Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Thou Shalt Not Steal

... but will buy bargainous cosmetics and skincare for a metaphorical steal instead. 
Beauty Steals is a great new website offering high street cosmetics, skincare and fragrances at discounted prices. They stock well known brands like O.P.I, MAC, Benefit, Urban Decay, Revlon, Maxfactor, Maybelline, L'Oreal, Bourjois, NYC... and the list just goes on. I've never bought MAC, Urban Decay or Benefit simply because I've gotten so used to 'drug-store' brands and prices that paying anything over those is painful. With this website though, I know I'll be back and keeping tabs on the more expensive products. 

Not only can you treat yourself to something a little more expensive for less, but you can also find discontinued items at a great price too. It's inevitable that at some point we will have fallen in love with a particular product, only to be told it's been discontinued causing us to cry all the way home on the bus. Enter Beauty Steals! They are often getting new stock in so it's always worth having a peep at who they get in.

Want a final cherry on the cake? Their P&P is free! You read right, there's no minimum spend to ensure eligibility, meaning your bargains remain bargains. It's crazy how much a £3.95 postage fee can ruin a great find.

A few bits!

Revlon Colorstay Quad Shadow in 'Lavender Meadow' £3.59*
When I initially saw this palette, I thought 'gosh, I'll never wear those colours'. I think I've gotten so used to neutrals that purples were a big shock. Truth be told, the more I looked at the palette, the more I liked the colours and I could see they would blend perfectly. When it got to the swatches I fell head over heels for the colours, they really come into their own out of the palette and onto the skin. The shades are supposed to look freshly applied for 12 hours but I'd be inclined to wear a primer anyway. These will be perfect for Springtime looks alongside florals and denim! 

Girls Aloud Party Lashes - £5.99*
I've not tried these yet because I have massively shaky hands and I didn't want to ruin them! The application of my Katy Perry Eyelure lashes didn't go well as they got contorted and twisted in ways I didn't know possible. I look forward to giving them a go when I have a reason to wear them, hopefully at a family wedding this summer. With a mixture of short and long lashes I hold hope that they will blend in well with my existing lashes and will look natural compared to the others in the range. These are my favourites of the Party Lashes by far, the rose gold studs are bang on trend.  
Collection 2000 Hot Looks Fast Dry in Intense and Minx £3.49* each
I love the brushes that these polishes come with, they lay flat against the nail and spread well. You need to apply a couple of coats to be sure of great coverage, particularly with 'Intense', but in the end they pay off with a super glossy finish. They dry insanely quick which is great for me as I'm always catching my nails after I've painted them. I love the glittery flecks both shades have, but particularly 'Intense', as the blue flecks amongst the dark lacquer really set it off - this is my new favourite dark shade. 

Laval Celebrity Lash Comb Mascara - £5.26*
I've never heard of the brand 'Laval' but kept an open mind. Unfortunately, it lives up to expectation of a cheap discount store brand which I was so gutted about. Taking the wand for the first time you could feel the product compacted inside the tube, in my clumsiness I actually caught the brush on the end of my nose but nothing transferred - there was nothing on the brush! After a few 'pumps' retrieving the product, the brush turned out to be useless at separating the lashes and the product went on practically dry meaning eyelashes clumped instantly. The product was so dry and hard to apply that it didn't reach the lash line and, when removing, it fell off in black flecks all over my face. It also smelt uncannily like PVA glue. The only thing it did well was lengthen my lashes slightly. I wouldn't pay £5.26 for this.

Olay Gentle Cleansers Conditioning Milk - £4.99*
As you may have seen from an earlier post, I'm a complete skincare novice and I'm slowly building up my knowledge. I couldn't place what a 'conditioning milk' was supposed to do, but I've treated it no different to any other cleanser, massaging into the skin and then rinsing. With cucumber and aloe extracts it smells great - but not too strong - and makes your skin feel super refreshed. I think this will be great for everyday use, conditioning your face and getting rid of muck, but I'm not sure how effective it will be removing heavy eye make up. I've not used it for a long amount of time so only time will tell if it breaks me out or if I have a reaction to it (which I might because my skin is SO awkward). It's designed for normal/dry/combination skin, so here's hoping.

Have you bought anything from Beauty Steals? Or are you heading over there now? I'd love to know your bargains!

Psst. They currently have Urban Decay Loose Pigment Eyeshadows for £4.20

Monday, 18 February 2013

Pounds or Practically Pennies: Cut it out

It's been a long time coming, but today sees the start of a new blog series called 'Pounds or Practically Pennies'; or 'POPP' as I will affectionately refer to it as. The premise is quite simple. I'll do the digging to find you high street designer and couture inspired goodies for the fraction of the prices - practically pennies you might say! Let's take a look at what I'm currently loving.

Ankle boots have been a sure go to staple throughout the past two seasons and understandably, there was a need for a slight update for another season in the limelight, and here they are - cut out ankle boots! The above Balenciaga and Alexander Wang pairs have been boasted on the feet of Rihanna, Rita Ora and Sharon Stone and for me, there's something satisfying about a bit of skin being seen where it normally wouldn't be - I like unconventional.
I'd say the Balenciaga pair are perfectly reminiscent of the 90's and are ideal for dancing and singing along to 'The Big Reunion' in your living room, especially if you've dug out your old CD's or re-downloaded your favourite 90's pop cheese. But, I'm more swayed to the Alexander Wang pair - they're just far more understated and less bulky in terms of my personal preference. 

Whatever your style, take a look at the selection I've hunted out below ranging from very close dupes to more unrestrained and developed styles. Most are under 10% of the prices above, it sounds much better already doesn't it? 

Office // Topshop // Topshop;
(Prices and stock are subject to change from the creation of this image!)

I'm always grateful for high street takes on designer pieces, not only because of the obvious price slash, but because they open up a whole new door for the high street to experiment with in terms of style and perfecting their own designs. I relish in seeing a balance between those thinking outside of the box to give us more accessible variations of a particular style, but also those who are determined to bring an almost exact designer/couture match. The perfect combination if you ask me. 

My favourites are a huge toss up between the Office 'Frontier', Topshop 'Adonis2' and the Topshop 'Afflex' pairs. The Adonis2's are perfect for Spring and Summer with their floral encounter, flash of blue and almost monochrome appearance, while the Topshop Afflex's are a little more dressy and sophisticated with a beautifully contrasted sole (just like the £761 Jill's). Finally, the Office Frontier's dare to peep at the unconventional with their exposed heel - of course a more notable feature of the sandal or slingback - whilst also embracing the skinny gold toecap, knocking out two trends in one. 

Are you liking this trend or do you think boots should remain boots; a winter staple without the skin on show? 

Just, don't step in any puddles. 

Monday, 11 February 2013

Blogger's Breakfast with John Lewis and Cambridge Style Week

Yesterday morning saw the first ever Blogger's Breakfast hosted by John Lewis, Cambridge. The event was a preliminary taster for Cambridge Style Week, giving bloggers and CSW staff alike a sneak peek of some of their Spring/Summer 13 range to be showcased on the runway later in the month.
At 9.30am, before shop hours (ooh how exclusive), we were whisked upstairs to the Brasserie where we were seated at aptly decorated tables featuring spring/summer accessories, laden with cute heart shaped chocolates. We were fuelled with much needed coffee and pastries whilst we chatted among ourselves meeting our fellow fashion and blogging savvy peers before being introduced to the absolutely wonderful John Lewis fashion advisory team. They were all genuinely excited to have us there, as they explained it was their very first event of this kind and really had gone all out, and little did they know, it was my very first event like this too. I was made to feel very welcome. 
After initial introductions and breakfast we were split into two groups, our first stop? Fashion advisory! We met with the stylists whose job it is to provide much needed advice to all who are lost or lack inspiration when it comes to their wardrobe. Whether you need a new dress for a special occasion, have lost weight and/or have no idea of your shape, need a brand new capsule wardrobe due to being time poor or simply want to find yourself again after a big change in your life; these ladies are here to help with no obligation to buy. 

As a fashion advice service, they offer so much more than just doing the shopping for you. They will help you discover your body shape and teach you how to dress for it and will show you how to dress for your skin tone based on whether you are yellow or blue toned. If you have an item in your wardrobe you absolutely love but have no idea what to wear with it, they'll sort that out too!

This is a FREE service but you must remember to book. As you can imagine, this is extremely popular and there are only a certain amount of hours in a working day - two of which will be taken up transforming you and your wardrobe. All of the above takes place in one of their two fantastically spacious and air conditioned advisory rooms on a one-to-one basis with a stylist, or if you'd prefer you can bring a friend. Many men and women pay for this type of service, but when this is handed to you on a plate for free it makes you wonder why! I hope to take advantage of this service in the near future.
To clear up any suspicion, no, these ladies do not work on commission. Whether you buy every single item they pick out for you or none at all, you all receive the same incredible customer service simply because this is their job and this is what they love to do. An example of this is the wonderful Dorothy, an inspirational and popular member of staff among us bloggers (we just wanted to give her a big squishy hug). Dorothy prides herself on being able to help change peoples lives through fashion by giving them confidence in themselves and the confidence to be themselves. She proudly told us how she absolutely loved her job and had been doing it for 8 years and never tired of seeing women visibly change in terms of self esteem before her very eyes. There's absolutely no doubt about it, she wasn't lying when she says you'll be bff's by the end of your session.
After this, we were then shown some spring/summer '13 pieces from John Lewis exclusive brands including John Lewis Collection, John Lewis Weekend, Mint Velvet, Kin (the only brand in store to cater for women, men and children; Von Trapp-esque family here I come), Ghost and of course the madly anticipated Somerset by Alice Temperley.I was glued to the chic Somerset collection which boasts a mixture of blues, nudes, beads, stripes, and tile prints which starkly contrasts against the bright bold prints of a JL Weekend top, pyjama trouser and jumpsuit set (as above) noted to be the bravest print they'd ever had in (I can see why!). I also fell head over heels with the Ghost Giselle dress (as pictured above). Everything about this dress screams romance to me, particularly the elegant buttons placed on the waist and the wonderfully gentle colour, perfect for awards season. If, however, the colour doesn't particularly float your boat you can have it dyed absolutely any colour your heart desires... for free! There's simply no excuse, gosh I wish I had a reason to wear it.Our second stop was over in the lingerie department where we met with Tina who was eager to let us all know about their bra fitting service - something I must get done at some point. I cooed over pieces from Elle Macpherson and their own JL Collection, the nudes and pinks were gorgeous and predicted to be a big hit this season. This service is again free but there is no need to book, fitting is on demand meaning you can fit it into your day easily.The morning then ended with a final thank you and goodbye and a blogger's lucky dip in which I got a Tisserand hand and nail cream which will undoubtedly be a new handbag essential. A lovely token of generosity.I came out with a completely different view of JL just knowing that I'd be back. I knew they were renowned for their customer service, striking up conversations as you wander showing a real interest in what you've come in for; (as I discussed with some of the ladies, there's nothing worse than going in a shop to spend money only to be stared down by an uninterested member of staff) but it was never a place I turned to, to shop for clothes (with the exception of my Barbour Jacket). This is simply that I always assumed this to be a shop for middle aged and above clientele with money to spend; an absolutely awful assumption to have now I have realised what a fantastic dynamic shop this really is! They cater for all ages, and it's worth shopping high street brands here such as Mango, Oasis and Ted Baker just for the 90 day money back guarantee.JL will be showcasing their exclusive Alice Temperley Somerset ready-to-wear collection on the runway on the first night of Cambridge Style Week - 20th February - as part of the Best of British Gala. Tickets start at £5.Until then, keep up to date with CSW via:Their website and blog.Twitter not forgetting to use the hashtag #cambstyleFacebook: Cambridge Style WeekInstagram: cambsstyleweekPinterest: Cambridge Style WeekI hope you enjoyed the second instalment in my Cambridge Style Week series (and didn't go through too many cups of tea or coffee), I look forward to bringing you more goss, interviews and photos from the events themselves later on in the month! I cannot wait.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Fifty facts about me

I'm not normally one to jump on the bandwagon, but I decided to get a ticket this time around.

1. My name is Claire but my nickname from high school is Dot. I'm still called it today.
2. Several people genuinely thought my real name was Dot, much to my mum's dismay.
3. I have a degree in Film and Media studies. 
4. I volunteer at a rabbit rescue.
5. Me and my boyfriend Phil have been together 5 and a half years. 
6. We met on Myspace.
7. I'm a weeny bit taller than him but he will deny that.
8. Me and Phil top and tail in our single beds when we visit each other at the weekends. 
9. I sometimes wake up in the middle of the night and say something completely weird, I then realise what I said and curse. My best ones were 'There's an elephant on the ceiling!' and 'Oh! That's a good idea... A bumblebee carrier!'
10. My family call me Calamity Jane. I'm frequently breaking things or knocking things over. I pulled down and snapped the curtain rail just last week.
11. I fell in the toy box headfirst when I was 2.
12. I fell down the stairs backwards when I was 5.
13. It's as if there wasn't a day that went by at Primary school where I didn't have a graze on my knee. Just as one would heal, I'd fall again.
14. Me and my mum call each other 'Moo'.
15. I get my love of coffee from her, black with 1 sugar please.
16. My favourite TV series is The Vampire Diaries. Damon all the way.
17. I love McFly - I've been a ridiculous fangirl since the age of 14.
18. I'm 23.
19. I've seen them play live 8 times and I'm seeing them again in May - you do the math.
20. I frequently trip over my words. It always sounds better in my head.
21. Napping is a pet hate of mine, it not only makes me feel rough but it drives me mad when people nap around me.
22. I also hate loud breathers. 
23. I don't wear foundation or blusher. The only makeup I concentrate on is eyes and lips.
24. I have 4 ear piercings but never wear earrings. 
25. I don't know how to define my style. I like what I like I wear what I wear.
26. I will forever favour a day out over a night out.
27. I think things through far too much. This can be both a good thing and a bad thing.
28. I've never been stung by a bee or a wasp but I panic incase I do and have a bad reaction.
29. I have two rabbits called Tigger and Jeeves. They are a boy/girl pair who have a penthouse at the bottom of the garden. 
30. I'm too much of a goody-goody. I hate speeding whilst driving.     
31. My driving has been likened to that of an 'old woman' on more than one occasion. So what if I like to drive 10 to 2?
32. Despite this, I am a massive Top Gear lover. 
33. I try to make up dreams before I fall asleep. It works sometimes.
34. I rarely drink alcohol.
35. I've never been 'wasted'.
36. I cannot do accents to save my life.
37. I'm not great with countries or capital cities. 
38. I love rollercoasters.
39. I went to Disneyland Paris in 2008 with Phil and nearly cried when we had to leave. I feel so at home there it's unreal. I will go back.
40. I have a Canon 450d with a standard 18-55mm IS lens and a 70-300 IS USM lens. I attempt photography and am virtually self taught.
41. I have moments when I wonder where something is, despite not needing it, and cannot settle until I find it.
42. I am a member of the RWAF (Rabbit welfare association & fund) and passionate about rabbit welfare.
43. I don't have a great deal of self esteem.
44. I'll always be a country girl. I don't think I could ever feel 'at home' in the city. 
45. I'm a real home-bird.
46. David Attenborough rocks! I'm slowly building up a dvd collection.
47. I'm animal mad, I love animal documentaries, trips to the zoo and walks amongst wildlife.
48. However, I really don't like peacocks, especially when they put their tails up. This stems from when I was very little as I once came across a peacock who put it's tail up and shook it at me. 
49. I'm also very nervous around goats as I was head butted in the stomach by one when I was little. My mum quickly picked me up and the very same goat proceeded to head butt her in the leg!
50. I love the smell of chlorine!

Hopefully these weren't too boring for you! I've tried to pick out the interesting or odd ones to save you nodding off.
Do let me know if you can relate to any of these, it'll make me feel less weird. 

Monday, 4 February 2013

When I grow up, I want to be a mermaid.

Ever since going to a friends jewellery party, being forced to try on the most hated item there and, much to everyone's disbelief, rocking it; I've become a big fan of statement accessories. I had no particular attitude towards statement jewellery before, I just thought that I wouldn't suit it and maybe it was reserved for the really fashionable so I simply steered clear. This is of course complete nonsense as I have learnt otherwise, I can pull them off easily and so can you. I've been admiring numerous other pieces from near and afar and have been on the hunt for a second eye-catcher to add alongside my aforementioned 'hooker' number, as it was so kindly called, and this is what I found.
Olivia Accessories, a boutique company inspired by the art deco period and 1940's fashion, stock a good few statement necklaces, but this particular number caught my eye. It has an aged brass effect, a snake chain and amazing interlocking layers which resemble that of a mermaid's tail, three features I am undeniably in love with. It's incredibly light too, I initially envisioned I'd be dragging my neck around with all these layers and snake chain but I was pleasantly surprised, I almost forgot it was there! Before trying big bulky jewellery this necklace would have been completely out of my comfort zone, but I wasn't scared by it's boldness - not one bit. 
Versatility is key! Honestly, I've lost count how many times I've described items as versatile but this is one of the biggest selling points for anything with me. I like being able to transform pieces from one style to another, dressed up or dressed down - the more looks I can get out of it the better and this necklace falls into this category. With an adjustable clasp it is sure to fit to almost any neckline; I can wear it under a collar or into a deep V for an elegant and professional twist or I can wear it against a bold print or denim to accentuate an edgy style. It's all very well saying you should accessorise your outfits to bring out its best elements and complete it, but with something as versatile and as beautiful as this necklace, I'd be inclined to use my wardrobe to accessorise around my accessories! 

Who else loves statement jewellery? If you've never felt brave enough I challenge you to take the leap.