Fun in Next!

I will be traveling for the next few days – wending my way from Bury to Kyrenia – so there’ll be no blog post for a few days.  To make up for it I’ve done two today.  I couldn’t wait to tell you about my exciting morning;)

Mum and Dad took the children out for the day so I got to have some ‘me’ time in Bury with the shops that I miss.  M&S, River Island, Primark and Matalan were all on my hit list.  However, I was completely side tracked by Next.  What a revelation!

Well in all honesty I had seen some of my blogging friends wearing some great items from Next recently, so I knew I had to take a look while I was here.  Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery no?  We are all inspired by what we see in other blogs – and I’ve already bought Avril’s shoes, now I have Hollie and Eve’s jacket, and I think Kat’s jacket too?

For the trip I decided to give two fingers to the weather and wore all white, with my Boden leather jacket.

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T-shirt – Zara TRF linen t-shirt with pink flower (old – can’t see it online in the sale but it may appear again) // Jeans – H&M (old) // Scarf – Boden chincilla pinspot lightweight scarf (I love this and want the acid lime one too)

Here’s the gorgeous Next jersey biker jacket in grey.  I tried a 12 to start with and it was huge so ended up with a 10.  Both Hollie and Eve All Worn Out have this.  It is the softest, snuggliest jacket ever – perfect for Bury – maybe not so much for Atlanta and Cyprus.

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I then spotted these great harem trousers in white.  Some of you may like these – they are not low slung at the crotch – but have quite a tapered leg, others of you may not – as, with most white jersey, you can see the pockets.

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I’m not normally a blouse person at all.  But I was immediately drawn to this.  The leopard print obviously caught my eye, but the colors are also lovely – greys, white and blush tones.  The shape is great too and very forgiving for the muffin top.

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With the jacket it creates a good day to evening outfit.

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The top with skinnies.

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Next up I saw this blue jacket.  I loved it immediately.  It’s a really flattering cut, lightweight and washable too.  I also love the neckline.  Oh and I totally love the fact it was only 28 GBP!  I think Kat has this.  It didn’t photo well at all – I think Next in Bury has the darkest changing rooms ever.

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Finally the shoes.  I didn’t get them – I wanted to – but the toe problem reared it’s ugly head again.  I loved these and realized that I don’t have any navy heels at all so I could completely have justified them – but the little toe just wouldn’t behave.  They came in grey too.  I’m afraid I can’t see them online but I think they were about 28 GBP.

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So all in all a fun trip to Bury – I even managed to grab coffee with my sister.  I didn’t make it to anywhere else but Next I’m afraid.  A good job I think really:)

 

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Wish I could actually wear them.

All my new sandals that is.  It’s chucking it down here again in Bury.  I thought I’d bought enough foul weather clothes – but I forget how foul it can get.  I have zero waterproofs and zero waterproof shoes with me.  Same can be said for the kids.  We are completely unprepared for cold, wet, rain.

I think I might have enough sandals for Cyprus though.  I’m hoping that wearing them there is pretty much guaranteed.

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Here’s a closer look at the lovely bow cage M&S nude sandals – they really are lovely.  Some reviews say size down but I ended up with my usual UK 6 – maybe it’s due to my wider feet – but just be warned you might want to try a size down.  The nude have a suede heel rather than the metallic heel on the other two colorways.

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As much as I love my sandals, my favorite purchases are these Autograph peep toe booties – in snakeskin and black – they are perfect.  The heel height is about 3″ so perfectly comfortable and ideal for day wear too.  As I’ve mentioned before, my toes have a mind of their own, so these keep them nicely encased and on their best behavior.  I wish they came in nude too.

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Now for what I’ve been wearing for the last couple of days.  On Wednesday night, after my day out with Sue, I needed some comfy clothes.  I know – the bra is bright blue and can be seen – but the photo is more so you can see the new Mango trousers.  I LOVE them.  The t-shirt is Gap and the bright pink looks great with the neutral trousers.  Size down in Gap tees – this is a small.

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Yesterday I wore plenty of brights – begging the sun to appear.  Obviously it didn’t work.  The nail polish is Essie Lapis of Luxury and complements the colors in the t-shirt really well!

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Jeans – Boden skinny jeans // Jacket – Boden chic leather jacket (old) // Shoes – Marks and Spencer bow cage sandals // T-shirt – Ted Baker (old)

Looks like the Marks and Spencer sale has started today!  Plus Boden currently have 40 items for men and women, and another 40 items for Mini girls and boys with 40% off – enjoy!

 

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Day tripping.

Sue and I both admitted to telling our children the same thing – ‘don’t be rude, and best behavior please’ – i.e. don’t show us up.  And to be honest, when I met Sue and George in Leeds yesterday, all three children were very well behaved, considering we spent about 3 hrs in Giraffe eating, talking and drinking.  We did resort to bribery a couple of times, so the children had a not so healthy lunch of pancakes, chips and ice cream (an extra scoop each while we finished the wine).  I hope George got his Kinder egg that he was promised.

I’m so glad that we made the trip across the Pennines.  You know there are just some people in this world who are genuine, and good, and radiate warmth – Sue is one of these people. Oh and she’s witty and charming too, darn her.  She had made Poppy a gorgeous necklace, and bought sticker books for the children – so thoughtfuI, as I kicked myself for turning up empty handed.

Thanks to Rosie our fabulous waitress, who tolerated our constant requests, and didn’t bat an eyelid at the carnage and destruction that littered our table.  She’s thinking of starting a blog with her friends, what a good idea I told her.

Thanks to The Grumps too for driving Sue’s car home and sorry if you didn’t get any dinner.  I did lead her astray a bit, though in hindsight I’m not sure how much ‘leading’ was done.

Leeds, by the way, I am totally impressed.  Full of fabulous stores and clean streets, which couldn’t be said for Manchester the other day.  I get why Leeds is loved so much by so many.  Shameful really that both my siblings went to University there and yet this was my first visit.

Next time I’m staying the night so we can really let our hair down.

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Superwoman Sue.

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Great shot taken by one of the children – no awards here yet.

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Sorry Rosie.

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Still in her 30s

But only just!  I spent the day today celebrating my sister’s 39th birthday.  We left early, abandoning our children, and ran for it to the bright lights of Manchester.  What followed was one of the best days of sibling bonding I’ve ever had.  I wish I could spend days like this every week with my sister.

After a mooch around the shops, where I bagged a couple of great deals in the Mango sale, we headed to Harvey Nicks for a fabulously debauch lunch – minimal food, copious prosecco and abundant conversation.  I felt like I was on an episode of Long Lost Family – we spilled so much, talked so much, laughed so much and cried a little.  It’s amazing what growing up can do for a relationship.

Lovely Louise – Happy 39th!:

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My new pants – fabulously comfortable:

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In between bottles of wine we dashed into Zara where I fell in love with this jacket – I will be ordering it on my return.  It’s just the most perfect lightweight jacket – it fit like a glove.

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We also managed to buy half of the Marks and Spencer’s shoe department.  Lordy I might need a new suitcase again.

I first saw these on gorgeous Avril and I couldn’t resist the nude too.

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Then these are the first ever strap sandal I have ever owned!  Normally I can’t get my toes to stay put beneath the strap and I end up with all sorts of nasty welts and blisters – but these are just SO comfortable.  My first ever non-thong sandals.  I promise – far nicer on – no Jesus sandal about these!  My sister confirmed they were cute and not frumpy – I trust her, you should too.

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Here are Louise’s – very classy indeed and a great wearable height.  I’m so impressed with M&Ss shoe collection – thank goodness they do free shipping to the US now!

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My outfit today (it was warm and sunny!):

 

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Dress – T-shirt dress James Perse (old) // Jacket – Zara (old) // Shoes – Isabel Marant Bobby Sneakers // Scarf – J.Crew (old)

Off to bed now ready to head to Leeds!  That’ll be a fun story for you:)

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Home comforts.

Here was me thinking I might lose a few pounds on holiday.  Errr not the way I’m going at the moment.  Copious wine, Mum’s fab cooking, plus a trip to Tesco where I stocked up on a few home comforts.

 

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I’ve already had steak and kidney pudding and mushy peas, the bag of revels, and the Monster Munch have been opened.  It’s a good job I stocked up on some of my favorite shape wear from M&S this morning too!  Right now if you use BRAFIT48 at check out you will receive 8GBP off every 40GBP you spend!  I broke it up into separate orders online to benefit fully from the code!

These are my favorite pieces – they really do cinch the waist, and the legs have no elastic so completely eradicate the VPL.  At 25GBP each who can argue with that?  M&S also ship free to the US now so I can rest easy.

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This afternoon we’re babysitting for my sister so the house has 4 children in it.  Poppy is enjoying every minute of schooling Hugh, Jack and Tom – poor boys.

Here’s my outfit for today – starting with a jacket and sneakers for a trip into Bury, followed by a cardigan and flip flops for hanging out at home.

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Jacket – Zara TRF (old) // T-shirt – Gap // Jeans – Asos Saxby // Sneakers – Golden Goose

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Flip flops – Havaianas // Cardigan – Boden (30% off everything till 24th June!!) Limited Edition sparkle pocket cardigan (old)

Off to help corral the children!

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The sales are on!!

Last night my brother and his family came over for dinner.  I love hanging out with my brother – he’s quite tolerant of my foibles/quirks – or at least he appears to be.  After dinner, once all had left, I happened to be surfing online and low and behold what should I see but the Zara site announcing it’s sale starting at midnight.

For the first time ever jetlag proved handy. I set my alarm just in case, but thanks to Poppy missing her Dad -bless her, I was wide awake at midnight, on my iPad, filling my cart.  As I was about to check out, feeling very happy with myself, I lost the will to live.  The UK site would not accept a US billing address and UK delivery address.  Now for a moment I did think about waking Mum to borrow her card, but I quickly realized that she may not have placed the same degree of import on the Zara sale, especially close to 1am.  Deflated I rolled over and fell asleep dreaming of what could have been.

In the cold light of day it was probably no bad thing.  This morning, as I stalked the site again, I realized that I actually only REALLY wanted 2 items.  Both are actually cheaper on the US site but the dress was sold out in a medium there – so thanks for letting me borrow your card Mum:)

Here are my purchases:

Jacket – $69.99 or 49.99 GBP

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Dress – $69.99 or 49.99 GBP

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Happy with my purchases we then headed to the Trafford Centre with my sister.  I was not planning on buying anything.  In fact I even went into Zara and came out empty handed.  Louise then dragged me kicking and screaming into Ted Baker.  Darn it – three dresses later we emerged victorious with grins across our faces.

Here’s Louise’s dress – just stunning on her – in a size 1 – after 2 children!! How can that be?!

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And mine – another example of how different our styles are.  I’ll never achieve her level of elegance.

The NULA dress – the same style as my taxi print one that Avril kindly sent over for me, but this is the Paris one, reduced from 129 GBP to 90 GBP.  The print is stunning.

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The Allysia dress – reduced from 129 GBP to 65 GBP – a proper bargain!

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Poppy didn’t come home empty handed either.  I have a blogger in training I assure you.  I adore this cute Marks and Spencer’s dress that Nana bought her for her belated birthday present.

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Now I’m off to sit in the garden and relax with my favorite purchases of the day – my vacation is complete now I have my hands on these.

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2013 family vacation is underway.

We made it!  I have to admit I was exhausted before I even got on the plane.  Hugh and Poppy were so excited that the first thing they asked at 7am was ‘are we going yet’.  Only another 12 hours of waiting, and answering that question then!  Finally we were on our way, bags packed with what I know to be way too many clothes – I even managed to sneak some extra shoes in their bags;)  For the first time we actually departed from the new Atlanta International terminal.  In the past we have checked in there and then had to get the airport train all the way back to the old terminals which just seemed like a complete waste of time.  This time we got to explore the sparkly new terminal, with a food court to rival those of the best airports in the World.  I could quite happily have spent an hour or so in Ecco drinking wine and eating flatbread.  Instead we had homemade ham and cheese butties which I think Poppy and Hugh appreciated far more.

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My travel attire: Trousers – James Perse cargo trousers (similar here) // T-shirt – Gap // Sneakers – Golden Goose (I ended up wearing my hi-tops though – a story for another time!)

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After an hour delay due to bad weather we were on our way, finally!

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We arrived yesterday to glorious weather in Bury.  So sunny in fact I managed to recover from my jet lag lying in the garden.  Just perfect!  I also got to try out my early birthday present from my Husband.  Looks like he picked up on my not-so-subtle hints.  My fabulous man presented me with a new Nikon D3200 before I left.  I am SO excited to have a great camera.  It’s the perfect entry level DSLR – even though it has all the bells and whistles, it has an ‘Auto’ setting for when I’m feeling lazy:)  I have, however, read the instructions and have tried out some of the various settings.

Nana and Grandad have converted their serene garden into Alton Towers.

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I found the perfect objects for some still lifes:

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Unsurprisingly the weather here is ‘changeable’.  I started the morning with a run in the sun.  I’m not sure Bury rush hour traffic was ready for bright pink hot pants though.  I suddenly felt rather self conscious.

My bare arms have since been covered with a grey cashmere cardigan, and I’m adding layers as the morning progresses.

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T-shirt – Gap // Scarf – Marks and Spencer’s (from my last visit – has a bike printed on it – I love it! // Jeans – Gap // Ballet pumps – navy Tory Burch Eddie flats

We’re looking after cousin Alice today.  I’ve a feeling Nana and I will be on the wine soon.

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My new dress.

This week has flown by.  My days have felt considerably shorter as I have been picking Hugh and Poppy up from camp at noon giving me just 3 hours in the office each day.  And now I’m done! I’m officially on vacation for 5 weeks!  Urgggh now the packing begins, two climates for four people in, what I consider to be small bags.  Help!

On Friday Poppy and I went to watch Hugh’s recital for Kindergarten camp.  She was thrilled to see her old teachers, and even more thrilled to be asked to help organize the kindergartners.

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Trousers – Zara (no longer on website here) // Top – Boden Breton (Tops currently 30% off!) // Shoes – Tory Burch silver Eddie flats (similar here on sale)

Last night we booked the babysitter and headed out for dinner, before I abandon ship with the children.  We had booked a table at a new place in town – highly unusual for us to venture out of our comfort zone – but the rave reviews lured us in.  Unfortunately, after sitting at the bar for a drink, we quickly realized it wasn’t our kind of place!  The food may have been great – but the ambience just wasn’t for us.  So we hot footed it to the nearest cab and headed back to our favorite spot on the Westside, where we enjoyed some oysters and glorious views of the Atlanta skyline on a humid free summer night.  We were quite proud of ourselves for not staying and spending money on a dinner, while wishing we were elsewhere.

My new James Perse dress had arrived just in time too:)  I LOVE it.  The boots are Rag & Bone camel canvas Newbury boots.

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I was lucky enough to spend my night with this hot guy.  Happy Father’s day my lovely, and thanks for making me pancakes this morning – I’m not sure that is how it is supposed to work on Father’s Day?:)

 

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Spotty bag delivery!

A spotty bag arrived the other day, just in time for my trip.  I have been eyeing these Boden drop shoulder V-necks all season.  Even with a discount code they were great value, but something still stopped me from ordering.  That is until now.  When I saw they were just $34 in the clearance section I could resist temptation no longer.  I can’t get a jumper at Target for that price.  I just love this vintage yellow melange color, and the knit is super soft, and light enough to pair with shorts here in the air conditioning!  If you’re tempted you might want to go down a size – this is a US 6 down from my usual US 8 in Boden knitwear.

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Sorry for the photo quality today – a new camera is on my wish list for my birthday (my Husband does read this occasionally).  My little instant camera fogs over with condensation every time I try to take a photo outside.  Even at 8am it can’t handle the transition from the AC house to the heat and humidity outside!   Hence today it’s an office bathroom shot:)  Again I’m wearing Gap – I’m telling you they have turned a corner.

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Jeans – Gap (on sale – plus in the US 35% off all online orders today with GAP35) // Shirt – J.Crew Factory (30% off everything with code SPREE) // Sneakers – Silver Supergas // Spotty Bag – Oil Cloth shopper Boden // Handbag – Alexander Wang Rocco // Nail polish – China Glaze Pool Party

Just two more pre-vacation packages to arrive ready to be packed for Tuesday…can you guess what they are?

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My packing conundrum.

It never gets any easier.  Every time I go across the Atlantic and come back with a bag of full of unworn clothes I tell myself that next time I will be more clever with my packing, more ruthless, and more discerning with my picks.  I’ll create a packing strategy that I can turn to again and again.  But no, regardless of my strategy, it is always a challenge.  This time I thought that if I picked a color palette – two neutrals and two brights – it would be easy to just select items that create outfits using those colors.  It worked, sort of, but I guess I underestimated how many brown, navy, orange and pink items I have.  An added complication this time around is packing for two destinations with two potentially (hopefully not!) different climates – Bury and Northern Cyprus.

I have learned some things over the years:

1. The clothes need to be easy to pack and light – they need to be wrinkle free at my destination.

2. They need to be easy to wash and dry quickly.

3. Comfort is key – no tight waistbands indicating my increasing waist line while I’m away – I can repent at leisure on my return.

4.  Regardless of destination they need to be adaptable for different temperatures – cool in the heat, and suitable for layering in the cooler weather.

5.  I must be able to wear them casually, and then dress them up with a few trinkets, for beach to bar wear – or sofa to bar wear in Bury:)

I’m not asking too much surely?  As it turns out no.  I have discovered my clothing partner when it comes to travel clothes.  James Perse.

The iconic West Coast brand creates fabulous soft cotton tops, skirts and trousers that are cool in all senses of the word.  Low maintenance, well designed, quality clothing.  I became obsessed back in February when I traveled back to England in their fine cord surplus trousers – super comfy and stylish – I wore them with sneakers and rolled up with courts/pumps.  They are top of my list for this trip as again I can adapt them for day or night and wear them with sandals or flip flops.  Perfect for Bury Market, and respectable enough for visiting Mosques in N.Cyrpus.  Here’s how I wore them in February.  I also have a couple of James Perse t-shirt dresses that are so soft and stretchy – with great ruching that hide all those lady bumps.  They are comfortable enough for wearing in the house, and then I can add a statement necklace and some sandals and wear them to the Hare and Hounds.

Now at full price – the brand ain’t cheap, but hallelujah – just in time for my trip they’ve launched a James Perse Private Sample Sale!!  Many of the items are 50% off and my Husband has just stocked up on menswear this morning.  I’m procrastinating but have the following in my cart:

Heathered double V ringer dress – I just love this style of dress.  The skirt is ruched and double layered too.

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The stripe pencil skirt – similar in style to the skirt I’m wearing today – with ruching you can make it the length you want.  These are SO comfortable and can be easily dressed up or down.

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5 Pocket jersey pant – similar in style to the surplus trousers I have, these can easily be rolled up or worn long with sneakers.  I think these are the perfect holiday trouser.

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My favorite – the soft v multi layer t-shirt dress.  I have a capped sleeve black dress like this that I adore.  These dresses are so versatile – and I love the white.  I will wear this with my Newburys, Golden Goose, sandals and flip flops.  It is the perfect dress for every occasion and the white is perfect for summer to show off that golden tan!

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The parachute poplin sailing pants – my Husband bought the men’s version – I adore these in white.

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The cap sleeved casual tee – 100% cotton – t-shirts don’t get much better than this – I love the scoop neck with my bigger boobs – far more flattering than a crew neck.

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Sheer slub casual tee in bluebell – I am in love with this color – in fact anything blue right now – completely out of character for me!

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Today I am wearing a James Perse skirt, that I bought in their last sample sale, to try and demonstrate how versatile their clothes are.  Later today I can slip the jacket and boots off and just add flip flops for a comfy casual look at home.  I wish you could feel how soft this cotton is!

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 Skirt – James Perse // Jacket – Zara jersey blazer (old) // Boots – Sam Edelman Petty II (on sale) // T-shirt – Boden

Enjoy browsing but don’t wait too long to hit order – once news about these sales gets out stuff sells fast!  Oh and fyi – I’m a US 6/8 and my skirt, dresses and trousers are all James Perse size 2 – they have plenty of give in them.  One sweatshirt I have with a little less stretch is a size 3.

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