50 Quid At Zalando: Win It!

When it comes to clothes shopping I’m pretty predictable. I turn to the Gap sale for jumpers and tops, ASOS for everything else and odd adventure to Topshop or Office for shoes if I’m feeling wild. I suppose I’m typically time-stretched and have made the transition from wanting to look good regardless of how many scratchy sequins that takes to prioritising comfort and a good fit; I find items I like and buy them in different colours (holla Gap Skinny Minis in blue, grey, green and aubergine). I always seem to hone in on similar colours and styles (grey raglan jumpers, breton stripes, v-neck t’s) and wear them happily over and over again.

So when I wander into a shop with no particular goal in mind I always feel a bit lost. The last time I ended up in Topshop I realised I felt a bit too old to be in there… do people really wear those outfits? I had to bid a hasty retreat to Zara where I bought yet another breton boatnecked tshirt to remind me of my fashion sensibilities. I would like to not feel this way though, to be a bit more adventurous when it comes to the clothes I wear. I want to re-discover the feeling of dressing in something I really really love rather than slipping into yet another long-sleeve jersey dream just because I’m tired and it ‘feels a bit like my pyjamas’. 

So I’ve started stepping up my Pinterest fashion scrapbook habit. Ogling the fashion blogs and Instagram feeds of women closer to my age whose styles I covet (my favourites are The Frugality and Random Fashion Coolness). Throwing out clothes that no longer feel flattering or fit well so I can more clearly see the ones that do, re-discovering my Mary Poppins-esque box of scarves and accessories.

zalando

Quicksilver oversized cardigan, £60. Colourblock jumper, £38. Sous Le Sable ring, £50. New Balance trainers, £80. 

This apparel upheaval came hot on the heels of an email from online fashion retailer Zalando, who wrote to me asking if I’d like £50 to give away to a reader of my blog. I was like, totally, I’ll do anything for my readers, even if it means shopping.

So I got to it. I don’t know if you’re familiar with Zalando, but BOY was it easy to lose a couple of hours surfing their choice of women’s, men’s and children’s apparel. The place is simply ginormous and is stuffed full with brands you will have heard of and brands you won’t.

zalando2Sisely dress, £55. Maya bobble hat, £25. Oversized grey jumper, £32. Faux leather trousers, £35. 

My final choice of purchase with my £50 was the Sous Le Sable ring; I never ever buy myself such frivolous things and I’ve been wanting to beef up my ring collection ever since I stopped wearing my wedding and engagement rings (I also love Deepa’s textured gold rings and one of these is on its way to me too). But because ‘restraint’ is not my middle name I also picked up the New Balance trainers… as much as I love my Vans I can’t wear them every day, can I?! And that bobble hat, too. Ahem.

It’s over to you: what would you spend your £50 at Zalando on? To win a £50 gift voucher just wiggle on over to their website, pick which item you’d most like to buy and stick it in the Rafflecopter widget below. It doesn’t have to be under £50 (lots of mine weren’t) or even for you!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I’m now having an attack of the guilts. Should I have bought something for the kids instead of fulfilling my own selfish shopping needs? I think this is one of those situations when I say sorry – not sorry.

Giveaway Terms & Conditions:Start date is 12am, 5th November 2013 and the closing date is 12am, 13th November 2013. The winner will be chosen at random by the random winner generator on Rafflecopter and notified within 5 working days by email. The winner must have fulfilled the mandatory requirement and posted their choice in the Rafflecopter widget. The prize is not transferable. There is no monetary alternative and your voucher will be emailed to you. 

What I’m Wearing For Winter

It is surprising how, once you give birth, your attitude to so many things changes. I was adamant this wouldn’t happen to me but it’s completely inevitable and there’s nothing you can do to stop it. Since I have had my babies I feel hugely different about travel, working, family, keeping fit, food, friendships… so many things. And one of the things that has thrown me for a loop mostly is how I feel different about clothes.

That might sound a little shallow but clothing is one thing that I feel has defined me and a lot of my life and experiences. From school times when non-uniform day was the number one event of the whole term and took weeks of planning (the day my mum bought me a pair of Kickers was one of the highlights of my childhood. Ditto the day I saved up enough to buy a canvas Body Shop bag) to my working life, when I had to dress smartly in suits and heels through to working in the more casual media industry. My clothes are who I am.

Deciding what I wore to work or on a night out used to be A Big Deal, and if I didn’t like what I was wearing I would feel uncomfortable and a bit miserable. It’s sad but true that my outfit choices are directly correlated to my emotions. I have always loved to shop for clothes and there really is no better feeling than a new outfit that makes you sparkle.

Pre-kids I liked to think I was into clothes that made a bit of a statement. Vintage, sequins, silk jackets, crazy tshirts (my favourite was this NSFW Virgins ’08 one but I haven’t seen it since we moved house)… but my sense of style has taken a serious bashing since I gave birth and moved to the countryside. There’s no need for heels or sequins, anything in silk means an expensive dry cleaning bill and I’ve noticed that I really, really like to be comfy.

One advantage when buying clothes as a stay at home mum is my lack of budget (bear with me here). Before when I was earning a decent salary I would splash out indiscriminately on items that perhaps didn’t suit me, just because I could. But as I now have to save and plan for my purchases I really research what items will suit me for a particular season and do my best to buy them at the best price. I save photos I come across and like on Fashion blogs to my ‘inspiration’ file on my computer or Pin them. The things I want for our impending winter are items that I’ve thought long and hard about, and because I’ve saved all my pennies it makes buying them all the more sweeter.

One thing I will be striving for this winter is to go for classics: items that will last me through the season into next spring and summer, and even next winter. For this reason I am no fan of the peplum or pyjama suit (though I do own a pretty amazing pair of red Zara printed silk trousers, last worn September 2011) and am trying to prioritise comfort over look. Jersey and lycra, I’m yours.

I’d be really interested to hear what your winter wardrobe staples are: I’m always on the hunt for the perfect flannel shirt and flat black ankle boots. It’s tough being me.

 

 

1. Leather Jacket, £139, Barney’s Originals. 2. Studded Necklace, £8, ASOS. 3. Dalmatian Jumper, £69.95, Joules. 4. Flannel Shirt, £19.90, Uniqlo. 5. Knitted Necklace Jumper, £45, TopShop. 6. Spotted Oxford Shirt, £29.95, GAP. 7. Spotted Jumper, £19.99, GAP. 8. Leopard Print Leggings, £9, ASOS. 9. Galaxy Leggings, £9.99, Missguided. 10. Crystal Cascade Necklace, £25.99, Zara. 11. Neon Trainers, £37.99, Nike. 12. Blue Skinny Jeans, £28, ASOS. 13. Black Leather Ankle Boots, £45, TopShop.

Fashion For Kids

Baby Elfie in spots and stripes

I’d just about gotten comfortable with dressing myself when I got pregnant with Elfie. Not in a practical sense, like “Yeah, I can finally get my hand through my sleeve”, but on a “Does this top go with theses trousers?” sense. I was working for a magazine in London, going to fashion week, constantly thinking about what I was wearing.  And once I’d got it down to a fine art Elfie arrived so then not only did I have to think about outfits for myself but there was another, cuter person to dress. And now I have two. So I’m thinking about my own fashion sense, my toddler fashion sense and my baby fashion sense. It’s a sartorial minefield.

 

Learning to crawl in GAP dungarees

I knew from the start that I wasn’t into traditional baby clothes. I hated the pink, frilly, flowery business that you see so often. I like more unisex colours on Elfie: blue, green, white. I like polka dots and stripes, not butterflies and fairies. I’m not a fan of baby blue on Hux – I prefer green again, stripes and because Hux’s grandfather was a sailor, boats.

 

A denim dress, stripes and UGGS

When we went to Nottingham for Elfie’s last hospital appointment we got so saturated with rain that I had to buy new outfits for everyone; the best of the bad bunch for Hux had slogans all over them, ‘Mummy’s New Man’ and ‘Handsome Like My Daddy’. I know some people go nuts for these sorts of things on kids but I cringed all the way through buying them. It’s just not me, and because the kids can’t speak yet it’s not them either.

Spots and a Zara shirt

We were lucky with both children that we were generously handed down lots of lovely clothes but when it comes to buying new ones I struggle somewhat. John Lewis has a great kid’s range but is a bit more than I like to pay, ditto GAP (though the sale is great and I buy a lot of stuff at this time) so I generally look to H&M and the internet for inspiration.

This time around I bought my favourite sleepsuits from Next (stars, animals and rainbow stripes = winner) along with some awesome baby chinos. I magically found some striped tshirts at Tesco (similar) and along with Elfie’s old unisex bits we’ve had enough clothes to last the summer. Though unfortunately, because our summer has been non-existant he’s pretty much existed in the same 6 babygros that have been rotated. No cute tshirts here.

A special note here for the amazing baby tux that Huxley sported at my Sister-in-Law’s wedding from H&M. Also, the speed that babies grow out of their clothes is just crazy. It’s insane. Babies = weeds. 

One of my favourite online sources for kids clothing is Oh Baby London. They’re based on Brick Lane and have some amazing Olympic-themed outfits at the moment. Who wouldn’t want their kid wearing a faux-Olympic medal?! I’m also well into their lightening-bolt pieces, and check out their Hawaiian prints. Here are my picks from their current collection:

 

 

KyNa Boutique is an online clothing store dealing only in the best-quality organic kid’s clothes. The boutique was started by my friend Jenny when she discovered one of her sons had eczema and she found the need for fun and fashionable clothing that wouldn’t irritate his skin. Jenny was kind enough to send me a gorgeous onesie (not a hint of a cringey logo!) as a gift for Hux when he was born – here’s what I’m loving from their current collection:

 

I have an Organic Zoo Bee bodysuit (see above) to give away to one lucky MTT reader (thanks Jenny!), age 6-12 months. Check out those awesome elbow patches! If you’d like to win please enter via the Rafflecopter thingy by telling me what your favourite item of clothing is from the picks above (apart from the bodysuit, obviously). You get one extra entry for tweeting about this competition. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wrists Don’t Get Fat: Bracelets

I have previously written on this blog about how frustrating it is to go shopping as a pregnant woman. There are always beautiful clothes you want to buy that won’t fit over the bump and you don’t know how big your boobs or even your arse will be after you’ve given birth. It took me 12 months to regain my pre-pregnancy figure after Elfie was born, and then I was pregnant again straight away. Therefore from winter 2009 to now I have bought clothes spanning four sizes. It’s a tough time for a shopping fan.

But one part of your body that doesn’t swell when you’re pregnant? Your wrists! (You hope) Bracelets are an easy purchase, and I got well into them when I was too bump-y to fit into anything else. I’ve really enjoyed the colour and interest that old-school friendship style bracelets bring to an outfit and the fact you can mix them up to create different looks.

These skull bracelets by Elkin have featured far and wide in the print fashion mags recently and I have loved plotting what colours to buy next (the full range can be purchased online from POP The Fashion Store, from £35). Wear them dark and moody, as in the Telegraph, or in complimentary girly colours like mine. I like to stack them with these leather and brass bracelets (£7.50) from Paper & Chain, a gorgeous homegrown Jewellery brand from  Worcester-based Ismay and Naomi. A couple of cheap Primark metal bangles are added and my wrists are dressed!

POP The Fashion Store

I often moan that since we moved away from London we’ve felt a bit short-changed for decent restaurants and have to travel for a really good dining experience. The same is true for clothes shopping; we have Milton Keynes Shopping Centre a 20 minute drive away with your usual high street suspects but in our little town there are no Start Boutiques, no Selfridges. Just a lot of shops for ladies a generation or two older than me. Think twinsets, pastel linen and Noa Noa – great for lots of ladies here but just not my taste.

When my new local friend Kaisa Larkas-Mossop told me she had taken on the lease on one of the ladieswear shops I was delighted; not only is Kaisa a fashion PR/Journalist  but she has excellent taste in clothing. And did I mention she has three adorable kids under 5 and teaches a local fitness class too? Kaisa is basically superwoman, but with better clothes.

It’s been really exciting to see everything come together and after what seemed like a whirlwind of vintage display case purchasing, label scouting and lots of excitement, POP The Fashion Store was born! I was lucky enough to go along to the press launch last Friday evening, attended by bloggers, local press and even London-based fashion heavyweights from Cosmo and Selfridges.

 

Moxham Amulet Necklace / Finsk Wedges

At POP Kaisa has created an Aladdin’s cave of her favourite brands, plenty of whom I’d never heard of before. You’ll find Minna, Finsk (a Lady Gaga favourite), Moxham and Nurma as well as creator of my new favourite skull bracelet accessories, Elkin. She’s also stocking necklaces made by my talented Auntie Tina, who I am chortling with in the photo above along with my beautiful cousin Harriet.

Elkin Skull Bracelets

The beautiful Annalie who writes a great blog about our local shops 

The launch was attended by some of my favourite bloggers like Charlotte, Jenny and TheMiniPost who did all branding and design for POP. There were also some very lovely local ladies in attendance which is great, because right now my social life needs all the help it can get and it has been wonderful to meet some like-minded mothers in the area.

Kaisa with Jenny, owner of organic kid’s clothing company KyNa boutique

Kaisa and her lovely husband Phil

 

My main MILF Charlotte chatting with her husband and TheMiniPost, and the gorgeous Kari from Style My Baby London

I’d describe Kaisa’s vision as Finnish cool with a British twist (erm, that sounds kind of ridiculous); there are plenty of simple and classic day dresses, beautiful tops, jackets and shoes with a trendy slant. Think COS with a bit more colour and texture. My personal favourite pieces at the moment include this Minna Beth top, the Nurmi dress Kaisa wore to the launch, the Finsk leopard print flats, an amazing Jane Goodchild tote that isn’t in stock yet and the Moxham Amulet necklace. Will has already joked that he will just be giving Kaisa my whole birthday present allowance from now on and allowing her to choose the best bits from POP for me.

Do pop in (see what I did there?!) if you’re ever in North Buckinghamshire (we’re only 30 minutes from Euston by train), but if not you can have a nosy at Kaisa’s online shop which also launched last Friday.

POP The Fashion Store, 4 Rose Court, Olney, MK46 4BY

Photographs courtesy of Siobhan Murphy

A Pregnancy Wardrobe, Weeks 36-38

You know that feeling you get at the end of the day when you get home from work and peel off your bra? I didn’t think there was much to compare with how satisfying that relief is: until my bump got so big that it became uncomfortable to wear my maternity jeans. Now if I wear them out of the house I peel the bump band down as soon as I walk in the front door, examine the itchy red lines that have been left on my belly and swelling calves and put my pyjamas on. It’s THE BEST feeling.

 

1. A wedding outfit: Silk dress – Gap, Jacket – ASOS, Wedges - Comptoir Des Cotonniers. 2. The local launch of POP The Fashion Store: dress – The White Company, boots – M&S. 

So I’ve pretty much given up on the jeans thing and have switched my allegiance to leggings, but only because it’s not really acceptable to wear yoga pants or pyjama bottoms out of the house. I’m sticking with my rule of wearing as many ‘interesting’ leggings as possible to make things a bit colourful but don’t mention the incident when the leggings I ordered off eBay wouldn’t stretch over my thighs. They must’ve been a really really really small size ten or something. Ahem.

 

3. Cashmere and pearl jumper – House of Holland, dress underneath – American Apparel, Leggings – eBay, Jacket – M&S. 4. Dress – Uniqlo, cardigan – H&M, linen jacket – Topshop.

I’m still really proud of the fact that I’ve managed to not buy any expensive maternity wear aside from jeans and leggings and have instead bought things with a bit of stretch that can be worn after the pregnancy, or slightly larger sizes that will look good oversized or belted. But on days like today when it’s a bit chilly and very rainy it is really quite depressing that I literally have nothing that fits me anymore. Things that cover the belly make me look huge and things the belly pokes out of make me cold. I’m basically in serious mourning for Spring.

 

5. Dress – Untold, cardigan – H&M, leggings – eBay. Slippers shamelessly pinched from a hotel room. 6. Off to the press launch of POP. Jacket and shirt – Primark, Leggings, American Apparel. 

The first time I struggled to do my own shoes up I was quite depressed, I’d forgotten about the aspect of pregnancy where you have to beg your husband to do up your shoes. Ballet pumps aren’t particularly comfortable anymore as my feet need a bit more support so I’ve resorted to UGGs. The dream would be to pull out my trusty old Havaianas, but again DAMN YOU RAIN. The last time I wore heels was to the local launch of POP, a new fashion store by Kaisa Larkas, and I won’t be repeating that until I can have more than a tiny glass of wine to take my mind off the pain in the balls of my feet.

 

7. Tshirt – the best wedding favour ever, hoodie – Topshop, leggings – eBay. 8. Shirt – Primark, vest – ASOS, jacket – TopShop, leggings – eBay, shoes – TK Maxx.

As I am starting to look forward to all the slim fitting clothes that will go over my belly at some point in the next couple of months (yay!) I’m also starting to ponder the next stage of dressing for the situation at hand: breastfeeding. I don’t particularly like to wear shirts that much (doh) so this will be a very interesting challenge. I foresee plenty of tummy flashing.

A Pregnancy Wardrobe, Weeks 30-35
A Pregnancy Wardrobe, Weeks 23-30
A Pregnancy Wardrobe, Weeks 18-22