What To Wear With A Tan Bag: Ilex London Harriet

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Ilex London were kind enough to send me a bag from their new range recently, and after a lot of umming and ahhing, I went with this gorgeous Harriet Shoulder bag in Wood. For some reason, I have very few tan bags, so when this arrived I immediately went into panic mode about which shoes to wear with it. Silly me – in fact, tan seems to go with everything!

Pictured above, I paired them with Russell & Bromley’s Coco Pop espadrilles, which were worn by Pippa Middleton a few years ago and are still part of the brand’s line. With the toe-cap detailing and the straw wedges, they’re a classic that never goes out of style, and match this Harriet perfectly!

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One of my favourite purchases from Russell & Bromley are the Stuart Weitzman Corkswoons, or as they’re called in the UK, the SW Cocos. Dark blue suede contrasts beautifully with the tan bag, and I can imagine this in an outfit with a navy skirt paired with a white blouse – effortless summer chic! This is another item from the Middleton wardrobe, this time made famous by Kate. It seems like you either loves these wedges, or you hate them – I love them, and judging from the offerings from other shoe brands, this combo of navy suede and cork heels is still firmly in style.

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Moving into more recent offerings from Russell & Bromley, these Xpresso Crossover Flats make a lovely pairing with the tan bag – taming the boyish feel of the brown and giving it a softer, even feminine feel. Pair this with a tulle skirt and a blouse tied at the waist for the ultimate in girly summer chic. You’ll feel like a ballerina, but the chunky, solid Harriet bag will prevent your outfit from turning into a costume, giving a cool juxtaposition and providing you ample space to store your stuff on the run. And, of course, wear these with pride knowing they’ve been royally approved – Kate wore these on the recent Indian Royal Tour!

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Finally, white shoes haven’t been on the fashion forefront since the ’80s, it feels like, but I couldn’t resist these Rockstud Valentinos, and they go awesomely with the Ilex – the gold detailing picks out the logo perfectly! (Check out Dune’s Heti in white for a decent alternative at £70.)

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So, enough about the shoes, what about the bag? I love this sturdy little trooper – it’s perfect for work (or play!) as it has a central, easily accesible section with a zippered pocket, plus two additional zipped compartments either side, very much like the Modalu Pippa bag. It has two straps to carry over the shoulder, or an attachment to convert it to a shoulder bag. Priced at £205, it’s an investment bag, but one which will carry you through the seasons. It can fit a heck of a lot inside – the only limit is going to be how much you can physically lift… It fits an iPad easily, and you can just about squeeze an A4 mag or paper inside the middle part.

So far I’ve taken it on weekends away (perfect for stowing makeup and jewellery), work events (to hide notebooks and my camera) and to the cinema (of course, I would never smuggle Coke Zero and a packet of chilli crackers into a movie). It’s even been carried along the ramparts of Warwick Castle and over the London Bridge! I am really looking forward to wearing it in autumn and winter, too, as the new seasons open up a whole new range of styling possibilities!

Check out the Harriet here, and the whole range from Ilex London here.Which bag would you pick from the range?

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Taste of London 2015: Glorious Gluttony in Regent’s Park!

I absolutely love going to Taste of London – the first time I went was in 2010 as part of my hen party (which also included afternoon tea at The Ritz, karaoke and Louboutin shopping at Harrods!) and it was such a ball I’ve been dying to go back for ages! This year the stars aligned and I managed to visit the June festival for the Friday morning sessions.

If you love food and you love the London restaurant scene, you should definitely make sure you pay the event a visit! Here’s my guide to the best the event has to offer…

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2014: The Year of the Cape

If you’re like me, there are probably loads of fashion styles you love but would never dare to try out. I’m a sucker for hats but I rarely wear them because they seem so ostentatious unless you’re going to a wedding or another formal event. Equally, I love a good cape, but apart from one very brief affair with a navy ASOS cape that ended up covered in dog fluff, I didn’t own any… Until this autumn, that is!

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Bags ‘n’ Shoes: Lamb 1887 Agnes Clutch and Bronze French Sole flats

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Yet another new English designer for me – this time, it’s Lamb 1887, which is a reasonably priced label that has been seen on a few celebs (Pippa Middleton, Millie Mackintosh, Diana Vickers etc).

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The studded leather clutch comes with rose gold hardware, and a detachable chain.

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It also has some cute detailing on the bag, including the Lamb logo:

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And another logo on the zip:

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The bag is a good size, although because of the flat shape, it’ll be tricky to fit things in that aren’t, well, flat!

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I paired it with an older pair of French Sole flats that I picked up from a warehouse sale a few years ago.

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The neat thing about these flats are that they’re lined with some faux fur, making them perfect for those days where you want to wear flats but it’s still a bit nippy!

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I also thought that the bronze went pretty well with the rose gold and black of the leather. Also, I haven’t had much of a chance to wear these yet, so when I realised there was a bit of a match, I jumped at the chance!

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As you can see, my love of chain and leather straps is continuing at a healthy pace – and detachable straps are just so handy for turning an everyday smart bag into an evening clutch bag.

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The interior of the bag has a lovely beige suede interior, with a handy zip pocket section for holding your cards or blotting paper and the like!

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I purchased the Lamb 1887 Agnes bag from Atterley Road, which is a great retailer with an amazing edit of some great brands – perfect for picking up smart day wear, work wear and the like! You can also purchase it directly from Lamb at their website here. The bag retails for £150 and also comes in beige.

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The French Sole shoes are no longer available, but you can visit their website for more in similar styles and colours here.

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Bag ‘n’ Shoes: French Sole Silver Sparkle Henrietta Flats and Wilbur & Gussie Navy Charlie Clutch

Finally, there’s time to post about last week’s bag and shoes combo (don’t worry, I have a special one lined up for this week!). Again, this continues the saga of the French Sole Factory Shop visit last month (read about it here)!

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These are the third pair of my epic haul, and they are very slightly translucent, with a reinforced area around the toes for added strength. The shoes are dotted with gorgeous silver sparkles, and have a muted navy trim. Because they were samples, and had no box, they were actually £20 instead of £25! I paired them with my favourite Wilbur & Gussie clutch (although it has plenty of competition, I LOVE W&G!), the raw navy silk with the beautiful ship fastening! (This style is currently unavailable, but you can browse the Charlie clutch range here.)

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Because of the diamantes on the clutch’s ship clasp, and the gold edging, you can match it to silver or gold accessories, which is handy! As you can see, I usually carry it by the strap handle, which allows you to dangle it off one wrist at a jaunty angle…

I love these silver strips on the heel of the flats too.

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I also love the way the muted colour scheme creates a really subtle look for the Henriettas – the opaque material is also really unusual and great fun. Although the sparkles work well for the holiday season (indoors, of course!), this kind of look would also be terrific for a balmy summer night too!

The clutch – well, what can I say? The Charlie clutch in gold was carried on tour by the Duchess of Cambridge, and her sister, Pippa, is often spotted with a W&G clutch under her arm. Given my fondness for nautical accents, how could I resist this one – especially when it combines two of my favourite colours, navy and red?!

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Shopping the French Sole Sale: A Mini Tour of London

As I may have mentioned before, I’m a huge fan of French Sole, and when a pair of sandals I’d been lusting after for weeks came up in their sale – but not in my size! – there was nothing to be done except to get myself posthaste to my nearest FS store in order to bag a pair in person. The only issue with that is that my nearest FS store is in King’s Road, about an hour and half by car or between two to three hours on public transport. So, of course, this meant a day trip to London, and negates any savings  I may have actually made on buying the shoes full price. But that is just a minor detail, so there’s no need to bring that up.

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In order to get to the French Sole shop on King’s Road via the Tube, you face a pretty long walk from Sloane Street or a shorter one from Kensington, which then takes you along Fulham Road. This then takes you past an Amanda Wakeley store (Kate Middleton fans take note!) and a Butler & Wilson shop, which is a treasure trove of gorgeously over the top accessories. You then can then pass through any of the residential streets that connect Fulham Road to King’s Road, and soak in the beauty of Chelsea living – I am so jealous of some of these beautiful front doors!

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King’s Road itself is a stomping ground for the Middleton sisters (and their glam mother, Carole, of course), and Bluebird has hosted many a cosy family lunch and is definitely worth visiting. Quite a few of the shops on King’s Road will be recognisable to a Kate Middleton fan (like an awesome L.K. Bennett clearance store!), but it was one shop in particular that I was honing in on!

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Inside French Sole’s Chelsea branch, the sales were in full swing and the sales assistants were run off their feet getting different sizes and styles for their customers – always with a smile, I have to add. Luckily, they had a pair of the beautiful sandals I was lusting after in my size, so after purchasing I immediately put them on in order to get some wear out of them before autumn well and truly took over!

After that it was time for me to run loose in London – I didn’t have a lot of time, but I was able to visit the Burberry store on Regent’s Street (more on that in another post!) as well as to pop into Fortnum & Mason!

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I adore honey (on toast, mixed with yogurt and fruit, eaten straight from the honeycomb… Love it!) so I was really excited to see the display celebrating London honey (this festival continues until 13 October). Plus, there were loads of gorgeous Halloween goodies – and the Christmas store was open on floor three as well.

Yup, it was a pretty good day…

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Fitness DVD review: Inch Loss Pilates with Lynne Robinson

Pilates has definitely been a buzz-word since the Royal wedding, when Pippa Middleton’s famous bum was said to be a result of following this exercise plan. It’s one of those regimes that I’ve been aware of for ages, but never really investigated. I know that it’s something like yoga, was invented by a guy called Pilates, and there’s also some vague notions of it being to do with the war, or soldiers, or something like that. It was always filed in my brain under the heading ‘something to look into at some point’. When I got a press release about the launch of Inch Loss Pilates with Lynne Robinson last month, it became apparent that ‘at some point’ had arrived.

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This isn’t going to be a proper review of the DVD yet, as after a viewing today I realised that there was a whole post to be written just about my initial observations of the programme, before I’d even tried it out. For the record, I intend to give this a proper trial during January, so keep posted on that!

First of all, Lynne Robinson is something of a Pilates guru – I guess that’s stealing a word from yoga, but hey… It’s nearly Christmas, so I’ll say it was a present. The Times has dubbed her ‘The Queen of Pilates’, and her prolific output on the subject certainly goes some way to proving that. She’s worked with numerous celebs like Sophie Dahl, Holly Willoughby, Liz Hurley – and even the Chelsea football team and England Cricket. Those latter two should help convince you that Pilates isn’t just airy fairy stuff – this is proper, physical work.

However, in the introduction video, Lynne points out that this isn’t a hugely calorie burning endeavour. I guess that’s what had steered me away from exercises like this and yoga over the years. I love high impact cardio workouts – basically pretty much anything that Jillian Michaels has released on DVD. This is the polar opposite to that, really. Whilst Jillian’s 30 Day Shred will have you screaming and pushing your body to its physical limit, Pilates is about really centring yourself, connecting your mind and body together, and sculpting your form through deliberate and mindful movements.

My ears really pricked up when Lynne mentioned that Pilates is really what helped her with her pear-shape – I never realised until I lost a lot of weight for my wedding which shape I was, because when I looked in the mirror, frankly, all I saw was a blob. Since then my self-esteem and exercise regime has allowed me to see my body properly, and the difficulties I’ve had losing weight from my bum and thighs has made it obvious – like many British women, I am in fact a pear-shape. So, I guess I’m the perfect candidate to test Lynne’s theory that Pilates can help with that. She recommends that you do about three hours of Pilates a week – on average, I guess, 30 minutes a day with one day off (that was MENTAL MATHS!). She also suggests you get in some cardio for your overall health, and add in incidental exercise like walking. Of course, you need to watch your diet, as well.

The DVD has four sections, an introduction, a section entitled Fundamentals 1, then two workouts. Workout one is for a top-to-toe exercising, and workout two is shorter, and more targeted to problem areas. This is not an exercise DVD you can pop in and get started on right away – you need to watch the Fundamentals section first (which is around 27 minutes long), so you can understand more about Pilates, what it tries to achieve, and how to do the poses. You also need some equipment – but nothing you might not have lying around the house already, particularly if you’ve done some home exercising before. You’ll need a flat cushion or folded towel for your head, a fatter cushion to hold between your legs and the like, a chair, a stretch band or long scarf, hand weights (no more than 3 kilos) and ankle weights (no more than 1 kilo).

I’ll be challenging myself to do three hours of this DVD every week during January. Why not join me? You can purchase Inch Loss Pilates from www.bodycontrolpilates.com or www.amazon.co.uk – RRP £14.99, due out 31 December. You can also download a digital version for £9.99.

This post is based on a complimentary product supplied to me for the purposes of review in this blog.