More tartan and checks with feathers!

Hello peeps, how's your week going? 

My outfit of the day was spawned by these boots, first seen on another blog in September. Fellow blogger Catherine of Not Dressed As Lamb runs this fabulous monthly round-up of all that's worth mentioning in the blogsphere and that's what piqued my interest. See the post in question here. And there, slap bang in the middle of the page, were these beauties from M&S.  The stilletto heels aren't too high and the pointed toes aren't too narrow making for all day wearability, and the look is a mix of sleek and fun which is perfect in my eyes.

Straight away I knew that these boots were for me. Is it because I'm a Scot through and through that I have this passion for tartan? I honestly don't know, but perhaps being a Scottish exile has sharpened my sentiment for all things Scottish (the bagpipes, a misty glen, shortbread, a man in a kilt, butter rowies and mutton pies, leather soled brogues, Scottish Country Dancing, in particular Strip The Willow, teeth-achingly sweet tablet, the heady scent of gorse, the rough texture of a tweed jacket and Paul McCartney singing "Mull of Kintyre" - oh, the list could run and run).

You may remember this Zara dress from last winter, see here. I've had it packed away all summer and now it's back! I totally love this over-the-top feather trim. If you took away the trim then all you'd be left with is a checked dress in a boxy shape with not much to lift it out of the ordinary - and you know I hate to look ordinary! The ring is a charity shop find for a pound, yes that's £1 I said. If it gets broken or lost it won't break my heart at that price.

My silver coloured necklace is by Melissa James, not very expensive if I remember rightly, and my sunnies are by Quay Australia.

The signature shots of me larking about are from when Polly and I were working together. Mornings aren't quite the same without her, but it will force me to be a bit more inventive in finding ways and places to pose on my own. Larking about in front of a tripod somehow won't be quite as much fun though!

And who's gonna feed me punchlines or tell me to shut up, or say "You'll not like that when you see it!" Come back soon Polly, I'm gonna miss you!

Linking with Catherine of Not Dressed As Lamb
Anna x


Frill Seekers, the Style Not Age challenge for October

Hello again and welcome to this months challenge from the Style Not Age collective. This month Jacqui came up with the idea of Frill Seekers and as usual we're all giving it our best shot. Steve and I made the most of one of the last few sunny days of October to get out and about to capture my frilly offering, a vintage and much loved cream blouse. But more of that later, first let's see what inspired Jacqui to throw this challenge into the arena.

And here she is wowing us with this very feminine dress from M&S. The frill wrap over style suits her hour glass figure as does the vibrant colour. Pop over to her blog Mummabstylish to get all the details.

Hilda's pretty frilled sweater has the added bonus of a sexy shoulder too. Add to that a pair of wide legged trousers and snakeskin courts and she's got it all going on here. Read more on her blog Over The Hilda

I think this outfit from Emma has my name all over it. From those red trainers up to the embroidered jacket all the way to that pleated filled shirt, oooo I could copy the lot! I'll race you across to her blog Style Splash to source where it all came from.

This vintage blouse has been a feature in my wardrobe for years now and was certainly worth it for cost per wear. The jeans and waistcoat are both also preloved, which helps offset the brocade ASOS boots from last winter. In my mind I can allow myself to have a retail splurge from time to time as long as I'm maintaining the majority of recycled items in my collection. Well, that's my story and I'm sticking to it!

The sunglasses were new, but in the sale at TK Maxx in April and the brand is Quay Australia, my go-to choice, but my belt is second hand - see? It all evens out.

The large ring was another TK Maxx purchase and the gold dome ring was preloved.

Some of you may recognise the island in the background as Tean, one which I've featured quite a few times for picnics. See here for the most recent of those.

I made a happy discovery of some boxes under the far side of my bed recently and found two pairs of brocade boots I'd completely forgotten about, both from ASOS. This prompted me to search for yet another brocade pair from River Island, which you'll no doubt see in due course. Autumn and winter seem to be the months when the richness of brocade work perfectly with my wool and velvet pieces. 

Today's shoot was taken from the Old Blockhouse ruins. The pristine beach below has super soft sand that shelves slowly into a rock free bay making this a lovely beach to swim from. It connects with the other similar cove beyond and both of them are classed as Blockhouse beach. When the wind is coming from the West this beach is ideal for getting out of the way of the breeze. By facing East it also means that you get some stunning sunrises from this vantage point up here too. Like these ones below...

I hope you've enjoyed our Frill Seekers production today and that you'll take a moment to visit the other ladies on the challenge. 

Wishing you a lovely week!
Anna x


Look Fabulous Forever

Hello my dear readers! Today I want to share some news with you about a lovely range of products that I've been chosen to represent along with a few other ladies - it's the Look Fabulous Forever Skin Care range. Brand new and just released onto the market, the range is the latest baby from Tricia Cusden, the founder of Look Fabulous Forever. For those of you who haven't come across this brand before, it's a range made specifically for mature skin. If you click here you can read Tricia's blog which introduces the range and explains the story behind it.

My goody bag arrived a couple of days ago and I'm very keen to share these products with you because, quite honestly, they're great. I was invited to take part in this photo shoot during the summer and jumped on board for two reasons. One, the fact is I'd recently come across this brand at a time when I'd realised that my ageing skin deserved more than the mindless supermarket snatch-and-go that I have been guilty of for years. The skin care market is huge and is a puzzle for me when I'm faced with rows and rows of face creams to remedy every kind of skin type. Yes, I've got mature skin, but also dry skin, and I would like an anti-wrinkle element, and maybe a soothing balm too or even a brightening aspect so how do I choose between all of these? In my case I've been known to buy them all, use them in a random way, chopping and changing, never sure what's working and what's not. 

The second reason was that the brand were (just like JD Williams) wanting to use real/ordinary women to promote their product which is something I applaud and want to support. I think we as consumers are finally biting back at the marketing machine which has for years fed us trash. The trash being the empty promises along with images of young women advertising anti-wrinkle creams when they have not a wrinkle in sight which is clearly a result of youth, not the magical powers of the product. The stampede to buy the latest rejuvenating cream is testament to the brainwashing that's gone on for years. A change of tack is needed - cue The Look Fabulous Forever team who are promoting the #ageisbeauty which sends out a more honest message, that being: we're all beautiful no matter what age. Beauty truly is in the eyes of the beholder. As Tricia says, "It's not only youth that equals beauty, age is beauty too." Let's see how I got on with the skin care range shall we?

The first step of the recommended regime for the morning is the Hydration Hold Face Serum. The liquid is delivered in a dropper, one to two drops on the back of the hand is what Tricia suggests and two gave me total coverage. The serum glides easily across the skin delivering a moisture boost thanks to the addition of glycerine and propanedoil. The clear liquid dries quickly and leaves the skin with a smooth, even finish. Next step is Smooth The Day Face Cream. At the photo shoot I could feel that this fragrance free cream was going to suit my sensitive skin. It feels light and soft in texture rather than a heavy, dense weight that some mature face creams tend to be. This cream is easily absorbed, but still left, dare I say it, a dewy finish to my mature (aka wrinkled) skin. I tested the cream at home without any make-up for half the day to see if this freshness was long lasting, and it was. Tricia has clearly done her homework here as there's a fine line between a dewy, fresh finish and an oily shine. 

The Deeply Dreamy Night Cream has less of a souffle weight to it and feels like a slightly thicker texture which glides on smoothly, again leaving a healthy glow to the skin. This seems to make sense for a night cream - bit more oomph is what I'd expect. I must admit, I've been a bit haphazard with my beauty regime in the past and certainly have used all kinds of creams and potions in no particular order. The arrival of this set of products has encouraged me to clear the decks and use only these for the next while to give them a long term test. It seems only right to follow through and see how they perform over the weeks and months ahead. 

Tricia is totally honest in her appraisal of what creams can and can't deliver. Nothing will hold back the ravages of time, stop the clock or be anti-ageing, but what we can do is support and nourish the outer layer, the epidermis, which is what we see on the surface of our skin. The ingredients have been researched by her and by using these the chemists have created a range to bring together all the goodies (vitamins, retinol, peptides and hyaluronic acid) that will benefit mature skin and keep it in tip top condition. Tricia is a walking example of good genes, healthy eating and great skin care. (Ahem, I'm pretty flattered to have been picked to showcase the range too.)

The final part of the equation when it comes to healthy looking skin, is to eat well and take regular exercise, but hey, we all know that. My sport of preference is sea swimming which boosts the immune system thanks to the cold water shock. Daily exercise is what starts my day off on the right foot, giving me a sense of joie de vivre that has become addictive. For others it may be a brisk walk with the dog or a heart thumping cycle to work. Whatever works for you personally I urge you to keep it up now that the S.A.D. season is upon us. Exercise is proven to work against Season Affective Disorder so try to factor some into your daily routine, even if it's just a 15 minute walk at lunchtime to capture some quality sunlight.

I think as we age, there's an every increasing awareness of what we eat and how it reacts with our body. I'm a big believer in the adage of "You are what you eat". I know that there are many foods that I'm intolerant to and am now aware that those around me are also tuning in to their bodies, beginning to notice symptoms such as bloating and heartburn which are the signs that all is not well, something they're eating just doesn't agree with them. A healthy gut ought to be quietly working away in the background, not rumbling and popping to make itself known. A balanced diet goes a long way to creating a healthy gut with a broad range of good intestinal flora which in turn is reflected in a healthy complexion. Add to this a great skin care range and yes, I'd like to think we can all look fabulous forever! 

Please note, I've not been paid to write this post, but was gifted the products. All opinions are my own honest review.
Anna x


Checks, plaid, tartan...

Checks, plaid, tartan, call it what you will, but this pattern is very much my calling card for the autumn/winter months. I love the sock-it-to-me boldness of these trousers which encompass so many of my joys all in one. From the zingy orange colour to the wide cut of the trousers to the obligatory pockets and neat fitting high waist, these new trews are my latest delight. The brand is Collusion and I found them on ASOS a couple of weeks ago, although they appear to be all sold out now I'm afraid.

The outfit is a mix of old, new and charity shopped. The wool roll neck was a charity shop find last year, the fabric boots are by Zara (see them here) and the Michael Kors jacket is a few years old now. 

From the shoes up, this outfit was all about comfort. Some days that's the main focus as I'm getting dressed, but I'm happy to say that I don't think I've had to compromise on style with this luxe look. The trainers have a stretch top to them, knitted in fabric all the way to the ankle and I must admit I felt like that I was at work in my slippers all day long - what heaven!

A little aside here: I just wanted to acknowledge the presence of the storm boards that are now in place for the next few months. I hate to have them in the way of our view from the gallery window, but with the prevailing winds, high tides and storm surges they're a necessary addition to keep us safe. Apart from that they impact on my daily photo shoots, but at least you still get a glimpse of the view beyond.

Today's sparkle comes in the form of rings from Diana Porter and Emily Nixon and orb pendant by Vivienne Westwood. 

I've been gathering a few photo shoots together in my draft box ready for when Polly leaves me. In fact we have our last day of working together tomorrow. Her daily input into my life as well as the business will be sorely missed, but at least I'll see her often as she'll be just five minutes away. I'll be dipping into that back catalogue for a couple of weeks and hopefully by then I'll be back into the swing of my winter shoots with tripod and timer again. Steve and Sasha are both on call too when I'm needing a hand, so hopefully it'll look like business as usual for you readers. Thanks for dropping by and here's to our journey into winter together!

Anna x


Island cowgirl!

Yee-ha! This island girl is striding out in vintage cowgirl style. 

Yep, I hold my hands up, I've been seduced by the lure of high street fashion of late, but today I decided to redress the balance by bringing out some of my vintage favourites. The petticoat and cowboy/girl boots are both vintage buys, the petticoat from some time ago and the boots from last year. The fringed waistcoat was a hand-me-down from Sasha, originally from H&M. The dress is minus its label, but was a charity shop find I think. All the jewellery is preloved too and the sunglasses are from my favourite brand, Quay Australia.

It's totally impossible to be glum when you're dressed like this.

The boots were made in Spain, are real leather and the brand is either Moruss or Morusso (the name is partly rubbed off). The experts amongst you can get back to me on that. Regardless of the brand, I'm loving them and seem to have fallen in step with this A/W trend. I like it when a trip to the charity shop last year can ricochet me bang into fashion now. Oh, and they only cost £12!

Steve and I don't see much of each other in the mornings. He's out before it's light and by the time he comes back for breakfast I've gone to work. Lunchtime is our first time to see each other and for Steve is the opportunity to give me his opinion on the outfit of the day. "Wow, that's pretty out there!" was his comment, raising his eyebrows and swallowing down something more than just a bite of his pork pie, something less diplomatic I fancy. I shrugged, carried on making my lunch and flashed him a grin while responding "I'm owning it!" We both had a good laugh at that.

I have to tell you another funny story about this ensemble. I was just loading the dishwasher before I had to dash off to work when the plumber arrived to do some work on our heating system. I was suddenly aware of how I must look, all dolled up like this in the middle of my domestic chores. The next thought that popped into my head was of the Queen video with Freddy Mercury dressed up in drag with black wig, ample bosom, mini skirt, fishnets and heels as he was vacuuming, singing "I want to break free..." Can one ever be over-dressed while doing the housework? Surely not!

The snakeskin effect, elasticated belt is preloved too, so no surprise there then.

My passion for fashion, old or new is ever present in my daily life and for that I'm truly grateful. When I'm on the mainland I often see the beige brigade and they remind me that I would be a much lesser version of myself without colour and frills and the flamboyance they lend to my outfits. That's not to say that I think the beige ladies are unhappy with themselves. On the contrary I expect they aren't shallow like me, and are able to find happiness in much more important things. I know that beige in all its many hues can look terribly stylish on the likes of Victoria Beckham, but at my age it seems to be the fast track to becoming invisible. When I say to my readers to "Let's bin the beige and have fun with colour" I do so because I live by that mantra and it works for me - it might just work for you too!
Anna x


Floral jumpsuit

Happy Sunday and hurrah for some beautiful autumn sunshine!

I'm pleased to have a chance to show you the rather fabulous floral jumpsuit I purchased from H&M in Manchester the last time I was there in September. The two shops I always managed to visit during these trips were H&M and TK Maxx, both providing me with some new inspiration and joyful finds. Polly tells me that there are lots of vintage and charity shops in the city, but they're in a different quarter to where I was located. I did find one, near to Piccadilly railway station, and yes was successful there too with those striped Boohoo culottes you may have already seen (here).

This jumpsuit is from the collaboration between these two brands and if you love it as much as I do you can find it still for sale here

I had to make a small adjustment to the jumpsuit as it had an open back with only a button at the top of the scoop neck. I bought an orange zip and unearthed my sewing machine - et viola! A camisole or vest top would have worked equally well, but I fancied not having to make that extra decision every time I wore it. 

The fabric of the jumpsuit is a blend of viscose and lyocell which feels silky smooth and light. I think I've just managed to sneak this in below the wire before cooler weather descends for the rest of the year. I tied the sash around twice to give a lovely snug fit and also cover the elasticated waist. The other noteworthy point is, of course, the large roomy pockets - yay!

With so many different colours to choose from it would be easy to accessorise this with pretty much any colour from my jewellery box. I finally chose this collection of orange pieces all of which are preloved. I added my gold chain necklace and Quay Australia sunglasses too.

Now, the jury may well be out as to whether these Zara sock boots are the right thing to wear with this floral (and therefore summery looking) ensemble. Because it's autumn I couldn't really bring myself to wear sandals, despite having orange strappy ones that would work a treat. I somehow wanted to anchor the whole look with a solid and autumnal colour, hence the olive green. The sheer comfort of sock boots plus these funky silver heels were the other deciding factors. Do pitch in here and give me your thoughts, especially if you think I've got better footwear for this.

As I look at this last photo I feel a pang of sadness at the thought that I'm going to lose dear Polly to her winter job in less than three weeks. Her input into these daily sessions is what sparks joy in me, producing these happy shots for all to see. In the meantime, let's enjoy Polly's flair and ability to bring out the fun in me.

Until next time, have a lovely week!

Anna x

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