Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Perfect party shoes you will want to find under the tree this Xmas

Blush Mary-Janes, £78.95, c/o Freed of London
It's been a while since I had a chance to blog, but I haven't been lazy, trust me: my little break has been filled with plenty of festive activities - including one of the best Christmas parties I've ever been to.

Work parties can either be brilliant or an absolute disaster - thankfully for me it turned out to be the former this year. A good night with my fellow reporters turned into something even better when I was given a little company award for my hard work since starting with the paper in April - but what really topped the night off for me was these shoes.

I know, I know, free wine and public praise from the boss (even if it did make me cringe like a mad woman) and I'm *still* focused on the fashion! But these pumps from Freed of London are pure party perfection. They were so comfy all night - although you'd expect nothing but the best from dance shoe experts - and an absolute dream to accessorise.

Time to add these to your list for Santa, ladies.

Friday, 5 December 2014

Holidays in my very own home

Wooden decorations, £3, Tesco
Everyone knows that the first sign Santa is on his way is the Coca-Cola advert. I mean, sure, there's the endearingly sweet John Lewis offerings, but there was nothing that could get me quite as excited when I was a kid as the sound of "Holidays are coming..."

This year I'm starting from scratch when it comes to Christmas. I'm in a new house, with no decorations and a blank canvas. But with a few little gifts, and a secondhand tree, it's slowly coming together.

Bottle and bauble, c/o Coca-Cola
The lovely ladies over at Coke very nicely started off my decorating with the pretty little bottle above - and it's inspired me to create a little more homemade magic this year.

My tiny little journalist's salary means that I just can't afford to buy all my decorations at Liberty this year so things are going to have to get a little bit more creative. I'm something cute, folksy and understated so watch this space.

A little gift from Dubrovnik

Thursday, 27 November 2014

The Black Friday fashion discount codes you need to know: BooHoo, Missguided, ASOS, Topshop and River Island

Black Friday and its weekend of discounts is upon us so, in the bargain hunting spirit, here are all the best fashion and beauty discount codes and links I could find for a spot of online shopping. 

BooHoo: 30% off everything and free delivery (no code needed) - Starts on Friday, ends on Monday

Missguided: 20% off everything; Code: CYBER20 - Starts Thursday, ends Monday

AllSaints: 20% off; Code: CYBER - Starts Friday, ends Monday

ASOS: 20% off everything; Code: CYBERWKND20 - Starts Friday, ends Tuesday

River Island: 20% off; Code: TREAT28 - From 11am-3pm on Friday

French Connection: 40% off; Code: FC40B - Starts Friday, ends Monday

Gap: 50% off; Code: BLKFRIDAY - Starts Thursday, ends Friday

Topshop: Up to 50% off selected lines - Starts Thursday, ends Monday

Urban Outfitters: Up to 50% off - Code: #UOBLACKOUT - Friday only

Whistles: 30% off everything (no code needed) - Starts Friday

Zara: 20% off outerwear, sweaters, t-shirts, cardigans and boots (no code needed) - Starts Friday

Warehouse: 25% off full-price range/up to 30% off select seasonal items like knitwear and coats; Code: CYBER25 - Until midnight on Monday

Boots: Varying discounts with big offers, including a Best of Benefit cosmetics gift set discounted from £54 to £24.50 - From Friday to Monday

Kurt Geiger: 20% off everything; Code F&FKG20 - Until midnight on Sunday

Superdrug: 50% off - Until Tuesday 

Dorothy Perkins: 30% off and an extra 30% off surprise picks

New Look: Up to 50% off

That's it for the codes, but keep an eye on Marks and Spencer, John Lewis, and Very, all of whom are promising to take part in the discount day!

Winter high street home haul: Primark, Matalan and Tesco

Wooden hanging bird, £2, Primark; Snowglobe, £5, Matalan; Glade candle, £2 (on offer), Tesco
I'm such a sucker for homeware as it is but with pretty treats like these around, who could resist! 

I've been picking up the odd bits and pieces while out and about recently, not even realising it would turn into a proper haul. This is my first winter in a new home (squee!) and I've been using it as an excuse to tuck away all the bright white linens in favour of deep blues and rich reds.

The candle above is Glade's cosy cinnamon and apple, and ohmigod is it heavenly. I bought an armful of these when they were offer a short while back and my house is now completely enveloped in the scent. Yum.

Fairisle bed sheets, £20 (kingsize), Primark; Slate sign, £3, Matalan
I'm loving Primark's bedsheets at the moment: I picked up a soft grey and white set recently too, but I just couldn't leave these snuggly soft ones there either. They're reversible, with  a wintery navy blue and white forest pattern to the reverse of the fairisle on both the duvet cover and the pillowcases, so you can use them post-festivities too.

Every time I see the slate sign, I hear Tom Jones and Cerys Matthews crooning away. It's part of Matalan's Christmas range but I won't tell anyone if you don't.

Tealight holder, £5, tesco; Hot water bottle, £5, Primark
I couldn't really capture it properly on camera, but the tealight holder (above, left) throws the prettiest gold and red crackled patterns on the wall. It's festive, without being over the top, so you could keep it out all year round.

And finally, I cannot live without a hot water bottle. Seriously, I am one the coldest people in the world, and when it gets below five degrees Celsius, I live in a constant state of shivering. But this fairisle knitted bottle from Primark is incredible at keeping me warm. I've been popping it in the bottom of my bed overnight and it's *still warm* in the morning!

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Tuesday, 25 November 2014

The one gift everyone should be giving this Christmas

It's one month to go until Christmas and I haven't even started to think about buying gifts.

It's funny, usually I love treating my family and friends with little festive pressies, but this year I'm just not that in to it - and I blame Sainsbury's.

A few weeks back, when the supermarket chain's new advert first started to air, I was sat in my living room, enjoying a leisurely breakfast and bawling my eyes out.

The football on the battlefield story is one I first heard about from a Horrible Histories book when I was about 7 or 8, and to this day I’ve regarded it with a bit of bemusement and humour (although the latter is probably from the undoubtedly rib-tickling cartoon that appeared on the page).

It wasn’t until I saw the Sainsbury's campaign, at the ripe old age of *very nearly* 27 that I fully realised what that one single event meant to so many men – some of whom survived the war with little more good memories than playing footie in no man’s land.

I'm not going to go into the all the criticism that Sainsbury's has sustained for the ad here, for even if it is commercialising a momentous occasion from 100 years ago, the message it promotes is what the Christmas spirit should be all about: peace, harmony and moments of happiness.

That is why I urge you, next time you pop to the shop, to pick up a bar or two of their limited edition chocolate featured in the advert. 50p of the £1 price goes to the Royal British Legion, to help support the service men and women who have made sure over the last century that we have a safe home to celebrate Christmas in.

More than just a stocking filler: Limited edition chocolate bar, £1, Sainsbury's

Thursday, 20 November 2014

You're never too old for a slogan top

Something curious happened when I hit 26: my wardrobe become muted, less full of the patterns and bright colours I'd lived in until then and more...well, I'd call it hopeful Parisian.

But the thing is, there are only so many French slogan tops you can buy until you get really sick of the words 'cheri' and 'amour'. In fact, there are only so many slogan tops you can buy before you get really sick of the lines we're brandishing across our chests: I mean who really cares anymore if shopping is your cardio, or how you feel about your ex-boyfriend.

Just like brains shouldn't concede to beauty, they shouldn't to your style either :)

1. Dream goals sweater, £57.95, Nelly; 2.Nothing to hide tee, £22, Topshop; 3. Gold element sweatshirt, £25, River Island; 4. I'm an entrepreneur, bitch, £28, Tease and Totes; 5.Baum und Pferdgarten Eira T-Shirt with Slogan, £29, Asos

Friday, 14 November 2014

Disney dresses you can wear to work

You guys, look what I found.

Disney Villains belted dress, £25; Disney Villains collar dress, £30, both George at Asda.
Let's face it, you you would wear these Disney inspired dresses in a second, right?

They were designed by fashion student Kayleigh Hilde for the Graduate Fashion Week competition earlier this year (the theme was Disney villains!) and are now on sale in Asda, along with another two outfits inspired by Ursula from the Little Mermaid, by Charlotte England.

As you've probably guessed, they pay homage to the worst of the worst villains, 101 Dalmatians' Cruella De Vil (Cruella De Vil, if she doesn't scare you...) but unlike the character's seriously questionable clothing taste these are actually super chic.

From the splatter-style ink blot Dalmatian print, to the cheeky red collar, they're so well designed you could even wear them to work. 

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

5 jewellery advent calendars to countdown to Christmas 2014

Is it just me or have the beauty advent calendars gone a bit over the top this year? What started as a cute way to try a new sample for 24 days in December, has turned into something you're going to have to pay at least £50 for.

I've been scouting around, trying in vain to find a beauty calendar for £20 or under - but have discovered something much much better: jewellery advent calendars.

New Look 
Advent calendars, £19.99 each, New Look
First up are these bracelet and necklace calendars from New Look. In the necklace version, each day you get a new charm to use as a pendant on a chain necklace - meaning you get essentially get 24 necklaces for just £19.99. The charm bracelet option on the other hand (ha) contains one single chain that you add a cute Christmassy charm to every day.

Meri Meri
Nutcracker jewellery box advent calendar, £19.54, Meri Meri
I love this little Nutcracker ballet jewellery box - it's probably more suitable for little girls but it just takes me back to Christmas when I was a kid. Like New Look, on the first day you get a pretty little chain and then for the next 24 days you get a festive charm to add to it. (£19.54, Amazon)

A photo posted by Now stop... (@totalhamilton) on
Primark is offering up two Christmas calendar treats this year: first there's a £10 advent calendar filled with a mixture of four midi rings, four charm bracelets, 12 stud earrings and four pendant necklaces.

And secondly there's the 12 days of jewellery calendar pictured above. For just £8 I honestly think you get a better with this deal than the full 24-day version. Behind the windows are four pairs of earrings, two rings, three bracelets and three necklaces in much more versatile and on-trend styles. (Take a look at more photos of both on Leighlee's blog).

Charm bracelet calendar, £16.75, Amazon
Another build your own charm bracelet calendar, this £16.75 one contains two bracelets and 22 charms in a pretty Pandora style you can wear for the rest of the year too.

Jewellery Christmas advent calendar, £25, Topshop
This calendar from Freedom at Topshop is a little more expensive at £25 but contains some of Freedom's typically fashion-forward pieces. A mixture of both silver, gold and cotton pieces, it contains eight necklaces, four bracelets and 12 pairs of earrings which will look gorgeous with all your Christmas party outfits!

Sunday, 9 November 2014

14 Monty the Penguin gifts we all want for Christmas

If you haven't seen the John Lewis Christmas ad, I can only assume you've been in a coma for the past week. Or holidaying somewhere exotic with no WiFi, you lucky, lucky thing.

The cute Monty and Mabel penguin cuddly toys have already sold out on the John Lewis website (and are reportedly on sale on eBay for up to £500!) but there are still plenty of little treats to bring some penguin love into your life...

1. Kissing penguins jumper, £49; 2. Christmas light, £25; 3. Monty and Mabel pouch, £12.50; 4. Two pairs of Men's socks, £8; 5. Blue unisex t-shirt, £15; 6. House of Dorchester chocolates, £3; 7. Red unisex t-shirt, £15; 8. Men's slippers, £15; 9. Mug, £5; 10. Knitting kit, £25; 11. Hot water bottle, £18; 12. Cushion, £15; 13. Scarf, £35; 14. Umbrella , £19, All John Lewis.
PS - if you've got a dark sense of humour this horror recut of the ad will have you in stitches...

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Coach bags out of your price range? Then head to Next

£290, Coach
The amount of times I write that I am obsessed over this bag or that dress on this blog must make me seem a little bit nutty. BUT JUST LOOK AT THIS BAG.

This mini cross-body bag from Coach is pretty much all I want in my wardrobe this winter. The pattern, the jewels, the shape, it's just perfection in a clutch.
£28, Next

Anyway, same problem as always with these bargain posts - it is way out of my price range. I mean I'd have to give up living for a month to afford it.

This boxy bag from Next may not be an exact copy but it sure is a good little tribute to Coach's design. It's just as sleek and pretty damn sparkly but with the added benefit of being just 10% of the designer bag's price.

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Thursday, 30 October 2014

14 easy peasey last minute halloween nail art ideas

 You don't have to be an expert manicurist to recreate these halloween manicures.

1. No crystals? No problem. Just use a sparkly paint instead

2. Two paints and a toothpick is all you need to make these ghoulish nails

3. Starting three-quarters down the nail, streak some metallic paint on top of a black layer and pick out the two eyes before it dries

4. Pick up a quirky polish on the way home and you can sort your nails out during your commute

5. The messier the better for these nails

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

On Autumn time with Swatch

Swatches, Swatches, everywhere...
When I was a kid, I was obsessed with Swatch watches. To this day I've never owned one (sadly!) but there's something about their quirky style that still manages to catch my eye year after year.

Back in August, the Swatch store in St David's shopping centre, Cardiff, invited me to see their stylish new Autumn/Winter range. It's a combination of quirky heritage styles and - these were the ones I just wanted to spend all my money on - more chic pieces.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Review: Poundland's make up range is the bargain beauty you need in your life

The scenes of utter devastation at my local Poundland
You'll have to forgive me for not doing a full review of the Poundland make up range, I suffer from the most sensitive skin so any real make up review would go along the lines of, "fayi theee eyes sitll swolltb gitu". [Read: Day three - eyes still swollen shut] But I was determined to take a look nonetheless.

As you can see, most of the 100 piece range was sold out by the time I made it down to my local Poundland, but there were still a lot of mascaras and nail polishes available - which, unlike some bargain ranges, come in actual decent colours that a normal human being would want to wear.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

M&S sportswear actually makes me want to work out

Today makes day one of a refreshed health kick for me. I'm hoping to shift a few more pounds before Christmas (gulp).

I've never been a girl who looks good while working out - you can usually find me in the back, hair scraped off my face with bright red cheeks. So attractive. Equally, I never would have considered going to Marks and Sparks for my gym kit, but this new gear has completely changed my mind.

Unlike some high street shops' attempts at fitness wear however, this is the real deal: everything is made from lightweight fabric with moisture wicking. Sweating never looked this good, amiright?!

Run top, £28; T-shirt, £28; Vest, £19.50; Leggings, £25; Crop leggings, £22.50, all Marks and Spencer
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Monday, 6 October 2014

Bargain of the week: Downton Abbey inspired jewellery at Warren James

I'm not the biggest fan of Downton Abbey but when it comes to vintage jewels you can count me in.

Capri necklace with Swarovski elements, £25 reduced from £105; Rihanna sterling silver freshwater pearl necklace, £16 from £35; Lucia sterling silver necklace with Swarovski elements, £22 from £49, all Warren James
Before it closed down, vintage inspired shop Past Times was one of my favourite places to buy jewellery. I have an obsession with 1920s/30s glamour - it's just so perfect for bringing a bit of life to dull autumn weather - and my wardrobe is stuffed with beautiful sparkles.

They may not look like much in these standard press shots but imagine these delicate pendants nestled against a cosy jumper or sparkling out from the folds of a scarf. The centre necklace in particular is my favourite: it is fairly long and very delicate. Team the real pearl with a raspberry shade of burgundy and you're on to a winner!

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Crew Clothing makes me want to up sticks and move to the beach

At any given time in my home town, I'm maximum of 20 minutes away from the coast - so moving into a (heated) beach hut is a real possibility *dreamy eyes*.

Crew Clothing's gorgeous brand shots are just the perfect early autumn day at the beach. Crisp air, thick socks, and a big bowl of seafood chowder...I'm sold.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Bargain of the week: An ASOS sequin tunic worthy of Ashish at London Fashion week

Iridescent sequin tunic dress, £63.50, ASOS - Images (c) ASOS
There's something about sequins that just puts me in the mood to party like it's 1999.

King of the sequins Ashish was back at London Fashion Week this month with another suitably sparkly collection for spring/summer next year - but let's face it, who can wait that long for a bit of bling in their wardrobe?

This gorgeous tunic from ASOS is a little more demure than Ashish's slogan covered, raccoon-hair styled creations. It's still a knockout, but the fact that it's got a great Audrey Hepburn-esque cut to it means you can wear it again and again, without anyone noticing!

Monday, 15 September 2014

Bargain of the week: Dr Martens cherry red lookalikes at H&M

Left: Cherry red Dr. Martens, £94.99, Cloggs; Right: Burgundy boots, £24.99, H&M
When it comes to autumn staples, my raspberry Doc Martens are at the top of the list. They're durable, grungy and add a certain edginess to the girliest of outfits.

There are tons of pros to investing in a pair of the Doc's boots, but there is one big con - especially if you're a little strapped for cash. I managed to get mine on sale last year, but that was through pure luck - if you're looking to buy some Dr Martens now, you're going to be parting with at least £80!

So enter the high street hero! I tried on these H&M boots a few weeks back to see what they're like and, although they aren't an exact copy, they are such a good (and comfortable) lookalike that I had to stop myself from walking right up to the till!

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Primark shopping haul: 4 things for £10

August was a lean month in the Chic & Cheerful household - but lucky for me Primark are doing amazingly cheap things at the moment!

A week or two back I broke out of my shopping ban and went on a mini splurge, but with only £10 to my name, I had to head straight to the accessories section to get my shopping fix.

Fine gold bracelets, £1.50 for three, Primark
I usually avoid Primark jewellery like the plague: it has always been just a bit too bling for my liking. But lately they're really upped their game and come out with some super chic treats.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Bargain of the week: Lidl budget fashion line review

When the news broke that Lidl was going to sell a new fashion range, I was sceptical. Fashion journalists all over the UK were hailing it as the new rival to Primark, or George at Asda, but that seemed a little bit too good to be true to me.

Now don't get me wrong - I'm no fashion snob. I buy my clothes from supermarkets, high street chains and, on the odd occasion stylish boutiques. But another budget label sorting out our fashion woes at the checkout? It's going to take a lot of work to convince me.

Viscose top, £3.99; Casual boots, £6.99; Stretch jeans, £6.99, Esmara at Lidl
That being said, I couldn't not pick up some pieces from the Esmara range at Lidl. While most have focused on the leather jacket (it feels like a waterproof and sports a shiny popper reading 'biker cat' - to be honest it was like a kids' design in an adult size) and the semi-sheer shirt (I've seen better on sale in Primark), I decided to go for the basics.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

A complete wedding guest outfit for £86

In a few weeks' time one of my besties will be walking down the aisle in what promises to be the most perfect wedding ever.

And a perfect wedding deserves a perfect outfit.

When it comes to buying a wedding guest ensemble, it is neither easy nor cheap if you want to look good. Even with a limited budget I wanted to make sure everything was just right for the big day...god, I'm starting to sound like it's me getting married!

Anyway, I present to you my complete (well, almost, minus the undies!) wedding outfit, bought for just £86. 

Blue jacquard dress, £30, Warehouse

I went for a light blue and grey colour scheme, after falling in love with this dress from Warehouse. Neither the colour nor the shape are something I would usually go for but I think the blue works well for a September wedding, and the dress is classy but still pretty.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Treasure hunting with the Diet Coke hunks

This is the coolest bit of merchandise I have ever owned.


When I was growing up, the most unusual name you could get on a keyring was Sara. No word of a lie - it's not exactly like Ruth is that wild! Anyway, so this tee and bottle from Diet Coke have actually made my life.

The DC girls sent these awesome gifts to celebrate the launch of Treasure Hunk, in association with my fave website ASOS.

If you haven't come across Treasure Hunk yet, it's a brill competition running on ASOS for the rest of the summer. Until mid-September, customers can win a ton of prizes courtesy of Diet Coke - including personalised bottles and quirky ring pull jewellery designed by the uber cool Katie Rowland.

Every day a hunky man will appear in an unexpected place on the ASOS site - all you have to do is crack the clues from the Diet Coke Facebook page and the ASOS Treasure Hunk page and track that man down!

To take part visit asos.com/treasurehunk.

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Sunday, 10 August 2014

How to make your summer wardrobe last longer

Marks & Spencers in Cardiff has been undergoing some pretty nifty transformations, and this week the Capital retail park store reopened to reveal a completely redesigned fashion haven. Having previously been a Home and Food shop, the branch now houses some of Marksies' brill fashion and top notch beauty ranges.

To promote the opening, the lovely Aelish, M&S Captial's womenswear section coordinator, has put together some sound advice for those awkward weeks between spring/summer and autumn/winter. You know the time - when you're not sure whether to ditch the florals and don the tights, or to hold out until the bitter(ly cold) end.

Mix and match is the way to do it
Sounds obvious but how many of us separate our clothes into summer and winter wardrobes? M&S's Edgy Limited Edition collection is showcasing some of this year's most vibrant colours with bright pinks alongside the powder blues of spring, and fantastic neons and metallics. Boho brand Indigo meanwhile is bringing softer purples and floral patterns to the fore, and over at per una lagoon blues, coral pinks, greens and greys create a relaxed, sophisticated look. And on top of that rainbow of colours, the tribal prints and patterns of M&S Collection make everyday classics pop.

But don't forget the bling 
If you like a bit of sparkle (and let's be honest who doesn't!), then you'll be happy to hear from Aelish that embellishment is key to staying in style for the trainsitional months, and there are plenty of gorgeous beaded pieces in all of the M&S collections.

Oh, and make a statement
Whether it's through a chunky necklace or flowing kimono, just one key piece can revamp your whole outfit. Invest in one standout out item and you'll be set until the A/W style season arrives.

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