Sunday, 21 September 2014

Sunday Shoes 059: Irregular Choice Toadstool Heels..


I've not done one of these posts in a little while because to be honest, I've not bought a new pair of shoes in a while. I know, that might sound impossible to believe but it's actually true. I think that the realisation of how many pairs of shoes I own has sort of sunk in a little and I'm not sure that I need or have space for any more at the moment. I counted up how many pairs I have left to wear for the #irregularchoicechallenge and it was more than I'd thought by quite a way, and I guess whilst I'm feeling restricted to wearing that particular brand, I've not been that interested in purchasing any other shoes.

That said, I don't think my Sunday Shoes needs to be saved for new pairs. Instead, for this week's post I'm sharing one of my absolute favourite pairs of Irregular Choice. These toadstool court shoes were one of the first pairs I bought and I've almost worn the soles right through, I've worn them so much!

Even now, they stain my tights turquoise when I wear them, but I consider them one of *those* types of pair which go with just about any outfit. They've explored new cities and danced until the small hours of the morning in dingy nightclubs as well as attending meetings and popping out for dinner.
One of the toadstool charms always spins around as though it's going to fall off, but it hasn't yet.

Do you have favourite shoes because of the memories they hold?

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Three sleepy kittens..

Box bag: Primark
Slingbacks: Irregular Choice

Dress: Handmade (Betty bodice w/ gathered skirt)
I guess sometimes not being able to sleep can have it's uses. On Tuesday morning I woke up really early and felt inspired to sew. So I made this dress from some kitten print fabric I bought from The Running Chicken's stall at the Festival of Quilts. 

I'd been hoping for a Mortmain, but that seems to take up too much fabric and I've been quite stingy with my purchases lately, only buying 1.5m of most of my recent buys, so I went with a Betty bodice, and put a gathered skirt on it. 

I wore it to work that very morning, with a trusty red cardigan which is older than most of the things in my wardrobe, and a pair of underwear print slingbacks: an old favourite from Irregular Choice, of course! 

That is probably my speediest dress made this year. I don't know where the motivation has been since then, either, as I have so many things I *should* be making, and haven't sewn since. Maybe I'll get some time at the weekend. 

Cardigan: New Look
Heart Necklace: White Stuff

Friday, 19 September 2014

Friday Favourites 113..

This week's wishlist is in response to my being in a bit lot of a panic. I'm off to a spa for a couple of days next week - a lovely treat, you'd think (and I do agree, it's a really nice gift to have received), but it's put me in a total panic.

It's nothing new that I have absolutely no body confidence at all. I'm not convinced that this stress and panic is outweighing the relaxation that I should feel when we get there, as I'm really not convinced I can be there, in a swimsuit, relaxing. Those things just don't go hand in hand for me, so much so that I turned down a holiday earlier in the year because I knew I'd have to wear a swimsuit and I knew I wouldn't be able to do it.

I swim, functionally, most days. I do have to wear a swimsuit for this, of course. It's a faded, stretched and tatty navy one and I'm not sure it's the sort of thing you wear to a spa day. It doesn't really fit me anymore, due to the stretch, but it's still in one piece, so I make do with it at the moment because of how much swimwear shopping stresses me out. I manage to do the swimsuit thing at my normal gym because it's usually very early morning, and there's generally nobody else there. Plus, it's a short shuffle from the changing room to the pool steps, so I can get in, arms crossed in front of my horrible body, without anyone having to see me.

But I don't think that suit is going to cut it. So here are some other options, which are apparently more the kind of thing that people wear at a spa day:
For Luna Polka Bikini
001: For Luna Polka Dot Retro Bikini, £65

ASOS Lotus Longline Bikini
002: ASOS Lotus Flower Bikini top £8, + Bottoms £16
George Leopard Swimsuit
003: George Leopard Print Bodysculpt Swimsuit, £14

Motel Green Longline Bikini
004: Motel Longline Bikini Top, £14 + High Waist Brief, £10

3 (3)
005: Miraclesuit Polka Dot Caliente Swimsuit, £124
I know that retro shapes are considered the most flattering for curvy folk. I have more curves than I would like to admit around my hips, bum and thighs. I'm also not a huge fan of my stomach, despite the hundreds of crunches and sit ups I do every week. So it's likely that even though the bikinis are the prettiest, in my opinion (that For Luna one is beautiful) that I'll be going with a full swimsuit - in fact, I'm glad that I've just spotted this polka dot Miraclesuit one; Simply Beach might have saved the day again!

What tips do you have for buying swimwear? What would you wear to a spa day? I'm not even convinced I'm brave enough to go.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Check it out..

Check Dress: Great Plains*
So, here's the thing. I'm good with Autumn/Winter clothes (layers and coats, check) and I'm good with Summer clothes (shorts and sandals, check), but I'm a little bit hopeless when it comes to that funny "transitional" weather stage. Like, what if it's a little bit cold, but not that much?

Handbag: Vintage
This past week, for example, has been really cold in the mornings (well, when I leave the house pre-6am, anyway). So much so that I've generally needed a coat for the walk to the car. I've then shed that coat when I've got to work after the gym, and left it on the coatstand at work as it's been pretty warm by lunchtime and when I leave. Incidentally, this is genius because it means that eventually all of my coats will be stored at my office. Which will leave me with a LOT more storage space at home.

Coat: F+F
So, my outfit of choice lately has been a dress, accessorised with heels and jewellery. A dress which is light enough for when it gets a little warmer, but which doesn't leave me too cold first thing in the mornings. A tall order, perhaps, but this Great Plains dress fits the bill perfectly! They have plenty of lovely dresses at the moment, all perfect for this transitional weather.

Necklace: H+M
I loved the colours in the checked print on this dress and as soon as I saw it in person, I knew that I must dig out this necklace - the colours are perfect. With so many strands of beads going on, I didn't think I needed anything else in the way of jewellery and just grabbed this little silver bag which I bought a few years ago from a vintage shop in London.

Heels: New Look
I'm super pleased with this new addition to my dress wardrobe. I think that it's belted shape makes it transitional from day to night as well as season-to-season. It would be the perfect work-and-then-dinner outfit, perhaps with the addition of a sequin jacket (a girl can never have enough sequins, right?).

How are you dressing to suit this strange, transitional weather?

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

The Crimson Ribbon {blog tour}

Another blog tour for you today. This time I'm proud to be hosting a day in the tour of The Crimson Ribbon, a fabulously gripping historical novel by Katherine Clements and Katherine was happy to share some of the other works of historical fiction which have inspired her debut novel.

The Crimson Ribbon
The Crimson Ribbon by Katherine Clements

My Favourite 17th Century Historical Fiction

As Meat Loves Salt by Maria McCann

Anyone interested in the political background to The Crimson Ribbon should read As Meat Loves Salt. Set in the 1640s it follows the story of Jacob Cullen, a servant in a Royalist household who is forced to flee on the eve of his wedding day. We follow Jacob through a stint in Cromwell’s New Model Army, the printing trade in London, a forbidden love affair and his time as a member of an idealistic Digger community. A very rich read, dense with period detail and ideas, it’s a fantastic evocation of Civil War England through the eyes of one very troubled man.

Restoration by Rose Tremain

  This is one of my favourite novels and the one that first got me interested in 17th century history. Set during the early years of Charles II’s reign, it tells the story of Robert Merivel, an ambitious medical student, seeking advancement in Restoration London. The book perfectly captures some of the concerns of the age and is a great story, but the real triumph is in our leading man. Merivel is a fascinating character; fallible, self-centred and dissolute but always likeable, he’s a man of his time but also relevant and sympathetic to a modern reader. The ending of this novel is perfect. Tremain’s recent sequel Merivel is also excellent.

The Best of Men by Claire Letemendia

The Best of Men is the first in Letemendia’s Laurence Beaumont series. We meet Laurence, ex-mercenary, spy and cardsharp, in 1642, as he returns to a country on the brink of civil war, and becomes reluctantly involved in a plot to assassinate the King. Beaumont is a great character – intriguing and flawed enough to ensure he doesn’t fall into the dashing cavalier cliché. The meticulous research and love of the period really shine though. It’s a great, entertaining read. The sequel, The Licence of War is right at the top of my to be read pile.

An Instance of the Fingerpost by Iain Pears

The action in this novel is set in Restoration Oxford, and centres on a murder trial and the woman who stands accused. Told through the eyes of four narrators the truth is gradually revealed and completely gripping. I adored the depth of detail this book, the evocation of Oxford in the 1660s, the strong, believable characters and the flawless writing. It’s dark, fascinating and seductive. One of the books I wish I’d written.

The Daylight Gate by Jeanette Winterson 

 Jeanette Winterson’s reinvention of the Pendle Witches is not for the faint-hearted. Based on the infamous trials in Lancashire in 1612, Winterson doesn’t shy away from gothic gore and horror in this fantastical re-telling. But beneath the gory supernatural detail this book deals with the real horrors of 17th religious extremism, desperation, poverty and squalor, the oppression of women and the poor. Don’t read this for the history, read it for the evocation of a world where magic is real and deadly, and for Winterson’s economic, powerful writing, that makes a well-known story seem fresh.

 The Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks 

 Brooks mixes fact, popular belief and fiction in this brutal retelling of the story of the inhabitants of Eyam, a small Derbyshire village, who chose voluntary quarantine in an attempt to stop the spread of the Plague in 1666. I read this while working on The Crimson Ribbon and it deals with some of the same themes: a young, female protagonist dealing with injustice and prejudice, blurred boundaries in a close female friendship, religious zealotry, herb lore and accusations of witchcraft. I had high hopes and wasn’t disappointed. Brooks’ writing is beautiful and evocative and the story of grief, love, hardship and hope in adversity is deeply moving.

John Saturnall’s Feast by Lawrence Norfolk

 Beginning in the reign of Charles I and running through the Civil Wars, Interregnum and into the Restoration, the political upheaval provides the backdrop for the story of John Sandall, a young runaway looking for sanctuary after the untimely death of his mother. He finds it in the kitchens of Buckland Manor, where his talent for cooking thrusts him into the path of aristocratic love interest Lucretia. Norfolk deftly mixes his research with myth and invented history to create a totally believable story with a sense of otherworldliness. It captures the contradictions of the age in an unequal, changing society, and it’s a great love story too. A beautiful read.

 Havoc in its Third Year by Ronan Bennett 

Set during the years leading up to the outbreak of the English Civil War, this book is part historical thriller, part love story and part political parable. The action centres around John Brigge, Coroner and Governor in a bleak northern town under zealous Puritan rule. When he’s called to settle the murder of a newborn child, Brigge finds himself forced to make seemingly impossible choices. This book is impressive in its scope, dealing with some big themes while never losing the powerful evocation of time and place in a country on the brink of revolution. century England: superstition,

Are you a historical fiction fan? Have you read any of the above? Although I'd say it's not one of my most favourite genres, I was surprised at just how much I enjoyed The Crimson Ribbon. If you'd like to follow the progress of the blog tour, here's where it will be going next..

Crimson Ribbon Blog Tour

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Tuesday Titles 024: Eren {blog tour}

Eren by Simon P Clark
I'm excited to be the next stop on the blog tour for Simon P. Clark's new book, Eren. Hello if you made it here from yesterday's stop, Wondrous Reads.

Eren is a fabulously dark and haunting tale which is likely to stay with you after reading. Although a simple premise - Oli and his mum have escaped London to live with his uncle for a summer holiday. At first, Oli thinks his father will be joining them soon, but he soon begins to wonder if that's true after all.

In fact, a great theme of the book is that distinction between truth and lies, and where storytelling fits. Somewhere in the middle?

Oli is encouraged by his uncle to explore and make himself at home. His speedily-forged friendship with Em and Takeru and their adventures reminded me of childhood summers, as did Oli's interest in the unknown. Eren. A monster? An imaginary friend? Found in the attic, Oli finds himself drawn towards Eren, who encourages Oli to use his imagination and share his stories.

Without being able to say a lot more for fear of spoiling something, I was gripped by this book and unable to put it down until the end.

If you'd like to follow the blog tour and find out what other people thought, here's where it will be taking you next..

eren banner

Monday, 15 September 2014

On the first day I'll dress this city in flames..

Dress: Handmade (Simplicity 2444)
I know I've posted a spoiler of this outfit already as it was one of my #OWOP outfits, but I liked it, so here it is.

I found this bag when I was having a bit of a coat sort-out. It was hidden behind a group of coats on my bedroom door and it still had the tags on it. I remember buying it when the first Sex and the City movie came out, from Topshop, because I basically wanted Carrie's house-hunting outfit.

Glasses: London Retro*
After snapping a photo to load it into my virtual wardrobe app, I decided to waste no more time in using it and figured it would go nicely with this dress. The print is of fishing girls and deer with floral antlers and I bought it from Sew Hot.

Prom Princess Heels: Irregular Choice
Speaking of the Dressed app, I've now drawn the winners and congratulations to: Emma, Enid, Lani, Tracy and Alex - look out for an email with details on how to download the app, and enjoy!

Eiffel Tower bag: Topshop
I've now worn all three pairs of my Prom Princess heels, after finally getting around to them in the #irregularchoicechallenge and I think the purple are my favourite colourway. I'd also worn this dress with a striped cardigan, but as it was a warm afternoon, I left that at work and didn't take the photos until I got home.