses every day is that you need to make up your eyes (if you wear makeup) otherwise they can be a bit lost inside your frames. Although I reckon the clear elements of these frames might mean you can skip the eyeliner and go au natural or just a little shadow.
This is a collaboration with Warby Parker but my opinions are all my own.
August’s box popped through my door (sort of) and it’s a bright one.
Decorated in a fabulous floral design, reminiscent of the wonderful fabrics worn by the women I see going to the African church on a Sunday. Which certainly seems to be the inspiration.
West African inspired designs decorate everything inside the box as well as out. The designs are known as Wax and the patterns mean something.
There’s a clever little pattern flipper which explains these designs. It’s a bit addictive to fiddle with.
The art print features the title of one of The Beach Boys most famous songs.
The lifestyle items are all jewellery related. A Nana Benz necklace and a gem catcher (jewellery rack).
There are three beauty products inside the printed bag;
Batiste Hold Me Hairspray (travel size)
Bare Minerals Skinsorials skin longevity (sample size)
My Little Beauty Blush Me Tender cream brush
These are a bit disappointing as the bareminerals is so teeny and I feel like there’s a Batiste product in every other box.
The blusher is a really pale pink and I’m not a huge fan of cream blushers.
I like the necklace, although it’s not something I would probably wear but it certainly will look nice displayed with my other necklaces. Same with the necklace hanger.
This was a bit of a mixed box, and since MLB is still hanging on by a thread with me, that’s not great news. I have decided to give them one more month (as it’s my birthday in September) and then it’s crunch time.
There were many freebies on offer, including a goody bag for every ticket holder. Now I love a freebie but some of these were a little problematic – more on that later.
According to the brochure there were more than 250 vendors present, offering everything from wedding dresses to confetti, cakes made of cheese to flowers.
It was a bit overwhelming, weddings are big, big business, and the centre was heaving with brides to be, their mothers, bridesmaids and the occasional bewildered groom to be.
There was a Groom Room full of suits and very fancy cars, which C would have loved except he refused to come with me (but did take a Best Man to look at suits).
I took my Mum – and she was having a ball. I now know I get my love of a freebie from, she’s been married for 37 years, but oh she was lapping up everything we were offered.
I tried on a flower crown (definitely having one of those), looked at dresses, flowers, table settings, entered every competition going (please can I have a free holiday), tried cakes, looked at fascinators for Mum, discussed my engagement, our wedding plans and the colour scheme about a million times, are more cake, and looked at about a thousand dresses.
I totally failed to take any photos, there was just too much.
Now I want to talk about something that has already annoyed me beyond belief and my Mum decided to bring up several times too.
The wedding industry is fixated on a very particular type of bride – slim, conventionally pretty, and white. There was very little diversity on show.
Where were the dresses for fuller figured brides? Where was the ethnic mix of London being represented? What about the lesbian and genderqueer brides?
Every picture of a bride could have been of the exact same girl. The only suits were tailored for men. There was no suggestion of same sex weddings. I saw no pictures of black or Asian brides, no temples, synagogues, churches or mosques.
Now, I’m sure a lot of the vendors present would happily work with a wide range of wedding couples, after all, business is business. But I can’t imagine how alienating this vision of skinny, perfect whiteness must be.
My Mum pointed out that the wedding dresses were stuck in the past – women on the whole are bigger than before – the average dress size is a 16, but so many of the dresses were designed to fit slim, small-breasted, narrow hipped women. Where is my wide hipped, rugby player shouldered self going to get a dress? (I have ideas, but there was nothing for me there – I didn’t see anything on display above a 12).
The other issues we had revolved around this idea of being perfect- teeth whitening services, professional makeovers, all conforming to a standard not everyone can achieve.
My mum was also horrified by all the weight loss products on offer. In the goody bag offered to everyone were weight loss shakes, tea, biscuit bars and offers for discounts on these and other products.
At a time when even 8 year olds are suffering body image issues, when eating disorders are on the rise, when the standards of beauty are ridiculous, the pressure on the engaged women (and men) is insane.
A wedding is pretty stressful anyway, dealing with vendors, venues, family politics, negotiating everything you want, wrestling with a budget – you name it, it needs to be done. Yes, there are loads of tools, apps, websites etc to help you, but it’s still a lot to take on.
And then on top of that the pressure to lose weight, to be made perfect, because obviously your fiancé doesn’t want to marry you as you are – but some ridiculous impossible image of some other you.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to look your best – to have your hair and make up done, to wear an outfit you feel (and look) fab in, but there is something wrong with feeling pressured to change everything about you to fit into a box.
When my parents got married (37 years and still both alive), there wasn’t nearly as much of this extreme pressure on young women before their weddings. And it really casts a pall over the excitement of it all.
Flicking through Glamour the other day I saw one of my fashion nightmares amongst the endless pictures of overpriced (and often unappealing) clothes.
I have the shoulders of a shot putter (gold – year 10 girls shot putt – thank you) or a rugby player (I was very into that as a sport aged 14, excellent for dealing with teenage angst).
In other words they’re broad. I avoid shoulder pads like the plague and spaghetti straps look lost floating somewhere between where my neck ends and my arm begins.
Bold shoulders are not a good look if you’re broad – I don’t want to draw attention to them thanks. Even more so as I start looking at wedding dresses. Yes I could probably carry a sheep slung round my shoulders like my ancestors may have done, but that’s not really what I’m going for if it’s all the same.
Those awful 80s shoulders
I am very lucky I think that I was a baby in the 80s and missed shoulder pads in everything, my skinny shouldered mother on the other hand just looks odd with pointy jackets on, her current slim, tailored look suits her better (apparently one of the benefits of getting older is you stop caring about fashion and instead go for quality and cut that suits you. Bring it on I say.)
After a summer of the cold shoulder top – also not a friend of the broad of shoulder, do we really need a winter of mad looking clothes that scream, hello I’m good with a discus. If you’re me, anyway.
The inspiration for this post is Iris Apfel, 90 something New York eccentric, whose ethos seems to be “more is more”. She is my aspiration for old me.
As a larger lady (Argh, the phrases we use – plus size, plus size to what??) I have become an expert at accessories. When you have lots of friends skinnier than you, you improvise.
You buy jewellery, bags, shoes and accessories so you don’t feel so awkward in shops that don’t cater for you. So bitchy shop assistants don’t look at you and laugh (I’m looking at you, girls in Top Shop). So you feel like you belong on the girly shopping trip.
To be honest, I hated being a fat teenager, and I wasn’t even that big, just bigger than my friends. The average size woman in the UK is a 16 (what that means varies brand to brand, and even within brands), but shops seem to tail off size wise at a 14.
It is better now, there are a few more options but still, there’s so much shame around being over that average and wanting to wear nice clothes, it makes me furious.
I have been both much bigger than I am today and also much skinnier. Everyone’s body is different, how we got to where we are varies just as wildly.
Without this becoming a therapy session – my weight has medical causes and emotional ones – my relationship with food is a mess. One I’m trying to get a handle on.
My best friend, who I love dearly, called me the accessories queen and she knows everything about me. I have turned adding the right accessory to an outfit into an art form.
It helps to be a magpie, with an eye for sparkly, unusual stuff.
My cupboard/wardrobe/storage space in my tiny flat is crammed with earrings, necklaces, rings, bracelets, pins, bags, shoes, scarves (I got the Mr to put up a scarf rail for me, it’s heaving). You name it, I probably have it, but can’t guarantee I can find it.
Annoyingly I can’t wear earrings much anymore, two years ago I got an infection in my earlobe, ten years after getting them pierced, and since then they’ve been very sensitive to metal. It frustrates me because I have fantastic earrings and good sized lobes to hang them from.
My scarf addiction has caused disagreements, but you can chuck a scarf of any design on over an outfit and make it amazing. Jeans and a T-shirt, funky scarf boosts it from slobbing about to lunch ready. LBD, contrasting design worn like a shawl, gorgeous. Trust me.
I love finding a necklace that works with different necklines, from collars to décolletage, there’s a different design for every occasion.
An eye catching ring, sparkling in the light, can draw the eye to or away from your nails, depending on their condition. While the right bracelet can set off an unusual length sleeve.
Shoes are also great at going “hello, I may be wearing a fairly dull outfit to work, but we’re pretty” especially these ones.
Sadly, I don’t own either pair, but I do have ones with cat faces and some covered in flamingos.
I’m not really a hat person, I don’t have the right head shape for it, but I’ve noticed the floppy brimmed hat making a comeback and on the right head, it looks fantastic.
I started wearing glasses a few years ago as a required thing, but I’ve always loved oversized sunglasses and cats eye frames with plain glass for dressing up and trying out new looks. EBay is great for really cheap frames and TKMaxx has a great selection of discounted designer sunglasses.
Finally there’s handbags, I love a good sized, sturdy bag, but also quirky clutches for nights out or special occasions and tote bags are a cute way to carry your shopping home, especially if like me you resent paying 5p for a crappy plastic bag that will probably break on the way home!
What are your favourite accessories? Let me know in the comments.
I love shoes, there are a lot of them in my wardrobe but whatever shoes I buy I always come back to my beloved Converse.
I have had so many pairs over the years, in a rainbow of colours and styles.
My first pair were hot pink high tops, and discovering how comfy they were – started an obsession.
My idea of Heaven is the Converse Gallery above Size? on Carnaby Street, every colour, style, fabric imaginable. Oh yes, please. They had rainbow sequin ones last time I went, I wanted to stroke them, they were so beautiful.
Even when I go shoe shopping for work shoes or a particular thing, like winter boots, I am drawn to the Converse display, I won’t show you a picture of my many beat up pairs, but at last count, one pair of boots, two high tops, three low rise (including Wonder Woman ones) and four pairs of the pump style ones I live in all summer.
I’m started to crave a new pair, roll on the sales, I might even get two!
What are your favourite shoes? Do you have a pair or brand you wear all the time? Let me know in the comments.
So with much fuss and fanfare Dorothy Perkins has launched its Curve collection for UK sizes 18 – 28.
Rather than expanding their main range to cater for more sizes they’ve released a capsule collection and it’s really underwhelming.
The models in the promotional shots (see above) are slim and don’t exactly give you an idea what the clothes would really look like on the larger sizes.
Then there are the clothes themselves, a mix of bodycon skirts and dresses and shapeless, bland tent tops. Nothing is in the season’s colours or trends. There’s only about 10 items to choose from and it’s online only, you can’t even return things in store.
It’s a big disappointment – Dorothy Perkins can be a bit hit and miss in general but you would hope a targeted range would be designed with a little more effort and research, giving women on the above side of the UK average 16 more to choose from not merely reproducing the rather stale offerings already out there.