Monday, 20 October 2014

Irregular Choice: 'Glissade' Ballerina Heels

Hello peeps, where do I even start with these shoes? Irregular Choice have been producing their 'statement heels' for a good few seasons now and aside from one, I've bought at least one pair from each release. Then came the news that they'd upped their game yet again with the ballerina heel. There's a tiny little ballet dancer (similar to those old cake toppers you used to get-I was ballet obsessed so had them on my birthday cake every single year), encased in a see-through wedge heel.
This would be pretty spectacular on it's own, but like I said, this is a level up on previous 'statement heels'. The dancer actually moves. She pirouettes (on the spot), inside the heel. If that still isn't enough, the shoes play music! There's a key inside the heel (you can pull the ring down to turn, then flip it back up inside the heel to keep it out of the way when using them).
The concept of a music-box heel has just blown me away completely. Shoes can often be a functional item of clothing, but this is more like art or a decorative object. Yet it's still fit for it's purpose, it's just mesmerising.
There were four options available, three named Glissade and a slightly different style Balletomane. That one was more of an ankle boot and covered in varying sizes of pearls. You know I'm a sucker for pearls and initially they were my first choice, but I was more keen on the softer shape of Glissade. The green metallic that I opted for, is such a cool fabric too.
It's got a duo-tone finish, so it flashes between green and purple in the light. You can see the shadowy, contoured sections in my photos are purple and the rest green (sometimes even with blue toned bits where the two colours meet). They lace up with green satin ribbons and have a 5 1/2" heel with 1 1/2" platform. Now for the sizing. I found these extremely small, which I think will catch some people out. I'm so so glad I sized up, because even then they just fit. I could tell whenever I took them out the box, because they look tiny. I didn't have my tape measure handy to measure the inside, but I'd definitely recommend taking the bigger size. I think there will be a lot of returns because of this, so hopefully if yours are too small, there will be a replacement that someone else didn't fit.  Thankfully the metallic fabric feels quite soft and I think it'll stretch out a bit with wear.
I've also popped a little video on my YouTube account, so you can see the dancer in action and hear Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.  She moves quite slowly and by the time I was steady enough and ready to record she was nearing the end of her piece (where she slows down further), but you still get the idea.  The two fingers I needed for turning the key, happen to have quite long nails, so it would definitely be easier with shorter nails and/or smaller fingers.  There is a warning that the shoe is fragile and the dancer can break off with hard/heavy wear, so I'm quite anxious about wearing them outside just now.  Maybe once I've become more accustomed to them, I'll know how strong or weak they are.  For now I'm happy just to stare at them!  What do you think?  Can IC top this in the future?

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Bought & Thought

I've had a little re-jig of Bought & Thought this week, because my Mum came home with this today and as it's on offer, it's important I share it now. It's the Boots 'Star Gift' (yes the countdown to Christmas has proper started!) and runs until Thursday.  It's the Joules Blooming Brilliant Weekend Bag and is better than half price, reduced from £45 to £22.  I have to admit I wasn't overly fussed with this when I saw the promotional images, but in the flesh it's much prettier.  The bag is a really substantial tote, with the distinctive Joules floral print on the outside and striped inside.  It closes with a stud fastening and has two thick handles.  Inside you get full sizes of 6 products; hand wash 250ml, foaming bath soak 250ml, body wash 200ml, body scrub 125ml, hand cream 125ml and body lotion 125ml.  The packaging is typically Joules, with that lovely vintage feel.  As if that's not enough, there's a couple of vouchers inside too, one for extra advantage card points when buying bathing products and £10 off at Joules (if I remember correctly, it's when spending £40), something my Mum will definitely use.  She has announced I can give this to her for Christmas (think that's the way the Christmas shopping will be going this year with me not getting out and about), so that's one down, a gazillion to go!  Like I say, the offer changes this week and the set will be back up to £45, so act fast.  Should I even ask if you've started your Christmas shopping yet or is it a touchy subject?
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Monday, 13 October 2014

Lipstick Boutique Curvy: Georgia Floral Dress

Last month I spoke about the welcome expansion of plus-size ranges at House of Fraser and today I'm featuring another one of those brands, Lipstick Boutique. LB's main range comes in sizes 8-16 and features celebrity collaborations with the likes of Amy Childs, Binky and Jessica Wright. The 'curvy' range comes in sizes 18-24 and very much adopts the same ethos as the main range, with bodycon silhouettes, lots of floral and lace and that same party-girl feel. That's not to say there's nothing suitable for daywear, I find the range easy to wear and it can definitely be dressed up or down, depending on the occasion.
I was sent the 'Georgia' floral print dress* £65 to try. It's got a lovely bright, multi-coloured floral print on a black background, featuring an assortment of flowers. Around the waist (on the front of the dress only) is a wide black band of lace. The dress itself is 'scuba' fabric, so obviously stretchy, but fear not, the lace section does have a fair bit of stretch too. There's a low cut v-neckline, centre back zip and puffed, cap sleeves.
I was sent an 18 and while it fitted without too much stretching, I would've been more comfortable in a larger size. There was no VBO (visible belly outline) until I sat down and it didn't 'cling' but I would've liked a little more room in the tummy area. I favour being able to breathe over feeling 'glam' these days!  It fits true to size though, so I would just opt for your usual size.  If you're between like I am, then it's down to preference of liking being 'sucked in' or opting for something a little comfier and less revealing.  I've not had much experience with clothing made from 'scuba' fabric, but I know you can find it on just about anything right now. I can see why it's so popular, because it feels nice and smooth and thick, so doesn't cling yet fits to the body. It has stretch, but the print doesn't become distorted or faded when pulled. I actually managed to get this on and off no problem, without even realising the zip was there!  Plus it doesn't crease...always in favour of dresses that don't need ironed!   
The bust area is usually where I find dresses too small, but this one felt alright.  The bodice of the dress is lined, but the skirt section isn't.  I'm not sure if the lace is supposed to sit solely on the waist but you can see it just beginning to creep up onto my chest.  The neckline is reasonably low cut and you can see flashes of my bra in some of the photos, so if I'd jiggled about in the boob area to try and 'fix' the lace issue, a lot more of my bra would be showing.  You could simply fix this by wearing a camisole/vest underneath and I think I'd be more comfortable with that for future wear.  The length of the dress felt exactly right for me, hitting just below my knee and no more.  I wasn't afraid of it riding up at the back, but it doesn't go into that midi-length territory (for reference I'm 5ft 5").  The slightly more 'demure' hem length felt right with an exposed neckline like this.     
I like the little puffed, cap sleeves and the armholes themselves didn't gape on me.  They were just ever so slightly more cut-away than I'd have liked, though it has to be noted, no bra showed.  The good part being, my arms were able to move freely, without being hindered or restricted by the sleeves.  Overall I think it's a cute wee dress.  I love the print and the colours in it.  I like that the range echos the main collection, because quite frankly there's no size limit on wanting to feel bold and glamorous.  I think for a long time the plus-size world was lacking variety and choice of styles and even just a few years ago, a 'floral bodycon dress' would be unheard of in anything over a 14, so that's always good to see.  What do you think?

P.S. I felt like I wanted to wave to you all in these images because it's so long since I've posted regular outfit shots or 'shown' myself.  Headless waving might have been a bit strange though.

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Thursday, 9 October 2014

Wallis: Live Unlimited (Plus Size)

It's always exciting to see brands expanding their ranges to cater for plus-size ladies and high-street chain Wallis are the latest to do so. It comes after much interest and demand from customers and I'm really glad they've listened to that. The Live Unlimited range comes in sizes 16-24, designed exclusively with curves in mind and to celebrate that shape. There's quite a bit of talk about "flattering" garments and silhouettes, which I know a lot of plus-size ladies take offence at or don't like to hear. Personally I buy what I like and what I think will suit me and don't pay much attention to specific product information regarding how it should be worn and why it was designed this way, so it doesn't bother me.  I'd ignore the words and concentrate on the garments instead!
For the most part I actually love the way they've styled the pieces and though not everything is to my taste (some of the tops especially veer into stereotypical "plus size" territory that I'd avoid), for a first collection I think it's rather good. I really like the use of the bold, watercolour-like floral print, which features on several items. Individually, I love the shape of the figure hugging scuba trousers £55 and the curved, back-split top £50, but I love even more that they've paired them together (as above). It makes the look feel very current, ticking that "co-ord" trend and it's bright and bold and attention grabbing, rather than the 'try and blend into the background' theory some plus size ranges favour.
The black drop hem top £40, isn't a shape I'd usually go for, but seeing it on the model here (again with those gorgeous floral trousers), has me lusting after it. It's got slim fitting jersey sleeves, then a sheer back, which flows beautifully.
Alongside the floral trousers are these grey jacquard ones £35. They look and sound like stretchy leggings to me, I think they'd look awesome with the black top above too. I also really like these animal detail trousers £45. They are made from thick jersey with a contrast snake print waistband and side panels, finished off with zip details. They look great with the printed items including the floral tunic top £45 and floral back cardigan £55 shown below.
Another really trendy item I'm pleased to see included is the kimono. There are several styles and prints to choose from and another (fringed one, below) that hasn't been released yet. The snake print one £75 looks great with the black trousers mentioned above and here is the beautiful purple patterned silk £65 and patterned lurex one £75, which is also available in the same print in a dress £55 and kaftan £55.
In a similar print to the snake trousers is this panel pencil skirt £35. I just know it's something I'd wear again and again. This time the pattern is reversed with the jersey fabric down the sides (and back) and the snake-print in the centre, giving the illusion of wearing a leather skirt without the restriction.
My favourite piece of the collection though, has to be this foil patterned skirt £45. It also comes in a shift dress £65, but I just love it in skirt form. It's a midi length and the lovely gold pattern is fancy without being too glitzy. I'd wear this with pretty much anything; t-shirts, jumpers, close-fitting cardigans, blouses, anything!
Overall I think it's a decent first collection, that fits with the rest of the brand and with the exception of a few of the tops is well designed for plus-size women. While I don't see myself in every item, I just know there are other plus-size bloggers out there that would rock them. I think the prices are on point with the rest of the site and until midnight tonight, there is 20% off (prices shown here without discount). An added incentive, is free express delivery (order before 9pm for next working day) when spending over £30 with the code WKEND30. So if you plan on buying, do so as quickly as possible : ) I'd love to see what you get.  What do you think?

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Saturday, 4 October 2014

New Look: Novelty Clutch Bags

Hello my lovelies, today I'm talking handbags! I've been bag OBSESSED lately. I guess for years the bag trends weren't to my taste, but now I see loads I love and can't stop buying them. At this rate, I need a dedicated room for them, never mind my shoes ; )
New Look have had a great selection of novelty clutches, especially their foody ones (shown with my Moschino Cheap & Chic 'Menu' bag (black version available here), I'm sooo taking this the next time I'm in a restaurant just to mess with them)! I bought the pink doughnut, hamburger and milkshake from ASOS and love them all. I know they aren't going to fit oodles of stuff inside, but for someone like me that just needs a phone, tissues, purse and lipstick, this is ample. Each one is fully lined with a nice weighty zip pull and dare I say they feel rather good quality! There's a mixture of textures and finishes (plain, patent, suede-like) and embroidered details on each one.
Hamburger clutch (£12) available from ASOS here or New Look here and purse here (£4.99).  
Pink doughnut clutch (£12) available from ASOS here, New Look here and purse here (£4.99).  Milkshake clutch (£12.99) available from ASOS here or New Look here.

All of these clutches are online exclusives.  I'm sure I mentioned to you in another post that I'd seen some new designs due instore in October (er now!), so I thought it was time to share them. I don't have a more specific instore date, so I'm checking every day! Each one is £12.99 and there's Christmas themes and OMG unicorns!! Obviously I'll be getting both colours and maybe a couple of the others.
The pale one is my fave, but the glossy black is pretty cool too.
Chocolate bar available here and purse here.
Chocolate coin here and matching purse here.
Gingerbread man.
Christmas bauble ball.
Snowman bauble head.

I'm excited for these new releases.  Do you like these, will you be buying any?

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Thursday, 2 October 2014

Bought & Thought

I had a rather massive splurge at ASOS the other week, so I've got plenty of new buys to keep you amused with over the next couple of months.  I have to admit to typing 'unicorn' into clothing website search boxes just to see what comes up.  On ASOS, I do it daily.  Maybe even more than once!  This white unicorn t-shirt came up and I sulked immediately, thinking it wouldn't fit.  I've never had anything from Monki before, but when I clicked on it, I was pleasantly surprised to find 'large' was a UK 18.  I usually only need a 14/16 in t-shirts, but thought I'd best opt for the 18 as it looked quite slim fitting.  It actually fits perfectly, not too clingy but not big either.  It feels really soft, has a nice scoop neckline (usually the first thing I do with t-shirts is chop the high neckline) and it's short but not cropped.  Personally, I'd be tucking it into a skirt, so I don't like added bulk/length anyway.  The unicorns I'm sure you'll agree are adorable, they've got real cutesy faces.  It's a little see-through, not the worst I've seen and I was wearing a dark bra at the time, so I'm not sure if I'd want to wear a vest top underneath or if it would be fine with lighter underwear.  I was super impressed at the price too, only £8 and I had 20% off, so £6.40 for me. Do you like this?  As for the quote below, I wasn't feeling very inspirational or motivational this week.  It's been one piece of bad news after the other regards my health and now a close family member is extremely ill (can't really say too much just now), so that's completely rocked us all and left us feeling rather drained and uncertain of what's to come.  I'm guilty of 'glass half empty' far too often (I like to think of it as being realistic rather than pessimistic), so I like the analogy of this spin on it.  I think we could all use a field of wishes at some point.  Hope you're having a good week, let me know.      

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Monday, 29 September 2014

My Top 5 Autumn Buys: John Lewis

With the nights drawing in and winter looming, the shops are filled with new season clothes-my favourite time of the year! I'm not sure why, but A/W fashion always gets me much more excited than S/S. John Lewis have launched their fashion magazine online, brimming with new pieces and trends (it's also available free via the app store if you have a fancy phone/tablet/whatever new thing has just launched-'fraid I'm not that tech minded) and they've asked me to pick out my favourites. Hard job, but someone has to do it, wink, wink! I'm happy to see what I'd consider staples and classics rather than entirely 'new' trends and this little lot has me wishing I was instore trying and buying right now!
Jigsaw blue depths dress £129: If this dress were in my wardrobe it would be one of the hardest working items there. You can't go wrong with a shift shape like this, no matter which season you're in. On warmer days, it would look great with bare legs or sheer tights and come winter, boots or thick tights will work just as well. I could probably style this a hundred different ways, dressing it up with a statement necklace, playing around with belts, adding bright accessories, colour clashing, you name it! The print has a mystical, magical galaxy feel that I could get lost in, I just love it. Lancome Grandiose Mascara £22:  I'm a big fan of Lancome mascaras and have mentioned this one to you in passing.  The 'swan neck' wand is absolutely genius and has you wondering why nobody has thought of it before.  It must be so much easier, especially on your 'other' opposite eye, to apply.  This mascara promises to grab all your lashes, even those little corner ones for full, even and open eyes.  Sounds perfect.  
Ted Baker opulent bloom skirt £129:  Absolutely ticking that 'winter flora' trend, this bold bloom print is stunning and utterly bewitching!  One thing I love about Ted Baker products is if you love a print, you can most likely find it on anything from shoe linings to makeup bags and obviously their clothes too.  I think I would let the print and the strong A-line shape do the talking and team with plain black for maximum impact.     
Somerset by Alice Temperley lace dress £160:  For me, black lace is a winter staple and classic.  I will never tire of it.  There's so many lovely and well thought out details on this; the delicate scalloped hem and finish to the sleeves make it super pretty.  There's small buttons down the centre front bodice and the sleeves are sheer along with a shorter lining to make the most of the lace pattern against your skin.  I'm just dying to add a fur tippet with brooch for a vintage feel.  
Miss KG 'Elise' £85:  Another must-have for me are shoe-boots.  A reasonably plain black style like this one, will most definitely see you through that transitional period and beyond.  I like that this pair are elegant and non-chunky and the peep toe, contrast metallic trim and thin ankle strap just add interest.  Don't be afraid to wear with more feminine and formal pieces, it'll give them an edge.  They would totally work with that lace dress above and the Ted Baker skirt.  Again they'd look great with bare legs or fancy tights, your options are endless!

Is there anything that takes your fancy here? What are your must-haves for Autumn?

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Review: La Roche Posay - Effaclar Anti Blemish System

Reviewing skincare isn't the same as reviewing makeup. You put mascara on and instantly know whether you like it or not, the same with lipstick or eyeshadow. After one day wearing foundation you know how it functions and how long it lasts and can pretty much write a review there and then. Skincare though is a whole other ball game because your skin's reaction rather than your personal opinion usually dictates and shapes the review. So I always like to give myself as long as possible to evaluate my findings. I actually postponed this post the other week and I'm glad I did (thankfully without someone breathing down my neck saying I hadn't completed it in time!), because there's been developments that need to be included here. Ok so I'm not kidding when I say this product couldn't have been released at a better time. I was in the midst of suffering one of the worst (if not the worst) breakout I've ever experienced, when I got an email to say there was a new complete blemish system from La Roche-Posay and would I like to try it? I'm pretty sure there was a chorus of singing angels and blinding lights, while I replied "ermahgerd, yes please"! If you've never suffered from acne or anything close before, then you can't really understand how much it shatters your confidence and just how rotten you feel throughout it. I was one such lucky teenager, never having a single blemish, then I hit 25 and it all went downhill from there. I won't bore you with the ins and outs of what I've tried, what the doctor prescribed etc etc. It's almost 10 years since then and I still suffer the odd breakout from time to time and can't say my skin is ever completely clear, but I admit to enjoying being a little less strict with what I put on my face than at other times during that decade.
Back to this breakout and I have no idea what caused it, but there was a cluster of around 10-12 (on the side of my chin), I want to say 'pustules' because that's what they looked like, but TMI here, they were blood filled rather than pus. Gross, regardless. They felt hard and were extremely raised, I mean wiping a thick cotton pad over them I couldn't actually get close to my face because the spots stuck out so much. They hurt like mad too, my whole face just hurt. They were horrid and I'm so thankful I never had to leave the house during that time. So in a frantic "I have to do something" moment, I turned to this gel the doctor had prescribed (I've spoken about it before. It's not pleasant to use. It literally burns your skin and makes it peel. Your face is on fire all the time (and looks it too) and after a couple of uses, no matter what goes near your face (water, cleanser, moisturiser) it will sting and burn). Almost to the point of tears (I'm pretty sure the way it works is to have you worry about how much your face is burning thus forgetting you have spots)! I swore last time, I'd never use it again, but desperation struck! Then thankfully, the Effaclar Anti-Blemish System* (£32.50) arrived, phew!
It consists of three full size products; a purifying gel cleanser, clarifying toner and anti-blemish cream. This is the part I absolutely love. Often, you can't find three products that work for your acne prone skin and you struggle between keeping a routine and sticking with the individual products that work for you. You question everything you put on your skin and worry that your toner is causing spots, but your moisturiser seems ok. Do you skip that step entirely? The cleanser works well with the toner though blah, blah, blah.  All the decision making is out of your hands with this one, you've got a routine for day and night and hopefully one that will work in harmony with one another. It also meant from a personal point, it was easier to review because I knew that nothing I was already using could be causing conflict or aggravating my condition. Another helpful factor is me not wearing makeup just now. The fairest test conditions possible really. Of course other elements can impact on whether or not you're going to breakout, but it's something you'd expect these products to be able to deal with, as it's their job.
So I started using them right away, twice, every day. As I'd been using that hell-gel (but ceased when this set arrived), there was a burning sensation still at first. Nothing to do with the Effaclar and by the 4th day, it had stopped. The cleansing gel comes in a squeezy tube (125ml) with a flip lid. Easy to use, you just apply a small amount to wet hands then massage into the face and wash off. It's a clear gel and it smells divine, it's so soothing and gentle and not at all overpowering. Immediately I felt it a little drying, not on my face, but I noticed my palms felt tight afterwards. The majority of acne prone skin is oily, whereas mine tends to lean a little dry in areas, so it's understandable. I've noticed now (after 5/6 weeks use) that I've been flaking around my eyebrows (randomly), but I haven't noticed tightness or dryness elsewhere.
After cleansing, you follow up with toner. It comes in a 200ml bottle, with flip lid and small hole in the top. I kinda wish the bottle was transparent like other toners, as it's easier to see how much is left. This applies well (onto a cotton pad) and always seems to look like it's removed traces of something (slightly discoloured cotton pad afterwards) which, like flossing, pleases me greatly. Please say I'm not the only saddo extremely satisfied when you actually find something between your teeth when flossing? It's boring otherwise!
Then the final step is the Effaclar Duo [+] moisturiser. Again it's got that lovely soft scent. It's easily absorbed into the skin and feels quite light. There's no greasy or sticky feeling and it leaves a soft, matte finish. I'm sure this will work well under makeup, though I've never tried it.  
For the first few weeks, I got on really well with the trio. Within a week, those horrible spots were reduced to red marks. My skin is notoriously slow at clearing up, so even now I still have those red marks. I'd given up using all other products in order to fairly test this, but by instinct the first time I showered, I went on auto pilot and used my regular scrub and face mask. I noticed those spots flaring up afterwards and had a mini panic, but thankfully it never came to anything and I remembered next time not to use them. By the third week, my skin had been looking quite clear minus the red (but flat) marks. Then I noticed a bump or two appearing. By the end of the week I had several new spots (in other places). These are different to the ones from before; they mostly feel like they're under the skin, they're not keen to come to a head and are red, sore only if you touch them.  I was pretty mad last week that I had to go out with my face looking angry.  I'm pleased I hadn't published the review before that stage though, because so much changed.  Now, going into the 6th week (I think it is) there's still around 6 bumps at various stages and I still have the red marks, though I think they are becoming more faint.

You'll notice on the box, it says 'clearer skin or your money back'.  Last week, I'd honestly have been asking for a refund!  According to clinical trials, there's "visible results from day 1" and "significantly clearer looking skin at 4 weeks", neither of which I'd particularly agree with so far.  However going back to how I started this post, I believe your skin isn't going to magically change overnight.  Mine has a tendency to react 3-4 weeks after trying something new, then usually calms down again.  Which would mirror what happened here.  I read something recently that said you should really allow 12 weeks, for your skin to settle into a new routine/products and I'm inclined to agree.  Call me crazy but I've decided to stick with it and keep using this 3-step system.  Apparently there's 'up to' 6 weeks supply in this kit, so I may need another set to complete it (there's a £5 off voucher included in the leaflet inside, for your next purchase).  Which brings me to another point, I'm not sure the size of each product is right.  I can see the moisturiser running out long before the cleanser and there still being lots of toner left.  It's a bit like that shampoo vs conditioner conundrum we all suffer!  Thankfully the cleanser and cream are available separately if this is the case, but the toner is the one unique item made specifically for this trio.  I can't see it running out before the others, so I don't think it will become an issue.

LRP use their very own thermal spring water (a natural anti-oxidant) in all of their products and limit their ingredients to those necessary to the products efficiency.  That hopefully means, fewer things for your skin to disagree with.  I think they've absolutely mastered the fact that blemish prone skin requires a simple but effective routine.  So many sufferers will normally skip a step or think the cleanse/tone/moisturise rule doesn't apply to them, so a specific regime all found in the one set, feels like a no brainer.  In terms of summarising my findings, I've certainly felt my skin is incredibly soft and smooth, but blemishes are still an issue for me.  Another positive I've noted, is I usually have a build-up around my nose and feel the need for a good exfoliator each week to remove that, but there's no little bits anywhere and that's with me not using a scrub at all.  I'd like to continue use and get back to you in 6 weeks time and let you know if anything has changed for the worse or better, because I strongly believe results would be more conclusive over a longer period.  However for now, you can find this set in Boots and the Effaclar cleansing gel and moisturiser are available separately at Escentual too.  Is this something you'd like to try?  

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