Friday, 31 May 2013

Gym For The Win

With Summer approaching lots of us are thinking about getting into shape and magazines start giving you tips on getting that 'bikini body' I don't buy into the whole bikini body thing, surely you just have a body and put a bikini on it, bikini body. Right? Anyway I digress...

A few bloggers got the opportunity to try out a gym local  for a month, courtesy of MoneySupermarket.com in order to see whether they feel like it's worth the expense as part of the Gym for the Win initiative.

Living a healthy lifestyle means eating the right foods AND exercising as party of your weekly routine. I have the food bit covered (apart from gin and cake on weekends) and have charted my struggles with this on my other blog Where Are My Knees. I'm close to -6 stone since the beginning of my journey with Weight Watchers but I hit a bit of a plateau at the end of 2012 and haven't lost any weight since.

I had always been put off by the gym, I tried it at uni and quickly became bored and stopped going. Also my weight loss motivation was never to look super athletic, I just wanted to be size 14/16 so I didn't have to shop solely at Evans or ASOS Curve anymore. Now I'm a little older I'm far less worried about clothes much more health focused and I know that I really do need to dedicate a little bit of team each week to getting into shape.

The price of the gym had always put me off too, gyms near work in Cardiff can cost around £50+ a month and have lots of fancy features that I would never use and always seemed like a waste of money. £50 is a new dress, a big night out and a new nail polish or £50 towards my buying a flat fund. I found that my local council run gym offered gym, pool use and classes for just £30 a month and it's less than a 5 minute walk from my house so I was sold.


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Another thing that put me off the gym is that you can't wear black tights and a cardigan there, I have to wear ugly trainers and trousers, yuk. I made it less rubbish by wearing band t-shirts and my Stark family tree t-shirt but might invest in some proper kit if I keep up my gym attendance for a few months.

I've been going three time a week on average and sometimes fitting in a Zumba class before doing some weights in the gym. I've lost 5lbs so far and I'm feeling so much better. My months subscription ends next week but I will definitely be renewing it. I think £30 a month is good value for the results I've seen.

I will never LOVE the gym and I will always feel like there are more important things I could be doing with my time like reblogging photos of David Tennant on tumblr but it's worthwhile and even though I don't love it I do love the results.

Gemma
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Tuesday, 28 May 2013

I Follow Rivers - New Look Kelly Brook dress

I hope you're all feeling refreshed after a long weekend. I spent it with friends drinking cider and eating cake which is one of the best ways to spend a Bank Holiday don't you think? I also managed to watch Mulan, Hugo and Matilda on Saturday in my pajamas whilst eating ice lollies, 25 going on 5.

I wore my new Kelly Brook for New Look dress to the pub on Sunday and I love it! It's perfect with my denim jacket for a casual look and I can wear this with sandals in the summer or heels on a night out. I bought it when it was full price but it went down by £20 in the sale so I returned it and bought it at the cheaper price. The £20 covered my night at the pub on the weekend so well worth the effort returning it.

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I suppose the dress is a tad short and a bit cleavagey but you only live once so I'm not going to dwell on it too much because I do love this dress. It's what you expect from the Kelly Brook range really. I also have this playsuit form the collection in loads of different prints and I love that just as much.

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Dress: Kelly Brook collection from New Look
Shoes: Vivienne Westwood by Melissa

I took about 100 photos of this dress and none of them captured how it looked in the flesh and it didn't photograph very well. Around 80+ of the photos looked like this one... Anyone want to be my blog photographer?

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Are you a fan of the Kelly Brook range at New Look?




Gemma
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Friday, 24 May 2013

Workwear

Do you work in a corporate environment? Do you have a more laid back work place? Do you live in fear that your trousers will get covered in book dust (maybe just us library workers), or do you get to work from home and force yourself out of pyjamas?

I never really know what I should be wearing to work. I'm a lot younger than the rest of the full time staff at the library who like to wear black trousers and a blouse. Most staff my age work part time because they are still students and they obviously dress like students. I feel stuck in the middle, I want to look professional but also not age myself prematurely by wearing smart but dull clothing. I find myself wearing a smart dress one day then my converse and Fred Perry dress the next. I try and tell students to be quiet during exam time and want to have a bit of authority but don't feel I can when I'm wearing a Horrors band t-shirt.

I do a fair amount of lifting and I'm always under the desk pulling cables and things to fix computers but I also work at the information desk and attend conferences. It really is very tricky. There is a great blog where you can check out all the cool things that librarians and library professionals wear here and I've even submitted an outfit myself but I'm still stuck.

I've had a bit of a search and started to put together a capsule wardrobe for work, what do you think?



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Dress: Reiss Shoes: bonprix Jacket : Dorothy Perkins Skirt: Warehouse Bag: Zatchels Shirt: eBay

I would probably add a a nice bright coloured t-shirt to this to wear with a cardigan and the skirt and I already have a few block coloured dresses I can wear with a blazer. I think the key thing I need to do is add some print and colour so my personality comes through and I wont end up looking like a corporate bore.

Hours of googling 'workwear' and 'What should a twenty-someting wear to work?' have led me to believe that the following are office necessities:
  • A dark suit - Great for interviews and meetings or those days when you have important visitors at your work place.
  • A white shirt - You can wear this with some smart jeans to dress down on a Friday or pair it with a pencil skirt for a super smart look.
  • Black trousers - You can never have too many of these and cropped ones look great in the summer with some heels.
  • Smart shoes -  The shoes I picked from bonprix (above) are perfect for work; smart, practical and a great price. If you stand a lot during the day or walk around a big building then you might want to stick to a low, chunky heels or flats. 
  • Structured handbag - You need a nice big hangbag to fit your diary in, lunch and and files or folders that you take home with you at the end of the day. A shabby tote bag isn't going to give off a good impression but you can really have some fun with your bag and go for bold colours.


What do you wear to work? Anyone got some advice for me?

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*collaborative post


Gemma
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Wednesday, 22 May 2013

What's in a name?

I picked up this dress on the weekend when Dorothy Perkins had a 20% off sale (they always seem to have them don't they?) and I love it. It comes in all different colours so I had a hard time choosing but I thought the stripes were nice and summery/nautical. I love the shape on this dress, the neckline is very flattering and it fits very well. I may invest in another colour too as this dress is pretty versatile. The thick straps are great, I hate it when you can see my bra straps underneath which isn't classy at all.

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Please ignore the silly tan lines I got on my arms whilst cycling around Amsterdam, I spent Saturday in the garden trying to get rid of them to no avail. I have red arms and everything else is deathly white, sigh.

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Dress: Dorothy Perkins
Shoes: TUK c/o Spartoo
Belt: Primark
Necklace: mynamenecklace.co.uk

The necklace was a bit of a treat to myself as I've wanted one for ages. I used to wear my Tatty Devine one every day in uni until I snapped it and was devastated. This silver version is a little more grown up then my old pink plastic one and I'm not allergic to silver so yay, I can wear it all day. You can use GIFT or WELCOME for a 10% discount if you wanted to get one. I also bought one for a friend who lives in Australia and sent it via Parcelforce so it arrived in time for her birthday. I'm quite tempted to get a gold one with just my initial on too but that might be overkill as I wear my Daisy alpha ring with a G on every day.

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I'm currently worrying because I'm doing a presentation on Friday at a library event, I love talking but I hate public speaking. Luckily the talk is about blogging and how libraries can use it to engage with their users so I shouldn't go too far wrong. Do you have any tips for me? I've not really done anything like this before, lots or external people will be there and I'm scared.



*collaborative post


Gemma
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Sunday, 19 May 2013

It starts and ends with you - ASOS floral smock

This dress was a bit of a post holiday blues cure purchase, after nearly two weeks off work the prospect of returning to students in full swing exam madness was terrifying. The bright flowers on this dress certainly perked me up and I wore this to a library conference on Friday. I did wear it with a cardigan because if you work in a library a cardigan is practically uniform and I had to cover up the open back which makes it a tad sassy for daywear. I wore this with flat shoes but I can't wait to wear this with some heels on a night out and pair it with a bright clutch bag.


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Dress: ASOS
Necklace: River Island
Shoes: Vivienne Westwood by Melissa
Ring: Daisy

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Love the open back, think it makes the dress a lot less ordinary. I wore it with a red bra because if you're going to see it then it may as well be a fun one right? I tried to look a little more put together and slick for my conference and stuck my favourite imPRESS nails on in a nice deep colour. I don't have a suit, blazer or a blouse that isn't leopard print so maybe it's time to invest in so adult clothes...

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Hope you all have a lovely Sunday, I'm going to spend the day sulking because Norway didn't win Eurovision, taking Sookie for a walk and watching my Les Mis DVD that I picked up yesterday.


Gemma
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Thursday, 16 May 2013

Marks & Spencer A/W 13 collection

Marks & Spencer launched their new collection yesterday and I was so happy to see a real focus on quality and style in the pieces.I'm a big fan of their current Limited Collection and it looks like we will be getting more clothes like that, exciting stuff!

M&S’s are making lots of upgrades to improve the quality of their clothes, having clearer and more compelling brands and aiming to be more fashionable by incorporating key trends from the catwalk into their ranges. The London Calling trend (my personal favourite) including red and black checks, leather and animal prints and the Modern Elegance trend with its simple tailoring, luxury fabrics and muted colours are both influenced by high fashion. You will start to see the changes from late July, when the new Autumn/Winter collections launch in-store and online.

John Dixon, Executive Director of General Merchandise said: “This is our focus going forward that will reassert our position as a leading, premium fashion retailer.” Do you think they have achieved that with this collection?:

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DARK DRAMA

Coat  - £110, Skirt  - £29.50, Shirt - £35 All available in August
Bag - £29.50, Necklace - £25 Available in October
Belt - £19.50, Available in July

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FEMME FATALE
Coat - £79, Skirt £29.50, Lace top - £22.50, Shirt - £27.50 - All available in October
Bag - £39.50, Belt - £12.50 Boots - £99 - All available in July

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WILD OPULENCE

Jumper  -  £55 - Available in October
Skirt  - £199 - Available in August


I'm most looking forward to seeing the Best of British range which will use Scottish cashmere and Yorkshire cloths. A lot of high end companies like Vivienne Westwood and Chanel already use these types of traditional materials so it's great news that high street stores will also be making use of them. It's nice to know that all garments will be manufactured in the UK too.The new collections mark the launch of a three year partnership between M&S and the British Fashion Council, which puts more emphasis on British design and talent. The Best of British collection will be available from the 10th October.

My favourite items from the collection are a predictable mix of leopard print and tartan with 60's/rock and roll theme. I was obviously going to love the skirt, can't wait to get my hands on it.


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Limited Edition dress - £45

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Per Una coat - £229
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M&S Collection Skirt - £35

I know it's not even summer yet but are you looking forward to Autumn/Winter collections?



Gemma
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Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Wishlist Addition: Casino Glam!

  1. (all from ASOS)

    I've always had a thing about casinos. I think I watch too many movies with a casino theme like Ocean's Eleven (and Twelve … and Thirteen) or Croupier with the simmering Clive Owen, plus I'm a bit of a sucker for James Bond films. 

If you're a guy, dressing for the tables is dead easy – just shove on a tuxedo and a dicky-bow. Us girls have to glam it up a little more obviously. I think it's dead strange that if you're a girlie and want to get in a few hands of cards or a few spins of the roulette wheel, you have to dress as if you're off to an exclusive dinner party – but then again as it's an excuse to dress up, I don't really mind. 

There's a sniff in fashion circles that the casino-look is coming back into fashion this summer – not that it's ever really gone out of fashion. I must hold my hand up and make a slight confession here. I'm a bit of a card sharp. I discovered online poker about four years ago, and I think I've got quite a talent for it. I only ever play for tiny stakes, and I think the most I ever lost in one session is a tenner (which is about the same as the most I've ever won in a session) – for me it's definitely the taking part, rather than the competing. Besides, it's fun and I've made a few online buddies. 

Me and a fellow player got to chatting once and we discussed what it would be like to play for real – then lo and behold a friend actually bought me an entry to a live event for my birthday! I'm not going to go all-in for casino glamour with that, but I still intend to turn a few heads, if I can. 

The key to the glamorous casino look is to keep it simple and stylish. I've a few gowns in my wardrobe that would suit, but I think I'll go for the classic LBD. The 1920s look is also a little in vogue at the moment, so I'm going to wear the pearls my grandmother left me. To round off my outfit I'm going for a simple, black clutch-bag which I'll hopefully need as a place to store all those towers of chips I'm going to win off my poor, unsuspecting opponents. 

Well, I think that's me sorted. I don't think I'll be on the winners table for my event, but I might surprise a few players when a stylish gal like me goes all in pre-flop! Wish me luck!

Gemma
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Monday, 13 May 2013

All art is unstable - Trip to London

“...Its meaning is not necessarily that implied by the author. There is no authoritative voice. There are only multiple readings.” - David Bowie

On Thursday I went to the David Bowie is exhibition at the V&A in London and was more that a little blown away. It drew from Bowie’s personal archives and over 300 objects were selected to try and show what shaped David Bowie and how he has shaped modern culture. I am a pretty big Bowie fan so I was always going to love this exhibition but I think any music fan could go along and appreciate how important a figure he is. It was very multi-disciplinary with art from Andy Warhol, Fritz Lang movie posters, press from moon landings and fashion creations from the likes of McQueen.  I also got to learn a few new fact about Bowie, he had a tiny 26½ inch waist and his one eye is permanently dilated after a playground fight as a child.

david bowie is, byron burger, cold war kids
(photo of the exhibition is fro the V&A site, you're not allowed to take photos inside)

My fun wasn't over for the day because after the V&A I went to Byron in Earls Court for a burger and some amazing courgette fries before heading over to the Forum in Kentish Town to see Cold War Kids. Pretty much my ideal day. I booked everything, printed all the tickets and left one thing to my friend, book the gig tickets. They did book the gig tickets but then proceeded to forget to pack them...(if you're reading this, I'm booking everything next time ;) haha ) luckily the nice lady at the Forum box office printed two more off for us and we were allowed in. Phew.

We got up early the next day and headed to The Breakfast Club after a recommendation from Liv and a few other very helpful people on twitter.

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Me and Josh both went for the the All American with pancakes, eggs, sausage, home-style fried potatoes, streaky bacon and maple syrup mmm. I had a strawberry milkshake too because I had to make sure I had the strength for a day of shopping and walking around London (not because I'm greedy, obviously...) I would definitely come back again and maybe try the pancakes with berries or a burger in the evening. 

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I manged to pick up a few Morrissey records at Old Spitalfields Market before heading over to Portobello Road to hunt down some second hand bargains.

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Can I live in this house please? First I need to get a job that pays £100k a year or marry a rock star...
 
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My family would never forgive me if I returned home from a trip with out some sweet treats so I picked up some black bottom and red velvet cupcakes from the Hummingbird Bakery.

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I wore my new playsuit around London on Friday which was a great choice because it was so warm. I did pair it with my biker jacket and a light scarf but they ended up in my bag all day. It was £26 in River Island and it would be great for holidays or festivals because it's so light. It comes in a few different prints too. 

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Playsuit: River Island
Necklace: Gift
Shoes c/o Spartoo: Boots by Blink

So after nearly two weeks off work and a hell of a lot of fun I have to head back to the library and help all those pesky students print things off for their deadlines and track down books they desperately need, sigh.



Gemma
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Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Amsterdam

I've got a serious case of post holiday blues! I've just got back from a wonderful holiday in Amsterdam with some of my best friends and I'm more than a little sad to be back home and back in work. I had planned to see and do loads of things but the weather was too good to be stuck indoors or queueing for museums so I spent most of my time in the lovely parks and eating my own body weight in waffles and ice cream.

My friend Jack lives in Amsterdam with his partner and has been doing an internship there for a few months so I was really excited to catch up with him. (He has his own website about his film making here)
We were also there to celebrate Craig's birthday in style and I think Amsterdam was the perfect place to do that. we went to a club called NYX that had a DJ in the loos (a tad insane) for his birthday which seemed like the cool place to be.

Most people have already made up their mind about Amsterdam before they arrive and yes, there are a lot of Brits there for stag do's and it does have seedy areas but Amsterdam is really pretty and I managed to have a relaxing holiday there.

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Obligatory photo of a bike and canal
 
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Elio, Me, Craig and Meg (not looking too happy) in Nieuwemarkt after eating waffles. I don't think I can ever look at another waffle... I'm wearing my new favourite t-shirt that I picked up in Monki. I wasn't particularly stylish on my trip, it was all about comfort and it was so hot I just wore my lightest t-shirt. I was going to take boots but I'm glad I didn't because they wouldn't have been much use on cobbles or when I was on my bike. I wore my comfy white Converse most of the weekend. Stick to flat shoes and comfy clothes, nobody is super dressed up in Amsterdam.
 
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Vondelpark - My new favourite place ever... might be an exaggeration because I still love Manchester.

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We hired bikes to get around the city and feel like locals. It was around 15 euros for 24 hours but you can get one for cheaper if you are happy to cycle backwards to break but I wanted traditional breaks because I'm not a very experienced cyclist. Isn't she a beaut? really didn't want to hand her back in. I think hiring a bike is probably the best thing you could do in Amsterdam, so much quicker and easier to get around and if you're only there for a weekend you get to see the whole city.

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Picnicking in Westerpark. Seriously, all I did was eat on this trip. I can highly recommend Burger Bar, they have about three stores and you can get a tasty burger, fries and a drink for under 10 Euros. Amsterdam can be a tad expensive but I found it so much cheaper than Paris.
 
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Jack lived in the Jewish Quarter in Amsterdam with the Jewish Historical Museum and Rembrant's House Museum close by. There is also the pretty good Waterlooplein Flea Market in that area which runs Monday - Friday 9.00 am - 5.30 pm; Saturday: 8.30 am –5.30 pm. It's a great place to pick up records, second hand clothes and souvenirs. I can highly recommend the Lunchcafe Waterloo if you're in the area. They do some great sandwiches, and meat/egg dishes and the best iced coffee I've had in a long time.

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Beer, food and hanging out with Jack was a great combination.

I definitely want to return to Amsterdam and visit some of the more touristy attractions. It's the best holiday I've had in a while and made a nice change from visiting Paris and Manchester. I don't have too much time to dwell on Amsterdam memories because I'm off to London tomorrow for the David Bowie is exhibition and to see Cold War Kids in the night. So excited!


Amsterdam playlist:
HAIM - Falling (Duke Dumont Remix) -
Daft Punk – Get Lucky - Lykke Li - I Follow Rivers



Gemma
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Sunday, 5 May 2013

How to dress for Summer events

It's nearly that time of year again when you have to think about putting on your best outfit to help celebrate the lives of friends and family coming together or celebrate the end of exams with your classmates. 

Weddings used to be super formal but now it's becoming more popular to go for something a little more fashion forward and fun. Church Weddings tend to be more formal - go more traditional with occasion wear but you can still nod to the trends. I would add a blazer for the ceremony to smarten things up a little.
A city wedding is the perfect chance to go all out and dress to impress and so is a summer ball. I used to pick up my summer ball dresses in the January sale in Monsoon, I was really keen and planned ahead to save cash when I was a student.

Now that I'm in work I'm more likely to go for a fancy item of womens designer clothing, the photos from the wedding will last a lifetime and I want to wear something special. I would be tempted to hire a dress for the day from a service like Wish Want Wear, something showstopping for a fraction of the price of buying one.

Below is a section of my favourite dresses that range from budget (great for a summer ball) or high end (something for a best friend's wedding)

summer ball, wedding dresses,
Reiss - Miss Selfridge - The Pretty Dress Company

One you have found the perfect dress you also need to track down some matching accessories. I normally go for neutrals so I can wear them to numerous events and they will go with all of my dresses. This cuts down on the price of attending events. I went to three weddings last summer and only changed my dress, all the accessories stayed the same and I don't think anyone noticed ;) I normally chose court shoes  like these Moony Mood ones with a chunky heel for something like a ball, ours was held in the Cardiff Castle grounds and all the girls with high, thin heels ended up sinking into the grass.
summer ball accessories

Bag: Accessorize - Earrings: New Look - Shoes: Dorothy Perkins

As you can see trying to chose an outfit for a event can be tricky and I've not always got it right. I've learnt that strapless dresses are not my friend, I cant wear high heel shoes from noon until midnight and a tiny clutch bag is useless if you want to top up your make up through the day. Chose wisely! There's a reason why I haven't shared my school prom photos...

summer ball

Are you outfit planning for any big events this summer?

*collaborative post

Gemma
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Thursday, 2 May 2013

See you soon...

I've just set off on an extra long weekend to Amsterdam to celebrate Craig's birthday and to visit a close friend Jack who lives and works there. I've got loads planned so expect 1000s of photos of canals, parks and museums when I get back. I won't be abound for a few days but I'm sure I will be updating my twitter and instagram, cue lots of shots of tulips and me drinking beer.

I hope you all have a wonderful Bank Holiday weekend, I've got my fingers crossed for some nice weather.

see you soon


Gemma
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Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Ready for dancing - Barratts shoes

This is definitely my favourite Saturday night outfit for dancing in. I wore this out last Saturday and typing this up and seeing the photos is bringing back memories of the Dirty Pop night that I go to 'I knew you were trouble when you walked in, so shame on me now' Taylor Swift singalong anyone? I only like Taylor Swift between 12-3 on a Saturday night. That makes it acceptable, right?
I don't normally shop at French Connection but I tried this dress on and it's just so swooshy I couldn't leave it there. Its animal print but in a weird coral and navy combination that I've not seen before so a nice twist on all the other leopard print things I own. If I ever wear something girly I feel the need to toughen it up so I usually pair this dress with my studded clutch and some boots.

french connection, barratts shoes

Dress: French Connection
Bag: Select
Boots: c/o Barratts

Barratts kindly provided these boots which are perfect for a night out. They add some height but I can actually walk in them, what more could a girl ask for? These photos are taken after I worn them a few times in grotty rock clubs and they are still looking good which I wasn't expecting for a suede-like material.

barratts shoes

What's your go-to outfit for a night out?


Gemma
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