31 October 2016

Moving My Wardrobe to Autumn/Winter

This weekend I was finally dragged (kicking and screaming I might add) into packing my summer clothes away and greeting the old friends of my Autumn/Winter wardrobe.

As the nights now draw in and the days get colder, my thoughts turn away from pretty Summer dresses and move towards cosy, warm clothing.  Vibrant scarves, faux fur, gorgeous warm clothes that you can wrap yourself up in while still maintaining your style.

It is this point that I have a ruthless cull of anything that I have not worn over the previous season, giving me a good excuse when the seasons change and I change my wardrobes, to purchase a few new key pieces.

That being said, at this time of year my focus has to be on buying Christmas presents and saving for my New Year break away, so my clothing choices and the costs thereof have to be measured.  I always look for free delivery offers and check out sites such as Boohoo Discount Codes and Crazy Clearance for discounts on clothing.  The Boohoo site also donates 20% of its profits to charity, so I can also feel a little philanthropic while I shop.

Here are some of the finds that I have my eye on at the moment.

No need to disregard colour when the cold hits, embrace it!
Asos Curve £35.00

This glittering bomber jacket is perfect for slipping over a party dress or funking up an ordinary weekend outfit
Boohoo £40.00

No florals in Winter?  Think again with this gorgeous dress from Joe Browns
Crazy Clearance £20.00

Everyone needs a traditional Christmas top, my choice comes with baubles!
Very £25.00

 What are your favourites for this season?

26 October 2016

Strictly Style

As it comes towards Christmas (yes I am officially using the C word now) my Saturday nights are filled with Strictly Come Dancing.

I love to see all the beautiful dresses that the female celebrities wear each week and of course, what Claudia and Tess are wearing.   I particularly love Tess' style which is always effortless and classic.  She always looks amazing.  

I recently got the opportunity to check out an interview given by her stylist James Yardley that I thought that I would share with you.  I particularly love, and subscribe, to his ethos of following what you like to wear, not the latest fashion trend.

James Yardley is a freelance fashion, celebrity and commercial stylist. Based in London, he assisted the renowned Frank Strachan, styling clients that included The Saturdays, JLS, Nicole Scherzinger, Kylie Minogue and The X Factor. Now working independently, James works with international and UK based-celebrities, including Rochelle Humes and Tess Daly, alongside commercial brands. He also works closely with suppliers, such as fashion store Garment Quarter, to achieve his on-point looks. We managed to squeeze in a chat with him amongst his hectic schedule…

We’d love to know how your career path progressed to get you to this stage. Could you give us an overview?

I started interning at 21 at Attitude magazine under the then Fashion Director, Frank Strachan. I was supposed to only be there for two weeks and then after two months finally left.
On my first day working at my new job Frank called me and asked if I’d like to start work as his assistant. I took a massive leap of faith, quit my new job and joined Frank the very next day.

Do you have any advice for aspiring fashion stylists?

It’s so cliché but work hard and be kind. It shines like the brightest light in this industry. There are so many people who want to work in fashion and sit at a pretty desk writing emails, but in reality it’s long hours, hard work and determination that makes you into an actual Fashion Stylist. What I mean by ‘actual Fashion Stylist’ is being one of the few who can pay their bills with it as a job, not just write it in their Instagram bio.

We imagine your job’s pretty varied, but what does a typical ‘day in the life of James Yardley’ look like?

I actually couldn’t answer this. Every day is different. Some days are sitting in front of my computer for hours sending emails, others are spent out doing appointments and loaning/buying clothes and other days are spent on set at TV/photo studios. Every day is different, some amazingly fun and some not so much.

Which celebrities have you styled? Do you have any favourites? If so, why?

I’ve styled a varied amount of celebrity clients now but I’d have to say my favourite is Rochelle Humes. She’s just a laugh and she’s become my friend after all these years too.

How do you approach styling a client for an event? Do you get to know them first, research the event or TV slot, or have an overall objective?

It’s a complete meeting of minds. Recently I styled Tess Daly for the BAFTAs and I had an overall objective in my head. I could see the dress in my head and had drawn the design, and with the help of the designer and Tess’ opinion we created the perfect gown for the event. Overall the dress made Tess feel confident, and also gained the best press of the night.

How do you approach different body types? Do you have any tips for dressing different shapes – hourglass, pear, apple, athletic?

Follow what you know, not the latest fashion trend. Respect your body and do it justice by wearing pieces you know suit you and overall give you confidence.

Do your clients ever come with preconceived ideas of what they want? How much input do they have?

The beauty of styling celebrities and not just models is they have a voice and I love that. I would never say I completely styled someone head to toe. As I previously mentioned it’s a meeting of minds and all my clients have opinions – and I work with that when I’m styling them.

You’ve picked the outfit, but what about the extras? ow impoAre accessories, shoes, hair and makeup your decision too?

In the case of working with celebrities I always voice my opinion on hair and makeup but it’s again more of a meeting of minds. We all like talking about an outfit, hair, makeup etc. and by discussing it all openly and brainstorming ideas, I believe that’s how you create a killer look!

We’ve had a peek at your Instagram and noticed you co-designed a dress for Rochelle Humes. Is that something you’re looking to do more of? What else have you designed? Any upcoming projects?

Yes, interesting you ask. I’ve done a few bespoke dress collaborations with designers for Rochelle and also Tess recently. I really enjoy the process and having an opinion so it’s definitely something I’m looking into doing. There are a few upcoming projects – stay tuned!

Tell us about your relationship with Garment Quarter – how do you work together? What do you like about working together?

I LOVE the team at Garment Quarter. I’ve had a long standing relationship with them since I was an assistant and I’ve always enjoyed the amazing selection across a varied amount of brands. There’s always something new and exciting, and something I’m dying to put one of my clients in.

Is there any reason you’d choose designer brands over high street when dressing your clients?

I personally love to mix up designer brands and high street pieces when styling my clients, however I do tend to lean towards designer brands when it comes to quality and unique cut and design. It’s something that only designer brands can offer and can’t be rivalled by the high street.

Quick-fire round – snap-decisions please!

Nickname? Yardley
Tea or coffee? Coffee
Instagram or Snapchat? Snapchat
Worst habit? Not replying on WhatsApp even when I’ve read the message…
Best habit? Saving money!
Mood right now? Excited. I finally get a holiday this week.  
Last thing you ate? Protein bar
Last thing you texted? ‘Sounds magical!’ To my flatmate

Favourite saying? ‘At the end of the day...’ I love to summarise everyone’s conversations!

25 October 2016

When One Door Closes

Only a few weeks ago I was writing about losing my beloved Rosie, who had died a couple of weeks before.  Seven months before that, I was writing about my gorgeous Ellie 

For the first time in over twenty plus years, we found ourselves in a house without a dog family member.  Strange is not the word to describe.  Empty is.

The sounds that you are used to hearing of a dog emerging from the back of the sofa, the eyes down walk you have around the house to avoid stepping on dogs/toys/water bowls.  That friend that would always know when you were upset and were the best comfort.  The friend who gave you so much unconditional love.  

The house, and we, needed a dog in our lives.

We started very slowly looking around and thinking about getting another dog.  Still grieving and unsure if we were ready.   The thing is, when is the right time?  We have so much love to give and that does not diminish the love that we had for our other dogs.  They will never be forgotten.

Benji -My sweet boy with the under shot jaw who always looked like he was smiling.  He had good a good nature.

Sophie - The little princess who followed my mum around everywhere she went.  She loved to sit on the back of the chair, looking regal.  My mum's favourite.

Cindy - Taken from us soon but who gave us such joy.  I still hear her jumping from my mum's bed and bounding down the hallway when I called her name, ready for play or cuddles.

Ellie - My baby.  Stubborn, precocious, contrary, wonderful.  Getting a kiss from her was like winning an Oscar, but she came every day to me for a cuddle.

Rosie - All she wanted in the world was love, and to sit with me/on me, near me.  She was protective over her sister Ellie and loved us so much.

Now it is nearly six weeks since we lost our lovely Rosie and there is a new addition to the house.  Meet Simba.

We found Simba the Shih Tzu in an advert on Gumtree.  People who loved him but due to changing work commitments, no longer had enough time for him and he was stuck in a cage all day.  We went to see him and a few days later he was ours.

He is loving, fun and a bit daft.  He fits right in.

A thousand comfortable places in the house, but he likes the fireplace to sleep on.

Typical boy.

Somewhere he likes to chill out on,  My handbag.  Go figure.

Think he needs a trim!

18 October 2016

Standing With Women

I am not going to discuss the ins and outs of the case.  We all know the one.  You would have had to have lived under a rock for the past few years if you have not heard about it.

The girl, and the footballer.

Everyone has their own view and I am not here today to debate the outcome.  The verdict is, unfortunately, what has happened.  I do not support the verdict in any way but I do not want to talk about that.

I want to talk about rape complainants and what they still have to go through in Court.  From this case, to the one where the judge told the (convicted) rapist that "you simply could not resist" about an unconscious girl; to the one where a man got off on the defence that he "fell into her".

Women are already told many times that sexual assault is their fault.  My fault was that I have large breasts and as such. should expect it.  I cannot count how many times I have been grabbed over the years.  Women are trained to brush off these incidents.  We are told that we are making a big deal over nothing.  Like being grabbed at and assaulted without your consent does not matter.

So when the worst happens, why do we expect it to be any different?  Because sadly, it is not.

If the case even gets to Court which the majority of the time, it never does, what can we expect? Being treated like the Defendant instead of the complainant. Being asked what we say during consensual sex.  What our favourite positions are.  If we are promiscuous. Identities and addresses being revealed many times (in this case) on social media.  Rape threats.  Death threats.

Apparently all you have to do these days is find a mate who has slept with the complainant too and you are clear.

The comments I have seen about this case on social media has sickened me to the core.  But then, in darkness, there is a spark of light.  Jean Hatchet has created a GoFundMe campaign with the goal to share the monies between the complainant (if she accepts) and Rape Crisis England and Wales.

The complainant has not, at the time of posting, accepted the offer.  Whether she accepts or chooses to donate the monies to charity matters not.

What matters are the hundreds of people who have to date, after 2 days, donated over 14,000.  Nearly 800 people so far have shown their support in donations.  I have.  I currently donate to two women's charities every month but could not overlook this.

Whether you can donate a pound or a hundred, everything helps and it is going towards both the complainant, or a charity she chooses, and Rape Crisis England and Wales.  

I have to thank Jean Hatchet also at this point for having the ovaries to head this campaign which is also being run by others.  She knows, on a daily basis, what it is like to be harassed, stalked and threatened.  But she has the guts to do this.  I salute you.

We support you.  We believe you.  Some of us have been you.  Some of us may take the courage that you have shown and go forward where we might not have had the courage.  We are there for you.

Here is where you can Donate

12 October 2016

Can't Cook Will Cook

I have always been a fussy eater.  Finicky my mum calls me.  

The thing is, most of the time it is more about the way certain food looks, or its description that puts me off; before even tasting.  

A lot of the time, the way that a dish is cooked can either start your love, or hate, for an ingredient.  Sprouts at Christmas time anyone?  There is nothing worse that boiled sprouts sittings there on your plate.  But I now have a new love for them after trying out a Sprouts with Chestnuts & Bacon recipe.

Going to a great restaurant and having the taster menu is a great way of discovering foods that you would never think of trying, whether you are a fussy eater like me; or just not that experimental.  I have found many favourite dishes this way; things that I would previously have never ordered.

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Steak is something that I have always shied away from, not understanding how much people enthused over it.  The thought of eating a piece of meat medium rare was something that I could not stomach, pardon the pun.  

I remember a few months ago, being sit in a restaurant for a friend's birthday eating a seven course taster menu.  When the main dish of fillet of beef arrived, I remember looking down at it in horror. My best friend looked at me and said "If you are ever going to try a steak, cooked perfectly. this is the place.  Try it".  Two mouthfuls in and I was in heaven.

As someone who is learning to cook and expand my repertoire, steak is one thing that I really want to learn how to cook properly.  After (finally) discovered what all the fuss was about, cooking perfectly done steak for a dinner party is a goal I really want to accomplish.

Online recipes have been amazing for helping me to learn to cook.  Places like BBC Good Food and the Jamie Oliver website which tells you the difficulty rating of every dish have been really beneficial.

I recently came across this guide from Barbecoa Jamie Oliver with tips on how to cook steak.  As a novice, knowing what type of cut to buy (I would not have a clue) and what type of herbs to infuse the meat with is invaluable. 

I will let you know how my cooking goal goes!

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10 October 2016

I'm Not Fine

Depression is a strange beast.  The black dog.  

The illness that you are ashamed of, although shouldn't be.  The thing you don't talk about.  The thing that you shield from others.  The thing that you deny to yourself, until you cannot deny it.  The thing that is a stigma.  The supposed "fake illness".  A joke.

Today is World Mental Health Day.  Today, more than any other, is the day that those suffering from depression and anxiety should not be afraid of speaking out.  IT IS OK TO SAY THAT YOU ARE NOT FINE.

If I have made any progress in the last fifteen years of having depression and more recently, anxiety, it is to say that I am starting to realise that it is ok to admit how you feel.  

I am lucky.  I do not have debilitating depression.  I can function day to day.  My depression comes, and it goes.  Well, when I say that, what I mean is that it is manageable.  It is the social friendly version.  The kind that I can function with in day to day life, without falling apart in public.  

^ See.  Look at me.  Even in this blog I find it hard not to sell my feelings as "Don't worry.  I can still function as a human being.  My illness will not affect you".

My anxiety can be debilitating.  But yet again, I hide it.  Like with my depression, it is something that is not seen in my professional life, something that only a few people whom I care about, know about. I have been more honest in this blog about how I feel that to any person in "real life".

That is so wrong.

So do I feel?  Really?  What is being like this, for me, really like?  In honesty.

It is spending six months of my life last year in tears at work; whilst simultaneously hiding it from my boss.  It is having a wonderful day, and then at the end of it, realising how strange it feels to actually feel happy; and then realising just how few of those days I have.  It is your heart hurting, not from physical pain, but your soul crying; for reasons you do not know.

It is looking way back at the first two years, when it all first started and wondering how the hell you survived when so many days; you did not want to go on.  When pain was preferable to the sadness you felt.

I have come a long way,  I still have a long way to go.  I feel scared about what the future holds.  I wonder if I will ever meet someone as a partner that will put up with me when my depression comes to call.

But that is the problem isn't it? Depression should not be a stigma.  Something that we have to hide.  Something that we deny and try to deal with behind closed doors.  

I am not fine.  I doubt that I ever really will be.  I have dealt with that. There are millions of others, just like me.  We should not have to hide.  Our depression is part of us, but is no way all of us. 

We are not fine.  But that is ok.  We are allowed to feel this way and should not, ever not, cater our mental health to other people's comfort levels.  We are not whinging.  We cannot just think that it is lovely day and cheer up.  We do not choose to feel this way and believe me, if you had ever felt it, you would not choose it either.

Anxiety UK

Charity providing support if you've been diagnosed with an anxiety condition.
Phone: 08444 775 774 (Mon-Fri, 9.30am-5.30pm)

Bipolar UK

A charity helping people living with manic depression or bipolar disorder.


CALM is the Campaign Against Living Miserably, for men aged 15-35.

Depression Alliance

Charity for sufferers of depression. Has a network of self-help groups.

Men's Health Forum

24/7 stress support for men by text, chat and email.

Mental Health Foundation

Provides information and support for anyone with mental health problems or learning disabilities.


Promotes the views and needs of people with mental health problems.
Phone: 0300 123 3393 (Mon-Fri, 9am-6pm)
Website: www.mind.org.uk

No Panic

Voluntary charity offering support for sufferers of panic attacks and OCD. Offers a course to help overcome your phobia/OCD. Includes a helpline.
Phone: 0844 967 4848 (daily, 10am-10pm)
Website: www.nopanic.org.uk

Rehab 4 Addiction offers a free helpline dedicated to helping those suffering from drug, alcohol and mental health problems. Rehab 4 Addiction was founded in 2011 by people who overcame addiction themselves. You can contact Rehab 4 Addiction on 0800 140 4690.