By SolihullStyle      Oct 14, 2018

TWO COATS!

I wasn’t planning to write this blog. It just happened! A few weeks back I did my own wardrobe weed. The season felt like it had changed. Flip flops no longer felt like the correct footwear for the time of year and certain colours just looked wrong. For some reason though I wasn’t ready for full on winter attire on the days that were still sunny and dry. We all talk about layering and I feel like I’ve had to hone my skills more than ever with the challenges to our wardrobe the change of season brings. It’s definitely not as clean cut as it used to be. Summer used to be a real summer and we knew it when winter arrived. I now have to go by the colour of the leaves on the trees or the leaves on the ground and not the sun in the sky or the temperature outside. It’s easy to fall down a hole though and think just because it’s mild our summer clothes will see us through. There is still a divide. Be it the fabrics, the textures; the colours or quite simply the vibe that some items give off. So two coats came about! I’m not talking two coats of Dulux, that’s just a must as we all know if you just do the one you’ll see the previous colour underneath! I’m talking about the denim and wool variety. Why? Denim has a wonderful way of making an outfit less formal. It “knocks the edges off” one might say. Worn under a tailored coat it just stops things looking too serious and provides a lighter layer if the day warms up. Add smarter trousers to avoid double denim if it’s not your bag. I get asked all the time, “how do I bridge the gap between really casual (i.e. just my boring skinny jeans and a T-shirt) and too smart at the weekend?” Have a go at some comfortable trousers. They could be velvet jeans like mine, Sports lux trousers (think all the side stripe options on the high street) or a classic straight cut pant. Add sneakers to “knock those edges off” again and you’re good to go….not too smart and not too scruffy! If you’re petite then just tweak the proportions of the overcoat to suit. Juxtaposition… well that’s a long word for a Sunday night!  Putting smart pieces with casual pieces to give a grown up take on jeans and a T-shirt.

FAVOURITE THINGS!

We all have them in our wardrobe, in our bag collection or in our jewellery box. Some jewellery is obviously going to be our favourite for sentimental reasons. I hate cheap costume jewellery that goes green or manky but it’s not always easy to find affordable good jewellery. Now I’m not denying that these Nomination Italy rings aren’t a considered purchase but they were gifts at different times from my husband. This makes them special for that reason alone but they feel special because they are beautiful without breaking the bank. They are stainless steel like a watch strap with 18ct gold details are real semi-precious stones. There’s lots of colours and I stack them for a bit of impact. I wear them nearly every day as you don’t have to think if you’re wearing gold or silver hardware elsewhere on your outfit. Breathe a sigh of relief!

BY THE WAY!

Another favourite thing actually while we’re on the subject…and it’s not whiskers on kittens..love kittens but not sure about whiskers??? And woollen mittens..aren’t they just annoying? By design I’m not sure you can get a techy finger on a mitten so that just makes them really impractical in my book! Oh yeah…favourite things… handmade wool coats….WHHHAT?! They definitely didn’t feature in The Sound Of Music. It is The Sound Of Music isn’t it? I just had to Google it to be sure…see told you that you gotta have a glove with a techy finger NOT a mitten! Ha Ha! Handmade wool coats. They are everywhere on the high street. They used to be a real designer thing. 100% pure wool in two layers hand stitched together, unlined but gorgeously warm. The high street has provided it’s offerings in a much more affordable price point with a wool blend construction. The fact that they are unlined makes them great for layering. Slightly softer in form with no shoulder pads to avoid adding unnecessary bulk. I’d go as far as to say as nearly as comfortable as your cosy faithful cardi but with a bit more polish. That’s a lot of as!

Velvet trousers – Citizens of humanity – old but these are fab too (I have just bought them!)

T-shirt – old Topshop similar here

Denim jacket – old Gap similar here

Steel rings – Nomination Italy

Bag – old Banana Republic

Sneakers- Adidas Stan Smiths widely available

 

Handmade coats..from left to right…Mango, Zara, Mango, H&M

I hope you enjoyed this rather impromptu little blog. There will be a few mid season sales knocking around and some discount codes too. Watch out for Black Friday deals coming soon. Until the next blog..thank-you for reading XX

Bye for now!

 

Valerie

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By SolihullStyle      Sep 09, 2018

BIKINIS AND KAFTANS GO TOGETHER LIKE SWIMMING POOLS AND UNICORNS!

Finding the right swimwear is up there with finding the perfect pair of jeans. Our body shapes vary so much and it can be tricky to tick all ones boxes at the same time. I’m bigger in my top than my bottom which tends to be different to the average woman so more often than not I steer towards styles that offer a cup sized bikini top. Swimsuits can be less of a challenge but not always. I mentioned in previous blogs that I had planned to do a swimwear blog this year. I like to do one every year as It’s the one chance I get to take some really different pictures in sunny holiday locations and to highlight anything I think is helpful to readers. This spring I didn’t find anything that really floated my boat. I preferred the ones I had from previous years so you all know me by now and know I won’t buy anything I don’t really love and I’ll always wait until I find “the one”. Well now I have! I was recently approached by an online swimwear boutique and asked if I’d look at their swimwear to possibly write a blog. When I looked at the brands they stocked the answer was absolutely yes! I won’t post anything on my blog that I wouldn’t happily buy and wear myself. I can’t tell you how I wish I’d seen their website before I went on holiday in July. I’m not going to dwell on it anymore though as actually it doesn’t matter, I’ve found them now and I will continue to buy their swimwear and beachwear. I chose a bikini by GOTTEX  from a few different styles and brands that I ordered to try. The colours are gorgeous, it’s fully lined and is such a comfortable and secure fit. Popping in and out of the pool, swimming and lounging around it just didn’t move. I love the fact I can actually swim properly in it and it can be worn as a full bandeau, a halter (as pictured below) or from the centre and tied around the neck. This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own and I was totally in control of the styles I chose to feature. I have managed to get you guys a discount code!!! (all details at the end ). I’ve already got quite a wish list going on myself including a sun hat for next year and another kaftan! If you’re lucky enough to be going away for some late summer sun now the school hols are over then have a little look online. If you’re a gym bunny they stock a nice selection of Speedo. If you like “Miraclesuit swimwear” then there’s new arrivals to tempt you. If you love your spas and retreats or if you realise, like me, that there’s never a wrong time to buy the right thing and a lot to be said for being prepared, then have a mooch. It’s nice to find something a bit different isn’t it? Oh and they stock kaftans and beach dresses, fake tans; kids swimwear; mens’ swimwear and various other accessories. I’m wearing a kaftan by Aspiga… you may have heard of them? They stock cover-ups and bikinis (often designed to go together) which makes shopping online easy without excessive delivery charges.

 

 

 

 

 

BIKINI – Gottex Island Hoping Bikini (I’m wearing size 10E) – full GOTTEX range here

KAFTAN – Aspiga festival kaftan  (I’m wearing a size S/M) – full ASPIGA  range here

BASKET – mini pom- pom Bohemia design

FLIP FLOPS – Havaianas at The White Company

SUNGLASSES – Missoni at TK Maxx

JEWELLERY – Whistles

DISCOUNT CODE!

We all love a discount code. Readers of this blog can get 15% off at www.ukswimwear.com with code SOLIHUL (notice there’s only one L) for a year until 04/09/19. It’ll work on everything including sale items but not in conjunction with any other offer. The code can be used once per customer. Delivery charges will apply but there’s free returns.

So the bikini blog happened after all. Maybe not in the conventional way but I guess that’s me all over! We’ve had an amazing summer this year with glorious weather. I’m not buying into winter fashion just yet though it’s back to work for the new season with clients. There may be leopard print ahead!

Thank you to Becky for her help finding a location for this blog at short notice and Karen for the use of her pool. Thank you to Rachael at ukswimwear.com, I must’ve driven you nuts! Thank you to Emma for lending me your unicorn. A massive thank you to the long suffering Mr.W for taking the photos and his patience. I won’t let him use any filters or touch up any pics but we do remove the odd football or fence from the background! I hope you’ve enjoyed this blog and manage to make use of the saving on your next purchase.

 

 

Valerie

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By SolihullStyle      Aug 26, 2018

SHE WORE HER PYJAMAS OUT IN PUBLIC?!

Oh yes I did! Often been known to wear my pyjama top under my coat on the school run, I’m no stranger to wearing strange things in strange places. I think you know what I mean? I wish I could put emojis on my blog! I’ve always worn sleepwear as outerwear out and about, maybe not on the school run or into my local town but most definitely on holiday. There’s huge benefits to wearing sleepwear as daywear, I’ve not gone completely mad I promise! It makes perfect sense. It’s usually easy care so washes well and dries quickly, it often comes in pretty colours with nice little details and if you buy summer weight sleepwear then it’s super cool to wear in really hot climates. The right pieces can make great swimwear cover ups or beach trousers. Avoid really obvious bedtime prints. Look for sporty details, pom poms or tassels. These will all enhance a holiday, care free vibe.  I’ve had these GAP neon printed shorts for absolutely yonks. Wearing them with a new this summer linen blouse they felt current again. I’ve found a new trick too this summer. Well new to me anyway. You stylish lot have probably always been aware of the benefits of athleisure wear!? I’m a bit late to the party! I’ve fallen for wearing a sports bra on holiday. Oh wow how ground breaking! (emoji needed!) But seriously! I just can’t get on with strapless bras and the ones that actually fit are all padded and boned and just too darn hot and restrictive on holiday. I feel like I’m one step away from wearing a ball gown! The benefit of wearing a low impact sports bra (I’d need high impact for any real exercise) is that they tend to have thinner and prettier straps. Way thinner and prettier than any boulder holder I have to wear on a normal day to day basis. I quite like the thin satin straps on show under a top. I’d much rather see that than a wide nude utility strap, you know the sort I mean that usually appear on T-shirt bras or the bra fat ( OMG there’s no other way to describe it I’m sorry xx) and ridge I get with a strapless bra! I’m a real stickler for not showing bra straps in normal situations. It’s a phobia of mine. Stupid I know. So the whole sports bra thing on holiday has just been such a style revelation for me after years of struggling with the right lingerie under strappy tops and vests and racer backs ….and and and! Thank goodness for sportswear being such a massive movement in fashion. I hope it’s a trend that sticks around. So as feeling cool and relaxed and comfortable on holiday reigned so this outfit emerged from the pieces that remained clean in my case towards the end of a wonderful holiday.

WELL WHA’DA YOU KNOW?

Who would have thought that a pair of pj shorts and a humble £7.99 brightly coloured sports bra would have got me so excited!! It’s the possibilities that now follow that has made me sit up and take notice. All those floaty strappy sun dresses that I thought I couldn’t wear? All those slightly sheer sporty sun tops? Oh my next summer…. nothing is gonna stop me!

 

BLOUSE – massively oversized… I’m wearing UK size 6  – H&M

SPORTS BRA – H&M

COTTON SHORTS – GAP

SUNGLASSES – H&M

LIP GLOW – Trinny London in Tallis

This may well be good-bye summer? But maybe not? I’ve not yet done a blog about swimwear. I tend to do one every year but this year I didn’t find a new cozzie. I tried, I really did. I tried swimsuits and bikinis but nothing really floated my boat so I made do on holiday this time around… But ….. watch this space because I may well have a little something up my sleeve!

 

Valerie

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By SolihullStyle      Aug 16, 2018

TALKING SHORTS!

Well a slight exaggeration… but out the door in under 30 definitely! Usually I’d reach for a dress in these kinda situations but with all the wonderful weather we’ve been having of late I’ve been forced to embrace shorts. For some reason this year I just thought, what the hell, no one cares what I look like and it’s too darn hot! So on this morning where I wanted to be outta the house ASAP shorts it was. I’d been taking it so slowly that morning but I just got to the point where I was sick of the kids playing Fortnite! Does anyone else do that? Let them play for ages then suddenly feel guilty and shout “GOOOOO!” ” We’re going out NOOOOWWWW!” Then realise you’re not actually out of your PJs yourself!! All the time the electric baby sitter is working for me I’m happy to go along with it and have the rest but once I get a bee in my bonnet that enough is enough, then that’s it…I shout “off”  like some screaming banshee! The boys must wonder what suddenly changes?! Bad mom! With no extra time to think once I had committed myself to going out I just grabbed my shorts, chucked on a white T; slid on some slides; grabbed a bag and bundled them into the car. I love these wide leg linen shorts from H&M. I bought them a few weeks ago and love how comfortable they are, maybe a bit too comfortable! They have sold out on line but I picked mine up in store. FYI, they are generous and I went down a size.

PHOTO OPPORTUNITY!

Off we all went to get the things on our list ticked off. Take strapless bra back, get eldest to try school shoes on (didn’t happen!) and look at other strapless bra options in John Lewis. The search is still on btw for the holy grail of strapless bras to miraculously show itself! I’ve got the perfect camisole to wear with these shorts still languishing unworn in my wardrobe. If you’ve been reading my blogs for a while now you’ll know the main reason why they don’t happen more frequently is because I struggle to get photos at the weekend with busy family life and kids sporting activities. Back from holiday and a little mooch around town with a coffee break seemed the perfect opportunity to teach the little people how to take a picture suitable for social media. Simple right? WRONG! It became a competition and a fight for my phone and who could take the best pic! It was like watching men fight over the TV remote. Anyway it cost me two fizzy drinks, a chocolate brownie and a packet of biscuits but they had also had to endure Bravissimo too so fair is fair, right?! They were horrified that the store actually used the word “BOOB!” and “there were pictures of pineapples on them too mummy!”  Boys!  This blog wouldn’t have happened without them and joking aside they were great and very patient and not bad pics were taken despite the hilarity.

 

 

 

 

SHORTS – H&M

LEATHER SLIDES – Banana Republic

LINEN T – The White Company

LEATHER BASKET TOTE BAG – Tory Burch at Bicester Village

WATCH – Fossil

SUNGLASSES – FCUK at Boots

NECKLACES and EARRINGS – Whistles

 

 

Thank you for reading. the next blog will follow soon…..more shorts!

 

Valerie

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By SolihullStyle      Jul 01, 2018

BIG ON BICESTER!

You’ve all heard of Bicester Village. I’m sure many of you have shopped there. If you haven’t been for a while then it may well be worth a visit? A lot has changed and there are new units with a swanky new extension to the existing Village. Some of your favourites may have moved and there’s lots of new brands like Joseph, Under Armour and Lululemon. The older I get the more I learn to appreciate what Bicester has to offer in way of a shopping experience. I love going there. It feels like a treat. It a beautiful place to shop and it’s lovely being able to see and touch beautiful things. I’m more than happy to admit that I’m learning to like better quality as I mature. The kids are getting older too so my lifestyle is changing. I no longer have sick down my back…. ewww!!  My day is very different now that I’m working and the children are in full time education. I can actually get away with the odd dry clean only item! I don’t believe in keeping anything for best but a few years ago buying anything of quality was just a complete waste of money, emotionally exhausting and silk suicide!! Obviously high street buys have their place. I love buying my holiday wardrobe. Some fun bits to wreck on my hols! For this I tend to take myself off to Birmingham and actually go shopping for myself. Real shopping, not online shopping. I’m sick to death of ordering copious amounts of clothes online only to return. Finding ones size has become particularly frustrating of late on the high street and I find trying clothes on in store much more effective. I find buying a whole outfit much easier if I’m shopping in a real shop. It’s all there on hand to try together. If I buy an outfit I find I wear it rather than having a wardrobe full of white elephants where nothing goes together. Holiday packing is way easier if you pack outfits that work together and find pieces that also make sense in other scenarios too. This also helps to limit packing too many shoe styles. I’ll probably post my outfit flat lays for you soon to illustrate the point.  Any way, back to Bicester.

BACK TO BICESTER!

A few weeks ago I got the amazing opportunity to go to an invite only VIP Prada event located in the “Apartments” at Bicester Village. I was a dear friend’s plus one. How super lucky was I. All the pieces were samples so most, if not all, were one off pieces at up to 70% off. We had the most amazing day in the stunning VIP suites. This is just the most beautiful hospitality space for special events and guests of the Village that wish to elevate their day to something more tailor made to their shopping needs. The staff were really friendly and it was a great experience.  One I felt hugely privileged to be able to take part in and a day I’ll never forget. Thank you Bicester.  After the event we did some extra shopping in The Village. I totally get that we all have very different budgets and what is a daily spend to one person, is totally out of reach to another but I’ve always enjoyed my visits to Bicester Village. If you go with good company and an open mind then you never know what you might find. That’s the fun of it! It seemed rude not to share these photos with you so I hope you enjoy them.

Handbag – PRADA

Thank you for reading. I hope you are all enjoying this glorious weather we are having at the moment. Hopefully I’ll get to do another blog soon, until then, stay safe in the sun! XXX

 

Valerie

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By SolihullStyle      Jun 27, 2018

STEPPING OUT OF ONES COMFORT ZONE!

This seems to be the theme for me at the moment. This is a personal blog so it’s not always driven by fashion but by my journey in life and some of the highs and lows of setting up ones own business. Not completely from scratch because I’ve not had to retrain, I’ve just had to adapt and rebuild a new “brand”. Building a business is very different now to when I did it before over twenty years ago. I’ve mentioned the mine field that is social media and how I’ve struggled with it as a more mature woman to make it work for me. I’m no model. I’m just me, trying to make the best of me with the other commitments that being a mum brings to the table too. Most of us juggle A LOT as women these days and often we have to compromise our goals for the things that are more important to us like our children and our partners. Last Friday I went to a Women in Business Event in Birmingham City Centre run by Headz Up Business. I went on my own to challenge myself and to meet other like minded women. I’m used to working in a one to one environment so I found this to be well and truly out of my comfort zone. I’ll probably talk more about this subject in another blog but I wanted to “put it out there” while it was still fresh in my mind. We are lucky to live in a world where barriers are being broken and issues are being discussed. Balancing family life and ones career isn’t easy and it’s very hard to summarise everything that was said at the expo but I came away with a warm fuzzy feeling that I was not alone and that there are lots of amazing women (and men!) doing wonderful things in local business. I felt encouraged to keep going and felt proud of what I had achieved so far. I also think that a blog about work wear might be helpful? I touched on the subject with Pushpa (the brains behind Headz Up Business) when I met her at the event. I’ve had a few clients lately that have specifically needed help with work wear. Either to feel confident in their clothes to get recognised as the right material for a particular promotion or looking the part for the role they have already. It’s a sensitive subject to tackle and depends hugely on the individuals’ needs and what they are trying to achieve. Whether we realise it or not we “talk” to other people through what we decide to wear. Our clothes send out a message. It’s basic human nature to “read” what we see. “Is it a lion?”, therefore “should I run?” or “is it a cat, can I pick it up and stroke it?”  This process becomes very difficult when you are talking about being in business and dressing for work. Work wear choices will depend on soooo many different factors. Still being you is hugely important. Who you are and what you stand for is a positive thing and needs to be reflected in your choices. I realise I’ve started writing a different blog already when I thought this blog was just going to be about camo print trousers!! HA ha. I will open up this can of worms another time! It’s too hot today, thank goodness, to write anything too challenging on my brain. So back to camo as promised in my last blog.

STILL STEPPING OUT OF MY COMFORT ZONE!

Believe it or not, wearing a pair of camo trousers is way out of my comfort zone. I know I say “buy less buy better”  but I’ve also said, if you’re gonna try something new “style wise” then don’t invest in case you hate it!!! Simple! When I saw these cropped camos for £11 in Gap it felt rude not to give them a go. The weather was still a bit iffy and I thought that they’d be a lighter option than jeans and just super easy to chuck on with flats and go. I’m really pleased with them and I’ve already got my eleven quids worth out of them! I’ve worn them with an embroidered slogan T shirt and with pretty tops and heels. In the autumn I may well pull then out with a tailored blazer, crisp white shirt and heels for work. I love mine as the print is dark and foresty (my own word!) so they suit me but if you suit a more subtle colour palette then there’s loads of options on the high street.

 

 

   

 

 

 

 

TROUSERS – GAP (sale discounts may vary)

BLOUSE – TopShop last year

EARRINGS – Whistles (current sale)

BASKET – Bohemia Design

TASSELS – Bohemia Design

SLIDES – Dune London

RINGS – Nomination (red or black)

cropped – GAP   middle – TOPSHOP  end right – WHISTLES

HELLO HOLIDAYS!

I’ve posted some holiday buys to lose, get covered in sun cream or completely trash on holiday in the collage below!!! Oh and a sneaky peek at a fab skort from Zara which is now in the sale! Yay!

 

beach dress – GAP   sunglasses – H&M   blouse – H&M  slides – Dune London

 

Thanks for reading and all your on going support. Social media wouldn’t work without you guys so I’m hugely grateful. Sharing is caring! Next bog? Hmmm I said shorts didn’t I??? There’s a skort above, can that count please?! XXX

Valerie

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By SolihullStyle      Jun 02, 2018

AU NATURALE!

Not literally naked! I mean more like …. served plainly or in natural style! I’m loving the high street’s infatuation with all things natural this summer. Every website has a Linen edit which is music to my ears. Oh how I love cool linen and cotton clothing in the heat. I always have and then throw in French style basket bags and I’m ooooo errr yes! In HEAVEN! Ha Ha! Well what a season it has been so far. One minute we have thunder storms and the next we are baking our bits off! I find packing for anything a nightmare. Not just for me but for the kids too. Even just packing an outfit post gym. By the time I’m done and out of the shower the weather has changed season in the blink of an eye. Whilst shopping with clients I have opted to freeze first thing on the station platform so that I’m comfortable in the heat that the rest of the day brings…. only to get soaked in a down pour at 3.30 on the school run! These dilemmas have filtered their way into my working day. Clients are finding life a challenge too and I’ve adapted their shopping days to suit. Clothing needs to multi task and what we buy has changed over the last few years.

 

LET’S DO THIS!

That said, let’s just do this! I mean summer! Let’s think and dream of the summer holidays ahead and all the lovely sunny weather that WILL come our way. Let’s face it, when it’s hot here, it’s really hot! My summer holidays are never far from my thoughts and if I spot something that will make my hols even better then I’m in! You all know my mantra by now to buy less and buy better. It’s why I struggle with this blogging malarkey. I hate buying loads of cheap clothes that I get bored of quickly. I love good quality nice things and actually once I find something I really love I’m more than happy just to wear it on repeat. Having said all that, high summer is a slightly different kettle of fish. Especially high summer holiday gear. I’m not a big fan of spending too much here. Let’s face it, clothes tend to get covered in sun cream and go yellow, get encrusted with antiperspirant and go yellow or I “glow” on them and they go yellow! Pretty much everything ends up yellow! This year I’m finding I “glow” way much more than I did last year! That’s a whole other story!

A HOLIDAY DRESS!

You can’t beat a 100% cotton frock for the hols. A little throw on number to get you from the beach to the car or back to the hotel room. We go camping to Cornwall most years (though this may change next year as the boys get bigger) and I like pieces that I can get ready in quickly after a swim either in the sea or by the pool. I’m always racing after two speedy boys so when I saw this ZARA dress online I knew I wanted to try it, so try it I did! I well and truly opened a can of worms didn’t I?! I’m sure some young thing wouldn’t have had the problems I had and would’ve slipped into one quite nicely thank you very much. My 46 year old self didn’t have as much luck! I tried five in store to find ONE that “sat” right. By this I mean, one that didn’t have a wonky strap or not enough wrap so the split showed wooo hooo! “The one” I found was perfect! The straps covered my bra… ace! You’ve gotta have boobs to understand what joy this is! It had enough wrap to be descent and I just loved it! So home I trotted! If you can trot on a train???? Chuffed to bits I was with my new holiday frock! I was gonna wear it on the beach, by the pool and everyfing!!! I put it on to show Mr.W after relaying the WHOLE story in minute detail, of course he listened to every word I said!!! (hmmmmm!!!) The climax built as I came down the stairs for my grand entrance in my £25.99 dress that was the answer to all my holiday wardrobe prayers (obviously I had explained all this is every detail too!! ha ha ha!) and……. I had brought home the WRONG (oh how I want to say it! *****) DRESS!  I mean, who does that? Clearly me!

 

 

 

I SCREAMED OUT LOAD!

I did! Not to be defeated I ordered five online. It took five in store so I wasn’t taking any chances, oh no! ZARA must’ve thought …. actually I’ve no idea what they must’ve thought as they packed up five size medium sun dresses into a box all going to the same address? I collected them and tentatively tried them on. Go on guess? Yep! ONE was good to go! Returning the other four was a bit embarrassing but I reckon the staff in ZARA have seen it all. That’s what I’m telling myself anyway.

 

Sun dress – ZARA

SIDE TRACKED AS A FELL IN LOVE!

Quite simply I fell in love with this basket. It was a little find in TOPSHOP Birmingham. It’s sold out online at the mo but there are some left in store if you’re quick and It’s your thing. I can’t remember exactly how much it cost??? Around the £29 mark I think??

A FUNNY LITTLE STORY!

It’s a good job I can laugh at myself. I know I’m a bit crazy and I know I’m obsessed with fashion and styling but honestly don’t get disheartened. Shopping isn’t always easy and the high street can be both wonderful and awful all at the same time. A bit like being a mum? Finding the right thing can be frustrating and I often have problems with sizing and quality. It’s not just the cheaper brands either. I had to return Levi jeans too the other day that were too big when I tried them on from an online order. I had to go back and buy the actual pair I’d tried on in store to get the fit I wanted and they were both the exact same size on the label and the exact same style of jean. It’s not you…it’s them! Ignore size labels. Don’t feel deflated if you have a day where you feel that you have to keep going up a size. The next day and a different style and you might find you go down a size. I have clothes in my wardrobe that span the size spectrum but they all fit me. Shopping isn’t easy all of the time for everyone else.  Just have fun, keep calm and carry on.

THIS WILL REALLY CRACK YOU UP!

If I don’t admit to this I know my mate (bless her cotton socks!) will dob me in and post it any way on social media so I may as well come clean. I took the ZARA sun dress back! I am hilarious! I decided it was all too much work and that the dress wasn’t really “me” in the end. Does anyone else do this? I don’t mean go to the extremes I did, that’s just bonkers, I mean want something, get it and then not want it? I just wanted to get it spot on then decide, makes sense right?

 

HAY CAMO!

So THE Zara dress would be great for someone else. Me, I’m still searching for fun summer bits and bobs. I hate shorts, really hate them but  I’ve found a few pairs lately that I’m really pleased with and have kept!  I’ll share soon hopefully as work winds down. Also I’ve been exploring camo print. Not in the form of a jacket as one might expect but camo pants….TROUSERS! Watch this space………

Thank-you for reading! Have I really committed myself to my next blog being about shorts?!!! arhhhhhh! No, camo print next, yes camo print! Phew! XXX

Valerie

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By SolihullStyle      Feb 26, 2018

WHERE TO START?!

I’m sat starring at the empty computer screen wondering where to start. The beginning? I’m not sure I know where the beginning was? I want this to be a positive read. I want it to help someone. I don’t want it to read as “woe is me”. It’s not that big a deal in the greater scheme of things. In all the things that can go wrong in life it’s not really up there with the really serious stuff or with third world problems, however, it floored me for a while and I’m not ashamed to admit it. I guess I’ve just started writing what comes to mind with no explanation as yet! It’s a delicate subject and I’m really not sure where the beginning was. I’m repeating myself, you can tell I’m nervous. I’ve had to hazard a guess at it. About three months ago a had a fairly serious muscle injury in the gym after doing some strenuous exercise the day before. I thought I was taking it easy and doing some stretching when really I should’ve rested completely. Anyway, something gave way, in a big way and I went green and nearly fainted on the gym floor. I can only think that what happened in the weeks to follow was the result of the “shock” of what happened that day. I’m no doctor but it seemed the only logical explanation. In the weeks to follow my hair started to thin. Not obvious shedding or falling out but visibly getting thinner on the top of my head. The blood tests and visits to the specialists followed with no real answers other than stress or trauma. This had happened before in 2013 when I had a double tonsillectomy and my mum passed away so I hoped this time was just a “blip” again. The fact that it hadn’t been dealt with back in 2013 meant I was on a wait list to see a specialist. Unfortunately, however, one particular visit to a scalp specialist left me floored and more stressed than I’d ever been during this whole journey with the news that my condition might get worse; was irreversible and could leave me with no hair in places forever. She mentioned scalp biopsies and all sorts ( I think she lost me at biopsy!) but I was told at this stage to go away; try not to worry and come back in three months if nothing had improved! Not great news and a diagnosis that was my worse fear. Not life threatening  but definitely threatened my life as I knew it in terms of facing the world and doing my job. Google was a mine field of hideous results and even worse images so I decided to leave well alone and stay positive and find my own ways of getting my head around the situation. Needless to say taking photos of myself and writing a blog was way off my agenda and brought it’s own disappointments to the table only adding stress to a situation that I was told may only be turned around by avoiding stress! GRRRRR! It became a horrible mess of anxiety; stress and frustration. Was I going to lose everything I loved doing? Would I be able to do my job feeling like I did about my appearance? So, what did I do? I cried until I felt I couldn’t cry anymore and then forged a plan. A plan that gave me hope. This is the positive bit! It was triggered by some support from my friend Jess. She does this “stuff” for a living! She eloquently called it “regression therapy”, I’ll call it “getting the tears under control!” (read more about Jess here). I was able to look outside of the situation and my plan took shape. I found comfort in my faith again. My “safe place” had been restored. A place I could go to again when emotions were too much to bare. You know the days, when it feels like you’re walking under a dark cloud. I thought about what might help my hair from the inside out and changed my nutrition from missing meals whilst working (another factor that I think played a part in all this over the summer shopping season) and sort advice in what natural products were available to support my hair while it wasn’t very strong. The latter happened by accident while I was looking at products in john Lewis in Birmingham. I was looking for a product to cleanse build up of products from the scalp and hair to give me a blank canvas to work with again. A member of staff asked if I needed help and after listening to my predicament she pointed me in the direction of AVEDA. There I met the lovely Nicky who let me cry… A LOT! She listened and gave me a plan of attack. See the word “plan” again. There was hope. She gave me some answers too to give substance to her claims that the products would work. I felt empowered to do something in this situation where there seemed no real medical answers. As I said before, I’m no doctor and this blog is purely my own personal journey but I hope it might help someone else too. Nicky took a picture of my scalp and I could see it was red and not very happy. She pointed me in the direction of the products she would recommend. I’ve visited her a few times since that day and had my scalp photographed to check my progress. I still cried! She still listened! And I still went away feeling lighter and happier that everything was going to be OK. That little word… OK. So small but actually the key to getting through this. I found ways to keep telling myself… it’s going to be OK!

THE AVEDA PRODUCTS!

PREPARATION!

The scalp massage brush – I love this brush! Having short hair it’s not something I did very regularly, brushing! I had heard of it’s benefits but thought of harsh brushes scratching my scalp. This does nothing of the sort and is a joy to use.

The Pramasana scalp cleanser –  OMG, LOVE this stuff. That simple!  It’s really the product I was initially looking for but thought it would come in the form of a shampoo. I love the fact that this stuff is about scalp health too.

The shampoo – First time around I bought the damage defence shampoo but I’m yet to move onto the new Invati shampoo to stimulate my scalp now my hair has got a bit stronger. I found this shampoo helped protect my fine hair from heat damage during styling from blow drying.

The conditioner – Again the complimentary conditioner to the shampoo from the Damage Defence Range.

STYLING PRODUCTS!

There were several recommendations but I stuck to one as Aveada products aren’t cheap! I’ve been using the stay in conditioner for curly hair – “Be Curly”. This leave in product containers proteins to strengthen the hair and provides further protection from heat styling.

THE BIG GUNS!

The final product that I used twice a day ( though I use less of it now) was the famous Aveda Invati scalp revitalizer. Aveda have just released a new version which I’ll buy on my next visit. It works straight away to thicken the hair. I’ve always been a bit sceptical about these sort of “quick fixes” or cosmetic solutions but actually this product got me out of the house when my hair was at it’s worst and to be fair probably stopped a huge amount of anxiety. I’m sure it does deliver on it’s claims too but to find something that took the panic out of going outside was worth every penny.

INSIDE ….!

I’m a big believer in what you put into your body you get out. Good nutrition results in a strong and healthy body. I’m actually quite angry with mysef that I let this happen. I’m pretty sure that a factor in all this was missing lunch three or four times a week. Or rather not eating lunch till 3.30pm on the train home from work. At busy times in the Summer I was working 3 or 4 days a week shopping in either Solihull or Birmingham and would choose to not stop for lunch to give my clients as much of my time as possible. Since “hair gate” (as I’ve affectionately called it!) I’ve had to address this. I’m eating more protein now and eating straight after training when I go to the gym. By eating more protein I mean, way MORE! It was Mr.W who said you’re not eating enough protein and I thought I was always pretty good on this front? Turns out, he was right. I’m eating all the good stuff that I know is essential for hair growth. I’m taking my Hairburst vitamins (available at Holland and Barrett) too everyday. I’ve posted about these before (read it here). It might sound crazy but I think my hair improved almost in a week of eating more protein. It’s like my hair breathed a massive sigh of relief! Basically I’m covering all bases. I’m giving myself the best chance I can. I’ve  come to learn that my body seems to “attack” my hair first when I’m not 100%. It makes sense really as ones hair is the least important part of our body. I’ve always known that I “shock” easily. It feels like a physical wave of anxiety that goes from my head to my toes. I can actually feel it. By inside I mean the mind too. Obviously I needed to find ways to unwind. This didn’t mean the same thing as doing something I enjoyed. I enjoy going all out at the gym; I enjoy trawling through the internet looking at Pinterest and the latest trends and what’s on offer in new season fashion. Of course I love shopping too! This isn’t switching off though, it’s fun but it’s not switching off! This still is a challenge for me. Our water bill has gone through the roof I’m sure with all the hot baths I’ve been having to unwind in the evening!

….AND OUT!

Social media is frightening. It knew what I was putting into Google and searching for. Suddenly on my Pinterest feed were images of products to help thinning hair; hair styles for thin hair and miracle cures a plenty. Like I needed reminding my hair was in a bad way! The more I looked at stuff, the more came up. The more I was bombarded with images that would or could fuel the self loathing fire. I stopped clicking on “stuff”. In amongst the dross was a little gem. A big fan of natural oils and natural remedies I was intrigued by the claims made by these humble products. Completely consumer unfriendly by nature of their consistency ( and smell!) they have been unfairly labelled as  “alternative ” remedies rather than being seen on the shelves with celebrity endorsed designer beauty products.  Castor oil has amazing properties and has been used in natural remedies for centuries. Mixed with egg for protein and honey to provide moisture, you have a powerful hair mask. Sounds disgusting right? But it’s done wonders for me. At It’s worse my hair was nearly see through on the top (a good job I’m tall…ish!) but I’m convinced (in my case) that this mask has noticeably improved my hair density. I do it once a week, on a Sunday afternoon once we are home for the day. I whisk the three ingredients together; apply to damp hair and leave all afternoon under a towel turban thingy and wash it out before bed. I’m sat here as I type looking rather fetching! I’ll say it again, I’m no doctor and this is my journey but it’s the things that have helped me. Everyone is different and if you suffer from hair loss or thinning hair then  obviously consult a doctor first as there may well be health issues that need addressing that are different to mine and never use any products you are allergic to. This is not a sponsored post and all opinions are my own.

Cashmere jumper – HOBBS (sale)

Hoop Necklace – WHISTLES (sale but may still be in store)

Bracelets – (just seen) FOSSIL (Bicester Village) and PANDORA

LEARNING!

Finding the positives. I realised that having a plan of attack stopped me feeling like a victim; made me realise I could be in control of something that seemed to have no answers and I realised I could make the situation better even if the problem hadn’t been resolved…. yet! Oh and don’t feel disheartened as sometimes things have to get worse before they get better. Find ways to ride the wave.

As I’ve had a break from this blog to make the Sunday roast, I’ve thought of a few more positives. I didn’t buy much! Sounds kind of a funny thing to say but I really learnt about myself. I learnt so much about what I felt really comfortable in. I guess it started out as hiding. I lived in black skinny jeans and a black wool crew neck. Perfectly nice and perfectly acceptable but I knew I was trying not to be noticed. As time went on I started to see that a natural evolution occurred. I was unable to stop being me. I was unable to stop trying to be my best despite the set backs. I bought things that I felt really at home in. Feeling safe was the key to not adding unnecessary pressure on myself. I was probably liking the things I always needed in my wardrobe. You could say the boring stuff but the reality was I bought less and bought better. My mantra! I would only buy something that I knew I’d wear to death. Let’s face it, if you feel like yourself in something, you’ll wear it. I finally bought a new puffer coat; some plain quality jumpers and I found my dream boots that I’d been looking for for years! The Winter sales were on and I wasn’t in the mood for “look at me” fashion so I stayed focused and bought some fabulous quality wardrobe staples like jeans and leather goods. I feel like I’ve got a clean slate. I’ve had a massive clear out at home with boxes for the car boot and better pieces going on Ebay. I’ve made some money to spend when the really good summer stuff hits the shop floor. I feel I might just be about ready to handle it. This was never gonna be a post with apologies or looking for sympathy, I always wanted it to be a post to say, I understand that life gets in the way and that it’s not always easy (or the right thing to do) to be swanning around in the latest trends. I can’t afford it for one thing. My lifestyle is such that I’d look like a first class clown if I went to watch the boys play rugby for example in anything other than my new puffer! I hope that there’s something here that might help you. I can’t promise that you’ll see me in glorious summer technicolour any time soon as that just wouldn’t be me but I will get back on track. I’m riding my wave!

Thanks for reading!

 

I’d like to thank Mr.W for his support. Kate my dear friend for the countless pep talks! Julie for being a rock for years and Jess for letting me cry! Not forgetting Nicky at Aveda who I was a stranger to, thank-you for listening and the lovely hand massages!

 

Valerie

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By SolihullStyle      Oct 24, 2017

 AUTUMN!

It was straight back to work after the summer holidays and now we are already at the mid season sale point. This is when things start to get interesting and the high street starts to really find it’s feet and come up with the goods as the mid seasons sales disappear and the new drop arrives. After half term I’ll be back to it with a fully booked first week. In short life is hectic. Crammed  full to the brim. On the days I’m not working I’ll kick back with a gym workout and catching up with friends at our favourite coffee shop. Well life can’t be all work and no play can it?!

TO SPEND OR NOT TO SPEND!

That is the question. I don’t need any clothes but obviously I’m drawn in by the trends. I do love winter for it’s cosy knits and luxurious fabrics. The down side is that this can come with a hefty price tag. Good bags and great coats aren’t cheap. I can give you the trends and you can choose if you want to buy into a quick fashion fix or not. I’m seduced by all the beautiful berry shaded coats this season from scarlet red to deepest burgundy. The high street has it’s versions and you can pick your price range depending on your budget. “Check” weave is EVERYWHERE and wear it from head to toe in the form of a matching suit if you really want to make a statement and wear this season’s heritage vibe the 2017 way. I’ll be punctuating mine with a dash of denim if I finally give in and buy a check blazer! I think I’ll be giving check cropped wide trousers a miss. Red boots and sock boots are here to stay another season and actually the red options can be more versatile than one might first expect, looking good with blue denim and more tailored pieces alike. As always the trends prove to be a mine field. This season is no different and the high street continues to be quite extreme. Extreme in it’s styling and extreme in it’s details and extreme in sometimes providing a very oversized fit. I haven’t bought anything new this season yet. I find this blogging malarkey my biggest challenge. I’m increasingly drawn to buying less but buying better. I realise the pieces that I love the most in my wardrobe are the pieces that have cost the most. I am trying to save my money and buy great things rather than lots of bits and bobs that all add up in the end. If you’ve ever got any questions about the season’s looks then feel free to ask away but don’t expect me to be wearing them all! What am I looking for then? What’s on the wish list?

1) A day dress. Huge challenge here so don’t hold your breathe!

2) Comfortable shoes I can walk in all day that are NOT trainers!

3) Simple knitwear to go under coats (I post this every winter so I’m on it  this time around and I’ll keep you posted)

4) Good quality jeans (as per!)

5) Maybe a new trouser shape? hmmmm, not sure, still mulling this one over! Side stripe trousers are still holding strong and I like them but…….

WEEKEND WEAR!

There’s no surprises then that my “outfit of the day” in this blog is fairly classic with some investment pieces thrown in to illustrate my point! The outfit was understated on purpose as there’s a lot going on in some of these pictures!  I can’t get pics of what I wear in the week very easily unless I ask a stranger. The problem is that at the weekends I spend my time watching kids play football or rugby on a cold, wet field. It’s the main reason why buying into trends has become less appealing the older I get. There’s just no chance to wear them anymore. After the normal routine of footie and the gym there was a chance to come home and play with the latest acquisition! No not a new pair of shoes, sadly for me, but something that filled the hearts of my boys with sheer delight! Anki Overdrive is in de house! I’m a mum of boys so I either choose to stay at home or go off on my own and do my own thing or I choose to watch every football match and watch every rugby match and make every bacon butty. I have chosen the later in a very conscious decision to not miss out on seeing them grow up. The arrival of this new game gave me another opportunity to choose to get stuck in and got involved. With no tricky remote control or levers, just download and use your Iphone or Android device to control your car, I quite enjoyed loosing (as always!) to my boys as they roared with laughter at my misfortune!  After a morning blowing off the cobwebs playing sport outdoors, as the day drew in, it was nice to have something to play with that the whole family could enjoy. Other than zoning out on Ipads, it’s the first toy that neither of them has got bored with. It even held their attention for longer than making slime with their Dad. They played happily together without arguments for most of the afternoon. Chatting and discussing their progress with each win giving them access to more features, weapons and vehicle capabilities. I have to say that we were very impressed with the amount of enjoyment it brought. I was kindly gifted it to try and my honest opinion is that I would recommend it to anyone. its like a 21st century Scaletrix!!

STILL A CLASSIC GIRL AT HEART!

Talking fashion. There’s nothing ground breaking about my outfit but I felt good in it. It felt like me and felt comfortable while still special with the addition of some investment pieces bought over the last year. A plan had come together shall we say?! A pea coat. Always in fashion and if you can wear a double breasted coat it’s a great item to invest in as it can look good worn with jeans; tailored trousers or over a floaty dress (hence the wish list above requiring a day dress!). The great white shirt, well no introduction required here but every wardrobe needs one. Vintage style jeans. They are mahousive this season and the high street is awash with it’s offerings. I have tried many and I have to say that I now believe that premium priced jeans are worth their price tag. Loving high cotton content denim with authentic vintage wiskering; a button fly and a high rise. Even the super polished Mrs.Beckham has been papped wearing her Vintage Levi’s! Now I have tasted quality jeans I will gradually be rebuilding my denim wardrobe styles with better versions so watch this space! A great bag. Gotta have a great bag right? Nuff said! Adds polish and the finishing touch. Boots. I have found sock boots to work really well for me. They are tight to the leg so this boot style just goes underneath my trousers or jeans. Working with all the style of trousers I have in my wardrobe from straight cut denim to kick flare trousers to cropped wide leg trousers. Simplz! There’s no worrying where everything finishes or where the bulky rouching of denim around the ankle goes. The most frequent question I get asked? “What do I do with my jeans when wearing ankle boots?” “Do my jeans go inside or out?!”

THE LEARNING CURVE!

As I get older I realise I need far less and as I grow and know who I am I find it easier to invest in clothes that I know I will wear. The risk has gone and it’s a wonderful feeling when you really know what you like. The days of buying a going out top on Saturday afternoon for the night out on Saturday night are well and truly over! The frustrating part is that I now find it really difficult to part with my hard earned pennies on poorer quality items. There’s been a turning point in the last few years and I’m trying to get my head around the shift! There’s definitely been a tipping point in my latter 40s. Having said all that, fear not Zara, I will not completely desert you and I vow to find the gems amongst the mountains of polyester!

      

GREY WOOL PEA COAT – The White Company (old)

STRAIGHT HIGH RISE JEANS – Agolde  (sold out but similar here)

WHITE SHIRT – H&M

SOCK BOOTS – Topshop (old similar here)

HANDBAG – Tods (Bicester Village)

WATCH – Fossil

BRACELET – Pandora

MUG – Villeroy and Boch

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little hop scotch around my life! Family, fashion and a good old dollop of fun. I’ll keep posting outfits and fashion when I can. Stay warm you lovely lot! Thanks for reading. XXX

Thank you to JAVA LOUNGE for letting me take pics of their cakes!

Valerie

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By SolihullStyle      Aug 21, 2017

BLOGTASTIC!

My goodness haven’t I been a busy bunny? You may have noticed that lately my blogs are like busses. There are none for months then four come all at once! It’s because it’s the school holidays; there’s time as I’m between seasons and Mr.W is around to take the photos. It’s that simple. When I’m working in the week the last thing I want to do is spend Saturday taking pics and Sunday writing a blog. I’m being honest. The fun goes from it and when it impacts onto family life I feel guilty.  There’s another snag and honesty has to prevail! As much as I like to make an effort at the weekend, I do find that I’m usually in jeans so variety becomes a bit of an issue! My blogs are nothing if they are not real; current and believable in their content. So I have made a New Season’s resolution to write my blogs on a more regular basis no matter what! This blog it therefore “What I Wore This Weekend” with a slightly more endearing title to encourage you to read!

SUNDAY SATOLLO!

The last days of summer. And they were for Granddad. A chance to get the wheat in and a chance for the little people to get into some big machines, and I mean big! It’s a day out that my kids love. It’s a chance to be with Granddad and tell him all their news while hours pass by together in the cab and a chance to sit in a combine with a few tractor rides to the farm thrown in. Mr.W and I get the opportunity to go for lunch sans kids (probably a once a year treat) in the nearest town which happens to be beautiful Marlow. Happy Days! I love Marlow. A great place to mooch around a few independent boutiques and more unusual interior shops or pop into some posh names you may know like Sweaty Betty; Whistles and The White Company. There’s lots of little alley ways with unusual little shops. At Lister Court tucked away behind the High Street we found SATOLLO. A family run authentic Italian restaurant. Part of me wants to keep it a secret but that just wouldn’t be fair. Sat in the sun outside it truly felt like we had been transported to a little cafe in Sienna. We arrived for coffee (and tea) as we had had our lunch. The food looked too good to miss so we shared a Parma ham panini! It’s safe to say that we won’t be having take away sarnies from M&S when we visit Marlow next time. It’s worth visiting the town just to experience SATOLLO in my opinion. Oh, and BTW the coffee was excellent too.

A BLOG OF TWO HALVES!

There was the food. Now here is the fashion. As I explained above, the weekend for me does tend to be jeans, jeans and more jeans. So, here we have an outfit for the weekend with jeans! Tah dah!!! I’m a little obsessed with vintage fit jeans and I’ve customised mine. They arrived with raw hems and I just hacked away a bit more at them and left them with a stepped hem to wear with sandals and anything with an ankle strap. It was a little daunting as they were brand new but I just went for it and everything worked out just fine! My basket bag has been a favourite buy this summer and also my espadrilles. I have to admit to a bit of a collection of espadrilles but I love how they make a simple outfit look continental. Appropriate I felt for my lunchtime (OK, second lunch) setting! I did fork out a bit for mine and took the plunge to buy them from Castaner, the iconic Spanish espadrille makers. I know there’s lots of cheaper copies out there that would do the job but I just love how these fit and the cut of the front is just perfect. Pound for wear they have been well worth it and I know that I will continue to enjoy them for years to come and bore you with them on my blogs for the foreseeable summers of the future!

 

LINEN BLOUSE – The White Stuff

JEANS – H&M ( sale now and limited sizes)

ESPADRILLES – Castaner at NET-A-PORTER

BASKET – Bohemia Design

WATCH – Fossil

RING – Nomination

NECKLACE – Whistles

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this blog. If you’re reading it on Bloglovin please hit the like button! Social media works best when people interact with it. I hope it’s not too long before I’m able to post again. I can’t believe that the summer feels so over. The fact that we were able to pick blackberries from the hedgerow was a sign that Autumn is arriving fast. I’ll try not to feel too downhearted with the promise of beautiful coats and cozy knits coming my way courtesy of the new season ahead.

Valerie

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