Back to Black.

I have always loved leather.  Real leather.  I remember Mum and Dad buying me my first leather jacket while we were on a day out in Chester.  I think it was from Lakeland Leather.  I thought it was beautiful – a blouson style in ivory – it was the 80s remember.  In sixth form I got a beautiful black, bat-winged sleeved blouson jacket (still in the 80s) from Whittakers in Bolton.  I got it nicked the first time I wore it.  Gutted.

My taste in leather has hopefully evolved but my love for leather has not changed.  You cannot beat real leather.  There are some good pleathers on the market and I have a couple of pairs of pleather leggings in my closet, but they just aren’t the same…sorry PETA.

I had a great pair of AllSaints leather trousers for a few years but with my constantly fluctuating waistline they didn’t hold their shape well.  My glutes are non-existant and I always felt like I had a saggy arse in them – not a good look.  They went to a good new home via eBay last year.  Since then I have been looking for another great pair of leather jeans – jeans meaning they must have a button and fly, no elastic waists, plus patch pockets at the back – essential for giving shape to that saggy arse.

So, as I mentioned, I stumbled on a pair of J Brand moto leather jeans in Neimans the other day and I had to take the opportunity to try them.  Thinking about them, I cannot stop (Yoda eat your heart out).  I’ve heard nothing but amazing things about J Brand leather – J Brand, Helmut Lang and Theory always seem to top the lists.  No wonder – they are breath takingly beautiful.  I started with a 29″ with crossed fingers, holy smokes Batman they were too big!  The 28″ was perfect on the waist – there is so much stretch in the leather it’s certainly worth squeezing into a size down as they will give.  For the record I take anything from 27″ to 30″ in jeans depending on brand, and I’m normally a US6 in Zara trousers.  Now the only issue with this style was the seam that runs across the top of the knee – sausage links sprang to mind.  Still for those of you with no squidge above your knee they are stunning, and less than $1000 – my absolute limit for leather jeans, which yes is still shit loads, but think about what you can spend on a handbag.

JBrand moto

Having fallen in love with the J Brand leather and now knowing my size I have found what I consider to be the perfect style.  Fly – check, pockets – check, zippered ankles – check, zero sausage casing seam – check.  Here they are – I SO want them.

JBrand jeans

They also come in grey which I think is stunning.

JBrand grey

Compared to J Brand these AllSaints leather pants are almost cheap at $525 (all sense of reality and magnitude becomes warped when looking at items with 3 figures behind the dollar sign), but for me they don’t quite do it as they are missing that all important back patch pocket.  AllSaints are well known for their leather work so worth checking out for almost half the price of the J Brand jeans.

AllSiants

So what do you think – is real leather a colossal waste of money or worth the investment?

As for my attire over the past couple of days I am completely in my comfort zone again – back to being a brunette – I really do have more fun as a brunette, and certainly feel more comfortable, almost radiant:)  To celebrate the visit back to the salon I embraced my favorite color palette – black, black and black.

last blonde.jpg

Boots – Newbury suede boots // Trousers – Zara coated chinos // Sweater – Uniqlo men’s cashmere crew neck

And the result….a very happy brunette.

brunette

Last night we went out for dinner with dear friends – totally amazing night, 4 hours of great conversation, 1 glass of champagne, 4 bottles of Tempranillo, 5 courses, 1 amaretto and a taxi cab home.

Totally chaotic in my bedroom and closet due to the ongoing packing debacle – please excuse!

Pia 2.jpg Pia 1.jpg

Boots – Stuart Weitzman Highland // Dress – AllSaints charcoal Pia dress // Jacket – AllSaints // Clutch – Target

Leaving on a jet plane tomorrow so please continue to follow me on Instagram till I get back online with my shopping exploits in the UK – mwah!

 

 

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Sometimes things just don’t work out the way you imagined…

So the blonde hair…it’s going tomorrow.  I am going back to my roots.

After a week of scaring myself in the mirror and trying to make my complexion look less jaundiced, I’ve given in and I am going back to my roots tomorrow.  Glossy, dark chocolate locks here I come.  I wanted a change which is why I thought I’d try the lighter locks but, to be honest, with my skin tone I feel so washed out, and my hair is so dark that I already can see root growth.  The maintenance would kill me!

It was really after seeing the following photo that I decided not to persevere any longer.  I love this jacket but I look so drab and dreary in it with lighter hair.  I’ve also binned the shoes – I loved them once but again I think the pink/nude color does me no favors whatsoever.  If it ain’t broke don’t fix it – I should know by now to stick with my dark palette – in fact I should ask Donna over at I Won’t Wear Sludge Brown to do a color reading for me.

RI jacket

Shoes – Clarks Hamble Oak // Jeans – H&M boyfriend jeans // Sweater – Zara (old) // Jacket – River Island (old)

I am of course eternally grateful to my hairdresser for squeezing me in tomorrow before I leave on my trip this weekend!

Yesterday I was running some errands and I happened to nip into Neiman Marcus – as you do.  I rarely go in department stores as I think I’ve mentioned before I can find them overwhelming.  However, my eyes were opened by Neimans – what have I been missing!?  I had a quick look around the contemporary store – CUSP.  So many great brands like Vince, Rag & Bone, Alice & Olivia, Helmut Lang and even Isabel Marant – I had no idea there was a stockist here in Atlanta!  I may have found myself trying on some J.Brand leather jeans…just for size of course…for the record they fit big…I got into a 28″ because they are so beautifully stretchy.

I then headed to the shoe department – again I found my favorite Rag & Bone Newbury boots along with the Vince Nina flat that is back in an array of colors this Spring.  I was totally smitten by the sale shelf – I nearly cried with joy when I saw Isabel Marant boots and Chloé Suzanna boots less than half price!

Beautiful hairy Newbury boots in the sale:

Newbury

These Saint Laurent boots made me stop in my path – just stunning and they totally remind me of my Zara boots (yet to be worn).

SaintLaurent

 

So now I know what an Aladdin’s Cave Neiman Marcus is it could truly be catastrophic.  It’s a good job I don’t like mall shopping…

Today I had one last go at dealing with the blonde but headed back to my comfort zone when it comes to colors.

HM dress

 

Boots – H&M // Leggings – H&M (old) // Dress – H&M // Scarf – H&M (old) // Bag – Alexander Wang Rocco (TheOutnet.com)

 

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Spotted this week…

Following on from my previous post, and just to prove that procrastinating can sometimes pay off – I present to you my sequin skirt that is now on its way to me!  Not grey or blush – but a perfectly beautiful shade of indigo.  I hope it is as gorgeous in the flesh – especially as it was already in the sale and is currently an extra 50% off with code EXTRA50.

J.Crew sequin skirt:

jcrew sequin skirt

Unlike a lot of people I know I have very little blue/navy in my closet but I have definitely noticed myself being more and more attracted to navy items.  It’s such a classy color and many clothes look far more expensive, or even better quality, in navy than they do in black.  Not to mention that it is now no longer a fashion faux pas to mix navy and black.  Hence while browsing on Net-a-porter.com this morning I found myself uncontrollably besotted with these beauties.  My Newbury boot fetish continues.

newbury navy suede

It’s been an odd week to say the least.  An entire week off unexpectedly can certainly mess with your head – I feel slightly jet lagged and totally discombobulated!  We’re off tomorrow too for President’s Day, then I have 3 days at work before I’m off to the UK wooo-hooo!  Having the week off has been lovely as it has meant lots of time with the kids before I go and leave them.  Hugh even fell asleep on me yesterday – it was lovely – I hope he still wants to snuggle like that when he is 18;)

Poppy and I braved the snow the other day – I needed to return some stuff to Zara.

zara1

Me – Sneakers – Golden Goose (similar here) // Jeans – Zara coated blue jeans // Coat – Zara // Bag – Alexander Wang Rocco navy nubuck (TheOutnet.com – now sold out, but similar here) // Poppy – Boots – Sam Edelman Louie // Pants – H&M harems // Coat – H&M // Hair band – Crewcuts

Friday I enjoyed a day of pampering, though to be honest 2 hours in the salon followed by a 2 hour facial was probably a little too much in one day!

gg

Sneakers – Golden Goose // Jeans – H&M grey boyfriend jeans // T-shirt – ASOS forever t-shirt // Jacket – Zara (old) // Scarf – Zara (old)

And here is the finished result – much lighter hair – still not convinced – but a nice change regardless.

AS sweater

Boots – Rag and Bone Newbury boots petrol (old) // Jeans – Boyfriend jeans Zara // Sweater – AllSaints Portland Jumper (old)

And finally a new ASOS dress to share with you.  It was in the sale and I’d been umming and ahhing about it all over the Christmas period.  I love the lace sleeves – just enough for me – and it reminds me of the lace sleeves on my wedding dress.

asos dress

Off to clean my mirror…!  🙂

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Sequins and snow.

This is what I woke up to this morning…

snow 2 snow 1

Not quite what I was expecting.  I thought we’d had the worst of the weather yesterday with the ice storm.  It was quite literally raining ice, and we spent the day curled up on the sofa watching the NBC team in t-shirts in Sochi.

Sarah Palin

 

As we have now had no school since Tuesday, and we are off Friday and Monday anyway for President’s day, to say I am climbing the walls is somewhat of an understatement.  I have tried to focus my attention on my trip, but that of course just gives me greater anxiety wondering if I will have to swim from Bury to London on the 28th.  Not to mention I have suede shoes on my packing list – I might just have to pack the Hunters and be done with it.

My iPad has been getting quite a work out while we watch the Barbie movie for the 20th time, and I have found myself engrossed in Pinterest on more than one occasion.  I’m currently obsessing over this look:

sequin skirt 3 sequin skirt 2 Sequin skirt 1

 

I ABSOLUTELY NEED A SEQUIN SKIRT.

It must be over the knee, but not too short, sequin covered but not too glitzy, grey or blush so it can easily be dressed down with a grey sweater, and lined so it can be worn with tights without fear of ripping them.  I don’t feel like I have found the perfect one yet but here are some that have caught my eye.

I love the red trim on this IRO skirt and it looks nice and comfy with stretch…It’s a great price on TheOutnet.com for some IRO in your closet.

IRO skirt

This Zara skirt is pretty close to what I want – it will look great with a grey cashmere sweater and wool tights.  My concern is the length…it might be titchy on me, and though I will be the first to say I love my legs, there’s legs and then there’s the chance of showing your tight gusset – not a good look.

Zara skirt

This Express Aztec skirt reminds me of the AllSaints skirt from a couple of years ago, but for a way more palatable price – just $36 this weekend!

Express Aztec

Express also have this gorgeous knee length skirt…I am tempted.

Espress knee length

I love the blush colors in this River Island skirt too – and the black trim would help it pair with black cashmere and black tights.

River Island

I saw this skirt in Target a few weeks ago – it’s a bit longer than I am looking for but the color is perfect as is the price.

Target

Finally this one is gorgeous – I’m just hoping her legs are crazy long and that it won’t be quite as short on me!

Revolve

So sequins and knitwear – what do you think – can I get away with it?

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What to buy in the UK vs. the USA.

As part of my preparations for my trip back to the UK I collect a few shopping requests from family and friends here.  I think it is commonly perceived that most goods are much cheaper in the USA.  It’s true that many are – but there are also several brands that are FAR cheaper in the UK.

I normally have a little list of places to go when I’m back in the UK on the hunt for a bargain.

1.  Many European brands/high street stores simply multiply by 2 when converting £s to $s instead of using the exchange rate.  Plus our sticker price here is not the final price as we add sales tax on at the register, which varies from county to county and state to state.  This can make brands like Zara and H&M far cheaper to buy in the UK.

2. Classic UK brands such as Barbour, Hunter, Ted Baker and Paul Smith are usually far cheaper in the UK.  My Husband has sized himself for a Barbour here which I can then collect in the UK at half the price.

3. There are many books and music titles that are not available in the US.  I can’t find Take That’s Progress on iTunes – nor The Pete Tong Collection (I did manage to buy the latter on Amazon.com).  Again my Husband orders several books from Amazon.co.uk and has them delivered to my Mum – why he thinks I’ll have room in my bags for books I’ve no idea!  I am much more shallow, as ever, and make sure I get my hands on Grazia, Hello and the Sunday papers.

4. In the US we don’t have Primark – now it’s definitely at hit or miss store – but the bargains that can be found are amazing.  I bought my favorite pair of boyfriend jeans there for £12 last year!

5. If only we had the same power and sockets in the US and UK I’d be sorted.  My ghd hairdryer cost a fortune here compared to the UK.  We also unfortunately don’t easy access to other European brands like Parlux.

6. Of course you’re not supposed to travel with some types of food and import it back to the US but I always return with custard creams, galaxy chocolate, pickled onion Monster Munch and Bisto gravy granules:)  I eat as many pork pies and M&S sandwiches as I can while I’m there!

Now for things that you should definitely buy when making a trip the US:

1.  Makeup is far cheaper here – from drugstore brands like Revlon and L’oréal to department store brands like MAC, Clinique and Chanel.  OPI and Essie nail polishes are also only $8 a pop here – my Mum always stocks up:)

2. Sneakers/trainers are much cheaper here – though I think the choice is more varied in Europe.  They normally just switch the £ for a $ making them dirt cheap compared to the UK.

3. My FIL always pops into the Apple store to upgrade his iPad when he’s here.  The fact that Apple use universal power, meaning no transformer is required, makes it far cheaper to buy here – though it has to be said that prices are coming down in the UK.  My Mum and Dad bought theirs at John Lewis – paying slightly more – but having the comfort of the John Lewis warranty made it worth it to them.

4. Housewares are cheaper.  Want a good potato peeler (yes I’ve been asked to take TWO back to the UK), or a good apple slicer?  Buy it here at Target.

5. Designer goods are generally much cheaper here.  My Rag & Bone Newbury boots are cheaper, as are most designer bags.  You will find however the focus on labels varies significantly.  I NEVER see Mulberry here, yet I would never buy Coach or Tory Burch here as you see their logos EVERYWHERE.  One thing to note is TheOutnet.com stocks widely differing brands here compared to the UK so if you are here long enough to receive a delivery it might be worth checking out.  For example this Alexander Wang Rocco is 45% off here and yet it’s not even on the UK site.

Rocco

6. US brands that have traveled across the Atlantic are far cheaper here – J.Crew being the most obvious, but Banana Republic and Gap are also much cheaper here.

7. Here in the US most states have fabulous outlet malls.  One word of caution though stores like J.Crew and Coach often make items just for the outlets – so that bargain you think you are getting may not be so much of a bargain.

Now for my outfits from the past few days…I adore these new H&M trousers that Eve alerted me to.  The fabric is lovely and stretchy but I still needed to size up to a US 10 – the waistband is tiny – no vanity sizing here!

Allsaints leather

Sneakers – Adidas Samoas // Trousers – H&M // Sweatshirt – AllSaints // Jacket – AllSaints // Scarf – Uniqlo

I’ve been trying to wear some fur before it gets warmer.

hermes 2 Hermes

 

Boots – Isabel Marant Dicker // Jeans – ASOS Saxby (just $20 now!) // Jumper – Boden cashmere crew neck // Jacket – Forever21 (old – similar here on sale) // Scarf – Hermés (gift from my Husband)

It was cold but REALLY sunny yesterday!

Boden gilet 2 Boden gilet

 

Sneakers – Isabel Marant Bobby // Jeans – Zara (old) // Jumper – Boden St. Ives // Gilet – Boden JohnnieB

My first port of call in the UK is normally Marks & Spencer – more for nostalgia – but I do love a bit of M&S!  What stores or brands would you miss if you relocated to a different country?  I’d love to know!

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Starting to panic about packing!

In less than 3 weeks I’ll be heading to the UK for what has now become my annual meet up with my blogging friends.  To make the most of the CHILD FREE trip across the Atlantic I’ll be staying with my Mum and Dad for a few days too, and hanging out with my brother and sister.  To say I am excited is an understatement. (Caveat for when reading in years to come :  Poppy and Hugh I will miss you LOTS but Mommy just needs some girl time sometimes! xx).

I have of course already started to panic about packing.  An extensive wardrobe really only makes things more challenging.  I have – don’t laugh – started a spreadsheet that itemizes bottoms, tops, sweaters, shoes and accessories.  It is quite a long spreadsheet and needs some – shall we say – fine tuning?

The advantage of making a spreadsheet is that it can identify gaps in your travel wardrobe.  Now as you all know far too well there are few ‘gaps’ in my closet, but one is a practical, warm, trendy coat.  I have lots of wool coats but they are quite heavy for wearing when walking around London, plus they are harder to roll up and pack , and also less comfortable for layering.  Just play along with me please…

Given my above reasoning I realized that what I really ‘need’ is a parka.  Not a wax, storm proof parka, but a lighter weight, lined parka that will be cosy, plus has room to layer over a leather or denim jacket.  I narrowed my choices down to the following:

The Asos Cocoon Parka:

Cocoon parka

The Asos parka with detachable lining:

Asos Parka

It was a tough decision – there are pros and cons to each.  The idea of a detachable lining makes the second a great option, as does the ability to cinch the waist, whereas the cocoon version has less going on.  I polled my fellow bloggers and they were no bloody help as opinions were equally divided.  In the end I closed my eyes and picked one, and now the cocoon parka is on it’s way to me!  I hope it will work well to layer over my AllSaints leather jacket.

Today I am back to black again, with a touch of leopard and red:

AllSaints jacket

Sneakers – red converse // Jeans – Zara coated skinnies // Shirt – Men’s Gap white shirt // Sweater – Uniqlo cashmere men’s crew neck // Jacket – AllSaints Monument jacket // Hat – J.Crew (old – similar here)

Friday was red and black too for a trip to the mall:

red leather jacket and GGs

 

Sneakers – Golden Goose sparkle slides (similar here) // Leggings – H&M // Dress – ASOS swing dress // Jacket – Zara (old – similar here) // Scarf – H&M (similar here)

Finally yesterday with a glimmer of sun I bared the legs – albeit just the knees:

Asos dress

 

Boots – Stuart Weitzman Nude nubuck 5050s // Dress – ASOS

I’ve been pinning some packing tips but if you have any suggestions or tips please share – after all these years I am still crap at selecting a capsule wardrobe for traveling.  I’m always terrified of leaving something behind that I end up really wanting to wear.  OK, ‘terrified’ may be stretching it…

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Yes…a sneaker post…

Sneakers, trainers, tennis shoes – whatever you call them they are everywhere right now, and nothing could make me happier.  In my closet I have Adidas gazelles, Converse sneakers and classic Chuck Taylors, Nike hi-tops (worn way back here) and of course my ridiculous Golden Goose.

Many recent sneaker posts have focused on the classic New Balance sneaker.  They’ve had somewhat of a renaissance recently.  I remember blogging about my New Balance running shoes back here and thinking what a ‘nerdy’ brand they were.  But now that nerdiness seems to be cool.  I love the fact that they have become so mainstream – I still have a lot of love for the brand and J.Crew have some amazing colors available for the Spring.

Jcrew yellow JCrew peach

Back in 1995 I dragged my family around the streets of London looking for Adidas Gazelles in green.  You couldn’t get them for love or money after Ms. Moss made them such a style statement.  I eventually tracked a pair down in Harrods of all places!

Kate Moss

(Image: http://deadhypepropaganda.tumblr.com/)

Since that first purchase I have always been an Adidas girl.  The fact that Run DMC made the brand so freakin’ cool did not escape me either.

RUNDMC

I now have a pair of men’s navy Gazelles.  Buyer beware – buying men’s sneakers presents all sorts of sizing issues.  Not only is UK sizing different from US sizing but the men’s and women’s sizing is different too!  Please can someone standardize shoe sizes globally – thanks.  I am a US women’s 8.5 and I buy US men’s 7.5 in Adidas.

I also have a pair of Adidas Samoas – I love how ‘neat’ this shoe is and the leather is beautiful.

Samoa

These silver women’s Gazelles are amazing and on sale.  Just imagine them with tanned ankles and boyfriend jeans – lush!

Gazelles

The Samoas are also available in silver – I love the metallics – a far cheaper option than the metallic/sparkly Golden Goose.

silversamoa

For something a little more neutral I adore the grey men’s Samoas.

samoa grey

Yesterday I just had to get out of the house.  With the crazy weather here in Altanta (we spent Tuesday night pushing cars along our road) we’ve all been housebound.  This has now resulted in us all getting sick, irritable and tired.  Great.  So yesterday I bundled up and headed to the mall for 30 minutes to a) try and remember what day it was and b) blow some germs away.  I ended up popping into the Adidas store and look what I ‘treated’ myself to.

These Stan Smiths can’t be found anywhere online – at least where I have looked – they do have some of the red trim available on the Adidas site.  I really didn’t think they would be me – but when I tried them on I was smitten.  Super comfy and I love the simplicity of them.

Stan Smiths

Of course everyone else in the store was buying them so they will be on all the cool kids this Spring – me, Phoebe and Marc included of course:)

Phoebe Philo stan smiths Fashion Icons with FERN MALLIS: MARC JACOBS sponsored by MARTINI

These Samoas were a complete curve ball.  I immediately cringed when I saw them – flowers on sneakers – totally wrong.  But again I tried them on and wow – I love them!  So different, and yes girly, and they will look great with denim shorts or my ASOS t-shirt dresses.  Again I’m sorry I can’t find them online but here they are in the flesh

Floral Samoa

As a complete aside from ‘proper’ sneakers, while I was re-ordering my Limited Edition shoes (flowers again – what is happening to me?!) I spotted these fabulous ‘slip on sneakers’ – similar to the Next versions that were available last summer.  These Marks & Spencer versions are a great price too.  I can vouch for them as they happened to fall in my cart – no idea how that happens – very strange – must be a bug on the M&S site.

Black M&S leopard M&S

I’m afraid I don’t have much to report on the outfits of recent days – it really has been crap stuck at home, but not nearly as crap as it was for those stuck on the Interstates for 24 hours.  I’m sure we’ll continue to hear more about the good Samaritans who have helped those in need over the past few days.  The thaw is here and hopefully we can get back to normal again – though our politicians will feel a little beaten up for a few weeks to come no doubt…

 

 

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