Tuesday, 31 January 2012

The sweetest gift you can ever give

A friend up your sleeve: Helpful hankies by Moi Self, £10 each, my-wardrobe.com
I came across this fantastic little brand on Twitter last night and knew I had to share it with you. These superbly sweet hankies from Moi Self are just wonderful. Each Helpful Hanky has a kind little message and gorgeous illustration screen-printed on it by hand, perfect for cheering your BFF up (or even yourself) in times of need. There are five of these quirky designs, guaranteed to put a smile on anyone's face.

Monday, 30 January 2012

Bargain of the week: £18 chunky heels

What was it I was saying the other day about shoes? Oh yes, that's right, you just can't beat a good black staple shoe. Smugness aside, this week's bargain is a bit of a corker, even if I do say so myself.

Lindsey heels, £18, Wynsors
These lovely suedette chunky black heels from Wynsors are plain and simple high fashion on a budget. The photos here don't really do them justice if I'm honest with you.

I usually opt for a t-bar shoe when it comes to anything higher than a court but these are great. They fit my toes like gloves (or socks even) and the square toe only makes for extra comfort - just what you need for stomping around the office!

Friday, 27 January 2012

Friday fashion tip: Sosolo online boutique!

As you can probably tell lovely readers, I kind of have a thing for regular posts (Bargain of the week Mondays, Beauty Wednesdays). So hopefully you won't find my tendency to name blog posts after days of the week too annoying and will enjoy the brand spanking new fashion tip Friday series! Yay!

First up comes a little gem of an online fashion boutique for your perusal. Sosolo stocks independent retailers, affordable vintage from across the world and one-off pieces from new designers. If you're looking for some stand out fashion to add to your wardrobe this season Sosolo is the place to go.

Favourite Spring/Summer looks

1. I love love love this Balmain inspired geometric print skirt from Nikki Pearson

2. Work a bold print in this bargain dress, only £18
3. Invest in some gorgeous vintage: this 1970s jacquard shimmering jacket is a steal at £60
4. Channel Chanel's underwater trend in a shimmering silver dress, £18

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Forget LBD, it's all about the black shoes!

Karl Lagerfeld once said "One is never over-dressed or under-dressed with a little black dress". Wise words there Karl, but while a dress may be the immediate focus, it is the accessories that will always make the outfit.

Every wardrobe needs a few staples: blazer, Breton top, black dress... but one thing too often gets overlooked: the basic shoe*. So when Sarenza asked us bloggers to write about our favourite shoes from their site, I knew straight away what I was going to blog about: black shoes. 

Now you may be thinking of some dodgy 90s school shoes or bland work pumps but bear with me on this one. You can't go wrong with a good staple black heel. They go with practically everything. You may be a peep toe girl, Mary Jane lover or maybe even a simple court will do. Whatever your style, you need some black shoes in your life. No excuses.

French Connection JENNA, £91, Sarenza
I love these French Connection shoe boots. They suit my style down to the ground. They go from day to night so easily and can be worn with anything from jeans to dresses to maxi skirts - and have just enough edge that they can be smart and sassy all at once.

I think the most important thing about choosing a staple pair of shoes though is to not skimp on the spending. Yes, £90 may be stretching the budget a little bit this time, but do the fashion maths: better quality = more wears = a justified purchase, right? Call it an investment - or if you find a budget buy which do the job equally as well, don't keep it to yourself!

*Shoe lovers, I know your wardrobe may be bursting at the hinges, but think - do you really have a good all occasion shoe?

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Beauty Wednesday: The one where I write a love letter to Sally Hansen

Oh Sally Hansen, you may have just created the perfect nail product. For years I've been suffering with splitting, peeling and generally horrible nails and then that little blue bottle came in to my life.

Miracle cure is not only, ahem, a miracle cure for nails in poor condition but, it turns out its also a fantastic top coat too. After not being able to find my clear top coat on the weekend, I used this magic elixir to cover up a Topshop nail varnish (another highly recommended product!) - and it hasn't chipped. I mean, in five days hasn't chipped, smudged, moved a millimetre at all. I'm usually the girl who destroys perfectly manicured nails in half a second but oh no, not with Sally Hansen! 

Now obviously use as a top coat isn't the intended purpose for this varnish so if you're unsure, Sally Hansen also offer a range of what I am sure are equally as excellent top coat paints.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Chic & charitable for Breast Cancer Care Cymru

Calling all Welsh fashionistas! 

On 7 March 2012, Breast Cancer Care Cymru will be hosting a fashion show to support the men and women of Wales living with the illness - and they need your support.

Twenty inspiring models, all of whom have had a breast cancer diagnosi, will take to the catwalk in Cardiff city hall, hoping to raise £70,000 to go towards providing vital information and support to those who have been affected by breast cancer.

“We are extremely excited about holding our second Welsh fashion show," said Judy Beard, director of fundraising and marketing at Breast Cancer Care. “We have 20 wonderful models who are gearing up to strut their stuff and sashay down the catwalk at this glittering event to show the world that you can feel fantastic and body confident after a breast cancer diagnosis."

This time last year, my life had never been affected that closely by cancer. It had only ever been an illness that friends of friends had experienced - and I never really felt the realities of it. Within 12 very short months, I have seen three people in my life be directly affected by cancer and countless others cope with it too. 

It is so important to help charities like Breast Cancer Care support the people who have been affected by this illness and that is why I hope you'll spare two minutes and a few pounds to sponsor the models who will be in the show. All you need to do is visit this link.

The Jenny Richards tribute fund

A girl I grew up with lost the fight with cancer in November last year. I lived in a small village where everyone knew everyone and to say the loss shocked us all would be an understatement. Her family and friends have set up a fund in aid of the Macmillan Nurses - if you would like to help honour Jenny's memory, please donate.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Bargain of the week: COS sale special!

I know what you're thinking: how dare she. How dare she leave us with nothing for a week then just pop up with a little bargain post to tantalise us back into reading, pfft, come on!

Ok, so I was a little bit rubbish with my blogging last week. Trust me, I had good intentions but it just kept getting pushed down my ever expanding to-do list. Sorry guys.

So, to kick off a week of good habits (starting the exercise regime off again tomorrow - it's an official I have to thing now, I bought a sports top and everything), this week's bargain is actually a COS sale special!

I have no flippin' idea how I'm only discovering COS now. It's just amazing, I want to buy pretty much everything on their site. The clothes are total designer-esque without the hefty price tag - but it's the store's fantastic minimalist accessories that have got me drooling. Just take a look at these beauties I found in the sale.

1. Chain tassel necklace  2. Colour block purse  3. Rubber and leather cuff  4. Twisted bead necklace  5. Elasticated waist belt

All prices quoted in British pounds are based on my conversions from Euros and may not be exactly the same as the retailer's price.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Beauty Wednesday: SS12 hair trend - the messy up-do

It may be because I'm too lazy to fiddle with my hair much or it might be because I just spent a year living with a French girl who had consistently gorgeous undone hair, either way I currently live by the messy up-do.

And fan-bloomin'-tastic news ladies and gents, Spring/Summer 2012 is all about deconstructed locks. Forget all those slicked back styles and immaculate retro curls, think california waves scraped back and wispy hair effortlessly tumbling from a loose ponytail.

Images from instyle.co.uk and company.co.uk
A quick, easy hair tutorial, courtesy of John Frieda

Monday, 16 January 2012

Bargain of the week: Primark or Pramark?

Dakota Fanning sports a Prada top almost identical
to Primark's offering on the cover of ELLE, February 2012.
Now I know the Primark lookbook has been around for a while but the items are only just starting to make an appearance in store - and, boy, you are in for a treat with this collection! The high street bargain powerhouse have really outdone themselves for SS12.

As soon as I saw this outfit in the Primark promo material, I knew it had to be on Bargain of the week's hitlist. This cute blouse and pleated midi skirt combo sports a very similar car print and shares design elements with what was shown on the Prada runway back in Autumn (one of my favourite collections for SS12, I love a 50s vibe).

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Save, spend or splurge: online jewellery boutiques special

One of the best things about being a fashion writer is discovering cool and quirky places to shop and then sharing them with you lovely lot. This week I seem to have become a little bit obsessed with updating my jewellery box and, in my quest for new accessories, have come across some fantastic online shops.

What? Run by jewellery designer Dayner Lloyd, Mozzypop is perfect for a cute and quirky fix.
How much? Up to £6.95. (All prices quoted as of January 2011)
Why? For good prices and quirky accessories. I was swayed by this very Yves Saint Laurent arty ring (£6.95).

Temporary Secretary
What? Another bright and bubbly boutique, featured in lots of top magazines.
How much? From £3 to £22.95, but most stock is under £10.
Why? For something to suit every taste. I love this stained glass butterfly necklace (£12), destined to look perfect with all your SS12 florals.

ASOS Marketplace
What? ASOS meets eBay in one glorious fashion sale.
How much? Dependent on sellers listing, prices start at £1.
Why? For an eclectic mix of handmade, vintage and second-hand pieces not available on your average high street. This semi-circle necklace (£3.99) from seller Kukee caught my eye.

Me & Zena
What? 'Jewellery for the unruly'.
How much? £4 - £44
Why? For a burst of colour. This 'I see you' hexagon eye ring (£16.80) is so House of Harlow meets Henry Holland, don't you think?

What? Earthy jewellery made of silver and precious stones.
How much? £9.93 (basic designs) to £62.09
Why? Ditch the Urban Outfitters stuff and opt for high quality pieces that will make you want to wander through a desert. I'm lusting after this silver rainbow aura bangle (£57.95).

Hannah Zakari
What? Something for everyone - you can't not like something in this store.
How much? £6 - £314
Why? For unique pieces to make you stand out from the crowd. Just take a look at this aztec pattern restored vintage locket (£58) - simply marvellous.

What? Jewellery with a lot of character: themes rocket between darkness and optimism (think skulls, spines and snake motifs vs. feathers and hearts).
How much? €73 - €1198
Why? For delicate designs with a hardy feel. This delicate feather necklace ( €198) looks like it could survive a war.

What? Chunky jewellery that won't weigh you down.
How much? £65 - £390
Why? For timeless design suited to a range of occasions. This Sunday bracelet, for example, will add glamour in an instant (£200).

Emilie Thomas

What? Accessories inspired by nature.
How much? £98 - £497
Why? Every one of these intricate pieces is handmade by Welsh designer Emilie Thomas. The detail on this seahorse ring (£190) is a testimony to her skill.

What do you think of the guide? Add your shopping suggestions in the comment box below!

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Celeb style: Olivia Palermo

Today was supposed to be my evening off but I just couldn't resist putting this little tip up! 

Remember this skirt?
Image (c) glamourmagazine.co.uk
Yup, that's the actual Olivia Palermo wearing an actual Topshop skirt at the actual Topshop Unique show last September. For days, fashion sites posted with glee at Olivia in this cute high street buy, while the skirt flew off the racks.

Now that the January sales have come around, I have some completely brilliant bargain fashion news! The Premium devore floral calf skirt has just been reduced from £65 to £35 in the Topshop sale (sizes 12 and 14). WOW.

Forget spring trends, this vintage style skirt will last you for seasons to come - especially when teamed with quirky Olivia-esque styling.

Premium devore floral calf skirt, £35, Topshop

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Beauty Wednesday: miracle cures and hair fit for a (future) Queen

Welcome to the brand spanking new Beauty Wednesday series! Every Wednesday, Chic & Cheerful will be featuring something hair and/or beauty related. This week, I've put together a little post on the best beauty stories from around the web today but if you have a how to you'd like to read or know of a brilliant product we should be talking about, drop me a line!

1. The latest miracle cure: Fotoshop by Adobé

The video says it all really. Bloomin' hilarious.

2. Free L'Occitane handcream
All you have to do is like the L'Occitane facebook page and you will receive a voucher for a free 30ml tube of their brilliant 20% shea handcream, worth £7.50. I highly recommend the shea cream, it softens skin, absorbs quickly and smells absolutely superb.

No7 BB Cream, Boots, £12.95 - worth your money according to Glam UK
3. BB cream defined
I'll willingly admit that my beauty expertise is somewhat lacking compared to my fashion knowledge (blame it on sensitive skin and unsteady hands). And having seen all the BB cream ads lately, I was curious to learn more. 

According to Cosmo, "This wonder cream is meant to be all-singing and all-dancing. It will give you a good base for makeup like a primer, even out complexion like a tinted moisturiser, cover minor imperfections and redness like a concealer, hydrate your skin like your day cream, brighten and perk-up a dull complexion and some will even protect with SPF. Some also promise healing, soothing and anti-ageing properties." In other words, probably the best thing you can ever buy for your face. Now where's my credit card?

Not a split end in sight!
image from posh24.com
4. The secret behind Kate Middleton's glossy locks
While Kate leaves me somewhat disgruntled fashion (stop shopping in Zara, I want those dresses before your followers go crazy for them) and make up wise (far too much dear, you're only 30 after all), I am in complete envious of her gorgeous hair. But, according to her hairdresser James Pryce, her shiny tresses are completely achievable  - all you need is a good weekly conditioning mask, like Shu Uemura's sleek smoothing treatment (£32.75 for 200ml, feelunique.com).

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Vote for Chic & Cheerful in the Marie Claire blog awards!

So as you may have noticed from the snazzy new logo, Chic & Cheerful has been longlisted in the Marie Claire blog and twitter awards for fashion blog of the year. What a way to start 2012!

I am super excited by the news and hope you are too - after all where would the site be without its readers? Ok, shameless flattery aside, I hope you can spare a couple of seconds to vote for C&C in the awards. All you have to do is visit this link, - or click the widget on the top left of the sidebar - choose Chic and Cheerful as fashion blog of the year from the drop down bar and then give yourself a pat on the back for doing your good deed of the day.

The winner will get the chance to write for Marie Claire i.e. a dream job for a journalist looking to boost her CV.

Thanks for voting, it means the world to me!

Monday, 9 January 2012

Bargain of the week: Christopher Kane look-a-like clutch

After a few days off, we're back with a bang to officially begin a new year of Chic & Cheerful. And what better way to start than with a beautiful bargain of the week!

Christopher Kane laser cut leather clutch, £295, NET-A-PORTER
Remember this lovely creation from Christopher Kane? I read somewhere that he made the first of these clutches out of offcuts from his Spring/Summer 2011 collection to cheer his little sister up - and of course this little bag went nuclear, so to speak.

Well, check out this very Kane-esque creation from ASOS. The clockwork cut out pattern is just different yet similar enough to update your look while giving Chris a cheeky nod. I struggle to get neons to look good with my light skin tone but this accessory in both its yellow and pink incarnations suits us pale girls down to the ground - and will definitely amp up your January wardrobe!

Laser cut zip top clutch, £25, ASOS
Feeling crafty? Try this Matter of Style guide to making your own neon lace clutch, inspired by Mr Kane's work.

Monday, 2 January 2012

10 fashion resolutions for 2012

Now we've all recovered from our hopefully fashionable hangovers after the New Year's celebrations, I figured it was about time to think up some resolutions.

We all have bad habits when it comes to fashion and I am quite willing to admit that I have some of the worst. Don't get me wrong, I like to think I'm quite a well kept person but, you know what it's like, you get stuck in a fashion rut and have no time (and/or limited funds) to remedy the problem.

So I made a big decision (rather momentously at midnight on New Year's Eve - ever the drama queen!) that 2012 will be a year of change for me. I'm going to sort out my life once and for all - and that, of course, starts with my wardrobe.

1. No more buying clothes to fit into
Ah, now I admit to being very very bad for doing this far too often. My wardrobe at the moment is a mirror of my desire to be healthier and happier with how I look. So, rather than continue to buy clothes in shapes and sizes that will suit me when I sort myself out, I'm not going to buy anything. Well, no, that's a lie. It's more that I'm only going to pick up a few key wardrobe upgrades while I sort myself out, rather than hoarding for the future.

(c) Susie Bubble
2. Up the ante
I'll never be a Susie Bubble, I'm far too conservative and obsessed with cardigans to be anywhere near as stylish. But that doesn't mean I can't pop out of my comfort zone every now and then. There are some bloomin' fantastic (excuse the floral trend pun there) looks about this Spring and I fully intend to at least try them. Even it is just once.

I may be swayed for these lovelies...
Maison Scotch flower print chino, £100, ASOS
3. Try trousers (possibly)
I have several friends who refer to 'Ruth dresses' (e.g. "Oh, I bought such a Ruth dress today, it's so pretty!"). It's so flattering, right? To inspire someone to buy cute dresses...if only someone would pay me to do it, then I'd be landed.

I love 50s skirts, high waists, patterns and tights and never ever wear trousers. I have leggings to wear with shirt dresses but that's as far as I currently go. Thing is though, it's quite limiting: I love a chunky knit jumper but they are near impossible to wear with a skirt. So here I am, vowing to buy a pair of trousers. Maybe. We'll see.

4. Quality over quantity
Right, I'm not about to go out and spend £3000 on one dress to wear to all of my events this year. First, because I'm pretty sure Welsh people don't go to 'events' and secondly because that's just mental. This resolution is about stopping my naughty little habit for buying one-off dresses to wear out from Primark. I know, such fast, easy fashion feels so right at the time, but I really have far too many £10 dresses that need hand washing.

Disclaimer: I'm not this bad
(c) Daniel Dale
5. Stop wearing ripped tights
Oh come on, we've all done it once! I don't think I have one pair of tights at the moment that doesn't have a hole in the toe or a scag on the waistband and it has to stop. I'm off to M&S.

6. Plan ahead
There have been far too many mornings where I've been running around without a clue what to put on. So I'm following in the footsteps of all the fashion greats and sorting my style out by planning ahead. Hey, we may even get a couple of outfit posts out of it too!

7. Use that jewellery box that's gathering dust in my room
Enough said on this one really. 

Prada SS12
8. Be inspired by the past
Whether it be fifties inspirations at Prada or the twenties glamour soon to be shown off in The Great Gatsby, the year ahead is filled with vintage looks - and I can't wait to start filling my wardrobe with them. 

9. Admit that pyjamas are not clothes
But they're just so comfy...

And finally, 10. Work on Chic & Cheerful
This little blog is looking forward to bigger and brighter things for the new year which started with our design update and launch of the new Twitter page. Watch this space lovelies :)
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