Monday, 28 October 2013

The Major Primark Haul

Last week I went on a mission. There's usually a stand-out dress every season in Primark and normally I struggle to find it in my local store. I'd spotted this tartan dress (below), clearly inspired by Saint Laurent, months ago and knew I had to have it. I was dubious if my local would ever get it though. Once I knew a rough idea of when it was due instore, I contacted my friend who kept an eye out for me at the Edinburgh store. She said they would get it before my local as it's a massive shop. Rather than wait all that time, then miss out on it, I decided it would be easier to go to Edinburgh myself. Now, I'm here to talk about clothes, but a 'quick trip' to Edinburgh isn't really an easy or cheap thing for me even although it isn't too far away. Despite being in the capital almost every weekend in my Uni days, I've only been a handful of times in the 11 years I've been ill (and several of them were for mandatory bridesmaid dress fittings, eugh).
This time, I needed the wheelchair and my Mum and sister to help. It's a long and expensive bus journey and we only went to Primark, got lunch then home again (and this took all day and an early start). Despite this, it's wonderful for me to get to see something other than the street I live on and it's difficult to explain to someone who hasn't been in this situation really. However, I'm rarely in a place like that with busy streets, lots of people, on motorways, in amongst the hustle and bustle. It's something I completely took for granted before, as one would, but it's a rare thing for me now. I don't pass by fancy shop windows every day and regularly go weeks, only speaking to my family. I'm not saying it's always a pleasant experience to get out, for example we waited ages for lifts from floor to floor (can I please request that able-bodied people use the stairs or escalators instead of taking up precious space in the lift?) and people often do not see you in a wheelchair (one day someone is going to land in my lap), so you're knocked about and hit. Although, I seriously should get paid to sit in my wheelchair in front of an item that isn't a good seller. Once I'm parked there "out of the way" all of a sudden it's the most desirable item in the shop! I get rude stares that I'm 'in the way' with people leaning over me and edging me out of the way more and more. It's annoying, but something you have to take on the chin and I've learnt to deal with over the years. So complaints aside, it was a somewhat momentous trip for me and one that I'm hoping to attempt maybe 2 or 3 times a year, to give me that different perspective, a bit of a life and you know, to get what's hot in Primark!
Back to the clothes, the black-watch tartan one (below) was the one I most wanted and thankfully we weren't in the shop too long before I spied it. There's 5 storeys to the shop and we applied a somewhat methodical approach to browsing. In Dundee I'm well aware of 'my' designated areas (where I'll find dresses basically), but I'd say it was less defined here. I found the black one first and grabbed it anyway. It zips up the centre back and there's a gap at the back (above the top of the zip) before a button/loop for the collar. It's a shift style with princess seams on the bodice and quite high waisted. I'm always a bit wary of wearing tartan (being Scottish) because it seems like I'm trying to be overly patriotic or making a point and you know I'm usually a sucker for kitsch or floral or animal prints, so tartan is a little different for me.
The crisp white collar and black bow at the neck, made it feel much more 'me' and I didn't feel at all awkward wearing it the other day (you can see the whole outfit here). Along with these two tartans, there's a brighter red one, that I wasn't as keen on, so didn't get. I bought a size 20 in both (£15 each) and although it's quite loose on the waist, it just fits my bust. The Saint Laurent one, if you can believe this, will set you back £2545 at Net-a-Porter! Ok so it's got studs on the waist, is silk lined, pleated and of a heavier weight wool, but could you ever imagine paying that for a wee dress? Yikes! I'd love the Swarovski encrusted tights they wore it with on the catwalk, but they cost £675! I'd probably just die on the spot, if I stuck my finger through them!
Speaking of tights, the hosiery and lingerie departments in Edinburgh are possibly the size of the entire two-floor Dundee store! There was so much to look at. Something I haven't photographed here are some plain black tights my Mum bought herself. She ended up liking them so much that she insisted I buy a pair too and now I'm desperate for another couple! I struggle to find thick black tights that are comfortable, don't roll down at the waist, fit around my bum and hips and I like them high waisted. Under the bust Simon Cowell style! They are £3 for one pair and called something like 'velvet touch' 120 denier. The waist is smooth so doesn't cut into the skin and I was surprised at how comfortable they were and they didn't roll down at all. The legs were a little long for me, but seeing as I love everything else about them, I'm willing to forgive that. I'd definitely recommend them.
What I did buy in Edinburgh were two pairs of Disney tights! They were £5 each and considering I probably own 100 pairs of tights, that's more than I'd usually pay for one style. However they are fabulous! There's these thicker comic strip ones, which I haven't tried yet.
Then these amazing sheer nude tights with Mickey and Minnie Mouse on the back. I wore them last week and thankfully didn't stick my finger through them! The pictures fill almost the whole of my calves and look like tattoos. Cool huh? You can see me wearing them here.
I honestly didn't think they would fit, especially once I had one leg seemed like no chance my other leg would get in. However once on, they were pretty comfy (not the comfiest, but not the tightest either) and they didn't feel like they'd rip if I sat down! Loving them!
I'm not sure if these are available in all stores, I rarely visit the hosiery dept. in my local as it's a bit of a skitter to go up another floor. Sometimes they have tights in amongst the clothes and usually I just see those. I'm certainly going back for another pair of the black if they have them. Onto socks and I don't wear them often, but couldn't resist this little set. Unicorn socks! £2 for all three pairs.
Then I found these jammie bottoms reduced to £3, with bicycles all over them. They seemed to only have one size left (and plenty of them), so I grabbed a pair. You can never have too many pj's can you?
I ignored most of the underwear as there's no chance they do bras to fit me, but I spied in a corner, a range of shapewear. I've never tried shapewear before and most of them didn't look too appealing (all-in-one shorts with ahem a 'handy' hole to pee through). However I've been on the lookout for something to wear under my little black dresses, just as a 'smoother' really.
Obviously I don't have anything to compare this to, but I'm quite happy with it. It was £10 which isn't the cheapest thing you'll find in Primark, but in other brands you'd expect to pay two or three times as much for a similar style. It's a smooth slip which goes over underwear (including your bra-I know some are open at the bust) and there's no hem for a seamless finish. I got an 18/20 and it's a good fit on me. I'd imagine you could go tighter, but this is comfortable for me and I don't feel like I was breathing in all the time. I think sometimes the skirt rides up (not rolls up), but I've been completely unaware of this as it still feels comfortable. I wore it under my tartan dress and it definitely made the dress fit better than without. I also wore it under my pencil skirt (to follow...), and besides the plaster of getting the skirt on over the slip without the slip riding up, it provided a nice smooth line. Perhaps it's not reshaping me so that others would notice, but it certainly makes me feel comfier and more confident and is nowhere near as restrictive as I'd imagined. I doubt my local sell these, certainly not as many different styles, but I haven't specifically looked.
Onto the pencil skirt and I love my black lace Swan by Clements Ribeiro one. However, I accidentally put it in the washing machine and the lace shrunk while the lining didn't. Oops! The lining now hangs a couple of inches below the skirt and it's been sitting on my 'must fix' pile for months! So I've been trying to find a replacement and this is exactly what I was looking for. I didn't necessarily want plain black and this one has a brocade type print in velvet and it's an elasticated waist that just pulls on. It's a nice strong fabric with a little but not much stretch, so it doesn't cling, but really pulls you in. Wearing my tights, shapewear and this skirt the other day I couldn't help but wiggle when I walked and sitting down, I kinda wanted to lunge at the chair without bending! I'm loving this skirt was £8 and also came in a lighter grey or white with black detailing. You can see my whole outfit here.
Then, I realised the other thing I'd been hunting for was a Little Mermaid t-shirt. I realised we hadn't seen any tops, t-shirts, leggings and knew they had to be hiding somewhere. Edinburgh has this weird lift system though, that on the 1st floor (womenswear and home I believe), we came out and all we saw were dog outfits, some home stuff and onesies. Oodles of onesies. There was a wall behind the counter which we knew we couldn't get behind, but then we discovered if we got in the lift at a different area, it took us to more womenswear (obviously behind that wall). Strange and this was the point we were getting exasperated with the slow moving lift! So Mum had already looked in Dundee for this tee and they didn't have it (I believe they do now though) and I was at the point of paying twice the price for it on eBay, but thankfully we saw it. There weren't many sizes and usually I'd size down on this, but even the 18 or 16 looked huge, so I got the 14. It fits fine.
You have to check them though because of the way they're flat screen-printed. Some have been creased or have loose threads which have manipulated or obstructed the print. I love the colours in this and obviously Ariel, but am not at all keen on the high neckline. Something I might have to remedy. This one was £6 and they had a white My Little Pony one which looked cute but they didn't have my size. I also saw a really cute cropped grey sweatshirt style top (I think it might've had short sleeves) with MLP printed all over, it was gorgeous and I'd have snapped it up if it wasn't cropped.
What else? Oh the jewellery! I never look at the jewellery in my local now as it got really boring and they've now given up and shoved it up the back of the store. In Edinburgh they had tonnes of Limited Edition stuff and I wish I'd got more, but my Mum was getting impatient and rushing me at this point (plus I seemed to be in the way). The prices are a little higher than the regular range, so I was sad to see some necklaces had bits missing or damaged. I've got a couple of necklaces stuck in my head that I wish I'd got, but the one I did get was this unusual jewelled dude with a curved perspex back. I liked the plastic backing, it gave it an almost futuristic feel. This one was £8.
Then I got two hairbands at £4 each. This wide jewelled and pearl one will go with my necklace.
And this thin, ruffled one will save many a bad hair day!
And that's it for my Edinburgh haul! The only thing I couldn't find was this £8 floral dress. They only had a few left and none in my size. They've gone fast as they just hit around the time I was there.   
When Mum had been looking for the Ariel t-shirt for me, she got me another four prints of this style of dress and I was so excited as I'd been hoping to get the heart one, which has 3/4 length sleeves. I already have a black/white floral one, green tile print one and probably more that I've forgotten about! I've worn the older green one here and here, the black floral here, grey tile one here and hearts here.

When we got to the checkout in Edinburgh, we realised we'd spent 2 hours browsing (I didn't try anything on) and that was us being pretty quick!  Lunch was required, so we popped into John Lewis and you get such a great view in there as you're up so high and it's all glass.  I love Edinburgh as it's so unique that you have Topshop and H&M on one side of the street and a proper castle on the other!  Where else can you get that view and contrast?  The tram lines were a bit annoying (quite wide and deep) for the wheelchair, but it'll be nice to see an end to the constant works, it feels like (and actually has) dragged on for years.  Mum and I would love to go back to see The Lion King which is on at The Playhouse and stay overnight and do a spot of shopping the next day, but I doubt it's something I can afford before Christmas (sad face).  Like I said, it's nice for me to get a change of scene and do something different.  Is anything going on your wishlist from this post or have you got anything already? Let me know x

image 1 Vogue, image 2 + 3 Net-a-Porter, stock images Primark.  

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Swatches: NYX Round Lipstick (Browns/Nudes)

I love when you get in touch with requests for beauty posts or further help regarding something I've already posted, especially when it's something I can easily locate and re-photograph. I got one such email recently from Romy, asking for advice regarding NYX Round Lipsticks. Seeing as my NYX lippie posts always prove quite popular, I thought I'd take some new photos and updated swatches and post them here for everyone to see.
Romy was particularly interested in brown lipsticks (so that's what I've concentrated on today) and I have to say this is what NYX really excel at. There are plenty of options and I own many of them. In my opinion these are not 'nude' colours, at least not for someone as pale as me (I'd recommend 617 Summer Love, a pinky beige for pale skinned gals). I think pale, light, possibly even medium olive complexions will find these too dark to be a true nude. I've bought some in the past and been disappointed at them not being the nude I expected or heard about, so it's just something to remember. It's great if you're actually looking for a brown rather than nude though! Deeper olive and warm tones through to black will hopefully find many of these great as nudes. This is when I really wish I had a few hands in different colours to compare just how different one lipstick can look on each, but I don't and that would look way weird! Anyway, I've split the lipsticks into the cream/satin finish and frost/metallic. First up are the frosts. Generally all of these colours lean coppery, so I apologise in advance for repeating myself in the descriptions!  I love the self-coloured bases on these lipsticks (I store mine upside down), so you can easily locate the colour you're looking for.  
576 Frosted Flakes: This one is possibly light enough to class as a nude for lighter skins. It's got a very light golden tone to it which isn't too strong so it doesn't come across as overly coppery. A golden beige.
512 Ares: Is the only one without copper. It's a beige toned taupe.
556 Iced Honey: A true copper.
578 Earth Angel: Very similar to Iced Honey, but leans ever so slightly more bronze.
517 Hades: Brown with a bronze cast.
546 Ceto: Looks almost identical to Hades in the tube, but swatches more of a pink copper like Iced Honey. It's not as deep or brown as Hades and a little more sheer.
Next are the creamy shades, which can really vary from the bullet to a swatch. You can see on some of them once the lipstick has been used, the colour underneath is different.
552 Creamy Beige:  Isn't as the name suggests or certainly I wouldn't ever class it as 'beige'.  It's a dirty neutral brown and I wore this a few weeks ago on my lipstick challenge and actually it was quite pretty.  
532 Rea:  Very similar to Creamy Beige when swatched, although this one leans a little more pink.  Both of these perfectly illustrate the difference between the lipstick and the swatch (they are nothing alike).  
522 Circe:  Is lighter and could work as a nude, it's got a pink-camel tone to it.  
590 Honey:  Is similar to Circe but lacks the pink tone, this has more yellow in it.  Again it's probably light enough to be nude-ish on paler skins.  
510 Echo:  A deeper camel-tan shade.  Interestingly the orange tone is less visible in the swatch with the flash.  
603 Tea:  Medium terracotta brown.   
If you were looking for nudes or barely there colours, I'd suggest Honey or Circe for lighter skins and Creamy Beige or Rea for darker complexions.  Romy was looking for an interesting brown that wasn't too straight, perhaps with something metallic, so there are tonnes to choose from here.  Ceto, Hades, Earth Angel and Iced Honey all have bronze or copper elements while Tea has an interesting tone without the frost finish.  All of these lipsticks are very pigmented and will definitely show up on the lips.  I find they have quite a 'slippy' texture (you can see several of mine have been damaged inside the tube), so I always wear mine with liners to avoid them bleeding, plus it helps the colour last a little longer.  Most of these lipsticks are quite old now, but I believe the colours are still available (the packaging may be updated).  I bought mine when NYX was hard to find in the UK, but now they have their own UK site, albeit prices are a little more expensive (these $4 lipsticks are actually £4 here).  So they aren't 'dirt cheap' like they'd be considered in the US, but they are still reasonably priced.  Now that I've had a little peek at their site, I'm spying some more lipstick colours I'd like to try!  Have you tried NYX before? Are there any of your favourites here?  I hope this helps and let me know if there's something else you'd like me to compare or swatch and I'll do my best.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

ICED Hunnie Monster (Irregular Choice)

Before you're all like "Gem, what happened, you got a temperature, you broken both legs?" These shoes are not mine! No, I've not stepped down over to the...low side, but bought these for my little sister. Phew, had you in a panic there!  I actually love the ICED range and especially the new stuff we've seen this season. However I don't wear trainers or flats and can't walk in them, so they are of no use to me despite their prettiness. Now physically my sister and I have never looked alike (she has long dark hair and big blue eyes) but we do like similar things whilst contrasting on others (she'd never be seen dead in a floral dress for example or a dress of any kind for that matter). She's a tiny wee thing; 4ft 11", fits kids clothes, fits kids shoes, looks like an actual kid, seriously, someone asked her if she was on an in-service day from school the other month and she's 31!! Plus more than once, someone has mistaken me for her Mum, which to be fair is entirely plausible if I'd become pregnant at 14 months old! Grrr! She hates shopping for clothes and shoes (starting to doubt we're related at all now), so it's usually self confessed shopaholic big sis that has to give her a nudge in the right direction.
I've been desperate to get her into Irregular Choice for a while now, but she's a fussy wee bugger. While she loves a lot of the styles, she's not big on the painted soles, as she finds them 'slippy' and favours something with a rubber grip sole. Ok, I have to agree our town got new pavements and when it's wet, they are treacherous, but I manage them and shiny shop floors in heels, so how hard can it be in flats? So when Irregular Choice's ICED collection launched, I was hoping the rubber soles would entice her. She loved the first drop and was seriously considering buying a couple of pairs (Felix The Fearless and Huggle Puff). Then there were some newer styles that launched at the end of last week and she actually needed no encouragement to buy a pair.
She instantly fell in love with the glitter-tastic Hunnie Monster (sparkles, phew we are related). They have these huge and kinda ridiculous embroidered eyes on the front, contrast polka dot ears sticking out, the 'ICED' dripping sole and a cute l'il bunny embroidered on the back. She loved all these factors and combined with the multi-coloured glitter, she wanted me to order them that night! So I did and they arrived yesterday.
She let me open them and take these photos before she got home from work yesterday. I thought despite not being completely to my taste, they would still be of interest.  Sadly, they didn't fit her. I suspected this whenever I opened them. They were too big all over, but I wouldn't necessarily use her as a guide, as she's really a 2 or kids size 3, rather than an adults 3/36. It's a pity, as they are super cute and she really liked them.  I think Irregular Choice will expand to smaller (and larger) sizes in the future depending on how popular this line is (from what I hear it's been a good seller), but for now you'll only find a size 35 in some of the main IC range.  What do you think of these, something you would wear?  I certainly would if flats were my thing.  Oh and I love the box with the clear panel as it reminds me of buying dolls!