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Saturday, 6 December 2014

Little Black Dress: the Perfect LBD


I was recently invited to the very swanky Manchester House restaurant for an evening of drinks, canapes and dresses with online retailer, Little Black Dress.

I was really excited about the evening as with party season fast approaching, there's so many occasions that warrant a new dress!

Little Black Dress sell an array of branded occasion and party dresses (not just black ones either...) and the evening was to mark the launch of their first, own exclusive range: The LBD Collection.

The range is a capsule selection of timeless black party dress styles, inspired by fashion icons past and present.

I was so thrilled after the event when I was able to choose my favourite.I chose the beautiful 'Diana' dress, inspired by an iconic dress worn by Princess Diana in 1994. I was instantly drawn the dress on the night after seeing it on one of the lovely LBD ladies and one of their models.

I still haven't found a special occasion to wear the dress so had to resort to taking some photos during a lonely night in- such a blogger thing to do!

Orb necklace- Vivienne Westwood (gift)
Black off-the-shoulder dress- Little Black Dress*
Vintage gold chain belt- Blitz Vintage, London
Fluffy black heels- eBay

I can't stress how gorgeous this dress is to wear. The bodice is all boned and the ruching makes it super flattering.

I accessorised it with this uh-mazing vintage gold chain belt I bought in London recently. I'd been looking for a belt like this for ages so was chuffed to find it. Even though I like to wear black a lot (a lot, a lot), I do love my gold accessories and jewellery so I love that the belt puts a little personal spin on the outfit.

I can't recommend the LBD collection enough. The dresses average at around £100 each but based on the dress I chose, they are really beautiful quality- far better than most high street brands. They are all very classic too, meaning you'll get plenty of wear out of the styles.

Have you spotted a favourite?

Monday, 1 December 2014

Manchester Arndale After Dark with TK Maxx


On Thursday last week I took part in a top secret challenge- 'After Dark' with Manchester Arndale. Working with a few bloggers, the shopping centre issued us with one of their participating retailers with the task to choose the perfect party dress!

I was really pleased when it was announced that I'd been allocated TK Maxx. As a bit of a bargain hunter, I seriously love TK Maxx. Previously, I've loved TK Maxx for Christmas presents, shoes, underwear and gym clothes but this would be the first time that I would choose a going out outfit from the store.

Armed with my Arndale gift card (these make amazing Christmas presents as they can be used for any store!) I popped into TK Maxx to choose my dress. I must admit, I didn't find it easy. The stock rotates so quickly at TK that there's different items every time you go in. During the first visit, nothing much took my fancy, but on my second trip I found my perfect dress!

I chose a black (standard) lace dress with a chiffon skirt. I was so surprised when I checked the price after trying it on- it was such great value at just £14.99! A few of the more expensive pieces also caught my eye in store; when I visited they'd had a drop of Stella McCartney dresses!

My dress was looked after until Thursday's event for the big unveiling.

Our dresses were displayed for all of the After Dark guests to look at, before we were given makeovers and changed into our outfits.

After some mingling with some of my favourite blogging girls, sipping prosecco and indulging in gorgeous chocolates from Hotel Chocolat, a panel of judges including the lovely Victoria from In the Frow chose their top 10 party dresses of the evening.

Unfortunately my dress didn't make the top 10 but the dresses that were chosen were seriously beautiful. Here's where you can get involved; vote for your favourite online on the Arndale After Dark page for a chance to win a £100 Arndale giftcard to spend on a party outfit of your own!

Thank you to Manchester Arndale for a fantastic night and also to my retailer, TK Maxx.

Make sure you take a look and let me know your favourite dress from the bunch in the comments below!

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Private White V.C. Manchester Launch


I don't think I've mentioned my job much on my blog. I started my new job back in June as Ecommerce Manager for a Manchester-based brand called Private White V.C.

It's a really cool brand with a fantastic story behind it. All of the clothing is made at the factory just on the outskirts of the city centre. The factory is an amazing four-floor nineteenth century building, which I get to work in!

The name Private White V.C. comes from the history of the factory. It was once owned by a Victoria Cross awarded World War One veteran. After returning from the war, Private Jack White began an apprenticeship as a trainee pattern cutter at his local factory. Over time, he rose through the ranks and eventually came to be the owner. After he passed away in 1949, the factory changed hands and has had a handful of different owners since. A few years ago, the opportunity came up for Jack White's own family to once again get involved in the factory and it is now owned and run by his great grandchildren- little could he have known! Learn more about the Private White story, here.

It's such a lovely and genuine story. A lot of 'heritage' brands claim to have a grand history but when you look past the marketing, there's not a lot of authenticity to it. Similarly, many of these brands are guilty of proclaiming their English roots but now manufacture abroad; not Private White V.C.

We recently opened a beautiful on-site store at the factory (which officially had the red ribbon cut by none other than Princess Anne- yes, I met her!) and decided to hold a party to celebrate.

Our office pooch and brand mascot, Brutus the Bulldog chilling out before the event (unlike I was)

Me wearing:
Jacket- Private White V.C.
Silk shirt- Banana Republic*

I was largely involved in the organising of the event so I'm really pleased that it was such a success. We had a great turn out, including some lovely bloggers, and everyone seemed to enjoy the evening.

We decided to hold the event partially in the shop and also on the first floor of the factory which worked out really well. In the store we served cocktails and canap├ęs by Artisan and had a brilliant acoustic singer, Josh Goddard.

Upstairs on the factory sewing floor, local DJ Pasta Paul played vintage vinyl whilst some of our skilled machinists stayed behind after hours so that our guests could see garments being made before their eyes. There were also handmade pocket squares and scarves for guests which we were personally monogramming with people's initials.

We even had a vintage bus on hand to take our guests back into town. We also managed to get a few celebrities down including Bipolar Sunshine and Darren Jeffries, probably best known for playing O.B. in Hollyoaks a few years ago (I was a bit too excited about that!!!).

The brand has just launched a small range of womenswear which we'll be expanding on next season. The prices are in line with designer brands but the clothing really will last a lifetime and well worth a look if you're serious about buying British.

If you are local to Manchester, you should definitely come and visit the factory and store. It's amazing to see something like this still in operation in the UK.


Sunday, 9 November 2014

Rare London: AW14 Event

Another late post- forget that extra hour we get for daylight saving, I think I need at least an extra three everyday! So busy it's unreal.

Anyway don't feel too sorry for me because I'm about to tell you about a great event I went to a few weeks ago; the Rare London AW14 Collection Launch Blogger Event.

If you're not up to speed on Rare London (srsly?), they sell quite possibly the best reasonably-priced stand-out party dresses around. Their pieces tend to be bold, fitted and beautifully embellished.

Thankfully, the AW14 collection didn't disappoint; the party season is not a time to shy away from sequins and sparkle!

Rare showcased the collection alongside a really fun chocolate-making workshop! I'm not all that sure that chocolate and beautiful clothes really fit together but it seemed to work so well and we all had so much fun. You'd be surprised how creating curly shit-shaped piles of truffle from a piping bag breaks the ice!

I was pleased to have lovely ladies Jess from Forever Miss Vanity and Georgie from She Dreams on my chocolate making 'team'. The three of us got to the event a little late and found it hilarious just how terrible we were at making the different chocolates.

As they say though- it's not how it looks, it's how it tastes. We were able to take home the chocolates we made and they were indeed delicious if I do say so myself!

Throughout the chocolate workshop, it was hard not to get distracted by the beaut clothes on display behind us. In particular, I had my eye on a stunning monochrome shaggy faux fur coat that I couldn't stop looking at!

After a thorough hand-washing, we all had a proper look at the pieces on the rails and they really were jaw-dropping.

This black cut-out grid shirt dress was one of my favourite pieces 

Rare also showcased a new range of perfect party accessories and jewellery

I particularly liked the dresses and jumpsuits from Rare's 'Opulence' range- a premium collection of hand-embellished, luxurious styles made from high quality fabrics and trims. This range is a little pricier than the regular collections but perfect for that special piece for a festive occasion. I fell in love with a multi-coloured jewel number that I just thought was incredible- whether or not I could ever pull it off is another question!

Choker- eBay + DIY
90s style button-through dress- Pop Boutique
Fluffy clutch bag- Topshop

Has anything caught your eye from the collection?

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Banana Republic AW14 and a Birthday Night Out


This post, like many others it seems at the moment, has been horrendously delayed. A few weeks ago, I was invited down to Banana Republic's store at Manchester's Trafford Centre for an introduction to the brand and their Autumn/Winter (or Fall/Winter as they might say across the pond) 2014 collections.

The Trafford Centre store is actually only one of two in the UK which are based outside of London. Even though the store's position in the Trafford Centre is really prominent, on the upper floor more or less opposite Selfridges, I'd often walked past but never been in.
Banana Republic FW14 photo PicsArt_1414870664670_zps2f6b002b.jpg

Above: some of my favourite looks from the Banana Republic FW14 lookbook

The brand was founded  in 1978 and was bought out by Gap a few years later. Perhaps a little guilty of standing in Gap's shadow, Banana Republic has been continually growing and expanding its reach across not only America, but Europe too.

Recent developments have seen the brand gaining attention and kudos in its own right such as the recent appointment of former J.Crew designer, Marissa Webb as Creative Director back in April.

The Autumn/Winter collection is the first to have seen her influence. The result is an edgier, more fashion-led look for the brand and I'm excited to see what the future holds for SS15 which will have much more of her design input.

Back to the present, I was really surprised by what I found in-store. The clothes are exactly the sort of thing I'd wear for work; minimal, clean silhouettes in neutral shades and a range of textures like silk and faux leather.

There's lots of clever, flattering design details across the collections and the introduction of the new petites range was particularly good to see. I'm not necessarily petite myself but it was great to be talked through the garments which have been carefully chosen for inclusion in the line. My mum is petite and I know that choice can be limited if you don't want to tolerate clothes which are too long in the arm and leg.

I was invited to choose a few pieces from the store and as well as falling in love with the 100% Silk Popover Blouse so much that I bought it in two colours, I chose a beautiful black midi skirt.

I was waited for the right occasion to wear it, with its first outing being for my 25th birthday meal.

It's made from a really lovely thick fabric and is perfect for Autumn. I also love the pockets at the sides.

Vivienne Westwood orb necklace- birthday present
Black sequin mesh tee- Ragged Priest (online sample sale)
Black midi skirt- Banana Republic*
Fluffy roll top clutch bag- Topshop
Patent cleated sole chunky heels- ASOS

I teamed my skirt with this cool sequin and mesh tee from Ragged Priest. They had an online sample sale recently and I got a massive haul. A disadvantage of living up north is missing out on all the great brand sample sales in London so I was so happy to see them doing one online. I'm also wearing my new Vivienne Westwood gold orb necklace which I LOVE- a birthday present from the boy, he did good!

Have you taken a second look at any established brands recently?

Sunday, 12 October 2014

AX Paris Autumn/Winter'14 Press Day


I was recently invited to attend the AX Paris Autumn/Winter'14 press day. It was nice to see the brand host the event in their hometown of Manchester- there's so much going on here at the moment, I can't keep up!

The press day was held at Black Dog Ballroom on New Wakefield Street where I've attended a few blogger events before, though AX Paris really made the private terrace space unique. We were greeted by cocktails, cupcakes and rails and rails of stunning partywear.

Black tattoo choker- eBay
Gold moodstone chain choker- ASOS
Vintage gold chain- charity shop
Tartan duster jacket- Rare London*
Black T shirt- The Ragged Priest
Black high waist jeans- Primark
Reebok Classic trainers- Bank fashion

Above is what I wore to the event. I wore my new Reeboks as I was going into town to meet friends afterwards and these are so comfy, though kept things a bit smarter with a longline jacket. I'm loving duster jackets at the moment, they're so easy to throw on, and this checked one from Rare London is perfect for Autumn. 

Everyone loves a good photobooth and me, Irena, Martyna and Lily got stuck right in! Always great to see these girls. I was also really pleased to finally meet Gail from The Equinox Fashion who's recently moved over to Manchester from Thailand. There was a bit of a fangirl moment too chatting to Amy Valentine, who's blog I've read for ages.

After catching up with some lovely bloggers- we checked out the clothes! The AX Paris AW14 collection is full of sequins, embellishment and sparkle; perfect for those Christmas parties!

My favourites were the faux fur pieces above- a beautiful cream shaggy faux fur coat (seriously want) and a black gilet.

After a while, the team at Black Dog Ballroom started bringing out an amazing buffet with sweet potato fries, pizzas and mini burgers- my kind of food!

There was also a henna tattoo artist which unfortunately I didn't get chance to indulge in, though from the seeing the other girls who'd had it done, it looked awesome.

Keep your eye on AX Paris' New In section for these beaut new season pieces!

Have you spotted anything to add to your wishlist?