Bag ‘n’ Shoes: Next Sludge Boots and Zatchels vs Jacky Tsai Skulls Saddle Bag

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I thought it was about time I did another bag and shoes post – especially considering that the bag in question is a limited edition design, only available for another week or so! I bought this bag late last year from Zatchels – it’s part of a collaboration with the Chinese artist Jacky Tsai, and the range consists of satchels and saddle bags with three designs on; the iconic floral skulls design, the psychedelic virus pattern, and the purple and lime green petrol motif. As soon as I saw the saddle bag with the floral skull design, I knew I had to add it to my collection!

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As you can see, the leather is printed with a beautiful pattern of skulls crafted out of silver flowers. Here’s what Zatchels says about the design: “Instinctively recognizable, Jacky Tsai’s skulls print designs take inspiration from one of his most well-known pieces of art, the iconic Floral Skull design he created for Alexander McQueen. The placement and positioning of the skulls show a 360 degree view of this unique piece of art. A deep black background sets off the metallic skull shapes.”

Alexander McQueen = right up my alley! You can purchase this design for a limited time at Zatchels’ site here for £85, along with the other designs here (satchels are £165).

The boots I’ve been wearing pretty much all winter – they’re no longer available from Next, but you can purchase a similar design here. Simple, basic, flat heeled boots are the perfect addition to my winter wardrobe, so this was a definite no-brainer purchase for me!

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What do you think – will you be picking up one of these beauties whilst they’re still available?

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Ciate Mini Mani Month 2013 Sneak Preview

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Dec 24 peekDec 23 peekDec 23 LocketDec 23 Locket backDec 22 peekDec 22 Christmas Tree Caviar
Dec 22 Christmas Tree Caviar backDec 21 peekDec 21 ConfettiDec 21 Confetti backDec 20 peekDec 20 Ivory Queen
Dec 20 Ivory Queen backDec 19 UnderwearDec 19 Underwear backDec 18 peekDec 18 Amazing GracieDec 18 Amazing Gracie back

I’ve noticed a lot of traffic coming my way from people searching for Ciate’s Mini Mani Month. So, here is a sneak peek of every single bottle inside the advent calendar, for those of you (like me!) who just can’t wait until December! Just click above to be taken to my Flickr photostream.

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Burberry Nail Varnish A/W 2013: Oxblood and Stone

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Following their runway show at London Fashion Week, Burberry has just branched out into a new range of nail varnish for autumn and winter 2013. The key colours that are available to buy  individually (priced at £15 each for 8ml) are Black, Oxblood and Stone. (You can also buy the colours from LFW in a limited edition box of six for £90.) When I visited Burberry’s flagship store at the weekend, I picked up the Stone and Oxblood colours, as I couldn’t resist – even though the range was so new, they didn’t even have testers available yet!

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As you can see from the picture above, the silver patterned cap comes off to reveal the applicator and brush top underneath – so you don’t have to struggle with a giant, rectangular handle when applying. However, I wonder whether the bottle top is a little too small for ease of use – I definitely struggled to get a neat finish with the Oxblood colour. The nail varnish is marketed as a quick drying formula – and that is definitely the case, because this dried superfast even though I couldn’t apply it evenly thanks to the thickness. I ended up using two coats and topping off with Seche Vite for a glossy finish.

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Oxblood is just another trendy name for dark red that comes back around every A/W season, it feels like – although I get the feeling that this season no one can decide whether it should be called burgundy, oxblood or berry. Either way, I love it, and although you can argue there are differences between all these colours (berry is more purple… burgundy more bright) it certainly doesn’t matter to me about the specifics of the pantone chart. Dark red rocks, period. (Urgh, should I leave that in? Yeah, go for it.) Funnily enough, the sales assistant told me that the staff at Burberry’s stores aren’t even allowed to wear the Black or Oxblood colours, as their uniform guidelines specify only natural colours for nails. But, apparently, they are protesting about it!

Burberry Stone nails

This is Stone – and I really like it! I have a big crush on neutrals and Ciate’s Cookies and Cream is one of my favourite colours. (Favourite of all time is probably still China Glaze’s Fast Track, but I’ve not even done a post about that! Hmm!).  Now, this colour is beautiful, but considering the price makes it almost triple what Ciate costs (£9 for 13.5ml) I’ll probably not be making a lot of repeat purchases. I found this colour slightly easier to apply – perhaps because the shade is lighter so I didn’t notice mistakes as much, perhaps because I wasn’t as tired this time around – but I still think the squared off brush needs to be a little more shaped to help application.

I think I’ll plan a neutral nail-off at some point in the future, between Fast Track, Cookies and Cream, Stone and whatever else have knocking around here! Do you dig neutral nails, or do you prefer a bit of drama?

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What’s your style: classic, or cool?

One of the things I love about British fashion is the way it fuses heritage brands with cutting edge cool. Old names like Burberry and Mulberry mixing with new ones like Stella McCartney and Alexander McQueen. One side representing tradition, the other side bringing innovation and a playful sense of danger.

Even as I’ve evolved in my own sense of personal style, I can never seem to quite settle on a fashion persona that entirely embraces one or the other. I am certain I would be kicked out with equal amounts of disgust from the front row of any reputable British fashion brand – and it’s almost with a sense of pride I can declare myself to be a free agent in international waters. Of course, it means my wardrobe is a chaotic mess of rock-chick style accessories, prim, retro dresses, and far too many hats – but doesn’t everyone strive for a wardrobe like that? (They don’t? Off with you!)

Anyway, since I love a good scarf, and I seem to have one permanently wrapped around my neck from the months of October to March, I thought I’d investigate some good designer staples – and yet again, came into the age old question: cool or classic?

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The correct answer is undoubtedly BOTH! In which case, I shall rephrase – which one first? And can you sum up your own personal style? Does your wardrobe follow a general theme, or are you like me – a fashion butterfly, flitting mindlessly from pretty thing to pretty thing, never to settle? What is to become of us poor homeless butterflies? Ask not, for as my cat would tell you, they usually get eaten.
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Afternoon Tea at The Rubens

At the weekend, my friends and I went to London for afternoon tea at The Rubens At The Palace!

Afternoon Tea at The Rubens

My friend had bought some vouchers so it ended up costing us £16.50 per person, which was pretty reasonable.

The room we ate in was beautiful, and although our table was pretty low, it made it easier to take photos!

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I wore my Hush leopard print scarf, and a wine coloured skater dress from ASOS (saw it on The Lilac Pages and fell in love, it’s such a great shape!).

Afternoon tea at The Rubens

Our sandwiches were delicious – the chicken bun was particularly good, with flaked almonds giving it a great texture. There wasn’t really enough cream to go around on the scones, and the jam was weirdly runny, but to be honest, we enjoyed the scones anyway. They were light inside but slightly crisp on the outside, which was tasty indeed!

Afternoon tea at The Rubens

The cakes were slightly hit or miss – I had a try of everything except the banoffee cupcake, and some of them were very good, but the layer cake was a tiny bit stale… But, hey – there was plenty of tea! I much preferred the Assam to the English blend they had, which is uncharacteristic. Usually I’m completely the opposite of a tea connoisseur.

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The great thing about The Rubens is that it’s so close to Buckingham Palace, so we popped on over when we’d had our fill (and yes, we were stuffed at the end!).

Buckingham Palace

All in all, I wouldn’t pick The Rubens over the other places I’ve been for afternoon tea in London (hey, The Ritz is pretty darn snazzy, y’hear?) but it was lovely to try somewhere new. The voucher price (through Virgin) was decent enough for four people, although the current deal isn’t too much of a saving on their listed price!

(Psst, don’t forget, UK readers can enter my competition to win 12 share bags of Popchips here!)

My Bargain Buy: Hobbs Boots for £15!

Do you remember back in November when I told you I visited the Isle of Wight to see my family, and happened to stumble across a very interesting shop? Cameo of Cowes is a second-hand retailer with a difference – it sells lost property from places like sorting houses, cruise ships, railways stations and the like. I’m sure we’ve all experienced the misery of losing something at some point or another – allow karma to gift you back something special, because this little gem is packed full of plush gear at low prices, and it’s all just waiting for you to drop by and treat yourself! I managed to bag a Reiss cardi for £8, a pair of strappy L.K. Bennett black heels for £9, and these amazing, immaculate Hobbs ankle boots for £15!

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As soon as I saw both pairs of shoes on the shelves (believe me, they jumped out right away) I felt that mix of elation and fear that all bargain hunters experience. First – the happiness of seeing something that looks perfect for you. Second – will they be in the right size? Will they be the right price? By a miracle, both shoes were my size (a clumpy 7… Sigh), and I’m sure you’ll agree, for that price, it would have been rude to have left them in the shop!

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Hobbs boots inside

Has anyone had any amazingly bargainous purchased they’d like to share? I love hearing stories about great finds!

6 Dec: Ciate Mini Mani Month – Angel Wings

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Day six of the Mini Mani Month, and today’s colour is Angel Wings, a pretty, shimmery white. Ciate says: “The perfect pretty pearl. Clean fresh and perfect for the ultimate high fashion look. Team with your cropped jacket and pearls for a finish of class and luxury.”

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In all honesty, I found this hard to apply – it was quite streaky and I needed three coats to get rid of all traces of my nail colour. Also, because my nails often peel (ugh, I know), the shimmer caught the imperfections of my nails and showed them up, rather than helping to conceal them.

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That said, the colour is very pretty and pearlescent, especially under soft lighting.

I had a Christmas present delivery today for my sister in law, and of course, I couldn’t resist adding a little something for myself too (the old one for me, one for you rule, I’m sure you’re familiar with it…) – a lovely new bottle of Pirouette My Whistle from OPI, which is part of the New York City Ballet collection, but is also beautiful for frosty, winter nails! It’s a subtle glitter in a clear top coat, with white hexagonal shapes inside (tricky to get those to stay on my nails, but I persevered!).

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I think it adds the perfect festive finish to these nails – an extra dimension of Christmassy-ness!

Clarins Odyssey Eye Palette

One of the hottest beauty products for 2012 is the Clarins Odyssey Eye Palette, four beautiful shades to see you through the festive season! As soon as I saw it, I had to bag one, because I’m a huge fan of blending gold eyeshadow in with a smokey eye during winter, to glam up a classic look for parties. Usually I achieve this with Pixi’s Nude Shade Wardrobe and a tap of MAC golden lemon in the corner of my eye, but I was eager to try something new!

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I had originally wanted to get this from my local John Lewis, but when I walked up to the counter, the Clarins’ lady shook her head ruefully at my enquiry as to the stock – seems like this is a real best-seller!

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It’s not hard to see why – these shades are MADE for the winter party season!

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Adding a touch of glamour and luxury, the palette comes in a pretty little red velvet pouch.

UntitledAlthough I was expecting the case to be metal, it was actually plastic – I guess it’s more practical in the long run and less prone to scratching or denting… The palette itself features a beautiful etched design on gold. Truly a beautiful Christmas item.

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Inside you get four pretty shades – three fairly standard for the ‘smokey eye’ look, and one rather special gold one! There are also two applicators.

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That gold is so complex and beautiful! Let’s take a closer look, shall we?

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I’d heard this had great staying power, but I was still surprised at how smoothly this went on, and how well it stuck to my skin! The shimmer is fantastic, and I cannot wait to try out the smokey eye look with gold featured on the card that came with the set.
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The palette is still available online at Clarins for £30 – but get in there quickly, because this seems to be selling like hotcakes! As an added bonus, if you order from Clarins’ site, you get to pick some free samples with your order – perfect!

Lust List: Hush loungewear for Christmas!

If there’s one thing I wish I had more of, it’s loungewear. I work from home, so being comfy is my top priority – most days, the only person I’d be likely to impress with my sartorial choices is the postman. My ‘uniform’ mostly consists of a pair of jogging bottoms, a slobby T-shirt, and a dressing gown. So when I saw Hush’s range of luxe loungewear, I fell in love! Well, who wouldn’t?

I already put my order in (whoops!), but while I wait for it to arrive, here are some other items from the range I’m lusting after! The beauty above is the Black Felted Wool Dress (£95), which looks incredibly stylish while promising much cosiness for the winter season. Comfort and style – I love it!

If there’s one thing that has to be on my Christmas gift list this year, it’s this Cardigown. A cardigan crossed with a dressing gown, this is actually exactly the sort of thing I’ve been looking for all these years, without ever really knowing what it was called, or if it even existed! The Cardigown is available here in ‘fog’ (as above) for £85, and is also available in dark navy here. I certainly wouldn’t be embarrassed to open the door to the postman wearing this!

Now, this one might be controversial – I know that before this year, I would have turned my nose up – but harem pants! Don’t turn off your computer in disgust just yet… Harem pants may seem a bit weird looking, but when it comes to loungewear, I promise there are very few styles of trousers that are more comfortable. I first tried some on when I started going to belly dancing classes, and I couldn’t believe I’d allowed myself to overlook them for so long. Forget yoga pants, forget jogging bottoms, these are just the most gloriously comfortable things you can wear on your bottom half, in my opinion at least! My ones are considerably less snazzy than these, as they came from Primark, but I’m sure you’ll agree that Hush’s version is pretty darn stylish. Some harem pants have a really low crotch, and I think that’s what puts people off, but this pair are styled in such a way that you can actually wear them outside the house without fear of ridicule – as the model above so aptly demonstrates! Hush harem pants are available in dark burgundy, as above, charcoal grey, and black, for £49.50.

Last on the Lust List (for today) are these gorgeous star pyjamas! I love the design of these, but I don’t think I’d be comfortable in white PJs (too many spilled tea incidents in my past to relax wearing white, I’m afraid), so I wish Hush would offer some with the reverse design – i.e. white stars on black. Hush have a range of pyjama sets, including the darker set below, priced at £49.50 per set, here.

Hush also offer bundles which give good discounts when you buy sets together, which is a nice touch (and what prompted me to empty my wallet – and I was being so good, too!). Check out the site here, and come back later in the week to find out what I thought of my (first?) delivery!