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Thursday, 30 January 2014

Rediscovering Karen Millen....

So today I had a lovely treaty day out shopping with my Mum in Exeter. When I first moved down to Dorset I found that this city offered a very limited retail experience after the diversity of London's shopping opportunities, especially as it takes nearly an hour to get there! Roll on four years of country living, and it feels like Christmas to come here for the day!

The purpose of today's visit was to buy much needed holiday items (we leave in two weeks!), but there was absolutely nothing at all in the way of beachwear/summer dresses/children's summer clothes - massive FAIL! I will clearly have to do all this online in a big panic with no time to return anything that doesn't fit.

This left me lots of time to check out lots of the new spring ranges on the high street. After mooching around Topshop (fantastic spring range) and Zara (still mostly the last bits of the sale), I found myself lured into Karen Millen by the fabulous outfits in the window. Apart from a pair of jeans that I bought last year in a sale online, I don't really shop in Karen Millen. I used to love it in my twenties, but since having children and not getting to the gym often enough, I have avoided it in favour of more casual brands, as the sizing comes up a little on the small size and everything always seemed to be too tight and overly dressy.

But not today! There seems to be much more of a balance between casual and more formal clothing, and I spent ages trying things on. I decided to limit myself to one item to avoid bankruptcy and this is what I bought:

Patchwork Skinny Jeans £99


These jeans are so fabulous and I love everything about them - the fit, the vintage wash, and the fact that they are a bit unusual. Expect these to feature in the blog a lot!

Next up is a pale grey jumper that my Mum and I both liked and in the end she decided to buy it and I will borrow it - result! It features sheer shoulder panels and delicate pointelle knit detailing on the back - so stunning!


Pointelle Knit Jumper £99





If patchwork jeans are not your thing, I also loved these jeans with the funky star print:

Star Print Jean £90



This metallic jumper also caught my eye because of the mesh sleeves which made a plain jumper more interesting:

Sporty Mesh Knit Jumper £85



Moving on to tops - the black and white polka dot tee below is a lovely lightweight jersey material with a black sheer back, but I think it looked better with jeans than with black trousers:

Polka Dot Devore T-Shirt £50




And this top is super cute, with a smocked bodice and peplum detail:

Texture Print Top £99






And lastly, this is what I would buy if money were no object! I just love the mix of leather and denim to soften the look of a leather jacket for spring:

Leather and Denim Biker Jacket £399



I was really surprised by how much I liked the spring range, and can't wait to wear my patchwork jeans. I also tried on some New Balance trainers today and will report back on my findings.

And to finish, my outfit for today's shopping trip:



Black Fur Gilet - Mint Velvet (AW13)
Charcoal Grey Knitted Top - American Vintage at Yard (AW12)
Vest - Maison Scotch at Yard (old)
Red and burgundy print scarf - Zara (AW13)
Burgundy Coated Skinny Jeans - Topshop (AW11)
Black Bowie Wedge trainers - Ash

And my Mum looking fabulous as always:



Orange Coat - Topshop, featured on this blog a few days ago, available here
Black and Grey Scarf - Becksondergaard at Yard


Happy Friday to everyone

Abbi x


Monday, 27 January 2014

The reinvention of the sweatshirt...

I know I'm a little bit late to the party, but lately I have got really into wearing sweatshirts. Up until now I thought they were strictly for the gym or running errands, but the humble sweatshirt has risen to become such a stylish staple and I am now hooked! Luckily, the trend doesn't seem to be going anywhere. I love teaming them with swingy skirts or skinny trousers for work to make them smarter and my favourite way to wear them is layered with collared shirts underneath. Best of all, this style is as chic as it is cozy.

Here are some of my picks:

Warehouse Animal Print Sweat £35




Love the printed front of this,and it will look as good with skirts for work as it would with skinny jeans for a night out.


I have this one in grey from Topshop below and it is such a great price and is so unbelievably soft. I think it's a fantastic alternative to some of the more expensive washed grey sweaters out there at the moment.

Topshop Long Sleeve Burnout Sweat £26





It also comes in some lovely spring colours including mint, lilac and red, which is more of a bright coral pink as you can see below




I also adore this super soft pale pink sweat from Topshop with city names on it £24




For a smarter sweatshirt that could take you from day to night, this more classic version  from Whistles would be my first choice:

Whistles Mystic Mountain Jacquard Sweat £125




I also love the print on this one from Zara's new spring collection, with a zip at the back £29.99




I also had to add this beautiful soft grey sweatshirt from Anthropologie, I love the way it is styled with the statement necklace:

Starflower Sweater £58




H&M's Givenchy inspired sweatshirt is definitely on my wish list and at under £15, how can you resist? 

H&M Tiger Print Sweatshirt £14.99



I'm finishing with a photo of me wearing the grey Topshop sweat featured above. I've only had it a week and have worn it three times already, so I'm sure it's a good buy and goes with everything!




Topshop Grey Long Sleeve Burnout Sweat -  as above
Maison Scotch Jeans from Yard AW13
Denim Shirt - Boden AW12
Statement necklace - Zara AW13

In the next couple of weeks I have to pack for a winter sun holiday, so I will be posting about beachwear, sandals and all things summery....

Abbi x


Sunday, 26 January 2014

Burns Night Celebrations

Yesterday it was time to find something tartan as we were invited by friends to a Burns Night, the perfect party to beat the winter blues after a month of hibernating since Christmas.
The annual celebration of the life of Scotland’s most famous poet, Robert Burns, took place last night, with festivities happening all over the country. We were treated to a traditional Burns supper of haggis, neeps and tatties, followed by lots of whisky tasting! The dinner was accompanied by bagpipe music, poetry recitals and more whisky! It was a fantastic night (thank you Mel and Jeremy) and we were definitely in the best place to pay homage to the man the Scots call The Bard.

Here are some outfits from the evening:


I am wearing:
Whistles Black Annie Sparkle dress AW13
Red Tartan scarf, borrowed from my Mum
Black ankle boots - Office

Mel, the stunning host for the evening, is wearing:



Black knitted dress - Zara AW13
Black patent shoes - LK Bennett
Check Scarf - Mulberry, borrowed from her Mum

And some lovely men's fashion below:



After all that whisky, today should have been a bit of a write off, but was anything but! Our eldest son turned seven, so by lunchtime we were in Exeter, taking him and his friends to Clip 'n Climb, followed by dinner at Pizza Express. Here is a photo of my hastily pulled together 'morning after' outfit:


Jeans - Karen Millen AW12
Charcoal vest -Hush here
Grey Sweater - Topshop here
Blue/Black scarf - Becksondergaard at Yard
Chestnut UGG Boots - old

And now its back to the dry January! Hope everyone had a good weekend. 

Abbi x

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Hultquist - my latest jewellery obsession...

So I'm working at Yard today and they have had a new delivery of the stunning and much awaited range of Hultquist fashion jewellery, the perfect treat to brighten up these cold, rainy days!

Each piece of Hultquist jewellery is hand made and plated in real silver, gold or my current obsession, rose gold. The brand was established in Copenhagen, in 1980, and the emphasis is on creating designs that are a bit different, while being both high quality and affordable. The timeless collection is feminine and a touch bohemian and also features beads and semi-precious stones such as Swarovski crystals, fresh water pearls, Czech glass beads and even quartz.

I love the simplicity of a lot of the pieces and the fact that you can wear them together - in particular the bracelets look fantastic when layered on top of each other.

Here are my favourites to wear this spring. All the Hultquist jewellery shown here and more is now available at Yard, my favourite Dorset boutique! They make perfect jewellery gifts for the hard to buy for and the easy to spoil. 

Starting with one that is definitely on my wish list...the Hultquist Strawberry Necklace (£36.50)





The big strawberry necklace is again featured here along with a smaller version (£24), matching strawberry earrings (£22) and bracelet (£24)







Next we have the Hultquist Silver Disc Necklace (£24), matching bracelet (£36.50) and earrings (15.75)




The longer length silver necklace (£45) also co-ordinates with the silver disc jewellery.




Pretty dragonfly and heart necklace in gold and silver (£30), Dragonfly necklace (£24) 
Gold dragonfly earrings (£15.75)






And finishing with my outfit at work today:




Zara Camouflage scarf AW12
Charcoal grey knitted top - American Vintage at Yard
Zara grey snake print trousers - a very bargaintastic £12.99 here
Black ankle boots - Office AW12
Silver star necklace - Hultquist at Yard

Have a good weekend everyone!

Abbi x

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Hush Crush

Hush is a brand which I have only discovered in the last couple of years, but it was love at first sight! When the catalogue first dropped through my door I was instantly seduced by their amazing photo shoots and the beautiful way in which they style their clothing. 

The clothes are understated, Parisian chic with a bit of an edge. Hush started over 10 years ago as a kitchen table business, giving nightwear and loungewear a new meaning by introducing a much-needed element of chic into an area that fashion had forgotten. As the range has grown it has taken this same relaxed style beyond the front door and now offers a collection of every day staples that are both practical and versatile. 

One of the first things I bought from Hush was a pair of their popular harem pants in charcoal grey, which are probably the comfiest item of clothing I own, and useful for days when I'm just running around with the kids or for cozy nights in on the sofa. I've also become addicted to their basics as they are such great quality, including slouchy leggings, long vests and layering tops. 

But my favourite Hush item by far is the Rosie dress.



I love wearing dresses in the winter and this is the perfect one to throw on when you want to wear a dress but still look casual. It is simple and flattering with a navy loose fitting crew necked jumper attached to a floaty skirt in a contrasting shade of blue that they call 'marine.' It is made of silk, cashmere and cotton and is just so comfortable. I like the fact that I can wear it with ankle boots and a jacket and look smart for work or wear it with a scarf, leggings and flat boots at the weekend and look more dressed down. 

The Rosie dress has just been further reduced in the January sale, and is now £40, down from £60. It also comes in contrasting shades of grey and a burgundy and charcoal colour.

If I was looking for bargains in the January sale, I would also go for the long jacket, now further reduced to £70, down from £130, as this would go with so many things in my wardrobe. 



Another great sale item is the Open Knit Poncho, now £45 from £95. This looks so snuggly and would be so easy to throw on over skinny jeans for a relaxed yet stylish look.



And here I am wearing my Rosie dress at work this week...

In the first photo it I am wearing it with my grey Ash Jalouse ankle boots and in the second photo I have added a bluey grey and gold scarf from Yard.










I can't wait to see the beachwear in the spring catalogue, it needs to hurry up as I am off somewhere hot and sunny very soon! 

Abbi x

Monday, 20 January 2014

Totes Amazing!

I need a bigger bag. I can't bear to see a gorgeous handbag crammed with clutter and yet I am the worst culprit, always on the go with things spilling out from my overstuffed bag. 

Enter the tote bag. I've never really owned one but I will. Soon. Well, this year anyway!

Totes are roomy handbags with handles that are often, though not always, large enough to go over the shoulder. They are made to carry lots of items, so they are the perfect companion for work, gym, shopping, a day at the beach, or as a carry-on bag for travel. They are usually rectangular in shape, and may have a completely open interior or be divided into compartments. Tote bags are no longer just a practical bag, but also stylish and elegant. They are perhaps the most versatile bag out there, which is why most women have at least one in their wardrobe, be it fashionable or functional.

I have decided that mine must look exquisite but also be practical. I would like to be able to fit everything in one bag instead of carrying a handbag and other random bags, which is what I usually do. It needs to be able to carry an iPad, phone, chargers, cosmetics, umbrella, gloves, maybe a scarf, and sometimes there will also be books, water, kids' drinks and snacks, small purchases and so on. The tote will have to be suitably chic for a meeting but practical enough to carry things to yoga or to to the beach. It would be a bonus if I could fit in a picnic for the beach or is that going too far?

The ultimate one for me would be the Large Dorset Tote in Oak Soft Nappa







Such a beautiful classic in the softest leather imaginable. It is actually on sale at the moment on the Mulberry website at £297, down from £495. I hope you are reading this Mr Dorset Fashionista, as I know how you love a bargain, and Valentines Day is just around the corner! And the name of the bag - it's obviously meant to be!

Anyway, moving on. I also love the iconic Longchamp Le Pliage Large Shopper £68 








There are so many colours - I like the navy one above. This is one of Kate Middleton's staple bags and is made from nylon and trimmed with leather. This is the answer to a versatile yet practical every-day bag - it is light-weight, water-resistant, packable and very roomy - perfect for carrying all your essentials! This bag would look great with a casual outfit but is still appropriate for a more polished look.


Next up is the perfect tote for work from LK Bennett - Kelly Leather Large Winged Tote £245




A timeless classic in black, but this also comes in tan, peacock blue and my personal favourite in soft gold (see below). This colour would be perfect if you wanted a bag to use for work/evenings/ weekend.





The Autograph Double Handle Large Tote at £49.50 is a really great price for an every day bag. Below it is pictured in mink, but it also comes in navy and black. 




And this one from Topshop at £36 to give your outfit a pop of colour. It does come in black and green but I love it in orange!





I also can't resist sneaking this one into the list as I would love this for the beach and being out and about with the kids. It would have to be in addition to one of the others though!

Cath Kidston Large Paris Tote now £42 from £65



Might have to plan a trip to the Mulberry factory shop in Somerset to check out the Dorset tote.

Remember a girl can never have too many bags!

Finishing with an outfit from the other day, going to choose bathroom floors with my Mum in Axminster! We also went to the lovely River Cottage Canteen.



Greige jeans - Zara AW13
Light tan boots - Office AW12
White layering tee H&M (old)
Cream Jumper - Zara AW13
Butterfly scarf - Zara AW12

Back soon with more finds from the January sales....

Abbi x


Thursday, 16 January 2014

A statement watch is every fashionista's secret weapon...

Just before Christmas, Yard (my favourite Dorset boutique - see my last post!) started stocking a gorgeous new range of vintage inspired fashion watches by Olivia Burton. It's fair to say that I quickly became quite obsessed with them, the main problem being which one to choose! All the watches are beautifully made with unique designs, but reasonably priced, ranging from £52 to £95.


The design duo behind Olivia Burton met on their first day at the London College of Fashion, and turned their love of vintage fashion, British heritage and catwalk trends into a luxurious line of watches when they couldn't find one that fulfilled their need for style. All their watches have elegant gold or rose gold cases and popular styles include the Big Dial, Colour Crush and Woodland. Some of them feature quirky illustrations or animal motifs, including pictures of butterflies, hummingbirds or bees.

Eventually I settled on the Big Dial Rose Gold Plated Watch with mink strap (£72). I loved the oversized face and the beautiful rose gold colour as despite these bold features it is a stunningly understated watch, wearable for any occasion. The leather strap is described as 'mink' but is more of an off-white.



The watches make lovely gifts, and as soon as they went on display at Yard people were snapping them up for Christmas presents. The range quickly sold out and it became quite stressful advising customers and hoping they wouldn't pick the one I had chosen! Luckily I had dropped hints to Mr Dorset Fashionista and he had put one aside without me knowing. At one point it was suggested that I may have hidden the one I wanted in a drawer in the shop so that no one could buy it, but even I  wouldn't go as far as this, although it could be a good idea for another time....

A new collection of Olivia Burton watches has just arrived at Yard featuring some new designs which are pictured below. I can't wait to see them! Do you think it would be over the top to have another one in a different colour? Am liking the look of the one with the navy strap. To co- ordinate with different things in my wardrobe, obviously.....



And finishing with an outfit from earlier in the week (no other outfits this week as I've been living in my gym kit).



Pink fluffy jumper - Whistles AW13 - here
White long sleeve layering tee - H&M (old)
Jeans - Karen Millen - here
Ash Bowie Wedge Trainers

Have a great weekend everyone, I will be back soon with a blog about my January sale bargains! Abbi x





Tuesday, 14 January 2014

My Favorite Dorset Boutique...

If there was one thing I missed when I first moved to Dorset, it was having all the city shops on my doorstep. Despite loving my new life by the sea, a shopaholic can't change overnight and I found myself finding reasons to go back to London every couple of months to have a quick retail fix. That is, until I discovered a little gem of a boutique called Yard in Poundbury, Dorchester. 




From fabulous statement pieces to cool casuals, Yard offers gorgeous clothing from specially selected brands and beautiful accessories, gifts and styling for your home. Owner Vicki Fernyhough brings together hand-picked pieces from established fashion houses, niche labels and independent designers, creating a range that is stylish yet incredibly wearable. The shop has been open for just over three years and in 2012 was named Best New Business at the prestigious Drapers Fashion Awards. 


Clothing Brands include Great Plains, French Connection, Twist & Tango, American Vintage and my personal favourite Maison Scotch. There are always new products being added, so each time you visit the store it looks fresh and unique. At the same time Yard has become known for bestsellers including Becksondergaard scarves, Nat & Nin handbags and Maison Scotch jeans which are always in stock. There is a fantastic range of gifts and jewellery and you can also treat yourself to some lovely bits and pieces for the home such as cushions, photo frames, pictures and candles. When I first stepped through the door, it was like everything had been hand picked for me, and I have heard many others say the same thing! You are always given a warm welcome and coffee is offered while you browse. The staff are really friendly and give excellent advice if you need it. It soon became a regular shopping destination for me, so much so that I befriended the owner and now work here occasionally, indulging my love of all things fashion related! I leave you with a couple of looks from Yard's new spring collection which has started coming in. And if you are looking for an outfit for something special this year or if you need something for a more informal occasion, this is the place to come!


New season - top from Twist & Tango £65
Jeans from Maison Scotch £120
Fine knit top from American Vintage £75
Scarf by Becksondergaard £69
Bag from Becksondergaard £75


Denim dress from Maison Scotch £125
Accessorised with Flouro necklace Maison Scotch £20
Layered necklace by Orelia Jewellery £25
Boots from H bu Hudson £140
Leather bag by Nat & Nin £130


Breton knitted top - Maison Scotch £77.95
Jeans - Maison Scotch £120
Bag Nat & Nin £200

Back soon with my spring wishlist....

Abbi x