Every Style Challenge..The Bright side...

Style Theory: If you read my last blog you will know that as part of my Everywear Style Challenge with M&S I was asked to style up four key items - A white shirt, a pair of skinny jeans (the details of these are in the blog post below) and I was also asked to style up a pair of mules and a spring jacket. I do love a fashion task and adored rummaging through the M&S Spring/Summer rails earlier this year to find a selection of clothes that would work well with the everyday pieces. I wanted to style the mules and jacket with pieces that will work well in my existing wardrobe, that can be mixed and matched and worn time and time again with different looks..here's what I came up with...

Mules are having a resurgence, they were big in the 90s and are now back on the high street. They are comfortable and super easy to wear, they definitely took some getting used to for me as I tend to wear more delicate sandals in the summer but their practicality won me over, I can actually walk in them for a lonng time. I think we will see them more and more, pretty much every shoe brand has them, they will definitely be the sandal seen on all the fashionistas this summer..

I chose a bright pink, high necked blouse (which I have actually worn about 5 times in the last couple of weeks) The vivid colour is so flattering against my skin and it has a camisole in it attached with poppers so it takes the hassle about having to buy a matching cami. Unfortunately the blouse is not online as yet (I am pretty sure it hasn't sold out - so I will let you know when I find out when it will be available)
Blouse - M&S (not yet online or in stores)
Jeans - similar M&S £25
Shoes - M&S £19.50
Bag - M&S £25
The jeans are super comfy, already cut at the ankle so really easy to wear with trainers but also look pretty good with heels.

My next and final item for the Everywear Challenge was a Spring jacket, I teamed this with some sporty trousers (not yet available but hopefully soon) some super comfy nude court shoes and a fab boho style white blouse that I will wear again and again. 

Jacket - M&S £79
Trousers - M&S (not yet available)
Blouse - M&S £29.50
Shoes - M&S £39.50
Each of these pieces can be styles up with other items that are already in my wardrobe, the trousers are a fab take on the Gucci popper trousers and will look great with a navy tee in the summer. They are comfortable (they have an elastic waist) and are perfect for a going out look, slouchy, not too fussy but cool. 

So as you can see and as I always say, M&S have some real gems, the designers are 'on it' with catwalk trends, have great basics and cashmere and their underwear and shoes are outstanding. However, I do think it just a really hard shop the shop unless you have some idea of a look you want to create up your sleeve or plenty of time to search through each department mixing and matching items.

So here is a few of my ideas, coming from someone who has shopped in there for years (and worked in retail for years and years!) I just thought I would share as I know retail is hard and it is so tricky for a brand like M&S who are expected to be everything to everyone, nevertheless here are a few suggestions for them..!
The shopfloor could really do with being separate boutiques for clearer age ranges. I know there is always cross over (and don't want to be ageist) but at least there will be an area you can head to to start with then add in things from the other boutiques.
Things need to be merchandised in clear outfits - from experience I know that designers do design in outfits (or should do) For example, a pair of trousers plus a few tops plus a jacket and accessory such as a bag. With large photos of lots of outfits, like we do as bloggers, people need to see the outfit put together, images are everything and can make or break a collection. I know that M&S do this to a point but it needs to be streamlined and made clearer. 
The online items need to be styled in a cool, aspirational way, the editorial looks the PR team put together are fab, the online looks should be the same. So when you click on a blouse you like the image and styling is so good you want the whole outfit... 

I could go on, I know all of this is expensive and retail in general is not on a high at the moment, and also I know M&S are fighting a tricky battle but I think there is so so much amazing potential there and so much talent. 

What do think, are you an M&S fan, what do you think they have got spot on and not so much? Also how would you style up your the Everyday classics? As always I would love to hear your thoughts and comments, until next time, Fran xx

The Everywear Campaign was in collaboration with M&S, all words and styling are my own

How to Style up Everyday Basics #TheEverywearChallenge


Style Theory: I know M&S comes in for a lot of stick for their clothing ranges, we in Britain have grown up with them, they are part of our high street heritage, our Mum's, Dad's, Grandma's and Granda's shopped in there, therefore we believe they should offer us some pretty good style solutions and not just for us but for pretty much everyone, the question is do they?

The challenge Marks and Spencer's put to me was to style up four outfits using key M&S items ..a pair of skinny jeans, a white shirt, a spring jacket, a pair of mules ie: a selection of wardrobe basics styled with with anything from the M&S Spring/Summer 2017 collection, putting my unique spin on each each look..Now this kind of challenge is my dream, I continually champion M&S to the doubters, I can always always plenty of items I love in there, but then I love shopping, I would happily spend hours browsing, trying on, swapping this item for that, picking out colours that work, clothing with the right cut that fits my body. So this was right up my street and I hope from the items I have selected and the outfits I have styled up, prove that M&S is a treasure trove of really fabulous items. It just takes a little digging around and some inspiration to create some pretty cool outfits..

Here, on this blog post, are the first two outfits..The Ultimate Shirt and the Skinny Jean..

SHIRT - M&S Everywear Shirt £25
SKIRT - M&S Cotton Rich Gingham Skirt £35
BAG - M&S Faux Leather Across Body Bag £15
SHOES - M&S Suede Stiletto Court Shoes £49.50
So here is my first and perhaps my favourite outfit, styling up the 'The Ultimate White Shirt'. Now, if you know me, you know I am a fan of a fluid look, comfortable is the word I use most when describing my favourite buys so normally I would run a mile from a fitted shirt however this Everywear Shirt looks fabulous on, it skims the figure and has just the right stretch to make it incredibly comfortable. The key things to look for when buying a white shirt is the colour, is it bright white? the cut, does it fit and flatter? and the collar, does it sit beautifully and on the neck and decolletage, this M&S shirt ticks all these boxes and more. 

I chose the most fabulous gingham skirt to style it with, this is a super flattering take on the gingham and ruffle trend and it looks great with my new favourite black bow heels. I love juxtaposing a tailored white shirt with a fluid skirt or pair of trousers, the frills of this gingham skirt balance out the structured shirt perfectly. To finish the outfit I added a bright red pop of colour with the M&S Faux Leather Across Body Bag and I had a great summer work outfit (throw a blazer over the top) or a gorgeous 'event day' look. 

My next item to style up was the M&S 'Ultimate Skinny Jeans'....

These M&S High Rise Super Skinny were easy to wear and style, the skinny jean is now such a classic staple item of clothing I think all of us have at least one pair of them in our wardrobe. These high waisted jeans are great as they flatter, elongate legs and hide all the lumps and bumps perfectly. I always tend to wear my skinny jeans with flat, ballet pumps and an oversized top or dress as it gives a rock chic vibe with a girly edge. I find the proportions work best if tops are hip length or slightly voluminous - it makes my legs look thinner and I do love an ankle length, skinny jean it looks fab in the summer (just turn up your skinny jeans so they are just above the ankle bone) These skinny jeans have the perfect stretch, a great waist height, are a beautiful colour of blue and most importantly are so comfortable.

The Pure Cotton Striped Dress was an immediate hit as soon as I put it on, chic, summery, with a generous full skirt, it is girly and flouncy without being too over the top. We all know that M&S excel in handbags and accessories (not forgetting underwear and food!) and I adore these softer than soft, leather, ballet pumps. They come with a black tie but I took it off as I prefer them plain, I was padding along the street like a had just come out of ballet class! Just add a neutral bag to pull the look together...and voila an outfit that I think look pretty cool, hides my less that toned legs but looks chic and stylish..

JEANS - M&S High Rise Super Skinny £19.50
DRESS - M&S Pure Cotton Striped Dress £59.50
SHOES - Lace Up Ballet Pumps £45
BAG - M&S Faux Leather Metal Handle Tote Bag £39.50
Photos by Victoria Metaxas

I do love a good retail challenge...I was like a kid in a sweet shop in the M&S buying offices working on ideas for outfits, what do you think? As I said above, I am inclined to be a fan of M&S having worked in buying I know it is pretty much impossible to be everything for everyone and if you know where to look, M&S do produce some fab pieces at affordable prices..the problem for M&S is that they do not make it clear what or where to look. In my next blog post, I will show you my next two 'Everywear' outfits and I have a few ideas up my sleeve of how M&S could make shopping in their stores and online a whole lot better and easier...(I love a bit of strategy and am up for being drafted in to help ;-)

Here's the link to the campaign and you can see how the other fab fashion bloggers, Emma Hill, Danielle Vanier, Sasha Wilkins - Liberty London Girl, and Julia Rebaudo- Stylonylon style up the M&S everyday wardrobe essentials, it so interesting to see all the different takes on the four keys items, it shoes just how versatile fashion can be... 

Any ideas you have let me know too, what do you think of M&S? Are these looks something you would wear? As always I love to hear your thoughts and comments, until next time Fran xxxxx

This post was written in collaboration with M&S, all words and styling are my own.

Mothers Day with Baukjen


Style Theory: I have teamed up with Baukjen this Mother's Day to share my #Mumsknowsbest advice with you, because frankly she does know best! 

My Beautiful Mum
My Mum was the person who taught me about fashion, an avid fan (and critic) of each designer's range as it came out each season, by means of Hello magazine back in the day. Mum truly loves fashion and clothes, she was a Buyer for a department store in Glasgow before becoming a teacher and her love of fashion has stayed with her. She was always, in a chic way, ahead of the trends but believed in saving up for quality pieces, beautiful tweed, chanel-esque suits in the 50s and 60s, her mantra is quality over quantity (sadly this has been lost on me and my bad Zara/Topshop habit!) and she has always been a stickler for detail and a good cut. She lived in a tenament in Glasgow but always looked like she had stepped off the pages of a cool, stylish magazine. Less is more and in the 80s she chose the chic, understated path which has remained timeless..

This Baukjen outfit I have styled up will definitely get Mum's seal of approval.  A great trench is an essential part of a capsule wardrobe and one item of clothing that never ever dates. This Baukjen trench is the most beautiful coat I have worn in a long time, it is amazing quality, a good weight, is cut beautifully (I sized down to a size 8) and feels pretty special on. It is one of those coats you can throw on and immediately feel a little more polished and elegant, perfect with jeans or over trousers for work.

This subtly striped off the shoulder top in a beautiful cotton is one of those tops I will reach for again and again in the summer, great with jeans, shorts, wrap skirts, easy to wear and so chic (I am wearing a size 10). The jeans are fab, a great colour of blue for the summer, comfortable and flattering with just the right amount of stretch and cover my mum-tum perfectly (these are waist 27).

Sandals - H&M (old season)

Photos By Victoria Metaxas 

So Mum what do you think??? I always always listen to my Mums advice, she does not hold back speaking her mind, particularly when it comes to fashion and my outfits but is also mine and my sister's biggest, most loyal support, she is one in a million.

Mum is the original Girl Power icon, she taught me, along with my three sisters that we are capable of anything, from jumping out of planes to passing exams to travelling the world, that we should never let fear stop us from doing anything, never let it get the best of us to push through as it will make us stronger in the long run. This is the most important lesson I will pass down to my children, along with her amazing ability to be the best fun at any party, she is a one off, a whirlwind the most loving, kind, generous, loyal, fun person ever, so if I can teach my kids to be strong like her I will be doing a good job!

What lessons has your Mum taught you that you want to pass down to your kids? As always I would love to hear your thoughts and comments, until next time Fran xxx

This post was written in collaboration with Baukjen, all words and styling are my own.

Spring Monochrome Magic...


Style Theory: It is strange, as the sun comes out I seem to wear a little more black and white. I think it is because with a little colour on my face and limbs I don't find black so harsh and draining, also in the winter I use bright clothes to cheer me up add vibrancy to my pale palour, in the summer, the sun, flowers and general outdoor life is enough for me so the colour of clothes doesn't need to be so uplifting....

This monochrome outfit is going to be my 'go to' outfit for the Spring and summer and well into the autumn. I fell for Dodo Bar Or dresses and tops last year and this year this Dodo Bar Or top from Beach Cafe is going to be pretty much on me all summer. It is a hefty investment blouse but one that I will wear non stop, with jeans, dungarees or black trousers now and in the summer with cut off denim shorts and flat sandals, it is pure luxury with it's gorgeous billowing sleeves and fringing details..

I paired it with my new Donna Ida dungarees - I tried them on at the event I hosted at Donna Ida recently and had to buy them, they are a super flattering, waxed fabric that has just the right amount of stretch in it. I am going to cut them at the bottom so they are ankle length and I know they will be my 'going out, out' dungers this year..

Shoes - H&M (old season)
Bag - Topshop (old season)

If you do fancy investing in a few holiday pieces check out Beach Cafe, I was literally in heaven scrolling through the collection, it really is not cheap but I am going to buy a swimsuit as it is the thing I wear most on holiday (every day) so I think if I buy a beautiful one I will try not to buy much more for daytime - I have denim shorts and white tops and a beach dress is all I really need...

Here are my favourite holiday items from Beach Cafe so many gorgeous things!!..

So I know I may be getting a little ahead of myself talking about summer but I always leave everything until the last minute and the things I had my eye on are usually sold out. The outfit above is totally my comfort zone, comfortable, practical, hides the lumps and bumps and can worn day or evening...perfect!!

Are you a fan of monochrome in the summer or do you wear it all year or colour all year?? Am I the only strange one who reaches for black as soon as the sun shines? As always I would love to hear your thoughts and comments, until next time Fran xxx

Add Some Summer Colour to your Wardrobe


images via Pinterest

Style Theory: It is around about this time of the year my wardrobe needs a big injection of colour, this year pretty much any colour goes. So whilst I have been trawling the internet working on lots of different projects for brands I have been spotting (and buying..eek) so many gorgeous things. So here are a few items that have caught my eye and wallet, no major theme but I know they will provide a much needed 'lift' to my wardrobe...
Topshop £29
Gingham, pale blue, huge voluminous sleeves..Love this!! With ankle length jeans and the Stan Smiths (below) the perfect Spring outfit.
Topshop £32
I saw this top on someone recently at an event and rushed home and ordered it. Believe me, it looks amazing on, so much better in real life than in this photo, I presumed it was a designer top as it looked so luxe on and was so happy to find out it was Topshop. It will look great with black or navy ankle length navy tailored trousers and heels for work or with pale blue boyfriend jeans and gold heel strappy heels for a night out.
Topshop £29
I saw this in store the other day and just love it. It is the most beautiful vibrant pink and has a subtle 'mon amie' logo stitched into the front with a bigger 'Je Suis Heureux' stitched into the back. It looks expensive but is really not too pricey, I would wear with my cut off levis 501s shorts and white trainers in the summer. It is quite oversized so just take your normal size.
Monsoon £55
I have this top in the long sleeve version but am loving the no sleeve version for the summer. It is great to wear under a fitted jacket (so nice not to have fussy, bulky sleeves under a jacket) I would wear with my navy blazer or military jacket and jeans and my trainers to balance it all out a little. You have to wear your own vest top underneath. 
Free People £138
Just completely adore this jumpsuit although it is a little pricey. The colour and fabric are stunning and it would be unbelievably comfortable for summer, just throw a denim jacket over the top for extra (UK) warmth and wear with some strappy, tan, flat sandals.
Isabel Marant Etoile @Theoutnet now £150.45
I have this dress in black and I wore it loads last summer and cannot wait to wear it this summer. It is so flattering and I am so tempted to get it in white too. I sized up one size as I find French sizing small. If you buy now layer over a pair of skinny, ankle length jeans and loafers for a very 2017 look.
&Other Stories £65
Love this dress, it is so easy to wear, I will wear mine with flat strappy sandals in the summer. It comes up a little small (I think?! - especially on the arms or maybe it is just that I have chunked out a little?!) so you may need to size up.
Hush £125
Just utterly and completely obsessed with this bright pink, fine cashmere sweater from Hush, it is a much brighter shade in the flesh and looks amazing on. It is the most flattering colour and will look gorgeous with a tan. It is fine enough to wear in the summer with shorts and would be the most comfortable sweater to travel in...just love it!!
&OtherStories £39
I have tried this on and it is such a great breton, it's more of a sweater shape so does not cling around the tummy area and the neckline sits beautifully. One of those tops you would wear again and again and would look great with the jeans below..

J Brand Selena Jeans @NetaPorter £225
Possibly the most flattering jeans ever, I adore the J Brand Selena jeans and if you are small, like me, they fit oerfectly leg wise, the cut off stops just above the ankle bone for a fab summer look. Wear with trainers, heels, blouses or sweaters these jeans are multi taskers - size down at least one size as they do come up big.
Russell and Bromley £195
So Gucci-esque, still expensive but these trainers are just gorgeous, I love the heart detail on the front...the most fab summer sneakers..

There is basically my summer shopping list so far this season, so many gorgeous things, they would really brighten up my wardrobe..now what is the priority?!!

Have you bought much this season so far, I guess this crazy weather we are having makes it all a bit confusing, one day I am ready to pack my winter jumpers away, the next it is freezing and I need them! I am so looking forward to summer now..

As always I would love to hear your thoughts and comments, until next time Fran xxx