Thursday, 12 October 2017

Exploring John Lewis, Newcastle -- The Beauty Retreat And The Beauty Hall*

I don't know if this applies to other bloggers, but in my world at least, blogger and press events are like buses, you don't attend anything or get any invites for what seems like forever and then in the space of a couple of days 4 invitations appear in your inbox!

It's been a busy couple of weeks in LouLouLand heading to events and what not and now I'm just trying to get my photos edited, and get my thoughts together, so that in my next few posts I can tell exactly what I've been up to. I know posts about events aren't for everyone but I promise you they aren't just about bloggers and journalists showing off and drinking fizz, when you attend an event yes probably will have a bit of fun, but at the same you're experiencing new products and new things and you're learning things that you can pass onto your readers In essence I guess we do reconnaissance work and suss things out so you don't have to.

Last Wednesday I was one of a number of North East bloggers that were lucky enough to be invited along to John Lewis, in Intu Eldon Square in Newcastle city centre, to attend what was to be their very first official blog event. John Lewis is one of the big 3 department stores in Newcastle city centre, and it's another store that has it's roots firmly planted right herein the North East. Formerly known as Bainbridge's, the store originally started trading on a small scale in Newcastle in around 1838 and ultimately became one of the first true department stores in the world, it changed hands and locations several times over the years before eventually be taken over by the John Lewis Partnership in 1952. The store traded successfully as Bainbridge's for many years before the Partners voted in 2002 to somewhat controversially change the name to John Lewis.

The purpose of last weeks event was to give us an opportunity to see just exactly what John Lewis has to offer the beauty lover, from the numerous cosmetic counters in the beauty haul, to the self selection stands and of course the Beauty Retreat.

Heading into the Beauty Retreat area of the store we greeted with glasses of bubbly, event programmes, and goodie bags, and we given the opportunity to have a chat, to try some canapes, and to enjoy the live music provided by a very talented local singer and musician, David. We then a had a talk from the Beauty Retreat Manager, Clare Meadows, about the Beauty Retreat and the night ahead. There were quite a lot of us in attendance so we were split into two groups to make sure we had an opportunity to try everything that was on offer to us. Whilst one group explored the beauty hall and the beauty counters, the other group had the opportunity to try out some of the brands that the beauty retreat has to offer, and try out some of their 10 minute taster treatments

In it's simplest terms the John Lewis, Newcastle Beauty Retreat is a spa within a store, with subdued lighting, and calming colours, the first room that you enter is a combined reception area and a treatment area where you can get brow and hair removal treatments from Blink and Jessica manicures and hand treatments, both of which we had the opportunity to try on the night.

Go upstairs in the Beauty Retreat and you're greeted with a Clarins Spa offering everything from facials to massages and self tanning. Clarins were offering pressure point massage tasters on the night but I'd already made my mind up what I wanted to try and that was downstairs.

As well as the reception and treatment areas, the Beauty Retreat also features 4 individually decorated, and furnished treatment rooms that are devoted to some of the biggest spa and skincare brands on the UK scene, ESPA, Liz Earle, Elemis and Decleor. As tempting as it was try everything that was on offer, time was really was of the essence, there were still a lot of bloggers who wanted treatments, and we only had an hour before the two groups swapped over so we had to be selective over what treatments we tried

On reflection I probably played it safe, and top of my list were two brands that I loved and I've used on and off for years, Liz Earle and Elemis. Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish is a cult product and rightfully so, it does exactly what it says it does, but the team from Liz Earle were giving us the opportunity to try out some of the newer versions of the classic C+P. Whilst keeping the base the same Liz Earle have started to experiment a little bit, and have introduced several versions with different essential oil blends. I tried a couple but the stand out for me was definitely the Rose and Lavender, I sometimes find the eucalyptus in the original too stimulating but this one felt more calming on the skin and I think it's something that would be lovely to use at night.

Another skincare brand that I love has to be Elemis, Pro Collagen Marine Cream is probably the best moisturiser I have ever used, and I can honestly say that I've loved nearly everything from them that I've tried. Again the treatment room was perfectly suited to the brand with the subdued lighting and beautiful aromas emanating from all sides, and what Elemis were offering us on the night was a taste of their Deep Drainage Facial. This wasn't about make up removal, so the make up stayed put, this massage was all about the feeling and the sensation. I was only lying on the massage bed for a few minutes but I could easily have stayed there all night. My therapist gave a gentle facial massage with just enough pressure and positioning to relieve all of the tension in my head, my sinuses and in all my facial bones and muscles. When she'd finished my head literally felt lighter, and despite the bubbly, and the warmth of the room I felt very clear headed and refreshed.

Speaking of refreshing, something that I love and that I always find relaxes me is a head and neck massages, hell any massage come to think of it, and when I saw that French, aromatherapy brand Decleor were offering a relaxing neck and shoulder massage, I knew I had to give it a try. If you've ever tried anything from Decleor you'll know that it's not only about results, it's also about the power of the scent. Like all of the spa rooms, they were lightly fragranced, with products (including the new advent calendar) on display and the lighting was both calming and subtle. Although I was wearing a dress, sitting down my therapist still had enough access to both my neck and my shoulders to undo some serious knots. Even though this was just a massage taster the therapist was really professional and enquired about the strength of pressure and how the massage felt throughout. After only a few minutes my neck felt less achy and I noticed a definite improvement in my all be it common muscle pain and tightness. She finished the massage with an application of their Circulagel, which is crammed full of menthol and camphor and gives the skin that fabulous hot, cold feeling. Although it's specifically designed for tired and aching legs, this product is great for relaxing sore and achy muscles all over the body and it's definitely something that spoonies like me need in out lives

By this time it was time to swap over and it was time for my group to attack the beauty hall and see exactly what John Lewis has to offer. The Newcastle store has most of the big beauty brands that you would expect and a few more besides, showcased in a spacious and light, and airy environment. It goes without saying that anyone can go up to a counter and ask for advice but on the night, a lot of the counters were offering some special demonstrations and makeovers just for us. We could try everything from the new Dyson Supersonic Hairdryer, to crimping and hair styling with GHD, to focus makeovers from Bobbi Brown, Chanel, and Benefit.

Again I wanted to try everything that was on offer, but that just wasn't realistic, so I settled for heading to just two counters, Bare Minerals and NARS. On the night Bare Minerals were offering a statement lip tutorial but being the beauty junkie that I am I wanted to find out a little bit more about their new foundation release Bare Pro. The lovely MUA, Sophie colour matched me and then applied a little bit of the product so I could see how it felt it on the skin, the colour match was perfect and since it's supposed to be great for concealing large pores, I've added it to my ever expanding beauty wishlist.

One of the most popular counters in John Lewis, Newcastle has to be NARS. Although it's a department store staple in many southern stores, we only have two department stores in the North East that stock it and John Lewis s one of them.

I was greeted warmly by their make up artist, Jane, who as well as being super friendly, was also very knowledgeable about the brand and it's history. I asked her a few what could be seen as difficult questions about the brands ownership, and their decision to sell in China, and she was more than happy to answer them and clarify a few issues with me, not only did she do that but she also gave me one of the best on counter makeovers that I've ever had.

The NARS demonstration that we were offered on the night was entitled, "Make Up Your Mind" and the focus was NARS' signature smokey eye look, which Jane created by using their Velvet Shadow Sticks, as well as just making up my eyes though, Jane went on a gave me a full face make over featuring everything from the new Orgasm Liquid Blush, to the Orgasm Lipstick, and the Sun Wash Bronzing Powder. I also found out that I've been using the wrong shade of NARS foundation so Jane matched me perfectly to Mont Blanc and gave me a full list of accompanying products in the correct shades.

The result was a relatively fresh, neutral face look, which was counterbalanced by the most amazing, cover girl, catwalk, rock chick smokey eye look. I really did look runway ready as I snapped several selfies of my new glam look whilst in the make up chair, sods law though when I took the pictures off my camera and phone, they were are awful, blurred and unusable, to say I was devastated was an understatement. All that hard work and nothing to show for out. I was gutted but I was so impressed with the makeover that I wouldn't hesitate to return to NARS in John Lewis in the future, for another make up masterclass.

By the time my rock chick transformation was finished though, the night was just about drawing to a close, so we headed back into the Beauty Retreat to finish the remaining canapes and cross our fingers that our lucky numbers might come up in the raffle. Alas I wasn't a winner but three lovely ladies walked away with goodies from Molton Brown, Trilogy and Charlotte Tilbury. Then after a lot of thank you's and chatter, a group of North East bloggers and their plus ones felt pampered and glamorous as hell and they headed off into the night clutching their goodie bags full of beauty samples and Charbonnel and Walker Champagne Truffles

It really was an amazing night, as well as getting to spend some time with some of my fellow bloggers both old and new, I learnt an awful from all of the brands that I spoke to and I left with a product wishlist as long as my arm, and if anyone is listening I would love a series of Elemis facials and Decleor massages in my Christmas stocking! I can live in hope I guess haha. I just want to thank everyone at John Lewis, Newcastle and of course all of the counters, therapists, brands and make up artists who looked after us last Wednesday night, and of course David for the fabulous musical accompaniments. You can find out more about John Lewis Newcastle and exactly what services they have to offer on the official John Lewis website.

*Blogger Event

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Lush Gateshead Re-Opening Party And Some New Holiday Releases*

Now I'm not the most social of creatures by any means, but last week I went to a party! Alas there was no jelly and ice cream or pass the parcel, but there was enough glitter to shake a stick it and that certainly makes it a party in my eyes.

Myself, and a small group of my fellow North East bloggers were invited along to celebrate the re-opening of the Lush Gateshead store in Intu Metrocentre, alongside the Lush staff and their families.

Since I became bathless, I've got to be honest and say that I don't go into Lush as often as I used to, the pain that I can't buy bath ballistics anymore is real! When I go into store though, the Metrocentre store is my local, and although the staff have changed over the years, I can never praise the staff enough they are always super friendly and helpful and they always have a smile on their face.

The Intu Metrocentre store staff though, now have even more reason to be happy than most, why? well they have a shiny new and renovated store to work in. Still located in Upper Red Mall, the store has undergone a real transformation, the layout has completely changed, and it seems more spacious than it used but of course you can still buy all of your old favourites including haircare, skincare, fragrance, make up and of course bath and body products.

One new addition that is bound to make life easier for both the customers and the staff, is the introduction of new demonstration stations, which are fully equipped with sinks and hot and cold running water. Instead of having to grab a bowl of water, staff can now demonstrate how products work in a real setting, so you can try ballistics, and rinse off cleansers, body conditioners and shower foams until your heart is content, and your senses are tingling.

To celebrate the re-opening Lush, have made Lush Gateshead one of the first stores in the UK to launch their new Christmas and Halloween products, and we were given a sneaky peek as to what is on offer.

With every year that passes, Halloween in the UK gets bigger and bigger, When I was wee, Halloween involved a carved turnip, a black bin liner, and a witches hat but now there are decorations, costumes, cakes, sweets and even Lush goodies. You can buy pumpkin gift sets, black cat knot wraps, and a wide variety of soaps, bubble bars, bath ballistics, and even lip products (more on that later) to help you celebrate the witching hour. The bath envy is real with this one and if I had one I would definitely have picked a black cat shaped, Bewitched Bubble Bar.

At the risk of offending half of the population, I'm actually not that fussed about Halloween, it means one thing to me and that is Christmas is getting nearer, and you can't argue that the one thing that Lush do incredibly well is Christmas.

Think of Lush and Christmas and I can guarantee that one product will spring to mind and that is Snow Fairy, and the good news is that it is back for Christmas 2017. The original sweet, and fruity shower gel makes a reappearance this year but it isn't the only way to get your Snow Fairy fix. This year there are more Snow Fairy fragranced products than ever before, you can try out the new Jelly Bombs or you could pick up a Cold Pressed Soap, or even a versatile bar of Fun for the bath or shower. If body moisturising is more your thing, or if you want to layer all of that Snow Fairy sweetness, then you can try the new Snow Fairy Sparkle Jar, which is a combination of body shimmer, and a moisturising massage bar or you can try the Snow Fairy Body Conditioner which comes in both in a pot and as a naked product, which you can either use in the shower for a super moisturising treat or you can use a small amount as a body moisturiser.

Lush have always been one of the most innovative brands on the high street, and it goes without saying that they operate under a strong ethical standpoint. More of their products than ever before are suitable for vegans and a lot of their products are becoming more and more eco friendly in fact you can now buy a lot of products in their naked form. It sounds strange but cutting down on unnecessary packaging has always been the Lush way, and following on from the success of their solid shampoos, now they've introduced a wide range of products without packaging. You can now buy solid lip tints, solid lip scrubs, solid body lotions, solid shower gels and solid body conditioners, so say you want to buy some Snow Fairy Shower Gel, you can now buy it as you always did in a plastic bottle or you can buy the Naked version, which is a solid block that lathers up in the shower.

If Snow Fairy isn't for you (if it isn't, what is wrong with you?) then Lush have plenty of other festive products to tickle your fancy including Shower Gels and Jelly's, Soaps, Body Conditioners, and Body Creams, Bubble Bars and Bath Ballistics, and even lip products, with some new Lip Scrubs and Lip Tints, and the new Glittery Lip Block which is perfect for the party season.

I've already made myself a list of the shower things that I want and I'm definitely going to pick up my favourite Santa's Belly Shower Jelly, some Bubbly Shower Gel, the Bucks Fizz Body Conditioner and of course some more Snow Fairy but I couldn't resist buying a few thing on the night

I'll be talking about all of these products in a future but on the night I ended up buying a couple of lip things I got the Sugar Plum Fairy Lip Scrub which retails at £5.95 and I also ended up getting the Black Rose Lipstick / Lip Tint from the Halloween range which retails at £6.50. I also picked up one of the new(ish) Jelly Face Masks in Just To Clarify which was £6.95 and it wouldn't be a seasonal  Lush haul without Snow Fairy so I picked up the Snow Fairy Body Conditioner which retails at £8.50 for the 100g size.

The people at Lush Gateshead were also kind enough to gift us a few of the Christmas products to try, and our goodies came beautifully packaged in one of Lush's signature, eco friendly Knot Wraps. I am a bit in love with knot wraps and they make any product look gift worthy in minutes. This is one of the many Christmas designs that they have on offer, but each store also has a wide variety of different designs to choose from and sometimes they even have vintage scarves which they can use as well.

My knot wrap contained two bath products, which I'm passing on to my bestie, a Christmas Sweater Bath Ballistic which contains a warming blend of mustard, clove, ginger, coriander, and Sicilian Lemon, and retails at £4.50, and a My Two Front Teeth Bubble Bar which contains lavender, vanilla, tonka bean and neroli and retails at £3.95.

It also contained a Berry Berry Christmas Naked Shower Gel which retails at £11.75 and contains a combination of cranberry, blueberry, bergamot, sweet wild orange oil, and olive leaf absolute and a piece of Shooting Stars Soap, which contains a fresh citrus mix of lemon, lime and bergamot and retails at £4.95. Make sure your following me on all of my social media channel to find out what I think about these two products.

I filmed a little video on the night, to showcase some of new releases and of course the re-opening party and the newly refurbished Gateshead store that you can see below or via this link.

If you are from the North East I can't recommend heading down to the new Gateshead store enough, the staff are really helpful and there are loads of new things to look at, and try. If you aren't lucky enough to live up North then the Halloween and Christmas ranges will be in all stores soon and of course you can have a look online x There really is something for everyone at Lush, there are loads of individual products for every skin type and every need, and there are plenty of gift sets to choose from for both Halloween and Christmas. Are you a fan of Lush's Christmas products? Let me know in the comments

*Press / Blogger Event 

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Reflections and Trimming My Stash - September 2017 Edition - Empties And Mini Reviews

So any lingering hopes of an Indian summer are long gone, now we're in October there is no denying that Autumn is here. The days are getting shorter, the nights are getting longer, the leaves are falling from the trees and you can now go into any supermarket in the UK and buy a pumpkin!

In the last couple of days I've been reminded of a song that we used to sing at this time of year in school assemblies and at Sunday school. The song is called Autumn Days and it's about been thankful for the harvest and those little things in life, and I think it's something that we can all live by. It's very hard at times to find any positives in life but they are always there even if sometimes they take a little bit of finding.

If you follow me on Instagram you'll know that I'm currently doing the #365DaysOfHappiness project, it hasn't been easy it times but sometimes even the smallest and most innocuous things can lift your spirits, from a nice cup of coffee, to a fragranced candle, and knowing that it's only 82 days until Christmas.

I know, I know I've already started my Christmas shopping and I'm preparing to fill the shower with all of my festive toiletries, I love Christmas and it always makes me happy but in order to start using all of those cranberry, apple, and gingerbread smellies, I need to make space and get some bits used up. My October aim is to clear my shower of fruits and florals but in the meantime lets see what beauty products I finished last month.

Scrub Love Invigorating Coffee Body Scrub - Coconut Affair - 50g
Beauty Bible Cleansing Milk - 300ml
Superdrug Nourishing Nail Polish Remover Acetone Free - 250ml
Soap & Glory Thick & Fast Super Volume Mascara -10ml
Collection 2000 Colour Match Foundation - Ivory 1 - 30ml

Total - 5 Items 

Okay, so five items isn't that amazing but I'm still really happy because of the type of items that I managed to finish. Make up items are always pretty thin on the ground for me, probably because I have so much of it that I never really use anything consistently but in September I managed to finish 2 make up products and some body and skincare bits, and as the slogan goes "every little helps"

1. Scrub Love Invigorating Coffee Body Scrub - Coconut Affair - 50g

These scrubs are absolutely everywhere at the moment, and I've managed to accumulate quite a few of them thanks to the various beauty boxes that I'm subscribed to. Billed as more eco friendly, these scrubs are basically just coffee grounds, with a few added ingredients (coconut in this case). I always assumed that these scrubs would have some sort of cream, oil or gel base but they don't, or at least this one didn't. It's basically looks and smells just like coffee grounds, with just a hint of coconut. I tried just taking a handful and rubbing it on my legs but I think I managed to lose more in the shower than I managed to use! I found the best way to use this was to tip a small amount into my hand and then I added a bit of shower gel to achieve a more spreadable consistency. When it comes to body scrubs I know what I like, and the number one thing that I look for is grittiness, this scrub is definitely gritty but it is just so, so messy! The floor of my shower room was literally covered in coffee grounds, and brown yucky looking splodges, I managed to get more of the scrub on the floor, on the shower screen and on the wall then I did on my thighs, and the shower trap, clogged up in an instant! This scrub would be amazing first thing in the morning, with the invigorating feel and the coffee aroma but for me I just can't deal with the mess and neither can Mummy Lou. I'll use the remaining sachets that I have but I definitely won't repurchase :( If you want to try this scrub for yourself then you can buy if from various retailers including Beauty Bay, Fragrance Direct, and Very.

2. Beauty Bible Cleansing Milk - 300ml

I think I've mentioned this in a previous post but I recently tested a batch of products for one of the most comprehensive beauty books on the market, Beauty Bible. If you're confused by all of the beauty products on the market then this is the book that you need. Basically it's a beauty review book, and for every edition the team behind the Beauty Bible recruit hundreds and hundreds of volunteers to try out every beauty product under the sun. I've done it a few times now and I've really enjoyed trying out a wide variety of new products. The only thing is that you're not allowed to talk about the product that you tried on social media :( which in this case is a bit of a bummer because this was one of my favourite products. So in brief it's a sensibly priced, cleansing milk and I loved it, and I would definitely consider spending my hand earned cash on it in the future x 

3. Superdrug Nourishing Nail Polish Remover Acetone Free - 250ml

I don't know if you've noticed but I'm starting to get into painting my nails again, after around 6 months of rubbishness, my nails are getting longer, stronger and they're looking pretty decent, so I'm taking advantage and painting and photographing them while I still can. I know it isn't the most exciting of tasks, but if you paint your nails, at some point you're going to need to take that polish off. 

I'm using two different polish removers at the moment, the Primark PS Love Your Nails Nail Polish Twist Pot, which I use to correct mistakes and to just remove one or two nails, and for everyday use and removing a full manicure I swear by this one from Superdrug. I've used this remover for years and the price has remained the same for the longest time. This acetone free polish is one of my holy grail products, it works, it doesn't smell too awful, and it's only £1.39 for 250ml. I love it so much that I even wrote a blog post devoted to it, that you can read here

4. Soap & Glory Thick & Fast Super Volume Mascara -10ml

I'm not having the best of luck with mascaras at the moment - During a recent optician visit I was diagnosed with dry corneas, due to a combination of both my facial nerve paralysis, and one of my current medications. My eyes can be a bit sensitive at the best of times but at the moment, they're particularly bad. I've tried and binned 3 mascaras in the past fortnight due to sensitivity and whilst I couldn't really class those as empties, I can class this one as an empty.

I haven't tried a lot of make up from Soap & Glory but other the past few years I've managed to acquire a few of their mascaras thanks to the Boots Star Gifts, and a few months ago now I decided to give this one a try and I have to say I was impressed. This mascara which retails at around £10 promises thicker fuller lashes and on me it delivered. It didn't dry my lashes out and it didn't feel heavy or clumpy, and whilst it didn't look as though I was wearing false lashes, my lashes definitely looked fuller, and thicker, and it didn't make my eyes run or sting. It wasn't the longest wearing mascara that I've ever used but I'll happily use the ones that I have and I would definitely consider repurchasing this one in it's own right.

5. Collection 2000 Colour Match Foundation - Ivory 1 - 30ml

Now before you I say anything I know that this is an old, old bottle of foundation. I'm fully aware of that, and I know that you should really throw make up and especially liquids and creams out after so long. This still smelled okay and the texture hadn't changed so I kept as it and tried to eek it out for as long as possible. The reason why is that I loved this foundation, the colour match was perfect, the texture was perfect for my skin type, and it wore well on my oil prone skin. In this format this foundation has long gone. Collection, as they are now called does have a Colour Match Foundation in it's current collection (haha) but it's now in plastic, squeezy tube, and the shade names have altered slightly. At only £3.99 for 30ml it's well worth a try though, so I've picked up the shade Ivory and I'm hoping upon hope that it is just as good as this one was. If it isn't I'll be begging Collection to bring the original one back!

So they were my September empties, as I say I'm really pleased to have finished a few make up items, but in October I'll definitely be focusing on the bathroom, and trying to make room for both my festive shower bits, and my winter themed body creams. Which reminds me, if you are a bit obsessed with Christmas bath and body bits then check out tomorrow's post to see some of Lush's festive offerings x If you have any questions on any of the items that I've mentioned then please leave me a comment below x 

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Creating An Autumnal Capsule Wardrobe With ESPRIT*

As much as I love the heat and the warmth of summer, I do love Autumn, I love the colours of the falling leaves, Pumpkin Spice Lattes and of course I love Autumn fashion.

When you're feeling a bit less than confident about your body, Autumn and Winter fashions give you the perfect opportunity to cover up those bits you're not so keen on. Throw on a few layers and in an instant you'll feel more confident and ready to enjoy all of those occasions and events that Fall has to offer.

I think that what I like most about Autumn fashion though is the colour palette, pop into any store, or take a look online, and you'll be greeted by clothing in all sorts of warm autumnal tones ranging from rusts, to mustard's, tans, browns and reds.

I love colour but if you're a bit scared of it and you're not quite sure how to work some of those fall shades into your wardrobe, then take my advice and start off with a simple piece like this long sleeved striped t-shirt from ESPRIT.

Think of a striped top, and you'd probably automatically think about the classic blue and white, Breton stripe that we're all so familiar with. Nothing looks fresher in the Spring and Summer months then those classic stripes teamed up with either blue, or white, jeans or shorts - the nautical look is a real fashion classic and with good reason, but sometimes as the season changes you need to try something new and mix it up a bit.

This 100% cotton t-shirt, comes in 3 very different but coordinating colour ways, and every option is perfect for adding a little bit of Autumn into your wardrobe. Just team one of these t-shirts with with clothing and accessories that already own such as a pair of blue jeans, and some brown and tan accessories, or even with a pair of white trainers, and with the addition of the mustard, red and brown tones of these shirts, you're all set for the season ahead.

Whilst t-shirts like these can help you update even your oldest clothing and accessory pieces for the new season, you can also use simple pieces like these as a basis for your own Autumn capsule wardrobe, adding carefully chosen pieces to create several different outfits.

You could easily team any of these t-shirts with some plain blue or black jeans but where would the fun be in that. If like me you're a bit braver when it comes to colour then why not pick out some of the colours that you can find in each individual top, and get some coordinating or even contrasting pieces in some of these fall tones to create your own capsule wardrobe. I think that any of these separates, also from ESPRIT, would work perfectly with any of these striped t-shirts. The inclusion of the reds, and the rust tones obviously goes without saying, but don't be frightened to try pieces in almost a clashing colour like these bottle green trousers, or even a piece with a clashing print like the subtle check on this pencil skirt, to create your own individual look.

And of course don't forget about your outerwear, you shoes, your accessories and your layering pieces. Again by picking out some of the colours from the tops, you can create your own stylish grab, run, and go outfits without too much effort or thought. I'm particularly loving the Brass Yellow Cotton Blazer Coat and the Garnet Red Melange Knit Cardigan, to add just a hint of warmth and of course colour to your outfit on those drearier Autumn days.

A lot of people think that creating a capsule wardrobe or changing your wardrobe every season is difficult, but I've hopefully shown you here that putting outfits and different items of clothing together doesn't have to be hard. Start of with a basic piece like a striped t-shirt and then either use items that you already have or buy a few more select pieces either in a coordinating or contrasting colour palette, and have fun creating new outfits. A lot of people are scared of colour and of trying new things, but fashion should be fun, and it should be a way of expressing yourself, and creating your own signature style, so play with colour and with new pieces and you might be surprised at just how easy it is to climb out of your comfort zone.

All of the items in this post are currently available from the ESPRIT website and in selected stores and online. Are you a fan of Autumn colours and fashions? Let me know in the comments.

*Sponsored Post

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

A Huge Primark Haul - September 2017 Edition

Ahh Primark, nothing lifts my mood than a bit of budget indulgence. Like most stores Primark's prices have increased but it's still one of the cheapest places on the high street to buy clothes, accessories and home wear, and I never, need an excuse to fill my basket.

I've got quite a bit to show you so I'm going to quit the babble and get started, and the first item that I picked up was this sleep tee, which was just £4.50 from the Newcastle store.

When I bought it though, I committed the cardinal sin, and didn't check that the size on the nightshirt corresponded with the size on the hanger grrrr. Thankfully when I went back to exchange it in the Intu Metrocentre store and there was one left in my size! Call it fate or the luck of the Unicorn or the feline but I'm happy to have this in my life. It just a basic over sized t-shirt in a sort of navy blue marl type fabric. You can't see the writing too clearly in the photos but it says "When I Dream I'm A Caticorn" - cats and unicorns what could be better!

Next up something stripy, I've always loved stripes and this year especially, the stores, seem to have caught up with my obsession. A few hauls ago I picked up a basic, short sleeved, striped crew neck t-shirt, and it's something that I've washed, and worn, and washed and worn since I got it. The length is good, and it's super stretchy. I couldn't see any short sleeved ones on the this trip but I did find a long sleeved version in a few different colours, it was just £4 and I went for the pale blue and white stripe version.I've already worn this and for the price I think it's a pretty decent top, and I'm definitely going to pick up a few plain coloured ones for layering.

Sticking with the striped theme, I also picked up this jumper. I'm a big fan of knitwear and lightweight pieces like this one are perfect for pretty much any season in the UK.

It's officially described as a Step Hem Jumper, and it's does have a bit of curved, uneven hem thing going on. It's in a slightly off white with a thin black stripe. It also features a bit of ladder detailing, and rib detailing on the hem and sleeves Again it comes in a few different colours including different stripes and plain colours and it was just £8.

I know they can often be seen as a little bit, grannyish, but I do love a cardigan, no I'll admit it I'm slightly obsessed with cardigans, I probably have enough cardigans in my wardrobe to start my own little cardigan shop but come on! they are just so useful. I love layering, and I always want to cover bits of my body that I'm not feeling very confident about, and cardigans fit the bill perfectly, and when I saw this one, it was woolly love at first sight.

This is one of the pieces from Primark's collaboration with UK Glamour magazine. I don't know the extent of the collaboration but a lot of the new Autumn and Winter pieces are tagged with As Seen In Glamour, so I'm assuming it's just a promotional feature but they had some really nice bits including this officially red, but really more like a bright, orange red cardigan. It's long length, in a wide ribbed design, it has no buttons or fastenings and it has pockets.

It was £13 and although it's made of largely synthetic fibres, it definitely feels a lot more expensive than it is, if you like the idea of angora but you won't buy if for ethical and animal rights reasons this could be something to try. It's the perfect autumnal bright and I can't wait to wear over jeans, leggings, and I'm even planning on wearing it over a plain black dress to give it a pop of colour.

When you shop in Primark as regularly as I do you come to the realisation that there are products that you always buy, things that you always use or things that you'll repeat purchase. For me it has to be Primark's viscose leggings, I don't wear leggings outside of my front door that often, but when I'm spending the day at home, they really are my go to. They retail at around £2.80 a pair, and they're actually pretty decent for the price, they hold their shape, and they aren't completely see through - it's a win, win thing, and every now and then I'll buy a couple of pairs.

As well as leggings there are a couple of Primark's beauty products that are also on my repeat purchase list. First up the PS Oil Balancing Cleansing Wipes With Tea Tree And Witch Hazel, I've lost count of how many packets of these wipes that I've bought over the years, I use them for all sorts of things and to be honest they are actually even better than the used to be. The last few packets that I've bought have been sightly thicker and textured but the price has remained the same, it's just a £1 for 2 packs of 25 so I never feel guilty stocking up when I'm in store.

One of my newest Primark must haves has to be the PS Cuticle Oil, which is just a £1 a bottle. When I first bought this I wasn't expecting a lot but I'm a convert, I love the Original OPI Avoplex but this stuff is nearly as good for a fraction of the price. If you have dry nails and cuticles this is well worth trying.

I know I've said it before but it's so true, Primark's beauty range just keeps getting better and better, yes they may be copying and duping high end brands but as someone who is attempting (haha) to stick to some sort of budget I'm not complaining. On my two September trips so far, I've picked up two of the newest make up items to try, the PS Setting Powder which was £3, and the really interesting looking PS Insta Girl Photo Flash Powder which was just £2.50 and claims to be an Instagram filter in a face powder. I'm going to review both of these items in a future post so you've just got a sneaky peek here x

The PS Insta Girl line seems to be a whole range of face, and make up perfecting, make up items, and beauty tools, that are designed especially for the selfie taking, Instagram obsessed generation. As well as innovative make up items it also contains a range of droolworthy make up brushes. The individual brushes are a little bit pricier than some of Primark's other brushes but they I loved the metallic ombre design so much that I couldn't resist trying the PS Insta Girl No Filter Foundation Brush which was £5.

Like all the other brushes that I've tried from Primark the hairs are super soft, and it's actually a pretty decent, and well made make up brush. Did I need it? did I hell! but I couldn't resist it!

Another Primark item that nearly falls into my must buy on every trip, is their spiral hair bobbles. I buy hair bobbles all the time, but when I need one I can never, ever find one - it's like hair grips, and socks - where do they go? These packs of 12 which are just £1 each, are a very similar to several higher price alternatives. They made of a rubbery plastic, so they don't snag the hair, and they don't lose their shape straight away. This time round I got a pack of navy blue bobbles and a pack which contains several different shades of brown bobbles.

As much as I love jewellery I'm starting to think that maybe I need to stop buying so much, as well as a cardigan shop, based on my own collection I could easily set up, and stock my own jewellery shop, I really do have that much! So I looked at the jewellery section, picked up one pieces and walked away! This is just a set of 3 Semi Precious Bracelets containing what looks like Rose Quartz. The set was £3 and it reminded me of Monica Vinader and some of the Z For Accessorize pieces which I love.

If you could sum this post up in one phrase it would probably be "I didn't really need it but..." and guess what it applies to these next two items as well! I don't need any more shoes, or at least I don't need any more less than sensible shoes but again I couldn't resist. I do love a bargain though and these fabulous slip on pumps were only £3 having been reduced from £8.

They are comfy but they certainly aren't for the faint hearted, they're made of a bright blue satin, and the feature an embroidered, almost oriental style floral design. I love a bit of colour and I think that these flats will be perfect for jazzing up a plain outfit, like for example a pair of jeans and a plain white t-shirt.

For as long as I can remember I've loved velvet, and in particular blue velvet, no I don't mean the film, even though I'm a big David Lynch fan, I mean the fabric, and in particular I have a bit of a thing for velvet footwear, so when I saw these boots, which were just £16 it was inevitable that the would end up in my basket.

Are they practical? not really, can I walk in them? if I concentrate I can I guess, why did I buy them then? Well just look at them they are so pretty,  even if I don't wear them I might find a way of putting them on display, I just don't want to destroy their velvet loveliness. Pointless purchase? NEVER!

If you've made it this far, well done, I know that this haul to put it politely was a long one, never mind I'm nearly done I just have 3 home related pieces to show you, including a band waggon jump.

Yes I managed to jump on the Primark, Beauty And The Beast band waggon, with a little Mrs Potts purchase.

Unfortunately it wasn't the actual teapot, does that even exist? but it was the next best thing, the Mrs Potts Money Box.

I have quite a few money boxes, and piggy banks in my collection, and think that this ceramic Mrs Potts will fit right in. It was only £8 and I think that it would make a great gift for either a Disney fan or a money box collector, no matter what their age.

So, so cute and something else that's pretty cute is this Reindeer Tealight Holder, which was just £1.50.

I know it's still a little bit early to start thinking about Christmas but there is nothing wrong with being prepared! Last time I went in Intu Metrocentre Primark, they were just starting to put their Christmas things out and I spotted this little guy. I already own him in white for a year or so ago, and since he was a bit lonely I had to pick up this bronze toned version as well. It was just £1.50 and it also contains an unscented tea light.

My final purchase was something else that was candle related, and like so many stores at the moment Primark have really upped their candle and home fragrancing game. With Jo Malone alikes, decent reed diffusers, and a Salted Caramel Brownie candle that everyone seems to have gone mad for, if you like a bit of home scent Primark is the place to go. Since I've recently purchased a few foodie scented candles I thought I'd try one of their fruitier options, and this one fit the bill perfectly.

At £5 this was a little pricey by Primark standards but I do think it was worth it. This Plum and Mulberry Scented Candle has the most amazing fruity fragrance, and it comes in a beautiful, swirled, almost tie dye effect, glass or ceramic (I can't tell, sorry!) holder, that I'm definitely planning on reusing x

So it was long, and drawn out and I didn't need most of it but hey, I probably spent a lot less in Primark than I would have done elsewhere for similar stuff. I've made a little (haha) You Tube video to accompany this haul that you can watch below or via this link.

Thanks for reading and hopefully watching, and if you have any questions on anything in this haul then leave me a comment below and don't forget to link me up to your latest Primark hauls as well x