Secretary Chic

“Here is your coffee Mr Smith, would you like me to finish that filing?”

OK, the traditional secretary doesnt exist anymore but the prim yet sexy look still can. I’m a great fan of the TV show Mad Men and this look as a Joan vibe to it (without the amazing bosom sadly!). Its a cute, preppy look thats often replicated by Kate Spade or J Crew too, favourites of mine and is perfect for a day in the office.   

This is one of those looks that has been pulled together from existing pieces and doesnt require a shopping trip (hoorah says my bank manager!). Its really just based around a great vintage skirt I got for £3 in a charity shop – these type of skirts are easily found and look rubbish on the hanger – the type of skirt your Nana would of worn, but styled right look great.     

I love the removable white bow I got from River Island after Christmas taking a plain white shirt from Matalan and making it both feminine and smart.  A preppy slipover jumper and ankle boots keep the look from looking too vintage (which I hate)…    

So next time you walk past a charity shop filled with 1960’s polyester skirts maybe its worth a second look, what do you think?

Bow – River Island
Blouse – Matalan
Jumper – Benetton
Skirt – Vintage
Shoes – New Look

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InstaNatural Argan Oil Beauty Review

I have been using a new organic range as part of my beauty routine for a while now.  I have reviewed quite a few of InstaNaturals products now (find the blogs here and here) and I have now tried out some of their Argan Oil products.
As a 43 year old who wants to look 33 (!) I do make sure I follow a good beauty regime and InstaNatural say their products are great if you have sensitive skin as the entire product line is made without alcohols, parabens and sulfates that can be irritating to the skin and none of the products are tested on animals.  In todays blog I share my thoughts on 3 of their Argan Oil based products…InstaNatural Organic Argan Oil Multipurpose mosturiser for hair, face, skin & nails – £16.95/120ml

Details: 100% pure and Eco certified Moroccan Argan Oil.  

I have been using Argan oil for a while now and really like its simplicity and multi usefulness…well I did until I realised the cheaper ‘Argan’ oil I was using had 9 other non natural (ie chemical) ingredients in it! This oil from InstaNatural is 100% pure, in a large size (which lasts ages) and is in a nice glass bottle with a pump. It feels great and worked wonders taming my thick curly hair particularly before blow drying. Use it sparingly as (maybe because its so pure) a little goes a long way and needs to be able soak in…otherwise it will make hair greasy.  InstaNatural say it is therapeutic for every skin condition and also great for Acne, dry scalps, split ends, frizzy hair, stretch marks, nail cuticles & more!  I used it on dryer areas of my skin too – knees, elbows etc and it softened them nicely as well as creating a nice ‘glow’ of my skin, great if you’re going out and showing a bit more skin than normal. With this being 100% organic/ natural there is no perfume to it, in fact it smells as you’d expect – slightly oily, but I’d much rather that than use all the chemicals I was inadvertently using before.

Argan Oil Leave in hair treatment – £11.95/120ml

Details: 100% Pure & Organic Argan Oil, Coconut Oil & Carrot Seed Oil.

Having quite thick wavy long hair, Argan oil is something I do often use in my hair to try to tame the frizz. Used sparingly this treatment by InstaNatural can be really beneficial for dry hair, or dry/split ends in particular. However if you use too much your hair will end up greasy – it took me a while to get the amount right as you don’t need more than two pumps of product to make your hair feel soft and shiny. If your hair gets tangled easily after washing I’d recommend this too.

This is an easy to apply lightweight oil which comes in a large pump action glass bottle and is filled with ingredients such as grapeseed oil, olive oil, jojoba oil and shea butter and has a mild scent. Overall I liked its effects and would recommend as a twice weekly treatment rather than daily to create shiny, frizz free, nourished hair.

img_4157InstaNatural Superior Hydration Argan Oil Hair Mask – £14.94/240ml

Details: Organic Argan Oil, Organic Jojoba Oil, Coconut Oil, Vitamin B5 & Green Tea.

This is a deep conditioning hair mask in a large tub with a screw on lid. The conditioner is thick but easy to apply from the tub – I worked it through my long hair paying particular attention to the ends as these are quite dry and left it on for about 10-15 minutes. The product has a lovely sweet smell to it, and it rinsed out well and did not leave my hair feeling greasy at all. Afterwards my hair was left feeling very soft and smooth. The hair mask has ingredients such as Argan Oil, Japanese Green Tea, Amino Acid Complex, Coconut Oil, Shea Butter, Jojoba Oil, Avocado Oil and Vitamin B5 and is totally organic like all InstaNatural products.

Overall I liked its effects and would recommend as a weekly treatment to create shiny, frizz free, nourished hair particularly if you blow dry or straighten your hair a lot. Its gorgeous aroma lasts and was remarked upon very positively by my partner which was nice too!

The range is sold exclusively in the UK via Amazon.co.uk – find the full range here. All prices correct on Amazon at time of posting.

All products – InstaNatural via Amazon*

Sightseeing in Budapest

Over the Easter break I took a wonderful 4 day trip to Budapest in Hungary.  

It is an absolutely beautiful city and I couldn’t resist doing an ‘outfit of the day’ in such a stunning  location – it certainly beats my kitchen/diner where I usually shoot my outfit posts!

The look…

 

I saw this cream tasseled jacket in the Primark Tottenham Court Road store and instantly fell in love with it. Priced at £20 it looks much more expensive than that. Size-wise I went for the UK12 as the 10 was a little tight across the shoulders on me. I love the tasseled 3/4 length sleeves and bib detail front and its a lightweight cotton thats perfect for hotter days.

I added a pair of trusty New Look ‘super skinny’ jeans and my look was complete. I love NL denim and these jeans are tight all over (hence the super skinny fit name because I’m definitely not!) yet highwaisted and very stretchy so quite flattering.

    

The details…

I added a pair of Primark tortoiseshell effect sunglasses (£3) and denim pumps (£4), along with a trusty GAP white tee underneath.  The denim pumps elongate the look, meaning your eye is drawn just to the hero piece – that fabulous Primark jacket.     

The jacket and pumps are both in store now – be quick though as Primark stock moves very quickly.  I just love this look and know I will wear it quite a bit this Summer. 

Now I just need to get back on holiday…

Credits
Jacket – Primark
T-shirt – GAP
Jeans – New Look
Sunglasses – Primark
Denim pumps – Primark

Still sweet on Suede…

I do like wearing real suede and leather. Wearing them always creates a luxe look that you just cant get any other way – however this makes the items expensive.

I wasn’t  planning on buying a suede skirt but it just happened…it was a bargain in the Debenhams sale for 70% off and I couldnt say no!

The skirt is from the Red Herring range and I’m wearing a UK12. To be honest it was the only one left so I didnt get a choice. Size wise its a little loose around the waist but pretty fitted on the hips so I’d say its true to size.


With a skirt like this I find it best to make it the focus of the outfit. I’ve done this by co-ordinating it with just black…this also makes it a more flattering look as the bulky suede plus the buttons is not the most disguising for my rounded tum! An M&Co fitted roll neck jumper, plus black tights and boots create a slightly retro, 1960’s look I think looks pretty stylish.



As I was at work that day, my hair and make up was a messy (ish) bun and relatively neutral make-up with just a splash of bright colour on my lips.I like a bun for days when I haven’t washed my hair or can’t be bothered to straighten it (hey, I am a working mum with a business on the side!) and use a bun donut underneath to create a more striking look. These can be picked up really cheaply in Wilkinsons or Boots and make a real difference. Just pull your hair into a ponytail, add the donut and then use hair-pins to fix your hair around it.

This classic suede skirt is going to become a wardrobe staple I can tell…

Jumper – M&Co.

Earings – New Look

Skirt – Red Herring @ Debenhams

Boots – Store TwentyOne

Alice in Wonderland at the British Library

One of my favourite books in the world is Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Caroll. In fact not just the book – I love the ideas, the illustrations, the history and the endless versions of it that have been created.  When I heard the British Library were having an exhibition dedicated to it I just had to go. 

    

From the British Library website: 
“Happy Birthday Alice! To celebrate 150 years of the publication of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, this exhibition explores how Alice has captured our imaginations for so many years. Although the story has been adapted, appropriated, re-imagined and re-illustrated since its conception, we are still enchanted by Carroll’s original, much loved story, which continues to inspire new generations of writers and illustrators.

Come and see Lewis Carroll’s original manuscript with hand-drawn illustrations, alongside stunning editions by Mervyn Peake, Ralph Steadman, Leonard Weisgard, Arthur Rackham, Salvador Dali and others.
Discover how Lewis Carroll’s story has been re-imagined, re-interpreted and re-illustrated over the last 150 years with newly commissioned articles, a selection of manuscripts, reviews and literature relating to Alice in Wonderland”.

You start by taking a journey through a pop up of mirrors and maze walls all peppered with Alice in Wonderland quotes and various illustration from books across the 150 years of its publication.  

  
You then enter the exhibition itself which showcases everything from the first edition, details and photos of the original Alice; Alice Liddell, examples of all the different illustrations that have been done over the last 100+ years, plus original art, vintage toys and of course, the ‘Disneyfied’ Alice and her merchandise.

My favourite thing had to be the original diary and then handmade book (complete with hand drawn illustrations) by Charles Dodgson (the real name of Lewis Carroll) that he made Alice as a present after that afternoon of storytelling…for a fan like me it was just breaktaking to see it.
 
 
 Plus there’s a fab pop up Alice in Wonderland shop with lots of fabulous quirky items.  

Its definitely worth a visit whether you are a fan or not and its wonderful that it is free for the nation to enjoy. Thank goodness for the patrons of the arts whose donations make this sort of thing possible. 

The exhibition is in the library foyer, is free to get in to and runs until 17th April.

The British Library is at 96 Euston Rd, London NW1 2DB – nearest Tube Kings Cross/St Pancras.