SCHOOL GATE STYLE

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

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

A formal frock for £25?


When I heard a couple of months back that I'd have to wear a formal dress at the choir's summer concert, I knew I wanted a different dress to the one I wore at Christmas. I adore the one I wore then but it seemed more appropriate to that time of year with all-over sequins (see it on this link).

But let's face it, a formal dress is not a good use of clothes-buying funds. You only wear it a handful of times (if even) and in the case of choir events, I only get to wear it for one half of a concert. So I was keen not to spend too much on whatever I bought.

So when I spotted this dress on ASOS, I thought I'd give it a go - reduced from £75 to £25, I knew the quality would probably be ok and it looked like it hung nicely on the model in the video (big shout out to ASOS for videos of each item...such a help when buying online).

I should say here that if you need a formal dress and don't have much money to spend...and have the ASOS fear (SO much choice!), simply go into the clearance section, select dresses (all), select Occasion Dresses and then filter by price. You can also filter further by selected Mini/Maxi/Midi. It's an easy way to see what dresses are there at an affordable price and it saves you trawling through hundreds of pages of frocks.

Also, ASOS returns service is amazing so don't be afraid to order plenty of dresses to try on. They do free delivery and returns and will refund you promptly. I ordered 6 in total and sent back 4 - I've one held for a wedding in July...watch this space!

Back to the one I bought...here is the image from the website:
When it arrived, I was pleasantly surprised. It's double layered jersey that hangs beautifully, it was the perfect length and with enough coverage at the bust to allow me to wear a proper bra (with the strap tucked in on one side). My only concern was the depth of the splits up each side  - it did go right up to above mid-thigh but that is less of an issue in choir as I was standing the whole time and the splits weren't really visible. It would be more obvious if you were sitting.

I bought both this colour and black as I wasn't sure if the blue would be a good shade for me but when I tried both on, the verdict in the house (son and husband) was unanimous - blue all the way. The black was posted back and I was good to go. 
And here are a couple of quick photos taken as we raced down to the stage. 
Just on the shoes, I tried nude, black and metallic with it but they didn't feel right...not sure why. I wasn't planning on buying blue ones until these strappy ones appeared on the Avenue 57 pre-loved page in my size....meant to be. They're from Zara - past season.
In terms of underwear, I wore a high waisted spanx under it and there was no vpl. It's not terribly forgiving otherwise...jersey never is! But overall, I was delighted with it...it kept me cool on stage thanks to the splits and because it was such a bargain, I am happy to keep it for a possible second wear but equally, I won't cry over it if I don't get to wear it again.
Oh and I must give a shout out to Rebecca Bryson MUA who did my make-up. It was great to find someone who works on a Sunday as I was struggling for a while. I had my hair done in Lounge Finaghy, also open on a Sunday from 1pm-6pm (paid for both btw - not sponsored!)
Finishing with a few photos to remember BCGC does Sunday night at the Grand Opera House - we had an amazing concert as always but I think this one was special because of the venue. 
For anyone local who's never seen us before, we have a concert coming up in Clonard Monastery on the 3rd June and also in Banbridge on the 18th June. Full details on this link.
(Photo credit to Lisa Stephens)



Ax
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Saturday, 21 May 2016

A bit of vintage...


and I'm not talking about me here! Though every time I go to do the park run, I sigh at being classified as a 'Veteran Woman'...how unflattering!
But no, today's post is about a vintage top that I found in a charity shop last year. I loved the shape and style of it but back then, I was heavier and my arms were less toned so it didn't look as flattering as I'd hoped. One year on and following 6 months of training, I have shed a few inches and grown some guns and I'm feeling more confident about wearing it:
It is quite a floaty material - lovely and cool on a warm day. Here's a close up of the texture...
and on my feet I wore my Palmairas sandals from last year - so happy to have these out again as they go with absolutely everything. Plus they hide the fact that I've not had a chance to tackle my toenails yet!
Menorcan Sandals - Palmairas
These photos were taken up at the Waterworks on the Antrim Road on a lovely sunny day last week. I was thinking about doing the park run here and happened to be up that direction leaving my son to basketball training so I did a quick course recce! Stunning day and it's amazing to think you're right in the city - the expanse of lake is much bigger than I thought it would be. It felt like we were in the countryside.
But back to the top - if you're small of bust, this high necked style is a great option as it emphasises the shoulders and unlike lots of tops, the focus isn't on the cleavage at all. Here are a few similar ones from the high street....starting with this lovely top from Next. A bit blingy for day time but with a jacket over it, you'd not see the sparkle on the shoulder:
Also loving this one from Boden that has a slightly lower neckline - very 60's
Boden again - a plainer option..
Lovely ruffles around the arms in this one from Warehouse
and another from Warehouse - great detail on this:
Moving onto New Look where if you love cream tops, it's a dangerous place to look. SO many that I loved here, starting with this one. Definitely going to check it out in real life as the detail looks great:
and this more casual day time top looks fab too:
I'm living proof you can NEVER have too many cream tops....I wear them all the time and they go with everything. I'll report back when I get a chance to get to New Look.

In the meantime. I'm off to run a 10k in Antrim - I'll post on Instagram if I survive it! Have a super weekend.

Ax



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Monday, 16 May 2016

Boden Try-On Part 2 - Jackets, Tops & Johnnie B!


Finally, it's part 2 of the big Boden try on and in this post, I'm trying on all the clothing I had the time to (and that fitted me). Starting with some Johnnie B - always worth a look as the age 15-16 is in or around a size 10. 
I liked this little top - stripy and loose on the bottom and with a heavier lacy yoke which allows it to hang nicely. This was the 15-16 and it was a bit neat on me - wouldn't suit a bigger bust.

Pretty Crochet Top - Johnnie B
Next up, this broderie top is lovely - striped on the front and grey marl on the back. Again it was 15-16 so I felt I'd like to try the larger size. A lovely twist on a breton top.

Ashley Broderie Top - Johnnie B
This chambray top is really lovely too - a little short on me thought that is the style as you can see on the model. Age 16+

Rosie Top - Johnnie B
This next top is a great little cream one with a neon embroidered smock detail. It's the age 16+ again but is a better length than the Rosie top above. It's a bit loose perhaps but I loved the neon detail.

Smock top - Johnnie B
Next up - this Johnnie B breton has a lovely mix of colours though I prefer the blue/yellow colour way that you can see on the link. It's the 16+ again and this time it felt a bit big so I'd probably go for the 15-16.

Lila Breton Top - Johnnie B
Finishing with this great sun top. I love a bit of neon pink and the shape of this is great. It fitted quite well too - not overly gapey under the arms etc. However, it's sold out in the 15-16 and 16+. The 13-14 might work for a size 6/8 though.

Printed Top - Johnnie B
Moving onto regular Boden now and I was disappointed that there were only 2 jackets in the party set. This first one is the Olivia Jacket - sold out in almost all the sizes in this cream colour way & the denim too. It was a bit short on me and I think that was the 12 so it must come up small.

Olivia Jacket in Cream
The Chepstow jacket was in the set in both cream and black. This is a size 8 in the cream and it's a gorgeous little jacket - easy to wear casually or formally. It's on 25% off at the moment too.
Moving onto tops now and the first one I tried on was this sleeveless striped one with pom pom detailing on the neckline.
Next it's the Boho Jersey top - comes in lots of colours but I liked the grey the most. 
The pretty trim top was a surprise hit - it's got a gorgeous necktie and shape. I wasn't expecting to like it as much as I did.
Loved the colour of this next one but the shape wasn't good on me - I think it's the long sleeves?
Some knitwear next and this Everyday jumper comes in a lot of different colours. The accent colour at the waist is very flattering. The pink is a 10 and I'd like it bigger so I tried the 14 in the blue. My favourite colour is the cream/taupe one that you can see on the link.
The bridget top was just ok - it looked best on me worn off the shoulder but the material and the tight elastic means it will drive you bonkers popping up onto your shoulders.
Another knit here and I think this is a great work-wear piece. It's a neat 10 but would look great with tailored trousers or a pencil skirt.
This swing knit top is a great all-rounder. Could be dressed up for the office or worn with jeans.
Next, I tried the Belle jumper in two sizes - 10 and 14. Definitely preferred the oversized feel of the navy one.
Jumping around here to dresses but I can't get my photos to go in the order I wanted them to! Also, excuse the jeans in my dress pictures....it was just faster and easier to do them this way!

So this next dress is a lovely summer piece. I prefer the grey colour way online. Just a gorgeous print.
Loved the colour of this next Jersey dress - it has pockets and is so easy to just throw on.
Back to tops now and this button down the back linen mix top was a good seller on the day. It comes in a couple of other colour ways if you don't fancy yellow. The perfect shape if you're not big in the bust area.
The supersoft boxy top was only in the set in a size 6 - so this gives you an idea of how boxy it is! I'm most definitely a 10 but it worked ok. Lovely soft cotton. A great wardrobe staple.
Another jersey basic top - this is the 10 and I'd prefer it a bit looser so would size up.
This linen cardigan was not a hit with me - it seemed a bit frumpy and had a hole in it too. The party is a great chance to see how the clothing survives lots of trying on and hanging/rehanging. This doesn't seem to be a great quality piece in my opinion.
And back to dresses to finish - I love the shape of this but the elastic was so tight at the waist in the size 10. Was sure it would be one I'd really want to buy as the colours are great too but sadly, not for me either.

And that's it - I think! I've so many photos on the phone, I am struggling to work my way though them! If I find any more, I'll add them in.

In terms of what I ordered - well typically, I ordered 2 items that weren't in the set so I couldn't try them on. Once they arrive, I'll add them to this post so watch this space!

Hope you're having a great Monday,

Ax

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Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Boden Party SS16 Part 1 - Shoes & Bags

I was delighted when my sister told me she'd booked a Boden party for this season. I get to head down to Tipperary without the kids, see the family and try on clothes...all kinds of therapy!

First up, it's apparent that Boden have reduced the amount of samples coming out in the party set. I can appreciate why, as the first time I did a party, the volume of items was overwhelming and not everyone would have the room to display it all but even at that, my sister and I both agreed that more shoes, tops & jackets in this set of samples would have been better. But being the trooper I am, I made the most of what was there, trying on what I could so here goes with part 1 - shoes and bags on this post and tops, jackets and dresses will come in the next one.

Kicking off with my favourite from all the shoes - the stunning Sienna Sandal. Loved these - perfect with my wardrobe as I wear so much cream. They were slightly big on me in the size 40 so I'd need the 39. Beautifully made and well priced with the party discount.
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