SCHOOL GATE STYLE

Belfast-based, clothes-loving, shopping-obsessed, mum of 3. Wearable fashion on a budget for busy women

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

The 6 items you need to buy in the sales....

It's dregs of the sales time but this is when I like to strike with my minimal budget. But you need to buy carefully lest you end up with a pile of unworn stuff that you got at 70% off. We've all been there. So here are my must-have sale purchases - the 6 items you need to tick off the list before buying anything else.

First up - Jeans. I always pick up a good pair of jeans in the sales - summer and winter. The jeans I wear the most are invariably the better brands, Maison Scotch, Piezak and Kings of Indigo - all of which I've sourced in a sale of some sort. 99% of the time, you get what you pay for - a good brand will fit better, hold their shape and you'll wear and wear them. I'm thinking here of the Zara ones I bought a few months ago which can't even keep their zip up for more than 10 minutes at a time and which I've worn twice. Total waste of £25.

My thinking re jeans at the moment is that rips are out now...I am finding them increasingly tacky and have just recently ditched any of mine that had tears in them. My mother in law is delighted. I'm instead looking for a couple of distressed pairs - so there's a bit of interest but no flesh peeking through.

And here's my sales gem from Maison Scotch. I had a pair of these for years and only recently sold them as they were getting loose on me. These are almost the exact same and they're reduced in the sale. Free delivery and with all sizes available as I write. I would be a 28 in these as a guide:
I'm sitting on my credit card in this instance however as I have just bought these Guess jeans in the Spoilt Belle sale....love love love them and have worn them lots since I got them. The style is a jegging but they're not as stretchy as a jegging would be.

Next up, a coat and this is the time of year to grab yourself a trench if you don't already have one. They're perfect for wearing as the weather starts to get cooler and every wardrobe needs one. I've had mine since before the twins were born - it's about 9 years old and still looks as good as new. First up, this is from Benetton and also comes in navy from the Harrison website.

Or how about this more expensive option? From Jaeger, it's an absolute classic down from £225 to £110 with most sizes available still.
If you don't already have a great pair of leather sandals - one tan and one black - then this is the time to buy them. We don't get enough wear out of sandals in this part of the world so grab a pair in the sales and they'll see you through a few summers - especially a pair as beautiful as these black ones from the Seven Boot Lane sale:
If a sale isn't the time to buy a leather handbag, well I don't know when is! Again, tan/brown or black are the key colours here as they are the ones that you'll use most. Boden is always a good bet for great leather and this Amanda bag can be used as a grab bag or as a cross body. I'm gutted I missed out on the navy version of this but this tan one is just as gorgeous:

Amanda Bag - Boden
My fifth must buy in the sales? Stripes! Another classic that will never age and I love this quirky top from Joules - who make some of the best breton tops out there:
Finally - if you see a white shirt in the sale, grab it! They are another item I never buy full price. Best I've seen online is this one from Thomas Pink at £29 with an extra 10% off at the moment (tho that discount only covers some of the rather high postage charge!)
What about my sales purchases? Well, I've been fairly restrained and only bought a black loose fit dress in Next, the jeans I mentioned above and a sleeveless trench - more on the coat soon. So there's still lots of scope to buy more....watch this space.

Do share if you've any thing to add to my 6 essentials!

Ax
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Sunday, 24 July 2016

Leopard Cross Body Bags


I have been inundated with emails and messages on instagram about my animal print cross body bag. It's funny because I dithered so much over buying it - and have done so over similar bags in the past....and didn't buy them....and regretted it later. I've also come to realise that a well priced, leather bag with the right print shade in a practical size, is actually tricky to find so if you see one you like, grab it.

So in the vein of buy now or forever regret it, I thought I'd do a quick post with all the similar bags I can find online - taking full advantage of the sales where I can.

First up to show anyone who's not seen it, this is my one:
I got it in DejaVu as a pre-loved bag and it's by a German brand called Abro. It is in great condition and made from the most gorgeous leather and I paid just £36 for it. From googling the brand and description, I think it retailed at in or around £100 when it was full price but this style isn't available to buy anymore.

I've never been a fan of chain straps as they can look a bit dressy for day wear but with the black leather going through the chain on this one and the fact that the hardware isn't really bright gold, it seems to work. I also thought that the leopard print would mean I'd wear it less than a plain bag but in fact, I used it almost every day on our holidays.

So first up, a couple of options from Smith & Canova in leather. I've owned a S&C bag before and the quality is quite good. They're made from real leather and are priced very well - especially these two in the sale. This first one is a bigger option in a darker leopard print to mine:
and this one is a bit smaller with more black leather on the front:
This next one has a bit more of a evening feel to it but it does have a strap and the best bit is that it comes with a charging pack built in. It can fully charge your phone twice while out and about...what's not to love about that!
A slightly pricier one next from Matthew Williamson, though it is gorgeous and has been reduced hugely in the sale with just 2 left in stock.
This one from Dune isn't in the sale but it's got a clever design with a zip off purse detail. Again, more evening'y in it's shape and size.
and just one slightly off-piste option as I adore the colour way of this bag from the new range at Boden. Again, not in any sale right now but if you ask around or sit tight, you'll find a 20% code somewhere that'll give you free delivery and returns. This bag does come in regular leopard but with a brown leather trim, which I'm not a fan of...much prefer black with leopard...you can see both in the link below.
Finishing with what I think is the best copy of my bag - I actually did a double take when I saw it.

It's from BrandAlley - where I *think* you will have to create an account before you can browse and buy. Sorry if that's a bit of a faff but I properly love the Brand Alley site - and I'm not sponsored to say that! They have amazing sales and frequently feature end of line items from the likes of Orla Kiely, Ted Baker and Seven Boot Lane. It's great for home stuff too. A word of caution, I've not ordered from them in a couple of years so I don't know how fast items arrive and how easy it is to return. If you've used BrandAlley recently and have any feedback, please share it below in the comments.

So here's the bag - it's real leather by a brand called Joana and Paola:
So I hope this post has helped scratch the leopard bag itch for you! Finishing with what I wore yesterday....co-incidentally, it had a leopard theme too though I thought to use my bag would have been animal overload so I carried a plain black bag instead:
Throw on top - Hope Clothing via LUXFIX (c/o)
Skinny Jeans - Guess Clothing via Spoilt Belle Boutique (instore - not online)
Avarca Sandals - Palmaira de Menorca
Cream Vest - M&S - past season
Leopard Bra (just seen!) - Boux Avenue - past season

Ax
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My Holiday Capsule Wardrobe

I'm back in the land of internet after 10 days up on the North Coast. We stay in a friend's holiday house (thank you Anna!) where there's no wifi and although it's very close to the town with plenty of other houses nearby, we get no 4G and very weak 3G. In fact, my phone regularly flipped between Vodafone IE and EE...the proximity to the coast seems to confuse things, despite the fact we were about 50 miles from the Irish border. In any case, it's a blessing in disguise and means that the 10 days were spent free of blogging and internet shopping...we all need a break like that, forced or not.

So I've quite a few things to share now I'm back - starting with what I wore on holiday. I brought an even smaller capsule with me this time as I had to pack bedlinen in my suitcase. Here is what I packed with direct links where the items are still available and links to similar items where I've been able to find them.

Shoes:
Black H&M Sandals
Palmaira Tan Avarca Sandals
Adidas Superstars

Bags:
Mint Velvet Tan Cross Body Bag (sold out - similar on sale here)
Leopard Cross Body Bag (via DejaVu - similar leather on SALE here and here)

Bottom Half:
Topshop Jeans (past season - similar here)
Kings of Indigo Distressed Jeans (via TK Maxx - past season)
Boyfriend style Denim Shorts (TU Clothing - past season - similar here)

Top Half:
Black River Island Top
2 x H&M off-the-shoulder Top (coral striped and black)
H&M Grey Vest
M&S Vest Top (similar here)
River Island Grey Long Sleeved Oversized Top

Outerwear:
Ilse Jacobsen Grey Long Waterproof Coat (via Sarah Jane Boutique - Magherafelt)
Uniqlo Short, Lightweight Rain Jacket (out of stock online - similar here)

And here are photos of me wearing some of it. We were so lucky with the weather, getting 4 sunny, beach-worthy days out of 10 and no entirely rainy days. Most of the rest of the days were dry and cloudy, allowing us to go exploring the surrounding area. I didn't do photos every day because some days it was just nice to not ask the kids/husband. They need a break from it all too :)
Ilse Jacobsen Coat, Adidas Trainers, Topshop Jeans, River Island Top
Palmaira Sandals, Denim Shorts, Mint Velvet Bag, H&M Top
River Island Top, Tu Shorts, H&M Sandals, Leopard Bag
On a trip to Derry/Londonderry, I wore the Uniqlo jacket, KOI jeans & H&M top
This is a bit of a cheat one as I bought this dress in the Next sale in Derry the day before. I was getting kinda bored with the capsule I guess. I did a bit more shopping in Coleraine resulting in 2 other purchases but I'll save them for another blog post, along with a few top tips for making the most of the tail end of the sales.
I have to say, I'd hoped this summer that we'd go abroad for a two week sunny holiday but by the time we looked into it, it was working out more expensive that we'd hoped so we decided to stay home again and book earlier for next summer. But seeing what happened in Nice (which was the front runner for our holiday), Turkey and Germany, I now wonder if we might just staycation again in 2017. Suddenly the world feels like a more scary place and the very tip top of Ireland, in a little seaside resort just over an hour's drive from home seems like the most wonderful place in the world to be.

Ax
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Saturday, 9 July 2016

Navy Wedding Style

I'm still recovering from my friend Hilary's wedding on Thursday and coming to the conclusion that hangovers are as much about tiredness as alcohol. I feel like I'm hungover, yet I didn't drink! Instead I was the designated driver determined to party to the end, meaning I got to bed at 2.15am after a 2 hour drive back from the hotel and around Belfast to deliver the girls home. Exhausting but well worth it to be there until the last song celebrating with a gorgeous newly married couple and their friends & family.
Photo credit - http://www.markhawthornephotography.com/
However, there was some serious bad planning on my part because I was woken up at 7.30am the next morning by the kids wanting to see pictures and hear all about the wedding. 

What better way to keep awake in the aftermath than to blog about the style at this wedding - and there was so much to see. Hilary's sister owns Sarah-Jane Boutique in Magherafelt and her mum used to be a fashion buyer so the style stakes were always going to be high. There were three main trends - floral, brights and navy (with so many of the choir turning up in navy/blue that it almost looked like our uniform!). Lengths were predominantly midi and skirts were a mix of full and pencil.

Navy is so easy to wear for a wedding and completely acceptable - unlike black which I can't help feeling isn't just right for a traditional church wedding. I know many people do wear it and completely rock it but I always feel it looks a bit funereal. Navy, however, is perfect if you are shy of a strong colour but still want to look wedding appropriate.

I bought my dress in ASOS a few months ago after seeing it on Lorraine one morning during her style segment with Mark Heyes. He had it on a curvier model and suddenly the dress, which looks like nothing on the ASOS size 6 girl, came alive. I loved the length, the scuba style material which is stretchy but thick enough to cover any lumps, bumps & vpl, and the frill, which just gives it an on-trend feel. This length is great too - much more flattering on me than something above the knee.
I agonised over shoes and bag for weeks - initially wanting a coloured shoe but everything I put on looked like it was clashing with the dress. It soon became clear that simplicity was key and I started the hunt for a plain navy shoe that was a little bit special, ideally with some gold accents.

I found these shoes on eBay after much searching....I liked the fact that they had some black in them (heel/strap and piping at the front) and the fact that they are Reiss shoes so the leather is lovely quality. They had only been worn a couple of times and as soon as I put them on, I knew they would be perfect for all day dancing - the ankle strap gives enough support to take the pressure off the front of the foot. I wore them from 9am until 11.45pm when I got into the car and switched to sheepskin boots for the drive home. Dancing, singing, walking, standing...it was all a breeze in these shoes.
The bag was another palaver as I wanted a gold one initially and bought one from TK Maxx (and ordered another from Coast). In the midst of it all, my friend Ruth from DejaVu was telling me about the navy dress she's wearing to a wedding this weekend and she offered me her Lulu Guinness bag as she knew it would be perfect with my dress too. What a star! She also gave me her gold Michael Kors watch to wear on the day.
Of course, now I want one of these bags - it was the perfect size and shape for the day. Wishlist added to...

Sticking with the navy theme, if you've got a wedding or special occasion coming up, I thought I'd share a few dresses I've spotted online today - starting with ASOS. I promise it's not a PR piece for them, it's just that I find it such a great site to search for wedding options. The videos are great for giving you a better sense of the colour/movement of the dress and there's free delivery and returns so I ordered a ton of dresses to try on and sent them all (bar one) back. They also have so many options for every shape, size and budget with petite, tall and curvy ranges, as well as maternity.

This first ASOS one, I actually ordered in a different colour-way for the wedding and sent back as it was a bit too pastel for me - I didn't realise it came in navy!
More lace now and this one is part of the tall as well as the petite range - all bases covered. I love the crop top illusion - great for creating a waist and very flattering on the tummy.
This one is from the curve range which comes in size 18-28 and can be ordered in a maxi length too AND in petite sizing.
This Chi Chi brand is making me want to go to more weddings and christenings...
This next one also comes in Petite and Tall

Moving from ASOS to Boden where there's an additional 15% off sale prices this weekend only - using 9D9F. First up, this wrap dress is great for fuller busts. It's also a dress that can be dressed up or down:
This is a bit more colourful but I have admired it so often on the Boden website - just love the colour combination!
Over to Coast - where I'd always be careful of ordering something distinctive in season but this dress is a classic and it's in the sale now
This next one is stunning and has the lovely mesh overlay that allows you to show a bit of leg in a very flattering way. It's really well reduced too though only left in an 8 or 10 currently.
And another wedding favourite, Phase Eight, where this lace dress is so well priced:
Finishing with a maternity dress that doubles up as a nursing dress once baby arrives. There were quite a few pregnant girls at the wedding as well as one new mum whose baby was born just 12 days ago

Ok - I can't keep my eyes open any longer. I hope I've helped if you're on the hunt for some navy wedding dress inspiration...remember it's a great colour for all year round - not just summer! Meanwhile I'm hitting the sack...energy levels are well and truly sapped. 

Back soon,

Ax




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