Where did autumn go?

Hi there! How's tricks? Life here on the island is finally slowing down to an easier pace and looking around me this week I've been wondering what on earth happened to autumn? We seemed to fast forward from balmy September into the depths of winter within the space of a couple of weeks. I've now packed away the last of my summer fripperies and am back in the land of woolly socks and winter coats again.

I was delighted to rediscover this oxblood Next leather coat during the seasonal clothes changeover. I bought it in the Truro Oxfam shop last year for £30 and think it's a blooming bargain at that price. The colour is an unusual one for me, but it has become a firm favourite already. Leather is wonderfully wind proof and therefore perfect for island life where we're subjected to wild winds for almost half of the year. Worn here at the weekend it's great for a casual look, but is also handy for a smart finish to my work wear too.

I like the simple straight lines of the jacket - no belt or flap pockets to create bulk - and love the fact that it doesn't have a back vent. Oh goodness, how drafty they can be, flapping open when the wind attacks you from behind!

Dressing down for the weekend is my time to be quirky and creative away from work. I've teamed the pre-loved fairisle vest (known as a tank top in my youth) with skinny jeans embellished with embroidered flowers, beads and pearls for this trend clashing look. The tan heavy brogues by John White have leather soles which sound out with every step - a great way to announce this style statement. Under the vest I'm wearing a skinny ribbed sweater to keep out the cold - this was from Primark.

The jeans were from TK Maxx a couple of years ago when ornate embroidered jeans were in fashion. Trends may come and go, but if I like something I'll wear it regardless. They have a bit of stretch which adds to the comfort value of them, another winning feature.

The floral leather belt is rather ancient which again adds appeal and character to the piece. The wool vest is by Ralph Lauren, a wonderful charity shop find. The scottie dog bracelet and matching necklace were a lovely set which I bought in Harrogate about 5 years ago. I have them wrapped up in one of my jewellery boxes where they lie forgotten for months on end, waiting to be found once again with renewed delight. Such joy for me in these simple pleasures!

The flower ring was charity shopped and the domed ring was from a street market in Cape Town. Sunglasses are by Quay Australia.

The classic leather brogues are from that era when I seemed to purchase them in almost every colour - cream, mint green, blue, black, brown, silver, gunmetal, pink, burgundy, two tone blue and bronze, two tone yellow and brown, flats and heels - and in leather, suede and patent leather too. These ones came from my beloved TK Maxx. Talking of which I'm on the final push now of my 12 month shopping ban. It's 8 months since I went shopping for clothes or shoes, although I did one online purchase in March. My autumn/winter clothes collection is a fraction of what I have for spring/summer, but that's probably because I really don't like this time of year. Perhaps if I made more of an effort to find interesting and colourful clothes for the darker months I might enjoy this season much more? Still, that won't be happening any time soon.

Thanks for swinging by today and if you're a new reader then why not introduce yourself in the comments box? It's always lovely to have your feedback. Fingers crossed we shall all have some nice weather this weekend so that we can get out for some fresh air and exercise. I'll be out and about taking photos for the blog, weather permitting, as well as catching up on some long overdue housework!

Have a super weekend!

Anna x


My Favourite Trend for Autumn, our Style Not Age challenge for October

Goodness doesn't time fly? Here we go again with our end of month style challenge. Jacqui has plumped for this month's theme which has given us lots of creative scope. Me, I've been influenced by a magazine spread again, this time for the ubiquitous argyle knit. The trend isn't so much a fashion as an enduring classic.

You'll excuse me for feeling ever-so-slightly-smug that my knit was a charity shop find last year and has been loitering with intent until the right moment came along. The Country Casuals cardigan cost me all of £4 which adds to the smug factor. But enough of that, let's catch up with the rest of the Collective to see what their favourite seasonal trend is.

For Jacqui's Mummabstylish, the trend is the colour rust which is a true autumn shade. I'm partial to that hue for the cooler months too. See more on her blog here.

Hilda is rocking her stunning red trouser suit accompanied by fabulous leopard print courts. Wowee, is all I can say! Catch the full details on Over The Hilda

Rust is another favourite for Emma of Style Splash along with a liberal dose of velvet by way of this charity-shopped jacket (£2) - way to go Em!

Sasha was my photographer of the day and told me I ought to point out that despite how polished I may look, I'm actually full of the most revolting cold at the moment. I'm layered up in concealer to cover the dark shadows under my eyes from not sleeping last night (hurrah for my Quay Australia sunglasses, eh?) and have a dry, chafed nose from endless blowing.

The Country Casuals cardi has inbuilt shoulder pads which makes me think it might be a vintage piece. It's not showing much sign of wear however. I particularly like the deep pockets as well as the motif on the back of the sweater.

The cream ruffled blouse is another vintage find of mine, one that's been a mainstay for years. The ring is pre-loved too. 

Jumbo cord, wide-legged and lovely - that's how I'd describe these fabulous trews. The brand is Zara, but not this year's. Likewise with the tartan/plaid boots - not this season's, and from M&S, they're still a super statement ankle boot that demand attention.

I'm striding off home now, heading for a Lemsip, lots of fruit, and some downtime for the rest of the day. I fancy this cold was a freebie from my recent trip to the mainland - not the kind of freebie I like though!

                                                                                          Anna x


My fave summer frock does autumn!

Hello lovelies! How are you? Today, I'm revisiting my favourite summer frock by adding the style trick that I discovered in my previous blog post. The simple addition of a jacket and boots are seemingly all that's need for this seasonal transition. What do you think?

Earlier on this week I posted a look that relied less on bright colours and more on pattern and with today's outfit I'm once again playing with patterns and a muted palette. Peach and apricot shades can be very flattering for those with paler skin like mine and I must admit I love how this has all come together, and I just adore how it makes me feel too. The maxi dress makes me feel uber feminine, in fact the whole ensemble made me feel so good that in this pretty backdrop it has created one of my favourite photo shoots of all time.

A sun-drenched woodland track might not be my usual habitat, but it was certainly conducive to creating a great backdrop for the swoosh series of day.

So, the outfit details are like this - dress from Zara (still available here), boots from Office, leather jacket by DSquared and sunglasses are by Quay Australia. I do hope that the look might inspire you to try this easy bit of transitional dressing.

I remember buying these brocade boots from Office a couple of seasons ago. In fact I bought these and another dark green pair and felt quite extravagant at the time. I also was pretty confident that even if these went out of fashion, they would always be on trend with me. Thank goodness for that gut instinct eh?

The gold wire rings were charity shopped.

Steve and I were lucky to have a sunny afternoon on Sunday making this a sweet interlude in what is normally a busy at home day, full of to-do lists and chores. I'd enjoyed a lively swim on Appletree Bay at high tide earlier in the morning when I was bounced about in the swell amid a fresh onshore breeze. And isn't it amazing how a spot of sunshine can make all the difference to how we perceive things? This photo shoot would have been much less pretty had we been in the middle of a cloudy day. And my swim in the turquoise waves might have felt much more threatening under overcast skies too. Hurrah for some autumn sunshine!

                                                                                    Anna x


JD Williams - I AM campaign - behind the scenes

As promised, here's the inside story behind my recent trip working for JD Williams as a model. Just using the word model conjures up all sorts of emotions in me; disbelief, bemusement, surprise, delight, pride and even a faint sense of ridicule as I don't actually believe that my less than perfect features could make the grade. However, this surely is a good thing to say that you, me, in fact anyone can become a model in this day and age provided you find the right vehicle. 

Talking of vehicles, I swapped boats for planes this summer as I became a jet setter for a few months travelling to and from Manchester for wardrobe fittings, photo shoots and filming of the TV commercial. I expect many of my readers will have had to or still do, commute in this way and I'm sure after the initial buzz it could become blah, but for me it was always an adventure to step away from my small island community and become absorbed into this frenetic pace.

The travel and accommodation is all organised by JD Williams so after a good night's sleep I was collected by my driver along with a few other artists (yes that's what we're referred to) to be delivered to a hotel somewhere in Manchester (that's ignorance not secrecy) which had been turned into operation central for the day. First stop is hair, nails and make-up. The tendency for my hair to be one way on one day and quite another the next, was treated as something to be tamed and calmed down into a repeatable style.

At the previous session we had been fitted for our outfits and from there are created story boards which are used to show hair styles and make up for each model. The processes of hair, nails and make-up multiplied by all of these ladies (at least 13 of us without including the extras) takes hours. There was an ever changing flow of ladies moving around the room, being beautified, giving me a chance to chat to someone new every half an hour or so as we rotated chairs and neighbours.

Gel nails - my first experience of this new fangled procedure.

Irish choreographer Johnnie waits patiently for his charges to be released for the next phase of wardrobe, then moving onto set for a refresher of the dance routine. 

Between the nails shot and this one some twelve hours had elapsed, during which time I had been to wardrobe then chaperoned from hotel to warehouse where my scene for the commercial along with interviews for social media took place. I'd left my camera locked up in wardrobe meaning no more background shots from day one.

Day two and this was a different hotel, the venue for another lot of filming and stills. I gravitated to this corner which had become an impromptu waiting room. I love this crazy idea of a horse as a lamp. By this time I had got into the swing of things and realised that I was to be on call, primed and ready for most of the day, but that there was a lot of waiting involved. I'd brought a book with me and immersed myself in that rather than wonder when my turn would come.

Ladies in waiting.

The production team at the helm, orchestrating every scene until it's perfect.

Andrea's scene in the TV commercial where she appears in that wonderful turquoise lingerie was filmed as a closed set, just being tweaked here.

Watching you, watching me.

Annie and I stepped outside onto the stairwell to capture these dazzling chandeliers.

A dab of blusher here, a tweak of collars there and you're good to go. With cheekbones like those, Claudia needs the minimal of attention to look beautiful.

Decisions, decisions.

Annie and Paulina - "It's time to eat!"

Evon is an absolute natural in front of the camera. Watch out for her in the commercial in that silky orange dress. If you miss it on TV you can always catch it on my earlier post here.

This is where my memory lets me down. This lovely lady whose name I have forgotten (I want to call her Elizabeth, but think I may be just making that up), was the photographer who took the shots of me that you'll see in the Oct issue of Woman and Home. She was full of encouragement, telling me I could be likened to Twiggy or Mary Portas and then once she put round glasses on me, Annie Hall. I relaxed immediately with her, laughing as I do with Polly as she made lots of suggestions for poses. 

End of day two of filming.

Day three was a different day altogether. Only five of us were kept on for this session - Annie, Paulina, Rachel, Savi and myself. Little did we know that we would be announced as the five stars of the I AM campaign when it went live.

Hair, make-up, wardrobe and the photo shoot all took place in the same studio space. Even lunch was served in the same building which all made for a very straight forward day.

Three days of hanging out together had created a bond between the five of us. We feel very at ease together and are now genuinely friends. This, I think, does come across when we're in front of the camera together. We certainly do have great fun.

The editing suite is a fascinating area of a shoot. The photos are processed immediately as the hundreds and hundreds of images flow through the system. It was amazing to see ourselves reproduced for the next phase so quickly.

Another day, another photo shoot and this time I know that my photographer is called Phil. His manner is warm and engaging, plus he plays some great sound tracks during the session.

Yep, that's me throwing some shapes, dancing without a care, call it what you like, but I'm having fun!

That's a wrap!

Some 24 hours later and I was on Truro station, wiping the stardust off my shoulders and heading back home. The day job beckoned, but that was no hardship at all. What felt like a dream lingered on in my head, especially as the campaign sound track had become part of those memories too. The film shoot took place on the 4th July and the TV advert went live on the 20th September. Somehow I managed to keep this wild adventure to myself for those long weeks. 

Anna x

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