By SolihullStyle      Jun 23, 2019

AN INVITE TO AFTERNOON TEA!

You would be forgiven for thinking that this is a blog about cucumber sandwiches and Battenberg cake. Nope!

I was invited by Wing Wah in Birmingham to try their newly launched “Afternoon Tea”. A set menu of authentic handmade Chinese dim sum and treats all washed down with a choice of oriental tea.

Such fun to do something different. On a weekday too sans kids!  Just MR.W and I. I’d never tried dim sum before and neither had he. My experience of Chinese cuisine I’m rather embarrassed to admit is the traditional take away that’s very much tweaked to suit a western palette. I’ve consumed, even more embarrassingly, my fair share of “eat as much as you like” Chinese buffets as a student whilst living in London.

The Afternoon Tea selection was created to include many of the restaurants’ most popular dim sum and pastry dishes. All handmade using natural colours from beetroot and spinach. The three tiered platter is reminiscent of the presentation that one might see at many a cream tea venue. In the same way it’s contents were both sweet and savoury. All perfectly formed and beautifully made.

So a very different experience for Mr.W and I. A privilege to be invited and a wonderful chance to try authentic Chinese cuisine handmade by artisans of their craft. It’s something new to try, a real ice breaker amongst work colleagues perhaps on a corporate lunch or a chance to do something different in your own home city?

Mr.W did ask me as we started our meal if I’d only invited him as my royal taster! I did make him try everything before I took my turn! That’s not a failing on the restaurant’s presentation or service which was exceptional by the way, however, it was a dining experience that we had never had before. That’s just my limited western pallet that’s to blame. Or rather that I didn’t know what everything was before I ate it. Was it sweet or was it savoury? With the traditional English high tea I’m fairly confident we’d all know the difference between the main course and the dessert! It was all delicious I just needed a bit of guidance!

In short the Afternoon Tea set menu is a great way of trying something new; something truly authentic; something that normally you wouldn’t do or something that would usually take the trip of a lifetime to take the plunge to try and at no great financial outlay either. My advice would be ask for help; ask as many questions as you need; ask what everything is and enjoy the taste bud journey! I even asked for a fork! I know!!! We were the only people slurping soy sauce on our dim sum dangling from stainless steel cutlery! Ha ha!

DIM SUM AND DRESSES!

What to wear to a Chinese lunch? A kimono sprung to mind! You all know how much I love my dresses so I wore this traditional outer layer/ “throw over”  as a dress. While we’re on the theme of East meets West it seemed fitting to chuck on a vintage Levi studded belt to offset all the Oriental florals. It’s fair to say that you lovely lot have probably noticed all the sales are on now so I’ve thrown a few midi dresses out there at the end of this blog to wet your appetite. Sizes are limited as it’s the end of the season. Perfect timing to get dressed up and enjoy the sun!

REISS – EMMI midi dress WAS £235 NOW £165

TED BAKER – Narrnia midi dress WAS £229 NOW £114

SANDRO PARIS – WAS £315 NOW £157.50

GANNI – WAS £180 NOW £126

TOPSHOP BOUTIQUE – WAS £85 NOW £45

SANDRO – WAS £369 NOW £221.40

MAJE – WAS £315 NOW £157.50

NOT IN THE SALE!! BUT IT HAS CAUGHT MY EYE!

JOHN LEWIS – AND/OR – £195

Thanks for reading!!

Valerie

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By SolihullStyle      May 01, 2019

This blog is a nice little break from all the IGTV videos I’ve been doing of late. Thank you so much to everyone who has personally expressed their enjoyment of them. They are a labour of love so your feedback means the world to me.

Now and then I get invited to an event. Often it’s a get together of like minded souls who all enjoy something that’s been well done. Something that’s new and exciting to be tried or just a chance to network and connect with other  local businesses. What’s great about these occasions is that you meet different people. I’m often the only fashion stylist and blogger so it’s a great opportunity to learn what’s going on in my local area.

One such wonderful invite was a chance to have a meal at LASAN on James Street in Birmingham to review their new “Weekend Feast”. Sounds great doesn’t it! Oh and it was. I felt very grown up and rather “rock ‘n’ roll” being out on a Sunday lunchtime having cocktails and dining without the kids!

What an absolute joy having your own cocktail made and eating a splendid three course meal in the company of interesting people. The “Feast” is the main course in the pictures I’ve taken below. Tender lamb on a bed of saffron spiced rice served with curried vegetables, a lentil dahl, naan bread and gravy. My particular favourite was the cauliflower. A set menu at £35 per head. We were spoilt rotten with a starter and a desert too which would normally be itemised separately on the bill. This is not a sponsored post and it’s not in paid partnership so all views are my own. Honestly I’ve never tasted such a delicious Indian meal. Now I like hot food but Mr.W doesn’t. I used to struggle to understand him when he used to say he liked spicy food but then he wasn’t ever keen on going to an Indian restaurant for dinner because the food was too hot? I never got it! Now I understand what he meant!!! The meal at LASAN was so full of flavour, aromatic and spicy. You could actually taste the different spices used. There was very little heat (in a good way) but oodles of flavour. 

The purpose of the exercise that day was to review  the “Weekend Feast”. Fine dinning meets Lunchtime relaxed socialising with friends or family at a considered price point that might appeal to a wider audience.  For me, and this is obviously by no means going to be everyone, my daytime weekends will always include two young children. Weekends  involve sporting commitments so going out for lunch rarely happens. My youngest never strays too far for the traditional bland children’s menu! I don’t think even the “blandest thing” they had would cut it with little H! It’s true though!

Ahhh, but, then, here’s the thing. The food was AMAZING! I’d thoroughly recommend it. I’d go with the girls for a special night out. I’d go with Mr.W for a rare meal as just the too of us…in the evening though, as a special treat; as something to really look forward to and the chance to experience fine dining with a pretty cool interior to boot! That’s how it makes sense to me! I lift my shoulders to shrug as there’s going to be those that thought differently and a fabulous lunchtime curry would be right up their street.  

At the end of the day LASAN is a wonderful restaurant with great food that is most definitely worth a visit and one that I would thoroughly recommend.

PS: I couldn’t resist taking some pics of the loos! Gotta know what the ladies look like! Love a good interior! How glam?! Ha Ha!

I hope you enjoyed this slightly different blog. Thank you for reading! On to the next styling video me thinks.

 

Valerie

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By SolihullStyle      Apr 25, 2019

I’ve wanted to do a suit styling video for absolutely ages. We had all the grey check versions in the winter and no surprises but now it’s summer we’ve got an array of colour pop options to choose from on the high street.

The problem I was having, and it’s a common issue with buying a suit, is that I might love the blazer and not like the style of the trousers or visa versa. If I’d found a pricier one obviously I’d consider going down the alterations route but  if i’m being totally honest I was looking for a bit of a fashion fix without too much investment!  So I ended up trialling this bright blue baby from Zara for the purpose of the exercise. Now I’ve broken myself into the whole suit thing I might buy better for keeps? I can feel a trip to Bicester coming on!

The benefit (which I have to say I didn’t think of straight off as I was too suit obsessed!) is that of course you still have a blazer that you can wear with everything from jeans to dresses and a pair of statement trousers that can be styled alone.

You may have your own suit or separates that you can styling together to give a similar vibe. Pairing neutral tones of stone and beige together is a massive trend this summer. 

My videos are just a bit of fun. Nothing too serious and just ideas to get you thinking about your own wardrobe and the choices you make for yourself. Your lifestyle and your style will be completely different to mine but hopefully you enjoy watching my antics if nothing else! 

 

Valerie

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By SolihullStyle      Apr 04, 2019

The next video is now live on IGTV (Instagram) and YouTube. We’ve chosen to download onto YouTube for readers that aren’t on Instagram.

Last week we had that one day of glorious sunshine…you know the one…that one day that was probably our summer!!!! I was court out to be honest, I know! I’ve spent so long trying to manage transition and the extreme change was so out of the blue after all the hail and frosty mornings that even I thought …there’s gotta be a catch here..it must be cold even though it’s sunny!

As a knee jerk reaction to the situation and the need to get out of the door as opposed to being super organised and all over it like I should’ve been, I pulled out my culottes. Paired with a linen shirt and gold sandals I felt suitably dressed for the day ahead.

I know I bang on about the weather like ALL the time but it’s the main driver to what I choose to wear these days. It used to be what I was doing that day, it sorta still is, obviously, but the weather is driving me nuts as it’s become such a huge factor in everything. I’m either freezing because I’ve been over optimistic or all wrapped up and dressed for winter and then the sun comes out! GRRRRRR! Ha Ha!

Anyways, the culottes gave me a life line that I’m very grateful for! They are super versatile throughout the seasons and can be easily dressed up or down. From super sporty to super smart. Great for work too or the weekend with trainers. They are one of those pieces where you can play with juxtaposition … you know…something seriously utility on top like a shirt with pockets but pair the ensemble with heels for a night out to give that all in one look. The styling options are endless. They could easily be a super bright colour if that’s your bag or more of a tailored fit if you’re petite. The high rise works well for me as it keeps the length in my leg despite being cropped.

Valerie

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By SolihullStyle      Mar 19, 2019

So what’s new at Solihull Style? Well, I’ve been trying to up my game a bit more on social media. You know…fighting my corner out there in the ether amongst the selfies!!! I’ve started doing throwback Thursdays every Thursday… ooo on a Thursday ha ha! … on Facebook and Instagram to give readers a bit more insight into my background and experience in the fashion industry from design to styling. To show I’ve been doing this “thing” for a very very long time. From knowing about fabrics, fit, design and clothing consultation to understanding what women want and how styling works for a particular individuals need. Having empathy too with the struggles that life and family can throw our way. They are skills that take time to learn. The creative design part was there from the beginning! I never found it easy to talk about what I’m good at, it’s odd that. Maybe it’s a generation thing? Don’t brag! No one likes a big head? I dunno …. but lately I’ve realised it’s important to give people insight into your knowledge and experience. I’d want to know! So, if you want to know… and actually there’s some pretty cool stories too, stay tuned! Actually it’s not cool to say cool is it? So my now 10 year old keeps telling me!!! 

I’ve been doing videos too. They started out about six weeks ago on IGTV on Instagram and they are going to be on Youtube too moving forward, so that I can post them on the blog for those that aren’t on Instagram. The idea behind the videos was to show how different outfits can be built around a few key pieces like jeans, a black trouser or a dress. I might use a few new season items just to add interest and keep things fresh and current. I can’t justify a whole new wardrobe every season but I might buy a few bits to add a new colour I like or a modern accessory. I’m guessing that’s true for most of us? Hopefully the videos illustrate this and hopefully you all have your own pieces at home that you can reinvent in your own way too. It’s just an exercise in getting our grey matter working and to encourage you to get items out of your wardrobe and wear them! 

 Each video starts off in the week at the planning stage! Lots of ideas go down on paper! Lots of scribbles! The notes of a mad person or a stroke of genius…. who knows… ha ha! I’ve really enjoyed doing them as it reminds me of the good old days….. planning outfits for London Fashion Week or jotting down design ideas while you’re out and about watching other stylish people go by in London…. absorbing your environment and taking inspiration from things that speak to you. Let’s all find our creative side and tap into the season ahead and style that we love. 

I hope you enjoy the funny little stories about my crazy career if you follow me on Facebook or Instagram and I hope you get something from the videos too! 

The idea for the video today came from this crazy weather we’ve been having of late. There’s been balmy evenings and abnormally high temperatures to almost artic conditions and heavy hail. You all know I love the versatility of a dress and if you do too, here’s one to watch!!!! Enjoy xx

Valerie

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By SolihullStyle      Feb 28, 2019

You all know by now that I’ll happily do online shopping but in my defence it’s when I can’t find a particular something in store. I’ll use the store search first. I’ve spent so much time returning stuff over the years. Now I know the brands I love my online shopping is less and far more successful. There’s some brands that are only available in London or further afield and it’s here that online shopping really pans out for me. For the brands that are easily available on the high street I have to say I tend to just make a day of it and go shopping! Most of the time I can find the lion share of the things I was looking at on line in the store. I can try it on (OK sometimes in a different colour) and assess whether I love the fit, the fabric or the style.

There’s something really rewarding about coming home with things you really love and not having to go back again to return. That old school buzz! It feels like a real treat rather than just ticking a box. I don’t feel the same when that plastic bag or card box arrives. I appreciate we are all different. Shopping can feel a real chore if you’re busy in another line of work to fashion, if you struggle to know what you’re looking for so just hate shopping in general.

I’m not going to lie some of my best little finds have been online BUT they have taken so long to find! I don’t mind because I love it and it’s my job to know what is where but, honestly, some of the things I wear the most are things I fell in love with whilst out actually shopping.

I thought as the weather is improving I’d do a little high street edit. My local high street is Touchwood Shopping centre in Solihull. Everything in this blog is from the shop floor there. I realise we are all different and really it’s just a teaser to get you to think about the season ahead. We had some glorious weather over the last few days but today it’s back to dull old February. We all know though that the Great British weather will change over night and change again. How nice would it be to be prepared for when the sun shines! I expect you lovely stylish lot are already ahead of the game and have got it all sorted but if you’re feeling a little lack lustre then maybe a few ideas of what’s out there might give you a helping hand to feel inspired to have a look. I’ve touched on a few trends. Obviously trends are not for everyone, that’s not the purpose of the exercise, but I’d be a rubbish fashion blogger if I didn’t at least flag a few up! The point of this blog wasn’t just to take pics of everything on every shop floor either! That’s what websites are for but hopefully some of it’s helpful…if not just pretty to look at!

LET’S START WITH SNAKE!

Not going anywhere fast…..safari inspired prints are made for hot summer days. There’s still plenty of snake print and great big dollops of zebra.

BLOUSE H&M

BLOUSE H&M

OVERBLOUSE – ZARA

MESH TOP – ZARA and COBALT BLUE TROUSERS – ZARA

LEATHER COURT SHOES – ZARA

CROSS BODY BAG – ZARA

H&M

FUN BAGS!

While we’re on the subject of bags! Oh my goodness there’s some seriously fun arm candy out there! It’s over to you team on this one! There has to be something for everyone from sporty totes to natural baskets. Think tortoiseshell details too for a real 2019 fashion sugar rush!

PERFECTLY FORMED FASHION FIXES AT ZARA!

VINYL TOTE – ACCESSORIES

WOODEN HANDLE TOTE – ZARA

TORTOISESHELL TOP HANDLE TOTE – TOPSHOP

TOPSHOP

ACCESSORISE YOUR LOOK!!

Let’s stay on the subject of accessories shall we. The world is your oyster…quite literally! From all things natural like shells, pearls and tortoiseshell to seriously new age and neon bright. Just find something that suits your personality and makes you smile from the inside out!

CATSEYE SUNGLASSES – ACCESSORIZE

NATURAL MATERIAL EAR CANDY – TOPSHOP

TORTOISESHELL EARRINGS – H&M

OVERSIZED TORTOISESHELL HOOPS – ZARA

TORTOISESHELL HOOPS – ACCESSORIZE

SHELL EARRINGS – LOVISA

GREY STONE EARRINGS – H&M

MOCK CROC LEATHER MULES – ZARA
If you like these…be quick…they are going to sell out super fast! True to size

NEON HOOPS – LOVISA

NEON SPORTS SHOES – ZARA

TRENCH COAT!

The trench coat has made a reappearance. Less extreme and more classic than ever in all shades of neutral beige. If you struggle with the yellow tones of beige that most trenches come in, fear not, you can find your shade this Spring …. from stone to deep rust.

FYI: I’ve featured a fab dark beige trench on IGTV over on Instagram (@solihullstyle) ..available in store at H&M

STONE TRENCH – ZARA

TRENCH – ZARA with a generous fit…I’m wearing a size small

DETAILED TRENCH – BODEN at JOHN LEWIS

JOHN LEWIS OWN RANGE (really rather nice own range too!)

ALL DRESSED UP!

I’m always banging on about dresses. An outfit all in one. So easy. I love a midi dress. It just works super hard and I need less maintenance! Nuff said! You can pretty much pick your budget and just dive right in if it’s a look you love as much as me.It’s a dress style that works with sneakers, flip flops and on cooler days, ankle boots.

NEON SNAKE PRINT WRAP DRESS – KAREN MILLEN at JOHN LEWIS

left DRESS – WHISTLES right DRESS – MINT VELVET at JOHN LEWIS

….more MINT VELVET MIDIS!

FRENCH CONNECTION at JOHN LEWIS

DIFFERENT LENGTHS!

I could go on and on here as there’s so many beautiful dresses to choose from. If you struggle with the proportions of a midi dress then there’s a few brands that do a shorter length dress really well. If you need a true petite fit then they might not work but sometimes they do! If you’re shorter but still regular in the length of the body then often it’s still alright to go for a standard fit shorter dress. My advise…try them on! Rocket science here!

SHORT TEA DRESS – WHISTLES at JOHN LEWIS

ZEBRA PRINT DRESS – WHISTLES at JOHN LEWIS

DROP WAIST DRESS – WHISTLES at JOHN LEWIS

COCOON DRESS – WHISTLES at JOHN LEWIS

DRESS – ALLSAINTS at JOHN LEWIS

YOUR NAME WRITTEN ALL OVER IT!

Well at least something written, printed or drawn all over it! Yep, the logo top still reigns! Lifts the dull old T-shirt into new style status. My favourites are the embroidered variety. Sometimes coming with a heftier price tag but ….. it’s just a mater of taste. There’s no rules. anything goes.

ZARA

SWEATSHIRTS – H&M

HUSH at JOHN LEWIS

SWEATSHIRT – WHISTLES at JOHN LEWIS

T-SHIRT – HUSH at JOHN LEWIS

SWEATSHIRT – WHISTLES at JOHN LEWIS

EMBROIDERED T-SHIRT – TOPSHOP

There’s some brands that do things well. ZARA always pulls out all the fashion punches every season and it might take some serious sifting through but they never fail to deliver a few great pieces every season. What you love will be different to what I love. ZARA are great at doing co-ords. Co-coordinating pieces that work together in the same or similar complimentary print. How they fit and perform is in the trying on and what works for one body shape may not work for another. I’ve tried to give a flavour of the season in this blog rather than suggesting these pieces are for everyone to rush out and buy. I’m here to encourage those that want encouragement to go and try new things and see how they feel and buy what YOU love.

CO-ORD – ZARA

CO -ORD – ZARA

WHITE HOT SUMMER!

You can’t have summer without a bit of white cotton broderie Anglaise. Whether it’s frilled and flouncy and ever so slightly 90s or on the verge of Victoriana…it’s all there!

BLOUSE WITH FLOUNCE – ZARA

COTTON LACE BLOUSES – H&M

NAUGHTY ME!

I haven’t given any product links as it’s about going shopping. This isn’t a sponsored post and it’s quite simply a labour of love. I hope it’s of interest to those that enjoy fashion. There was lots of other bits and bobs I spotted out on my travels. There’s little point me trying lots of things on and posting pics. It’s not about me. It’s always been about helping you. What fits me might not fit the next person. Thank goodness we are all different. It’s why I love my job so much. The opportunity we all have to be able to express our own individuality. It’s a privilege to not take for granted. I’m not going to get all deep and meaningful! There’s a degree of urgency to get this blog done and out there! Fashion moves too fast for me to get all philosophical on you!

So the last little chunk of goodies is just the stuff that didn’t fit above! Ha ha!!! No, seriously it’s a few fun bits….a few more trends highlighted…a neon animal print shirt (two trends in one!), an oversized nude toned beige blazer… never a bad buy if the shade suits; a slip skirt; a colour pop sweater…or two to lift your basics out of the winter blues; a camo cargo trouser and a paper bag waist denim culotte! I think that’s Spring sorted! The season will develop over the next few weeks. There will be mid season sales and discount code incentives. There will be new style drops in store with more meat on their bones as the season finds it’s fashion feet. I hope you enjoy shopping. You can’t beat touching it, smelling it, trying it! Ha Ha!! You get my drift, I know you do!

TIE DYED T-SHIRT TUNIC – ZARA

BRIGHT YELLOW TURTLENECK – WHISTLES at JOHN LEWIS

COLOUR POP ZEBRA KNIT – HUSH at JOHN LEWIS

CROPPED DENIM – RIVER ISLAND

COTTON CARGO PANT – RIVER ISLAND

NEON LEOPARD BLOUSE – ZARA

ACID TONED SATIN PRIM BLOUSE – ZARA

OVERSIZED BLAZER – H&M I’m wearing a size small

BIAS CUT SATIN SLIP SKIRT – VARIOUS PRINTS at TOPSHOP

To round things up…. I’ve realised I’ve not mentioned THE BOILER SUIT! HE he! A marmite thing I feel! I love the idea of a no brainer outfit…A bit like a jumpsuit. It’s food for thought I guess and “IF” I found “THE” one I suppose I’d give it a go! I’ve learnt to say, never say never! You’ll see them across all the magazine editorials so it’d be very rude of me not to put this piece of utility clothing on our radar.

Thank you for reading this blog. I hope it’s made you smile, have a think about your own tastes and maybe what might work for you over the coming warmer weather we are going to get.

If you follow me on Instagram you’ll see I’m posting videos on IGTV. I try and use new season styles mixed with my own existing wardrobe to hopefully give you some ideas as to how you can incorporate new with the old to update your style. Featuring simple ways to tackle tricky trends like neon. Thank you if you already follow…welcome to the party!

Valerie

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By SolihullStyle      Jan 12, 2019

HEY THERE FOODIES!

I was lucky enough to be invited to try a meal at the recently opened Fiesta Del Asado in Shirley, Solihull with some local food bloggers and food critics. Obviously this isn’t about fashion but it’s definitely about eating out in style. January is a tough month. I’m waiting for the sales to finish and new season styles to arrive in stores so the chance to blog about something a bit different is actually a welcome change and has filled a void nicely.  I’m not always a big fan of eating out. I’m a difficult person to please. I have a house full of men and we are usually left disappointed, not by the food as such but often the portion size! I’m no Gordon Ramsey but I’m a pretty good cook so if the food served is a bit naff I’m left with a nasty taste in my mouth when the bill comes round. I’m just being honest!  I like food that looks fresh, is colourful and with a Mediterranean flavour. Everyone’s tastes will be different and I’m not a trained critic but quite simply, I was impressed!! The steaks came recommended and did not fall short of expectations. I would most definitely go again either with friends or with the family. We all had a starter, I had prawns with a whopping garlic hit and for main, an 11oz fillet steak on the bone that even I couldn’t finish. It would be rude not to return to try the puds!

ADDED APPEAL!

I absolutely loved the interior. It’s a massive space and it felt like you were eating outdoors on holiday. No mean feet in the middle of January. It’s an eclectic mix of modern and retro interior design. Trees inside and different areas to eat helped to give the feel of an outdoor patio area despite being completely indoors! As if that wasn’t enough there’s a super cool cocktail bar. I realise I was invited that evening but I was made to feel like they were cooking for me like a really good friend would cook for their guests. I never once felt like I was eating out at a big chain eatery. A refreshing change. I’ve tried to capture the feel of the place in the pics below. Though they are a little dark I think you can still get a sense of the general ambience. As I stepped outside into almost  freezing temperatures that evening I had to pinch myself that I was in Shirley in the depths of winter! For those few hours I was on holiday!

Fiesta Del Asado describes itself as a modern Argentine restaurant where your taste buds tango… they’ve summed it up way better than me.

 

THE GOOD LIFE!

I hope you enjoyed this blog, slightly different content but hopefully worth a read! January can be a bit flat. I know I’m supposed to feel all whoop whoop it’s a new year with lots of goals to be smashed. Actually I feel a bit shattered after all the preparation of Christmas and keeping kids entertained on a budget over two weeks of school hols. I’m in the mood to be kind to myself and gently move into the mayhem that will be the spring/summer shopping season. I’m hoping it’s going to be a goodie? I’m hoping that some of the ill fitting 90s inspired fashion has been booted out the back door of A/W 2018. On a personal note I’ve tried to expand my winter repertoire and move away from living in jeans and sweaters. I’ve invested in different dress lengths and styles with a conscious effort to avoid spending my chilly weekend life in a black puffer coat! Not easy with two rugby players in the family.  Each year I take stock of my lifestyle. What I wore. What I didn’t! I’ll take mental note and try and buy items to fill the void next time around.  I’m mulling over different “Sunday rugby coat” options while the sales are still on…watch this space! To make you laugh your socks off.. my attempt to buy nicer “Sunday rugby boots” has sorta ended up one big fat epic fail. It’s not that it didn’t work! It worked too well! I loved them soooo much I couldn’t bring myself to cake them in mud every Sunday and they have found their way into my everyday wardrobe… oh no, not saved for best in the slightest but literally everyday!!! HE HE!

THE SMALL PRINT!

This is not a sponsored post. All views are my own.

Fiesta Del Asado offer a family platter afternoon/early evening (see Fiesta Del Adado for more details) where two adults and two kids can eat for £25.95. I’ve been told by the restaurant that this includes Friday night too.  We will be going as a family very soon I’m sure to try it out! I’ll let you know if it fills up my two boys and Mr.W. A tough test indeed! HA HA! Again, thank you for reading! XXX

PS: I’ve just shown my youngest the photos and his response? “oh wow you went to a posh place!” ha ha!

Valerie

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By SolihullStyle      Jan 07, 2019

STALKER!

A Happy New Year to you! I hope you had a lovely Christmas. The January sales are still on. They seem to get earlier every year and may well be out shadowed by Black Friday deals. You probably all know my mantra by now when it comes to sale shopping. I tread very carefully and try hard not to to be swayed by the reduced prices. I’ll “stalk” something I really wanted when it was full price and pounce on the first day of sale! I’ll buy a classic that I’ll get a lot of wear out of. The fashion items …well I’ll wait for the new season for that and buy a few high street finds to update my wardrobe. This year was no different. A black wool blazer from COS was my victim.  I’d tried it on before Christmas and I knew instantly I loved it. To cut a long story short…and trust me I can drag out a story, I waited and got it the minute it went into sale at half price. I’ll get a good pair of jeans too…the ones that I can NEVER in a million years justify the cost of. I’ll do my research before the sales and then hold my nerve for as long as I can! They are in the bag…literally!

BUY A BLAZER!

I love a good blazer. It’s up there with a good leather jacket. Pick a style that works for you and you’ll never look back. There’s every option available these days and it’s easy to celebrate your own style and look. I love a slightly oversized fit then a can wear a thin wool sweater underneath, it’s a nice way of dressing down a tailored piece, gives a bit of attitude and stops it looking like you’ve used your work blazer at the weekend! Great with jeans, obviously and I’ve worn mine chucked over a dress. Mixing casual clothes with tailored items can be great fun and slightly unexpected whilst stopping my biker boots looking too…errr..grungy! I think you know what I mean? There’s a few ideas for you below. The sales are leaving sizes very limited but I’ve tried to pick styles that still have a size range left. You know I’m a fan of actually going shopping and there’s still choice on the shop floor if you see something online you like but your size is out of stock. Maybe call ahead first? Stores might not hold sale items but at least you can find out if there’s a chance of trying it. The winter sales can offer something that can be worn now and into Spring at a fraction of the price and give you the chance to purchase something really special if you shop savvy. It doesn’t have to be the mistake that hangs unworn in the wardrobe with it’s sale ticket still swinging because it was only £….??

JOSEPH WAS £455 NOW £185

MASSIMO DUTI WAS £139 NOW £99.95 COS new season ZARA WAS £69.99 NOW £49.99

 

MASSIMO DUTI WAS £169 NOW £84.95 ALLSAINTS (sale) availble in stores GERARD DAREL WAS £ 355 NOW £177

GERARD DAREL WAS £ 325 NOW £130 ZARA WAS £79.99 NOW £39.99 ALLSAINTS WAS £228 NOW £127.20 on promo

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little post. I hope you managed to get yourself something nice? I’ve noticed there are still some great bargains in the leather handbag departments. I’ll be posting some new season trends soon I’m sure. Keep a look out on my Facebook page as I often post it there to be quick. I’ve invested more time in Instagram too so if you’d like to see more regular up to the minute fashion fun then please come and join the party. I’ve been doing this fashion thing all my life and I couldn’t do it without all your support, so thank you. Every share and every comment or like makes a difference.

Thank you for reading XXX

Valerie

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By SolihullStyle      Nov 25, 2018

BIKER BOOTS AND DAY DRESSES!

The clue is in the title. I LOVE my biker boots. I bought them to wear watching the boys play rugby on Sundays just to feel a bit more fashionable really. I spend a lot of time watching my kids and I just got sick of wearing the same dirty old boots! I now have a problem though.. I love then that much that I want to wear them all the time! With black jeans on Sunday is fine and does what it needs to do to keep out the elements. Anyone who stands pitch side in an open field now it’s got so cold will understand the clothing choices we just have to make. The rest of the time though I’ve been enjoying dressing them up! I like some femininity in my outfit when I’m wearing a style of boot like this. I wouldn’t wear combats or blue jeans. Obviously that’s a good look too…just not on me! I’ve worn mine with tailored trousers and a smart coat. I love the juxtaposition between biker style footwear and tailoring. Slightly unexpected. The obvious other choice would be to wear them with dresses and skirts. It’s far too cold now to wear mine with bare legs and a midi dress….come spring I’m in! I wouldn’t wear a midi with tights and ankle boots…it’s just not for me. I do get the idea of opaques and shorter dresses and ankle boots though. I’ve always loved it on other people but never taken the plunge myself. For some reason I woke up one day and decided just to do it! I’m glad I stepped out of my comfort zone. Knowing what suits you and what you’re going to wear can be a very good thing….it’s our comfort zone. Today I stepped out of mine, to not do anything by halves, it was bright red too!

 

DAY DRESSES!

You all know I’m a fan of dresses. They make getting dressed super easy. They are an outfit all in one. The high street is a wash with options depending on your budget and your style. I’m a fan of ALLSAINTS for day wear with a bit off edge and there’s 30% off at the mo for Black Friday. Gap is fab too online for unexpected bargains. My dress was from Gap (previous season but similar online). Every shoe brand has done the biker boot too…short for time? Check out Zara or Topshop for budget friendly options or go all out at designer level if that’s your bag. Add your own leather belt to make a high street find look more expensive and to add your own personality. Mine is a vintage Levis studded belt from a car boot for £3 so wasn’t expensive in itself but adds interest and ties in the boots. I never thought I’d be in a shorter hemline again but you know what…. I don’t care as much what people think as the years go by and I’m enjoying challenging myself out of my own comfort zone.

 

Far left ALLSAINTS; middle two ZARA, and HERE; far right SOSANDAR available in red too but limited sizes

Well I hope you’ve all survived Black Friday. There are still some deals floating around and some may continue through Cyber Monday. The shops have definitely gone all glittery and Christmasy! Scary how quickly the winter season goes. There are sequins everywhere! I hope you enjoy the festive season ahead and I’m sure I’ll pop up with a post or two.  If you enjoy my musings and like seeing more regular updates then I’d love to see you over on Instagram. I’m looking forward to 2019 with lots of exciting new ventures on the horizon with more opportunity to meet people and talk personal style and fashion.  Thank you for all your support this year. I’ve seen my little brand grow and develop in these uncertain times so once again THANK YOU XXX

 

Valerie

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By SolihullStyle      Nov 12, 2018

OUTTA NOWHERE!

I wasn’t planning to write this blog at all after I’d got up and got dressed. I’d got up in the morning and thought..and I’ll be totally honest, there’s nothing new here. No point taking any pictures as there’s nothing helpful to tell. Then I thought  I would go along the lines of the outfit being about feeling a bit poorly so being comfortable is sometimes, if not most of the time, ones priority with the busy lives we lead. Hmmmm, but then I’m wearing heels aren’t I so I knew you’d all be screaming at the screen at me! I was feeling poorly so I couldn’t really be a**** to wear much more than my slobs….oh yes I have those!! My youngest son had been nagging ….oh my goodness can he nag… he has this way of grinding us both down until we say yes. Nagging to go bowling! Rugby was cancelled for Remembrance Sunday so after lunch it kinda worked as an option even though I’d rather saw my own arm off. Choose your battles I guess and no one else came up with a better plan. I stared at my wardrobe. I did! I know I can’t say to anyone “I’ve got nothing to wear” so I had to suck it up buttercup and get out of my PJs. I really didn’t want to!!! I even ate my lunch in my bathrobe trying to pretend the inevitable wasn’t about to happen. Sundays is usually auto pilot for me. Put on thermals, put on jeans and really snugly jumper; put on puffer coat and hat and scarf…oh and boots and off to rugby we go! Easy. Today I had to think and I wanted to hibernate!

STRIKE ONE!

I might’ve had a couple of strikes. Is that what you call it?! I am fairly useless at bowling. It starts with the shoes for me and it’s all down hill from there! Back to my thought process of getting out the door when I really didn’t want to! My velvet jeans, that’s it…I’ll start with them! They are the only new purchase. I bought them a couple of weeks ago as I wanted a really black pair of jeans. I can’t tell you how comfortable they are. They are almost as good as gym tights but you can totally dress them up or down. There are other colours available online and they’d make a good staple for smart/casual party season looks. I’m hankering after the others as a change from black. With a true high rise they have become a go to when I feel my brain switching off. When I feel really lazy or under the weather I just reach for black basics. I just do. Something made me reach for something different…no idea why. Maybe it was just there in the pile on the chair! It happened to be a camel cashmere sweater. No rocket science here! If I could’ve put my bathrobe on top I would’ve! I think poor MR.W wants to burn said robe.  It’s not even nice! I bought it whilst camping in Devon one year. I was so cold at night that I couldn’t sleep a wink. We found the nearest shop.. which happened to be LIDL and I bought it there. Unfortunately for him it came home from Devon! Still in denial I instinctively reached for my camel coat. Bathrobe like in it’s appearance and just as oversized and cosy. This coat is HUGE. It’s why I love it but sometimes hate it if that makes any sense? I’ll try to explain. LOVE it because it fits over everything, even really sloppy jumpers, HATE it because it’s not the most flattering garment in the world and I need to be in the right mood to want to wear it.

WHY THE VIDEO!

We did the video to show movement. We don’t stand still in life. Sometimes it’s the way clothes make us feel on a particular day that’s important. It can be how something moves too. It might be how we push up a sleeve or how we flip up a collar. You’ve heard the phrase “she wears it well”. Have you ever put something on one day and hated it only to love it another time? I know I have. That day I wanted to feel safe and in something that felt like a hug. I didn’t want fitted and tailored and camera friendly. I get asked all the time. “Do you ever look at someone and think…they shouldn’t be wearing that”. No is the answer. Who am I to judge someone else’s choices. I don’t know what that person has been through physically or mentally to make that particular choice in the morning. I’ve dressed ladies with all sorts of health issues and problems. I rarely get clients that find shopping easy or are a perfect standard ready to wear high street size, who is?  If they did find the whole process easy they wouldn’t need me. Some of the things ladies tell me about how they feel about their bodies after child birth, surgery or ageing often breaks my heart. When I can help someone feel better in their own uniquely beautiful skin, it’s the best feeling in the world.

THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM!

It’s the heels isn’t it? Why oh why if you felt like do-do would you wear heels?! I don’t know! HA ha ha!!! I knew I wanted boots…it was cold and I felt really cold. I couldn’t help myself. I knew I needed black “feet” at the end of my jeans to keep the illusion of height to balance out the oversized coat… I knew I was going to have to take them off at the bowling alley anyway.  I failed at the final huddle to not completely let go didn’t I! I couldn’t help myself! In my defence, if I owned some black leather trainers I would’ve worn them…maybe?! Te he he!

ON A SERIOUS NOTE!

Boooo! Don’t feel like being serious but I guess I need to be helpful somewhere along the lines other than pointing you in the direction of some fab velvet jeans. I have bought a few bits of late so I’ll share when I can. In short I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the leather shoes at ZARA. You know I’m an advocate of buying less and buying as good as quality as you can with the budget you have but some high street finds have excelled expectations this season and if you love animal print, but can’t face a whole garment, then a leopard or snake shoe or boot is quite literally a fun way to dip your toe in. I’ve fallen for COS too where in the past I’ve found their styles a bit too shapeless (rather ironic really considering the oversized content of this blog!) but this season I think they’ve done a few beautiful quality basics at an acceptable price point.

COAT – H&M Premium Quality range… old season, finding your shade of camel is up to you! I like this one.

CASHMERE JUMPER – H&M Premium Quality

VELVET JEANS – Massimo Dutti current collection

SUEDE BOOTS – old season Sam Edelman

BAG – TODS at Bicester Village

I hope you’ve enjoyed my musings about nothing much in particular. Can you believe it’s November. The high street is already awash with sequin skirts and Christmas jumpers. Have you got the party season sorted?! Maybe this is the year I get a Santa sweater? Hmmmm! HO HO HO!

Valerie

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