Archive for the ‘Fashion’ Category

It’s been an age since I last posted-sorting out the house seems to be a never ending job and I keep finding more things to put/throw/freecycle away. Freecycle has been our best friend lately; it’s such a good way of getting rid of things that are too big to haul down to a charity shop or to post on eBay and also of feeling good that you’re helping someone else out. So far we’ve freecycled an old dishwasher, DH’s weights, a printer, a briefcase, all my maternity clothes, all my size 14+ clothes (sizes 10 and 12 went to friends), a sling, a box of hair dye (!) and various other bits and bobs. I do so love it, and I particularly love the whole ‘pay it forward’ concept as a few years ago DH’s Christmas present from me was a piano from Freecycle, which I’ve never quite believed was actually free, but was…sadly it had to stay in our old flat as we don’t have room in our new house. I’m a bit gutted as I really want DD growing up around music, but hopefully in the future we’ll get another one.

Anyway, that was all a bit off topic. What I intended to say is that after losing all that weight I was really irritated (OK, furious) that my boobs stayed pretty much the same size. My back size went down but my cup size didn’t, and I was still in 30GG bras, which are hard to find. (Bless Bravissimo.) However, in some weird miracle, in the weeks since I’ve been maintaining rather than losing, they have suddenly shrunk! I went through my underwear drawer today and discovered that out of 8 bras only 2 fit, and those not perfectly as they’re a 32 back. I reckon I am now a…drumroll…30F! Which, for those of you still wearing the wrong size bra, is a 34DD, and therefore in my head a normal size. They’re still big, but not freakishly so, and I am delighted.

For people who’ve always had normal size boobs (for which read anything from an AA to a DD cup, as decreed by the bastards who design M&S lingerie who also, incidentally, start at a 32 back because as well as being bastards they are morons) this must seem a bit ridiculous. After all, boobs are boobs, and as long as they’re doing the job of holding up your t-shirt/feeding your baby/giving your partner something to look at, who really cares what size they are? It’s something that I think only those who have been ‘blessed’ with giant ones can really understand. You can be a perfectly normal size 12 everywhere else but have to buy size 16 shirts in order to not have them gape. You can look entirely average and yet have crippling back ache all day long because of the weight of them. You can wake up one day, aged 21, and realise that you have permanent wrinkles on your chest in a V shape because the skin is squashed every time you sleep on your side. You can wake up a few years after that and realise that it really hurts to stand with your shoulders back because you’ve spent every day since puberty with slightly hunched shoulders. And that’s not even considering the idiocy of the people who think it’s ok to comment, stare or, worst of all, grab, just because you fit some absurd idea of beauty as perpetuated by page 3 and pervs everywhere, that, ironically, is totally counter to another idea of beauty sold by the fashion industry that decrees you’re better off having no boobs at all in order to fit the androgynous/teenage/anorexic/heroin chic/whatever they like to call it at the moment ‘look’ that works best on the catwalk when your models are 14 years old and living on cocaine and cigarettes.

And breathe.

So needless to say, I am beyond delighted to be out of the GGs, Gs and FFs I have been miserably hoiking myself around in for the past 10 years, and looking forward to buying some bras that don’t have three sets of hooks and eyes, industrial width straps or beige granny lace. (To be fair, there are companies I’ve mentioned before that do bloody well designing for big boobs, Fantasie and Fauve being my favourites, but they are in the minority.) In fact, DD and I are going shopping this afternoon. I’m getting some bras and she’s getting some nappies. Rock and roll.

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This isn’t exactly new news as it was written about in the Guardian a while ago, but I kept meaning to blog about it and forgetting. A very clever computer-y person created a site where you can put in your measurements and be told which shops cut clothes best for your particular figure. This is great, as most shops seem to size their clothes by throwing darts at a board covered in labels. On one memorable occasion I needed a size 10 skirt in H&M but the matching jacket had to be a 16. I mean, I have big boobs, but not that much bigger.

Try it out at Sizes. My measurements at the moment are 35, 28, 35 which apparently means I’m anything between a 6 (skirts in Reiss) and a 12 (tops in Monsoon), with my best shops being Gap for tops (10) and Topshop for skirts and dresses (also 10). My size 8 trouser purchase yesterday came from Gap, which fits the chart, and I also bought a pair of jeans in Topshop in a 10, which fits it. Overall, I’m impressed-it’s a simple idea and I don’t know why somebody didn’t come up with it before! Certainly for those ‘between sizes’ times it will be very useful for women not wanting to brave the high street unarmed.

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When I read about the new Estée Lauder Mad Men Collection I was so excited-this is a seriously beautiful capsule collection comprising a creme rouge and a perfect, true red lipstick. Unfortunately it’s not available in the UK (or it’s not at the moment anyway-fingers crossed they will release it here one day) but luckily for me my lovely Dad and step-Mum live in the States and responded quickly to my begging emails! They got it in Bloomingdales and it came with a free gift set too which was a nice bonus. (Actually, it was out of stock in their local Bloomingdales so they got it shipped from California to them and then from them to me-they are amazing!)

So here it is, first with the freebies. (There was also a make up bag but I forgot to get a picture of it. It’s nice though-pretty big too which is handy.)

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So from left to right, missing out the Mad Men bits, you can see a Pure Colour Blush Trio (the colours are Peach Passion Shimmer, Sensuous Rose Satin and Wild Sunset Shimmer) with a mini but good quality (ish-it’s a little harsh feeling but does blend well) brush, Soft Clean Tender Creme Cleanser, Idealist, Day Wear moisturiser, Pure Colour Lipstick in Pink Parfait Shimmer and a duo of Sumptuous Bold Volume Lifting Mascara and Star Pink Shimmer gloss. Unfortunately the lipstick got a bit squished in transit but it’s going straight into my palette anyway so it doesn’t matter. I’d never tried this particular mascara before and I like it a lot. It’s not particularly good in the volume stakes, despite its name, but it does give lovely definition.

And here are the Mad Men lovelies in all their glory…

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As you can see, they are gorgeous. The Creme Rouge is 01, Evening Rose; it’s intensely pigmented so you only need a little but once on it’s quite sheer and is easily blendable. It’s a very good pinky blush for the ‘English Rose’ look but I reckon it would also look great built up a bit on darker skins. The lipstick is 78, Cherry, and is a fabulous red, though not as vampy as I expected. It would suit cool and warm skin tones and lasts a good few hours, leaving a nice stain too. I have to say though, I was a bit disappointed that the lipstick is a miniature size! That was definitely not reflected in the price and it seems a bit bizarre that the freebie lipstick is full size while the very expensive one is only 2g. I’ve read elsewhere that lipsticks in the 50s and 60s did tend to be smaller, so perhaps EL are mirroring that. The packaging, however, is utterly beautiful, and I expect how Estée Lauder get away with the price they’re charging. The rouge was $40 and the lipstick $25, so not cheap, but in my opinion, worth it just for the joy of getting these out in public. They’re satisfyingly heavy and clunky and the rouge has a lovely ‘click’ shut with the blue stone on the front. The gold is glamorous and classy in an obviously vintage way, and I’m really looking forward to slipping them into my handbag! Definitely check out the Estée Lauder website and read the reviews-this collection is proving very popular. Apparently it will be followed by another collection next year, so I can’t wait to see that. I hope there’s a powder compact in there. This collection is beautifully designed and I can imagine the women on Mad Men whipping either piece out in order to freshen up or seduce someone! Who wouldn’t want to be as beautiful as Betty or Joan? This collection takes me one step closer!

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One of the things that I get a bit fanatical about with my friends (though actually I think the last of them saw the light on this about 5 years ago-hence my new mission to convert the Internet) is the importance of a well fitting bra. Here’s what most women do in this country:

Age 13-get measured in M&S by a nice, matronly lady who measures your ribs, adds 4 or 5 depending on whether it’s an even or odd number, sticks a letter on it and sends you out into the world wearing a 34B.

Age 16-buy some slightly more risqué 34Bs.

Age 20/25/30/35-have a baby and buy some 36Bs, non wired for the pregnancy/breast feeding bit, wired for the toddler bit.

Age 50/55/60/65-go back to non wired and buy some 38Bs.

Here’s the secret. M&S cannot measure women for bras FOR SHIT. If you want to be properly measured there are very, very few places that will do it properly, particularly if you are large of bosom. I recommend Rigby and Peller, Bravissimo, Leia Lingerie or an independent retailer who has been suggested to you by someone who knows what they’re talking about. A good example is Kathryn Rolfe Lingerie in York, though for some reason I can’t link to her website. The thing that all these people have in common is that they know that a) if you’re a pro you probably don’t need a tape measure and b) adding 4 or 5 inches to your rib measurement to get your back size is ludicrous as bras are all now elasticated! It may have been necessary pre war, but it honest to God is not necessary now.

The problem with women believing the nice ladies in M&S is that if they wear a back size that is too large it will ride up their backs, rather than sitting in a nice, straight line. This will then mean their boobs aren’t supported by the bulk of the bra, so they sag. These women then have a choice-they can tighten the shoulder straps as much as possible to hoik their boobs back into the right place, thereby giving themselves painful and unsightly red marks in their shoulders, and meaning their shoulders take all the weight rather than their (much stronger) backs, OR they can leave the shoulder straps loose, let their boobs hang free and pretty much negate the point of wearing a bra in the first place.

What they SHOULD be doing is wearing a back size that is actually their back size. A tape measure comes in handy for this bit if you’re starting from scratch and doing it yourself. Measure round your back, under your boobs, in inches. That’s your back size. If you come out on an odd number the chances are you should go down an inch, though this will depend on the make and fit of the bra. So if you measure 30″, you are a 30″ back. This blows lots of people’s minds, mainly because M&S seem to only stock 34s and 36s, with the occasional nod to a 38. However, the chances are that if you are a size 6, 8, 10 or 12, you are much, much more likely to be a 28, 30 or 32 bra size.

To put this in perspective, I am now a size 10 or 12, depending on the shop and the item of clothing, and I wear a 30.

Now to balance this out, (as my giant boobs balance out my hips, ha ha!) I am a 30G. Or even a GG in some brands. This is huge but not as huge as it sounds. It’s roughly equivalent to a 32FF, a 34F, a 36E (sounding more like what you’re used to?) or a 38D. I could wear any of these sizes and my boobs would fit in the cups. BUT, without a well fitting back band, my boobs will be round my knees, unsupported, and swinging free. Also, my silhouette will be crap. So if you’ve merrily been wearing a 34B since you were 13 and I’ve convinced you it’s not right for you, try a 30D, or a 28DD. You may be amazed.

The trick with cups is to find your back size and then try on a variety of cup sizes in the bra you like. To do this properly:

a) do up the back and put your arms through the shoulder straps
b) lean forward
c) hoik each boob from the outside into the cup
d) stand up and observe
e) press the middle bit so it’s flat between your boobs and check it stays there. If it bounces forward it’s not fitting properly.
f) turn round and check the back band-it should be dead straight. This will feel tighter than you’re used to if you normally wear ill-fitting bras.

If you have the dreaded 4-boob effect, try the next size (or sizes) up. If there’s excess fabric, try going down a size.

The other lie that the M&S ladies peddle is that when you buy a bra it should do up comfortably on the middle hooks. This is rubbish-and I can’t even think of a good reason why they might think it’s true! You want it to do up on the loosest hooks because bras-like all clothes-stretch with time. In order to get longevity out of it you want to be able to periodically move in a set of hooks and get the same level of support. If you get to the tightest hooks and the support isn’t there anymore, it’s time for a new bra.

Yesterday I bought this in two colour ways from Leia:

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It’s gorgeous! Fantasie, Freya and Fauve are all great brands for big boobed ladies. There are many more, particularly in palaces (not a typo, I love it) like Rigby and Peller, but they cost quite a bit more. They’re worth exploring though. No price is too high for boobs that sit high so it’s obvious you do have a waist after all, make you look slimmer, make clothes fit better, and generally are worth showing off.

Glad I got that off my chest.

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I read this on Sleeping Bootay’s blog and thought it was fun. If you do it too leave a comment with a link to yours!

1) What product makes you feel a million dollars?

Bobbi Brown corrector and concealer, without a doubt. These are two little pots of magic which make my dark circles practically disappear and therefore make me look normal and not quite as zombie-like as I am in my natural state. I discovered them in 2008 and since then have not bought another concealer; I doubt I will ever defect from these!

2) What’s your skin care secret/a passed down tip?

My Mum always told me to use gentle products as she and I both have sensitive skin. I partly credit that little nugget of advice, received as a teenager, with my good skin now; I never used the super strong products aimed at teenage skin when I started playing about with make up/skin care and I think it made a big difference in keeping my skin clear rather than reacting to harsh products. Liz Earle products are the best for my skin and so gentle.

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I wish I had also listened to my mum when she told me not to pluck my eyebrows though!

3) What’s your hair care secret?

Buy a Babyliss Big Hair. It has totally transformed my frizzy, messy barnet into wavy, shiny, normal person’s hair. (No BB concealer+no BBH=living dead.)

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4) What’s your biggest diet rule?

Don’t ‘diet’ unless it’s absolutely necessary. Eat healthily by all means but don’t actually ‘go on a diet’ when you’re a size 10, 15 years old and annoyed you can’t borrow your friend’s size 8 jeans. You will start a lifelong yo-yo habit that will wreak havoc on your metabolism and result in you weighing a stone more at 30 than is healthy. Seriously. Unless you are actually overweight according to your doctor and given a plan to follow by him/her it is not necessary. Just eat a balanced diet with plenty of protein, fruit, veg, carbs, a bit of fat and play some netball or hockey or something!

5) Any workout tips?

The 30 Day Shred is amazing! It’s usually on Amazon for about a fiver.

6) What’s your perfume secret weapon?

Chanel No 19 Poudre is my latest obsession, though I tend to have about 20 perfumes on the go at once.

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7) Which item of clothing always turns heads?

Erm, I have no idea whether they turn heads but my Gap high waisted skinny jeans make me feel good so hopefully they look good too!

8) What’s your most treasured piece of jewellery?

My engagement and wedding rings. The wedding ring was made to fit around the diamond in my engagement ring so they sit perfectly together. I love them. My husband picked the engagement ring and got it absolutely right-a simple but stunning solitaire. I could get very soppy here so I’ll stop!

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9) Who’s your style crush?

This is a hard one…there’s lots of people I think dress amazingly (though they don’t necessarily influence how I dress myself). Tilda Swinton, Monica Belluci, Kate Moss, Rachel Weisz…I also love Naomi from 90210 which is a bit embarrassing!

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10) Tell us something we don’t know about you.

There is something of the primary school geek about me and I still love all the things I did then-knitting, writing stories, reading poetry, dressing up etc…

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Today a friend and I went to Leeds to go to Harvey Nichols and do an almighty make up shop. And it was. ALMIGHTY.

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The eyeshadows pic is a bit misleading as it’s actually only the 6 in the palette by themselves plus Carbon (the matte black) that are new, but I thought they looked so pretty all together I couldn’t resist taking the photo like that.

Harvey Nicks had a deal on where if you spent over £110 you got a free goody bag and the lovely ladies at MAC gave me two of them as I spent such a hideous amount of money. There’s some great stuff in there. From left to right-Butter London nail varnish, Chloe perfume, Bare Minerals lip gloss, Trish McEvoy eye base, YSL Shocking mascara, Laura Mercier radiance primer, Shu Uemera skin purifier, Bliss body butter (love this), Lancôme Visionnaire, Espa moisturiser, Clarins HydraQuench serum, Elemis hand and nail cream and Eve Lom cleanser and muslins. Phew! The samples are all pretty generous sizes too, particularly the Bliss body butter and the Clarins serum, and the nail varnishes are full size which is brilliant as I love Butter London.

From MAC I got 6 Select Cover concealers, Groundwork paint pot, 7 eyeshadows (although annoyingly one of the ones I asked for, Omega, wasn’t in there as the SA accidentally gave me a different one), a 217 brush, Subculture lipliner, medium dark Mineralise Skin Finish Natural and 6 pigments (smaller, stackable ones which are very handy). Then in Illamasqua they had a brilliant sale so I got the cream eyeshadows for £5 each! Plus the sealing gel and Liquid Metal in Surge which is amazing stuff and I can’t wait to use. In Armani I got the Luminous Silk foundation to replace my trusty Bobbi Brown which has sadly gone off-which I guess shows how rarely I wear it! The SA also gave me a tester of serum and mascara to add to my goodies stash which was lovely. I also got a couple of bags from Muji (which is closing in Leeds sadly) which will come in very handy.

The SA in Illamasqua was a beautiful transsexual-I’d have killed for her bone structure! She looked amazing. Apparently she was stopped on the street and asked whether she wanted to work for them-I wish someone would do that to me! (Someone has told me since reading this that she was Drew from the Channel 4 program ‘My Transsexual Summer’ so now I feel a bit like I’ve met a celebrity, even though I’ve never seen the program so obviously didn’t recognise her.)

So anyway, please pray to the beauty gods that I start to make some money out of make up soon…and in the meantime I will definitely NOT be buying any more make up. For at least a year. Or at least a month…

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I just bought a couple of the new YSL Glossy Stains and had to post immediately as they are marvellous! I got 7, which is a lovely, soft, muted coral and 9, a fabulous true red.

They’re in a category of their own really as they’re lipstick, gloss and stain all at once. You could argue that MaxFactor Lipfinity is the same concept but I’d disagree, mainly because I think Lipfinity are horribly uncomfortable on the lips, very drying, and don’t stain so much as gradually flake off in the middle. The YSL offering also doesn’t have a separate gloss stick; the gloss is in the product itself.

They go on beautifully and do feel a bit sticky but in a far less obtrusive way than a traditional gloss such as a Lancome Juicy Tube. You can build up the layers depending on the desired intensity and the glossy result lasts for a good few hours. I put this on at 4.30pm and it’s now 6.45pm:

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(Excuse the shoddy pictures.) You can see the colour and gloss are still in full swing after over two hours, a cup of tea and a lot of talking. (Everybody who knows me knows I do talk a lot!) In order to get the same effect after eating you would need to reapply, however, the genius is that these stain your lips evenly and thoroughly, so when it does wear off you still have a considerable whack of colour. I reckon they’re absolutely perfect for brides as a result.

There are about 20 colours, from the very dark to the very light and they’re selling out pretty fast from what I can see. At over £20 a pop they’re not cheap but I can see them becoming my go to lipstick for long lasting colour. I already want a couple more…

UPDATE: I’ve now eaten supper, it’s 9.30pm and I’ve still got perfectly applied lipstick! I’m quite amazed. The gloss effect has worn off to some extent but all the colour is still there. I’m definitely getting more of these.

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