Monday, 23 March 2015

The Big Blog Clothes Swap

In January Janet from Words That Can Only Be Your Own and I launched a blogger clothes swap. The results have started rolling in: who has swapped what and what outfits have been created as a result.

With the average wardrobe containing 22 unworn items, clothes swapping is a great way of giving away clothes you no longer wear with the promise of new-to-you clothing turning up to surprise, delight and potentially push your boundaries, fashion wise. 

I was delighted to see the necklace and dress I had swapped turn up on Make, Do and Spend. The necklace I swapped was from Antiform a sustainable label set up in Leeds which now resides in Bristol. Bought to support this amazing brand when Antiform had a pop-up shop in the Corn Exchange in Leeds, the necklace was sadly never worn; the baubles made up of gorgeously soft suede competed with an already buxom chest and it never looked quite right. But styled with a striped tee on the recipient blogger, it looked at home; I was happy to see it being used, finally.

Photo from Make Do and Spend blog

So what did I receive? I came home one afternoon in the pouring rain and noticed a pink parcel sticking out of the shed. It felt like clothing Christmas had come! Inside there was a lovely handwritten note and lots of goodies:
  • H&M cropped cardigan
  • Floral Mac
  • Topshop skirt
  • Topshop dress
  • Hat
  • Belt
I knew immediately which ones were for me and which ones I could pass on (which I did at a clothes swap in aid of Oxfam later that week!) 

As soon as I pulled the Topshop skirt out of the parcel I clapped in glee: electric blue, high waisted, pockets. Just perfect. 

I styled it with an I heart NY t-shirt and some Topshop ankle boots for spring and then with my trusty leopard print blouse and boots for autumn. The skirt is a tulip shape, so a bit tight on the legs for wardrobe sorting but it's a fab piece wear for meetings and networking.

The cardigan, mac, hat and belt were sadly not for me. The mac, though wonderfully constructed, and seemingly waterproof was floral. If there's one thing I don't really 'do' it is florals. The cardigan was super cute but cropped. I've never really gotten on with cropped things so I passed that along at the Oxfam clothes swap as well.

All in all  cracking swap and one that I hope will happen year after year. 

Til next time...x

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Gusto and The Wardrobe Angel

Apologies to all those #WeddingWednesday fans out there - a nasty spring cold has me under the weather and mainlining Lemsip as we speak! Due to this unexpected cold I had to pull out of an event I was booked to do this evening at the tasty wonderful Gusto in Cookridge, Leeds.

In over 3 years in business, I have never cancelled an event. 

I phoned my business mentor, Dawn, and my close friend, also a Dawn, this morning to talk through the options with them. When you are self-employed there's no manager you can call to phone in sick; you have to weigh the odds.

To the 30+ women who bought tickets to have a stylish chat with me this evening - I am really sorry. The Wardrobe Angel brand is fun and positivity and authenticity. I wouldn't feel any of these values if I was coughing all over you whilst I advised you on what dress to buy for a summer wedding. I hope you enjoy your night regardless.

I hope Kathryn from Gusto will invite me back again soon.

And so back to bed...x

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

#WeddingWednesday - the Parents meet the Parents

Last Saturday my parents met Rich's parents for the first time. I was pretty calm in the lead up, even calm that morning when we did house stuff (tip, charity shop) then as soon as I got home to start cooking the tension I was feeling - my gawd - was so tense. All manner of questions were running through my mind - what happens if they didn't get on? Or the conversation dried up? Or they started bringing up embarrassing stories of stroppy teens (probably about me - my teens were not my finest hour). 

As I peeled and chopped what seemed like the entire contents of the fruit & veg section at Tesco my fear eyes were in full force. 

We had planned the menu far in advance - sweet potato and bacon soup, tasty bread, brie, pate and fresh fruit for pudding. Minimum menu fuss was the order of the day: no awkward things to cut, easy to digest, no-one caught with a great whopping piece of food in their teeth at that awkward stage between the asking of a question and the realisation that the recipient of said questions has a mouthful.  We served the food in an 80's buffet style so people could sit in the lounge and feel relaxed, rather than sit around a table and it feel forced. (Plus we didn't have enough chairs for the sitting around the dining room table!)

My Dad, Tom Roper (that's what I call him -  a relic left over from those not so fine teenage years), gave me a hug upon arrival and whispered, "You alright?" and I said, "I'm so nervous!" But when everyone had arrived my hands unclamped and I felt more relaxed - it was like a mass job interview where everyone was going to come away with a job. Just questions and answers and a happy ending. This was always going to be a daunting afternoon - so many different personalities in one room - but everyone just got along.

It was an awesome afternoon - plenty of chats about walking, teaching, the opportunities that retirement has brought, grandchildren, books, Wolf Hall, the wedding. And laughing - lots and lots of laughing. 

The wider implications weren't lost on me - my mum and dad are gaining a son-in-law and Rich's parents are gaining a daughter-in-law. Far beyond everyone turning up to see Rich and I get wed, these relationships will last a lifetime, 

Rich's family used to joke that the first time they would know he had a girlfriend was when they got a wedding invitation. to which Rich replied, "what makes you think you'd get an invite?" And I think my parents had really given up hope after I became self-employed and spent my Friday nights reading fashion blogs. So it was an especially heartwarming when Rich's Mum, Jennifer, said to my Mum

"We are very happy about this."

to which my Mum replied

"Yes, so are we." 

It's always nice to get the parental seal of approval! 

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

#WeddingWednesday - Fake tan and Mother of the Bride

I'm really getting into the swing of wedding planning now and enjoying it. Around Christmas it just felt like this huge mountain to climb but now I get to help people decide what to wear (I'm talking Mother-of-the-bride) I am loving my role as bride-to-be! In fact, the past week has been awesome! Mum (previously known as Catherine to me but that's for another blog entirely) and I hit the shops last Friday to get her kitted out for her impending role as MOB. It's early, I know, Rich and I aren't getting hitched until October, but this year there is a lot going on - my sister is due to give birth to her 3rd child in a couple of weeks and Rich's family are having an epic family reunion in Canada. Both events, though vastly different, require a lot of planning and commitment.

My brother David got married about 18months ago and Mum was clear she wanted something "different" to wear for my wedding than for what she'd worn for Davids but after a few uninspiring dresses were passed in and out of the fitting room in one shop we had an emergency MOB pow-wow in the car,

"I think we should keep looking - by the time we get to July there will be summer holidays and then we'll hit September and it'll be the wedding before you know it."

"I agree - let's go to Harrogate."

So peddle to the metal we zoomed off in Mum's little red fiat. About 2 minutes after entering the next shop Mum appeared around a corner clutching a dress with a grin as wide as the San Francisco bridge. That was that. She tried it on, looked phenomenal and we were back on our way to Halifax in no time. It was a truly special day - again, one that I hadn't anticipated. To have that day, just us, was wonderful. Another job has been crossed off the list and the visual image of my mum in the dress, the colour of the material and accessories, means that I can picture the wedding in my head in even clearer detail. Which for me being a visual person is heaven!

There's an old tradition that the MOB gets to pick the colour of her outfit first, then the Groom's mother picks her outfit colour. Navigating theses old traditions is weird - do they still matter? I've heard people say "It doesn't matter, wear whatever you want." But we all want to be individual and our clothes are our way of doing that. So with a few texts and conversations here and there the MOB and Jennifer, Rich's Mum, will be wearing different colours come October.

What else? We've done a mock-up of the seating plan and are going for a tasting session in a couple of weeks. I just want Fish and Chips - what happens either side of that I'm not bothered. And I'm still thinking of my general bridal get-up after someone looked at my pasty skin this week and said

"You are getting a spray tan for your wedding, aren't you?"

Me and spray tan, fake tan, indeed normal tanning have never really gotton on. After a summer working in a bar in Marbella during uni I was so brown when I came back I looked like a wooden sideboard. It might have had something to do with the carrot tanning oil I was using....After that I've never really been able to tan so pale and interesting it is. Sali Hughes' book "Pretty Honest" has a wonderful chapter on Bridal make-up. I love this paragraph:

"Ringlets on straightening-iron devotees, fake tan on pale skins, sickly pastels on those rarely seen without bold lips and dark sultry eyes. Padded bras on flatties, elaborate fake hairpieces on short hair. Enough! A wedding day is not the time to play at being a flaxen-haired virgin from a Disney fairytale. It's the time to look your most amazing."

And with that you have your answer to the tanning question.

Til next time...x