Wednesday 30 September 2009

Capsule Wardrobe Challenge - Day Three

The challenge is hotting up - or should that be cooling down?
The actual weather bears little resemblance to the long range forecast I checked out when I was planning what to wear.
Yesterday it rained and last night, Fred, our local weatherman said it was going to rain again. He actually said it with a smile on his face.
Today I am working in the prison which means if I wear a dress I have to wear thick, dark tights. Not a uniform rule just my rule.
I have opted for this dress that I was going to wear over jeans but it seems a little too long now.
And yes, I am wearing the cardigan again but this is my coat.
I take it off inside but it does add an extra layer of warmth when I am going from car to location.
I am loving the clothes that my fellow challengers are wearing.
If you haven't already had a look - check them out.
Fashion Junkie, Sheila, Make Do Style,
E, Shopaholic,Dawn, Chewy Spaghetti, Cara, My EveryDay Wear, Kasmira, Kari, Thoughts In The City, Audi.

I wore...
Dress and Boots - Dorothy Perkins
Cardigan - Tesco
Tights - Falke

Tuesday 29 September 2009

Capsule Wardrobe Challenge - Day Two

Wow - this second annual challenge is getting off to a great start judging by the fantastic array of outfits compiled by this year's participants.
Check out Fashion Junkie, Sheila, Make Do Style, Shopaholic,Dawn, Cara, My EveryDay Wear, Kasmira, Kari, Thoughts In The City, Audi.
If I have missed anyone out please forgive me and let me know.
Today I went for the Gap skirt, Dorothy Perkins Boots, H & M top, Tesco cardigan and New Look scarf.
Earlier, I spent some time working on my novel which is about Marilyn, a 40-something woman who opens a Bed & Breakfast (B&B).
I read about Hilary who owns number fifteen in B & B News and as she lived fairly close I emailed to ask if I could meet her to gain a behind the keyhole insight into a B & B owner's world.
Hilary replied almost immediately and invited me round.
A teacher, for more than 20 years Hilary decided to pursue the dream of owning a B & B two years ago.
The B & B overlooks the world famous Hoylake Golf Course and is just a "fore" from the beach - the one we walked along earlier this year.
If you are ever looking for somewhere stylish and homely to stay in the Liverpool area I can recommend Hilary's home.
To complete my research I have offered my services to Hilary for the chance to spend a day in the life of a B & B owner.
I'll let you know how I get on.

Monday 28 September 2009

Capsule Wardrobe Challenge - Day One

I posted about my Capsule Wardrobe here and the look was inspired by Alexa Chung's front row outfit.
I have, however, modified the look.
Alexa has a long, slender figure which means a baggy t-shirt suits her fine but being shorter and curvier would make me look like a sack of potatoes which is why I've gone for my fitted Gap t-shirt.
I have chosen grey tights to blend in with the grey skirt and shoes in a wistful wish to make my legs look longer.
And I've gone for heels rather than flats.
I've also added a cardigan as I have a lot of running around to do today.
I wish I had selected a grey long cardigan like this one but as it's the Capsule Challenge I will have to stick to the purple one and add a grey one to my shopping list.
The skirt and cardigan are from Tesco.
The t-shirt is Gap.
The shoes are Clarks
The tights are from Next.

Sunday 27 September 2009

The name's Bond - Jane Bond!

When we chose the middle name - James- for our eldest son we didn't realise that 18 years later he would elect to have a party theme for his namesake and the world's most famous James - Bond.
So last night 100 of us gathered in a local hall to celebrate the occasion.
The DJ had done a wonderful mix of Bond themes and the hall looked amazing - if I do say so myself.
My mum went as the Judi Dench "M" and I went for a Bond girl look.
I found this Karen Millen dress hiding in the back of my wardrobe shouting "pick me."
I hadn't worn it for a couple of years but this is a magic dress.
Even though I am the heaviest I've been for five years this dress picks out all your best bits and skims over the rest with a lovely ruche around the waist.
I gave my daughter the silver dress I will never fit into again and it got a great evening out.
The men in my life begged, borrowed and hired Tuxedos to complete the look.
My dad found his in a local charity shop.
Here's a collage of the night.

Saturday 26 September 2009

Capsule Wardrobe

So here's the Capsule Wardrobe for this year.
1.Purple Long line Cardigan - Tesco
2.Grey Skirt - Tesco
3.Multi Dress - Dorothy Perkins
4.Skirt - Gap
5.Blue Wrap - Zara
6.Purple print t-shirt - Gap
7.Silver Top - H & M
8.Jeans - Gap
9.Boots - Dorothy Perkins
10.Shoes - Clarks
1.Amethyst Ear-rings
2.Mixed Stone Necklace
3.Grey Belt
4.Purple Mix Scarf
5.Taupe Bag/Purse

To answer a few queries
1. A pair of ear-rings count as 1 accessory
2. Wedding Bands and Watches do not count as they are classed as neccessary wear like underwear and hosiery!

Don't forget to email your pictures ( by the end of next week so I can do a full round-up next Monday.
Good Luck!

The Gift

I had a great day at the prison.
My workshop went well and I told nine of the men I work with that they had won prizes in The 2009 Koestler Awards.
It is such a great gift to give out good news and see the reaction.
And when I got home there was a little gift waiitng for me.
Sheila had told me about a pink jacket that she no longer wore and promised to send it to me.
She was as good as her word and I was delighted with the colour and the cut of the jacket that just may very well find its way into my capsule wardrobe challenge for next week.
And that wasn't all - wrapped inside the purple tissue paper wthis wonderful notebook covered with shoes.
I know exactly what I will be doing with that notebook and you will find out next week.
Thank you so much Sheila.

This weekend will be very busy - tonight I am throwing a James Bond theme party for my son's 18th.
I have 100 guests including 80 18-year-olds to entertain.
Wish me luck!

To work I wore:

Jeans - Gap
Shoes- Clarks
Top - Primark
Cardigan - Tesco
Necklace - Next
Pink Jacket - Sheila

Friday 25 September 2009

Charity Shop Find

I have been inspired by Sharon-Rose's intrepid thrifting trips.
Just check out her blog and see what she has found.
All I ever seem to find in my size are washed-out tops and dresses from Primark.
I did have some luck a few years back when I had a regular writing assignment to interview people in their posh homes.
I have to say that this Interiors feature got very boring.
To paraphrase Tolstoy - all immaculate homes are the same but messy homes are much more interesting in their own way.
I always preferred the quirky stories like the two up two down fourteenth century cottage made out of poo (wattle and daub!).
But I digress.
The best thing about these homes was that they were always located in the more affulent areas of Merseyside, Lancashire and Cheshire and to keep me motivated between the yawns and checking my watch I would think of the charity shops I could locate in Heswall, Nantwich, New Brighton and West Kirby.
Luckily, I was freelance at the time and the hours after the feature were my own. If I had been a staff reporter I would have been sacked spending large amounts of time browsing through the bargain rails.
Sadly, as a result of the recession the feature was dropped along with my shopping trips.
This week I made a determined effort to scour my very own High Street and look what I found.
OK, this dress/tunic may not be designer but I love it.
I will wear it on its own, under skirts, layered over longer dresses and over jeans.
All for the princely sum of £2.50 from Age Concern.
Now I just hope some of Sharon-Rose's charity shop chic will arrive in my wardrobe.

I wore:
Dress - Age Concern
Tights - Flake
Shoes - Clarks
Black slip - (from another Karen Millen dress)

Thursday 24 September 2009

Black And White

I love the simplicity of black and white.
This dress was just £10 in the Wallis sale and I have worn it twice in the last two weeks.
Although it is a summer dress there are so many possibilities for the winter too.
Today was a very long day.
After a day working in the prison I had to race home and get changed before dashing out to Liverpool city centre for the monthly Train 2000 PR Workshop I lead.
I have said it before but I'll say it again.
I love working for Train 2000.
Founded in Liverpool in 1996, Train 2000 is a social enterprise which offers free support, advice and training to help women make the move into self-employment.
If it wasn't for Train 2000 I would never have had the courage to leave a staff job and pursue a freelance career.
I have had so many wonderful experiences since I became self-employed.
Being your own boss can be very scary but Train 2000 made sure I was well prepared and able to adapt.
They asked me back to present a PR workshop - coaching small business owners how to do their own PR.
Last night I worked with a marketing manager, wedding planner, personal fitness trainer, Stag and Hen Night organiser and the owner of a dance studio.
All of these women had wonderful tales to tell about their journey into self-employment and if I can, in my own very small way, help their businesses to be a success then what better job could you wish for?

I wore:
Boots - Dorothy Perkins
Dress - Wallis

Wednesday 23 September 2009

Falke Tights

I know it is only the second day of autumn - but I am cold.
And yes, I am wearing black opaque tights which mean WINTER but.....
And this is a big BUT - they are Falke tights.
Before I continue I would like to say I hate tights.
I hate the itchiness on my legs, I hate the constriction of the waistband.
I hate the way my legs seem to encourage Norra Batty wrinkles in my tights.
But what I hate even more is the cold.
And if I have to wear tights then I am determined they will be the best.
I had noticed that every fashion spread I had seen recently featured Falke tights so I logged on to UK Tights and ordered a pair.
I nearly chickened out when I got to the checkout and realised how much (£13.65 incl p&p) I was spending on one pair of tights when I normally chuck them in the supermarket trolley.
But - and here's another but; they are worth every penny.
My legs feel like they are coated in warm velvet.
The waistband goes exactly where I need it to be and they are so comfortable.
And, if I wear them a couple of times a week for the next six months then they will be worth every penny.
Oh and another thing - I ordered them on Tuesday afternoon and they were here by 10am on Wednesday.
What's not to like?

I wore:
Skirt - Matalan
Shoes - Clarks
T-shirt - Primark
Cardigan - Tesco
Tights - UK Tights

Tuesday 22 September 2009

Forever Autumn

When I was a child, the song Forever Autumn by Justin Hayward always made me sad.
I have never managed to shake off the dread of autumn.
It's not because I dislike the season, but because it means that winter is not far away.
I hate winter.
I hate the dark, the cold, the bleak deadness and the miserable days.
Sunny days in winter taunt me with a "see what you will be missing for a long, long time."
I never feel right until the first warm day of spring.
Today is the first day of autumn.
It will be another six months before I feel truly settled again.
Unless I book a one-way tioket to Australia or new Zealand!
Don't forget to join up for the Second Annual Capsule Wardrobe Challenge here.
Just six days to go.

Todau I wore:
Boots - thrifted
Skirt - Joe Browns
Top - Primark
Jacket - TK Maxx
Scarf - M & Co

Monday 21 September 2009

The Second Annual Capsule Wardrobe Challenge

Welcome to the second annual capsule wardrobe Challenge.
The rules are simple.
Choose ten items of clothing from your wardrobe and mix and match them for five days between Monday September 28th and Friday October 2nd.
You can have any combination of shoes, dresses, skirts, tops and jackets as long as it adds up to ten individual items.
You are also allowed five accessories which include jewellery, scarves,bag, belts etc.
Underwear and hosiery do not come under the ten items and five accessories!
As it’s only autumn in the Northern hemisphere your are not permitted an extra coat.
If you want to wear a coat this must come out of your ten items.
If you are in the Southern Hemisphere then – Happy Days!
If you are joining the challenge please blog about it and if you want to appear in my Capsule Wardrobe Challenge round-up the following week then please email your pics to
For some tips and inspiration on how to take part in the Challenge then check out Kasmira’s post from last year here.
And although there are considerably more than 10 items and five accessories here Gok Wan's ideas for capsule wardrobe styling are helpful.
And finally, I will award a prize for the most creative participant in the 2009 Annual Capsule Wardrobe Challenge.
There is now just one week to go.
Happy (Closet) Shopping.

Le Weekend

After all the trials and tribulations of the past week we had a lovely weekend.
The weather was fabulous and it was a rare chance for my parents to spend time with their children and seven grandchildren.
My brother lives in a tiny village outside Peterborough with a village green, stone cottages and people who stop, smile and say hello as you walk past.
On Saturday morning I went for an early morning walk with my parents and found this amazing tree which I couldn't resist hugging.
Sunday was the day of the christening and we woke early to dress the village hall. We prepared the food and the decorations which had a Noah's Ark theme.
I wore my favourite Oasis "Poppy Dress" which always makes me feel great.
Everything went well during the service and Seth didn't even cry when he was woken from his slumbers with a cold shower!
One of the hymns was "All Things Bright and Beautiful" which summed up the day very nicely.

Friday 18 September 2009

The Wall

I love this wall outside my front door.
It's perfect for banging your head against.
Only joking!
But life seems to have shown me a few too many brick walls recently.
On a brighter note.
I am glad to say me, my daughter and my car are feeling a lot better.
It looks like we may still have to hire the car.
Do you know what hurts me the most?
Just how many shoes/coats/dresses/jackets I could buy for the cost of the hire!
I hope you all have a lovely weekend.
And thanks everyone for your kind comments/hugs/good wishes.

Today I wore....
Boots - thrifted
Dress - Dorothy Perkins
Cardigan - Tesco

Thursday 17 September 2009

Feeling Blue

Today's title says it all.
1. I am still poorly.
2. I am due to be a godmother to my nephew Seth at the weekend and the car has just broken down.
3. I don't know if I will be well enough to travel across the country.
4. My car definitely isn't well enough to travel across the country.
5. We have two options - pay in excess of £200 on train fares or hire a car for slightly less.
6. My work is piling up.
7. My daughter has just told me she doesn't feel well either.

Wednesday 16 September 2009

What To Wear When You Work From Home

Before I begin I wish to add a disclaimer:
I am in no way, shape or form a style guru so please feel free to disregard these ramblings as indulgent waffle.
However, I do work mostly from home and I am interested in clothes.
And amazingly, two bloggers - Leah and Jenn - who are both home based have asked for my thoughts on the subject.
So here they are.
I have worked from home on and off since 1992 when I became a district reporter for The Liverpool Echo.
I was based at home and had a large patch - North Merseyside and West Lancashire - to cover.
Although many of my fellow district reporters confessed to staying in the PJs until well after noon I always felt my day hadn't begun until I was fully dressed and ready to leave the house at a moment's notice.
In 2003 I became a freelance writer and my time is now divided between writing from home and going out to present workshops.
Nowadays I am usually aware of what will happen on any given day and during that time I would say my style has evolved into "relaxed chic".
Of course, your opinion may well differ and "shabby chic" may be more apt.
Anyway, back to the point.
I think there are three key ideas which govern what I wear:
Appropriateness (is that a word?)
And I find that the best way to cover all three for me it to start with shoes.
If I am presenting a workshop I like to look tall and smart.
If I am working from home I need to be in work mode but I will also need to break up the day to walk the dog.
Colourful flats or boots for days at home and heeled boots and shoes for outside appearances. Almost always Clarks as they do style and comfort better than any other retailer.
Once I have decided on my shoes I move up.
Although I love dresses I find separates are the easiest and while jeans are suitable for the prison and working from home I wouldn't wear them when I am presenting a PR workshop.
I love my Gap Curvy jeans and have them in three shades. I also love my beige, black and blue knee length skirts.
Next - the top.
I hate to be cold so at this time of year it is usually a long-sleeved t-shirt with or without a cardigan. In the summer it will be short sleeved t-shirt or blouse.
And finally, the magic of the adaptable work from home wardrobe is the outer layer.
Even jeans can be made appropriate with a smart jacket and I like to have a few colour options.
My current favourites are a red short one and a caramel leather biker jacket (which will be unveiled shortly).
If I don't venture outside the house then a cardigan or wrap will suffice.
As for accessories I seem to be sticking to a statement red heart necklace when it comes to jewellery although as the winter apparoaches I like to reach for a scarf or pashmina to add a splash of colour and warmth.
I don't know if that helps.
Today I am feeling poorly sick today and spent most of it on the sofa feeling sorry for myself.
If you have your own work from home style tips please leave them in the comments box.

Tuesday 15 September 2009

The Annual Capsule Wardrobe Challenge

Last year I launched the first Capsule Wardrobe Challenge.
And I was stunned when bloggers across the world joined me.
The premise was simple: Turn ten items into Five Looks.
Kasmira asked me if I was planning to do it again.
Why not?
Last year it was in December so this year to make things a little different (and probably easier!) it will be week beginning September 28th.
If you take the challnge you are permitted to select ten items from your wardrobe which must be mixed and matched for your working week (Monday - Friday) and this includes SAHM's whose working week is spent doing the most important job in the world.

All major items including shoes and outer attire must be limited to 10.

Underwear and hosiery are excluded - use as much or as little as you wish.

This year I will be awarding a special prize to the most innovative blogger who rises to the challenge.
If you sign up for the challenge I will post details of your blog.
What are you waiting for?

Today I wasn't sure how to wear this new Matalan dress.
What do you think?

Monday 14 September 2009

My Baby is 18 Today

My baby is 18 today.
Samuel James was born at 9.15am on Saturday Sept 14th 1991.

The day before was my husband's 26th birthday.
I remember taking the dog for a walk and looking down at my swollen stomach and thinking "How am I going to love this baby as much as I love this dog?"
I soon found out.
This photo was taken when Sam was 10 weeks old and here is the little outfit I just couldn't bear to thrown out even when it no longer fitted him.
I was on maternity leave and although we didn't have much spare cash I booked a photographer to come to our home and take some pictures so I could send them out to family and friends at Christmas.
After the photograph was taken I remember taking him out for a walk - it was a beautiful Autumn day.
There have been lots of walks and 18 Autumns since.
But where did they go?
Life has hurled a few low ballers at us during that time and I would willingly trade a few of those bad times.
But what I wouldn't swap is becoming a mum at 25.
Incidentally, this weekend we heard some other good news.
Dave, who was best man at our wedding and is Sam's godfather, became a father for the very first time on Saturday when his partner gave birth to Maria Jane.

Today I wore...
Grey Dress - Next
Shoes - Clarks

Friday 11 September 2009

An Ode to My Boots

I have just returned from another wonderful Writers In Prison Network Conference.
It was lovely to meet the new writers who will be starting their prison residencies in October and catching up with my fellow "lags" including the poet, Brenda Read-Brown and Storyteller, John Row.
I was touched when Brenda admired my cowboy boots and within five minutes had scribbled this little ditty.

"Hell For Leather"

Cowboy Boots should show their wear -
Stirrup scrapes; abrasion from the girt;
Whatever. These have done their bit.
Scruffy, scuffed; treated without care,
And yet well-loved. These boots are tops
for Jane. They take her here and there -
Wherever. But their life's been shared,
For these boots came from a charity shop.
They've ridden the lonely High Street trail'
Sat astride the bargain rail;
Faced the sunset of the last-chance sale -
accompanied the writer's wagon train.
They're not just any boots. They're Jane's

Brenda is an amazing woman who began her writing residency last year.
Here she is being interviewed by another fellow writer in residence John Row who presents a radio show on Ipswich Community Radio.
Listen to Brenda reciting her poems on John Row's radio show on Thursday at 10am.

Brenda has also reached the semi-finals of the BBC Radio 4 Poetry Slam competition and I will eat my cowboy boots if she doesn't win!

Thursday I wore:
Cowboy Boots- Dorothy Perkins
Jeans - Gap
Vest - Isabella Oliver
Wrap - Jow Brown's

Friday I wore:
Cowboy Boots and Wrap as yesterday
Dress - Joe Brown's

Wednesday 9 September 2009

The Great Escape

Today I will be making for the hills to attend the annual Writers In Prison residential conference.
I can hardly believe it's a year since last time.
I don't know what I am looking forward to the most.
1. Spending time with the other prison writers.
2. Two days in the beautiful Welsh countryside.
3. The hot tub.
4. No mobile phone coverage.
5. No internet access
6. All of the above.

I wore:
Boots - Dorothy Perkins
Skirt - Marks and Spencer
Shirt - New Look
Belt and Necklace - Tesco

Tuesday 8 September 2009

There Will Be Blood

Today's unlikely inspiration comes from the bruising on my left arm courtesy of yesterday's blood test.
Needles don't bother me, the minor discomfort of a brief pain in my arm hardly registers but what I hate about a blood test is the bruising left behind.
The deep purple patterns on my arm are spoiling my fast fading tan.
Ah well - if life throws you lemons - learn how to make lemonade!
(And I have been making metaphoric lemonade a lot this year but I digress).
The array of plums, magenta and purples on my arm reminded me of this dress - the perfect autumn dress.
This morning it is grey and raining but the forecast is for warm sunshine later on.
This Ciel dress made out of heavy duty cotton with its short sleeves is perfect for days like this.

I was worried about how I would fare with my new hair and after a 30 minute run in the rain this morning there was nothing for it but to take the plunge and wash it.
Happily it took me just 10 minutes to dry and style it.

I wore:
Dress - Ciel
Shoes - Clarks

Monday 7 September 2009

Does my hair look like Dannii Minogue's?

I had been thinking about getting a radical cut for a few weeks now - ever since the new X-Factor started and I saw Dannii Minogue's hair.
I am not quite sure it is exactly the same but I am pretty pleased with the results.
So far two of my children have come home from school and neither has noticed.
I wore:
Dress - Miss Selfridge
Shoes - Clarks
Belt - Asos

Saturday 5 September 2009

All You Need Is A Swag Bag

"All you need is a swag bag to complete the look."
That is how I was greeted when I arrived at work in the prison yesterday.
My not so secret blog is now wide open since the article appeared in The Liverpool Echo and both prisoners and prison officers alike can't wait to express their opinion on what I am wearing.
"Eclectic bohemian," was another considered opinion on my ensemble today.
It wasn't what I was thinking of when I got dressed this morning but our creative efforts are always open to interpretation.
The top I am wearing was bought from the Zara store at Barcelona airport.
Usually I buy perfume but I figured clothing would last a lot longer.
The wrap was £5.00 in Principles closing down sale and the original ticket was £49.
The jeans are Gap Curvy - my favourite brand and the brooch was a leaving gift from my colleagues at The Ormskirk Advertiser where I spent three years as a young journalist before moving to The Liverpool Echo.
This weekend will be football, football and more football with a viewing of "500 Days Of Summer" thrown in.
Hope you have a lovely weekend.

Friday 4 September 2009

Purple Prose

I still love red but as the weather starts to chill I seek a cooler tone of red and when mixed with blue (how I'm feeling as the summer ends) I end up with purple.
I had forgotten about this dress I last wore in the Spring.
I bought it from Next with vouchers I was given for my birthday.
It is just a tad too short and when the wind blows it rises a little too far which keeps me on my toes.
The boots are new - from Clarks.
I bought them in the summer sale and they were reduced to half-price - £44 for leather boots which will last me years.

Wednesday 2 September 2009

Back To Black (And Red!)

Welcome to my new followers and thank you so much for the great comments about my Liverpool Echo article.
Today really is the start of the New year as all my children are back to school today.
And.... I get the house to myself between 9am and 3pm. Bliss!
Today will be a busy day, tidying up, working from home and a physio appointment.
Black always seems to be the fallback for a day like today.

I wore....
Shoes - Clarks
Skirt and Vest - Gap

Workthatwardrobe: Read All About It

My former colleagues at The Liverpool Echo got to hear about my blog and wanted to print this story today.
Below is the full unedited version!
And thanks to everyone who helped me raise the donation for the WCF.

Work That Wardrobe

By Jane Gallagher

When I was a child my mother always joked that if I got lost there were only two places I could be – the bookshop or the dress shop.
Dressing up and reading were the two grand passions of my young life and ones that remain with me to this day.
They had also become expensive passions so when last year the credit crunch shrunk my income as a freelance writer by a third overnight I knew I had to find a way of saving money. And I didn’t need to look very far. Most of my disposable income went on two things - clothes and books.
But before you think I am setting myself up as a style guru – think again. Despite spending 42 years on this planet I would still buy clothes that would never suit me, patterns that did nothing for me and bargains that were far from it - remaning with their labels in the back of my wardrobe. Like many women I wore 20% of my wardrobe 80% of the time. But now it was serious – the spending had to stop. The books were the easy bit – I wiped the dust off my library ticket and indulged myself for free. The clothes were harder. I decided I must stop spending and start shopping from my own wardrobe. But I knew it would be too easy to be tempted unless I did something drastic.
I decided I would make a public affirmation by setting up a blog and posting a picture of what I wore every day for 365 days to prove I had not spent any more money on clothes.
My journey began in July 2008 and ended in July 2009.
July 2008
The year begins with a christening where I wear my favourite Oasis poppy dress which is based on an original 1960’s design. I discover polka dots cheer me up, red suits me but black very clearly doesn’t. And thanks to another blogging friend I discover the difference a pack of dye can make to tired clothes languishing in the back of the wardrobe.
August 2008
There is a song by Mary Chapin Carpenter called “This Shirt” which tells a story about how a simple shirt brings so much please thanks to the memories woven in the fabric. I reflect on some of my favourite clothes and celebrate it by wearing my red Joe Browns dress which has travelled across the globe with me. I also discover a pair of cowboy boots that have been gatheirng dust in my garage of several years.
September 2008
My urge to spend is starting to itch and I satisfy it by sending off for a free pashmina offered in a magazine. When the soft mint green shawl arrives I can hardly believe my luck. I dye a peach French Connection jacket that I never wore black and dig out the cream Biba shirt I found in a New Brighton charity shop in 2005. I also breathe more life into a strapless dress (normally only worn at night or on holiday) by wearing it during the day with a cardigan and belt.
October 2008
I am enjoying this. I dig out two summer dresses and winterize them with layers and boots. I take a skirt I never wear to the cleaners and get it shortened and when I want a corsage I follow some simple instructions in a dressmaking book and make one with the remnants of the shortened skirt. My greatest hour comes after I covert a little black lace dress from LK Bennett. It reminds me of the one I bought in 1988 for my husband’s first Christmas Do. It cost £49.00 from Next then. After I cut out the sleeves I have one very similar to the LK Bennett one that costs £199.
Not all goes well though. I try and make use of some too-short trousers and end up looking like an extra from Star Trek.
November 2008
I start to believe there is something magic in my clothes. After dressing up in a spotty skirt which reminds me of my Spanish holiday and the Flamenco Show my husband returns home with two tickets to see Gerardo Nunez at The Philharmonic Hall. To keep my spirits high I devise a challenge for my fellow bloggers to create a capsule working wardrobe from 10 items. The idea catches on and I get over 1,000 hits and scores of people joining in the challenge from across the globe. And there is another disaster – a turquoise dress and tights combination makes me turn green when I see the pictures. Green is defintely not my colour.
December 2008
I get out my sewing machine and crop an old granny cardigan into a stylish cropped top. I discover a blue velvet dress I bought in the Marks and Spencer sale last year (still with its label in) and wear it to my Christmas Do. As it’s Christmas I also get some presents. My husband buys me a pair of Ugg boots for Christmas and the lovely Andrea Sef from Petticoats A Plenty in Liverpol who has been following my blog sends me a beautiful tulle underskirt which I wear many times over both day and night.
January 2009
A New Year and another new challenge. Winter is my least favourite time of the year but I bring out my bright colours to liven up the long dark days.
February 2009
Winter is almost over. This is a busy month with my birthday and a special 20th wedding anniversary holiday at Portmeirion to look forward to. I need new clothes but can’t spend any more money. I ask my fellow bloggers if it is OK to sell clothes I don’t wear on eBay and use the credit to exchange for some new ones. I wait nervously for their response. But the verdict is unanimous. As long as I am not spending a new penny on clothes the ebay exchange gets the thumbs up.
March 2009
It has been a long, hard winter and I am fed up with wearing the same drab clothes just to keep me warm. Posting daily pictures makes me make more of an effort but I hate black, it does nothing for me and I only seem to cheer up when I wear pink. The shops are starting to stock summer clothes and I can feel my resolve weakening.
April 2009
Finally, some sunshine peaking through the grey skies and I can start to shed some layers and rediscover some lighter, brighter spring clothes. I also find a book in my daughter’s bedroom which suggests giving new life to t-shirts by cutting them up – apparently t-shirt material doesn’t fray. I get the scissors out and by the end of the day I have 5 new t-shirts to wear including one which becomes my favourite – a long sleeved black and white striped one from Primark.
May 2009
I always hated being small but as my family grow it becomes an asset. My 11-year-old daughter is only slightly smaller than me now and I start to “borrow” some of her clothes – isn’t it supposed to be the other way round? As the weather warms up my spirits soar and I rediscover my jewellery box making the most of accessories to liven up my clothes.
June 2009
Almost there and my summer clothes coming out is reviving my resolve. It is also becoming a case of “first up, best dressed” . I covert a plaid shirt and when I tidy my 17-year-old son’s room I spot the perfect shirt. After a quick text to seek permission I put it on and when I’ve tucked it into my favourite skirt it looks great and bang on trend.
July 2009
Finally, the year is almost over and a surprise comes in t e form of an email. The design studio at Isabella Oliver in London have been following my blog and ask if they can send me one of their dresses to wear. I am so excited when the parcel arrives with a beautiful dress that can be worn many different ways.
Before I finish the year I am ashamed to say that I haven’t even worn a third of my wardrobe. I decide to follow the advice that if you haven’t worn an item for 1 year then get rid. My two youngest children join me at a Car Boot Sale and I sell off what I can raising around £45 for Women and Chidlren First (WCF), a charity which helps tackle the high levels of child morbidity and maternal deaths in Malawi, Bangladesh and India. On the final day I wear the same dress I wore on my very first day and realise I am still in love with it.
My year is finally up and what a journey it has turned out to be. My story attracted readers from across the globe – between 250 and over 1,000 readers every day. I made many new friends who have remained with me – shairng their views on my outfits and gently advising me about styles and colours that suited me (or didn’t).
At first I wondered if the blog would be seen as a vain indulgence but the year turned out to be very turbulent for me in my private life and some days my outfits would be more about wearing a sartorial battle armour to cope with the slings and arrows that came my way. Clothes, I realised could be a great source of comfort in times of distress – a sentiment shared by Liverpool-born Orange Prize fiction writer Linda Grant whose book The Thoughtful Dresser explores the way clothes tell the story of our lives and help us to establish who we are and to experiment with who we might be.
Most importantly, as a middle-aged mother of four I have rediscovered my childhood joy of dressing up each and every day.

Tuesday 1 September 2009

Happy New Year

I love the beginning of September.
When I was at school I loved the smell of a new exercise book and the blank pages were a challenge - I couldn't wait to fill them.
My children will all return to school this week and we all have some "New Year's Resolutions."
I don't want to list them here but they all involve (I hope) building a happier, more harmonious home.
I know September will be a very busy and challenging month but there are some great things to look forward to.
On September 14th my eldest son will be 18 and we have a James Bond theme party planned for the end of September.
And on September 20th I will be godmother to my nephew, Seth, who was born in May - this will give me a chance to wear my lovely new dress.
What plans have you in store for September?

I wore:
Shoes - Clarks
Skirt - Tesco
T-shirt - Primark

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