Let’s chat – January 2020

I’m very lucky that I know a lot of people who serve as an inspiration to me in all aspects of life, probably more so than they realise.

Recently, I’ve become inspired to basically picked up the baton that my pal Call me Amy put down at the back end of 2019 on a slightly different style of monthly roundup post, so that’s what I’m kicking off today.

I think she’s come up with a really good format that I’ve enjoyed reading from her, and personally I think it will be good me to reflect the good bits of each month and actually plan stuff in. Less time spending every waking moment away from work glued to the couch for me this year! So, here we go, enjoy…

– Cardi B, Invasion of Privacy

– Ministry of Sound Throwback Hip Hop

– Eminem, Best of

– 24: Typical me, I only get into a show after it’s finished! Currently on the penultimate series watching Jack Bauer have incredibly action packed days without having any sleep whilst being in his late 40s. True goals.

– Roast Battle (Comedy Central): Funny and savage in one handy half hour segment!

– Friends (Comedy Centre/Channel 5): Could I BE any more hipster throwback?

– Celebrated the Mr’s birthday: He got presents, we had nice dinner and cake, and for the next six months I can pretend he’s only a year younger than me

– Went to a roller disco: Talked into by friends, too scared to do it properly, only accident I managed to have was getting out the car on the way home. Not for me!

– Went on the radio: I popped into BBC Radio Humberside to appear with my HEY Blogger gals on No Filter which was hosted by our Violet! Click the no filter link to listen to our ep.

– Saw Ed Byrne live: This guy was the first comedian who ever made me laugh out loud, yet this is only the second time I’ve ever seen him live and the first time in Hull

– Partied with drag queens: I was kindly invited to the Pride in Hull Queer AF event (which was the same night as Ed, check me out doing double bubble!) where I got to meet the Drag Race UK finalist Baga Chipz!

Thanks for reading,

J xx


The two things fashion brands do that tear people down. Why are we STILL accepting it?

I’ve had this post saved in my drafts for a really long time, but put off finishing it and publishing it. When I say a really long time, I think maybe a year or so.

Why? I’m not 100% sure to be honest, but my current theory is that I’m worried of how I’ll be perceived for publishing it.

At the moment, I’m probably in the ‘average girl’ category (albeit on the larger side of this group) – I’m not plus size, nor am I slim, just kind of in that middle ground that doesn’t have a defined identity (at least not yet, but ladies like Lucy Wood are doing their part to carve one out for people like we). So, there’s two reasons that make me a little uncertain about speaking out. A, because I don’t want the plus size community to believe that I’m speaking out about concerns that I have no business to speak about. C (and completely paradoxically) I’m scared it makes me look like just another girl who was once a size 10 gained a lot of weight and is bitter about that so is blaming everybody but herself.

But in reality, whichever of these camps you fall in, the concerns I want to talk about affect us all. The difference really is how it affects us – it could be sent to the self esteem, it could be the disappointment at no longer being able to shop at your favourite online store all of a sudden, or it could simply be the frustration in not being able to understand what the hell you’re meant to look for when shopping for clothing.

So, after this epic intro and no doubt overthinking justification, here’s what I think those issues are and you can judge what yourself…

  1. Size Exclusion

I don’t mean this as a straight “clothing brands should offer a larger size range to be more inclusive” I’m talking about those weird, sly sizing moves some of the brands (mainly the smaller brands) inexplicably make.

Picture the scene – you spot a nice top when your browsing an online store and the sizes as S/M/L/XL, you’re not sure which get so you hit the size guide page for some guidance. Size XL, the largest size offered, is listed as an equivalent of a size 12. Or, you check the measurements and yes, that’s my usual size so that’s what you order. But when your order arrived, it most definitely ain’t the size and measurements it said it was.

These are pretty confusing message for shoppers, and certainly for me it’s made a variety of things go through my head – am I wrong, is this the size that I should’ve start worrying about? Are they wrong, are they just not understanding women very well? Or….are these brands being shady bitches and making their range only accessible to people with body measurements that they think would look better in their clothes? As many of the brands I’ve experienced this with have been founded by young single men, I can’t help but think it’s likely to be a combo of the latter two.

2. Vanity sizing

This ‘trend’ comes around more often than than a Brexit deal vote, and this is where the sheer frustration and self loathing can really set in. Michael McIntyre wrote a whole set about this issue which means that not only have blokes noticed this is a thing, but that it’s so known that’s laughable.

For past two or three years I’ve noticed a steady trend of size guides increasing measurements, therefore the size you may have been in one clothing brand for years may not be what you are now. I actually noticed this more when I was on the smaller size – I’d lost a lot of weight to become a size 10 which I was for many years, and could comfortably order clothing on a regular basis knowing it would fit. All of a sudden, I became aware that my measurements had mysteriously been bumped up on the size grid. I hadn’t changed at all at this point, yet my favourite retailers were now telling me I had gained one or sometimes even two dress sizes virtually overnight. That simultaneously pissed me off and made me despair. Why had I put my blood, sweat and tears of effort into making my own body feel better to be told that in fact no, you’re in exactly the same position as you were before that journey.

I’ve experienced vanity sizing at the opposite end of the scale too – when I was smaller there were times when items of clothing would be a little too big in my ‘usual’ size so I would have to size down (usually things like dresses or skirts where the emphasis was at the waist. I’ve inserted a photo below from 2012 to show you a time when River Island was telling me I was a size 8, when it’s clear that’s not true). Unlike the other, I never felt flattered or in any way better about myself when this did happen. My head was clear enough to know this was a problem with sizing.

I know that size labels on clothing don’t matter and it’s how you look and feel in something, I know that, but we all have moments of vulnerability and vanity that mean sometimes these things do get in and physche you out. You can be as strong as you like but the fact remains that, if vanity sizing didn’t exist, it would remove the problem.

So, just why are we still accepting this?

That’s an excellent question, why do we? Because it’s been happening for such a long time and “that’s just how it is”. I can’t think of any other legitimate reason.

But, can we do anything about it?

Absolutely! I mean, surely?

The more society question why things are, and encourage the idea of alternative practices, the more likely change is to happen. But it has to be consistent and it has to be the voice of many, and we have to accept that it may take time. The most important changes often do.

This is a concern that goes hand in hand with diversity amongst fashion brands (and brands in general for that matter), social media vs Reality perfection and simply a person’s right to not have any more reasons to feel ostracised or disheartened by the world we live in.

Thank you for attending this impromptu and ever so slightly ranty TED talk; it’s an issue that remains very central to my daily life and one that impacts on me more than I should let it.

Let me know in the comments or on my social media channels if you’ve noticed either of these problems too and how it’s affected you.

Thanks for reading,

J xx


The clothing items every gal needs in her wardrobe

I miss doing fashion content all the time. Don’t get me wrong; I adore the fact that my interests have grown and diversified over the past few years, but my passion for style is what pushed me to start my blog.

So, what better way to kick off the year than with a cheeky lil’ style post??

With the benefit of my many (many, many) years of buying clothes and styling outfits, I’ve come to develop a few staples that mix trends, classic styles and are easy to throw on and go. I’m not by any means someone who could create a capsule wardrobe, I generally live my life by a ‘I see it, I like it, it comes in 4 other colours too? I got it’ mantra!but it works well for me, so here are the items I can ALWAYS rely on.

Black ankle boots

They go with literally everything I wear – jeans, dresses, work, weekend, I wear them all the time!

My current go-to pair are a western style suede pair I got for Christmas 2018 from Marks & Spencer as part of the Holy Willoughby collection (which I later bought in Brown). They’re dead easy to pull on, easy to walk in with the low block heel and look cool because they’re different to a lot of other ankle boot styles.

Leather look trousers

The luxe look of the material instant,y elevates and adds texture to a simple look whilst looking effortlessly put together, so I always make sure I have a pair in my wardrobe. They’re a great piece to dress up and down no matter what your shape, size or personal style a d I legit cannot remember what I did before discovering them.

My top three places to pick up a decent quality and very affordable pair are Matalan, Next and Dorothy Perkins (these are my current pair).

Biker Jacket

Instantly adds an edge to any look – girly looks a bit edgy, simple outfits look a little bit more cool. The same as double denim, I have been known to do a double faux leather look on occasion by teaming a biker with leather look trousers….

I used to have an incredibly extra one with a nipped in waist a spiky stud detailing on the shoulders (I’ll insert a throwback pic of this below) but after wearing it to absolute death, I kept it simpler with this ASOS number that would suit pretty much anybody.

Trainers

Not the type you chuck on when you’re going running or to a gym sesh, I mean just a nice easy pair of kicks you can throw on for a day of running around on a weekend to be comfy and cute.

Much like by boots, I wear trainers with most things in my wardrobe as they I stantly dress down a look and make feel a bit more funky.

Over the years my favourite pairs to grab have varied – it started with Air Max Thea, then superstars, Stan Smiths, Converse, Vans and back then back round again. If pushed, I’d say three different kinds are good to have – a pair of sneakers (like converse/vans that aren’t trainer trainers), a pair of chunkier ones (like the superstars) and something more sport feeling (air max)

Red lippy

I know its not a wardrobe staple as such, but I’d argue that a red lop is almost as valuable to a look as a handbag or paid of shoes!

If I wanna feel glam, red lip. I want to feel put together, red lip. If I’m having a down day and need a shot of confidence, red lip!

I have two that I swear by – one is NYX Liquid Suede in Kitten Heels which is a true red that has incredible staying power and is great value at £7 (a little goes a long way so it lasts ages). The other is MAC Chilli which is a deeper red with a slight brown undertone that I find incredibly flattering on my skin tone. It doesn’t quite have the staying power as its a standard lipstick, but it’s a beautiful formula that looks and feels great.

Leopard print

No specific item, just the print. It’s essentially a part of a neutral colour palette these days that adds a bit of texture to any look. I have more than a few things in my wardrobe in leopard – wrap dress, skater dress (different types of leopard so totally fine) cardigans, jackets, shoes even.

If you’re feeling bold, match it up with a colour such as purple or red to make a statement. If you’re feeling less brave then keep it simple in black and white.

A skater dress in a cute print

Its a great shape that’s easy to wear, a print instantly does a lot of the heavy lifting when it comes to styling, and it can be dressed up or down by changing a shoe and a lip colour.

Wrap dress

The same as a skater dress, they’re my lazy gal tip to putting together a nice outfit. Not only that, but they’re incredibly flattering to everybody – they show off and create nice lines on the body whilst remaining respectable yet a bit sexy and fun. Diane Von Furstenburg built an empire on this style of frock for good reason!

At the moment, I have three beautiful wrap dresses from Joanie clothing in some different and bold prints that have seen me through all kinds of occasions – girly brunch, dinner date, Christmas party, shopping days and work.

If you’re in a little wardrobe funk or just looking for some more options to add into your current rotation to mix it up for the new year, I hope this has helped give you a bit of inspo!

thanks for reading,

J xx


Christmas 2019

By the time you read this, I hope you’ve have a lovely time celebrating the festive season and are looking forward to the year ahead.

As I’ve done for the last few years (partly for my own memories, partly for those of you like me who enjoy a little nosey) here’s a bit of a peak at my Christmas Day and Boxing Day celebrations.

Christmas morning waking up at home (at 6.45am, the latest I think I’ve ever woken up on Christmas Day). After exchanging gifts listening to Christmas songs, we tucked into sausage sarnies and watched some festive TV.

Top, Joanie (one of my gifts from the Mr)

Quick change, tidied up the wrapping paper and it was off to see the family!

First stop was my grandparents house, they’ve been poorly this year so weren’t able to leave the house.

After that we headed to my sister-in-law’s for Christmas lunch with the wider family.

We all brought something along and laid it out buffet style, this year we were on turkey duty which was just a little bit scary but turned out really well thankfully!

I was the most stuffed I’ve ever been from a Christmas lunch

I just about managed to roll on to the couch and was put on childcare duty with my niece and nephew (tbh I think they were looking after me more).

After an hour I managed to enjoy a small bowl of my Mother-in-law’s sherry trifle (epic) and open the last of the presents for the day. We gifted our nephew with a table football and his little face was everything.

Boxing Day

This year was different to the norm, this time we hosted and I cooked!

To spruce up our not yet decorated dining area, I picked up these dark great charge plates from Dunelm and made a table centre using a garland I bought from Amazon threaded with battery operated lights and baubles picked up from B&M. I added in white candles (also from Dunelm and B&M) and some M&S Bucks Fizz served in the ice bucket from our home bar (which I promise I will write about at some point soon!)

From scratch, I made Moroccan lamb followed by panettone bread and butter pudding with cream.

If you’ve read these posts for the past 4 years, you’ll know this dessert is my stepdad’s showpiece so I wanted to give it a go to see if I could do a nice tribute to his years of hard work. And I did!

We did a few more presents and then moved to the couch for a brew and game of Cards Against Humanity

My brother won, however it confirmed what I already knew that my family are highly inappropriate and absolute filth!

I’m off work until the beginning of January and will be spending that time having more family gatherings (one at my mum’s new house with her in-laws, the other back at ours with my in-laws) time with friends and general relaxation.

If you have some time off too, I hope you’re able to use it in ways you enjoy. If you fancy more of a nosey, I’ve got a Christmas 2019 highlight on my Instagram which will likely have some presents on there too.

Thanks for reading,

J xx


My Instagram best nine (2019)

It’s that time of year again – when an internet generator tells us all which nine pics had the most likes, we’re all a bit surprised by a couple and we have a nosey at everybody else’s. So here are mine!

1 University of Hull, August

I took this picture to go with my 8 Reasons to Choose Hull blog post in collaboration with the University, and to be honest i think it did well because they reposed it on their social media channels.

I have worked and studied on this campus and it’s just a lovely place to to be.

2 Mykonos Town, August

Well, I think it’s a given that this one was going to be popular wasn’t it! I made sure to capture a lot of images that were very un-Mykonos, as the stuff you see on Insta really is such a tiny part of the island (something I spoke about in my Things that surprised me about Mykonos blog post) but the at the end of the day it is gorgeous there and I’m easily influenced by wanting to take a nice pic!

3 Cottingham – East Yorkshire, June

I took these photos to post on my birthday and I’d just bought a year of birth sweatshirt from Rock on Ruby. I was totally living for the wild meadows all around the area, so one day a vey kind work colleague and I took a little lunch time outing to enjoy the flowers and snap some pics.

4 Lanzarote, April

I went off on my first family holiday in years to a villa in Lanzarote, and on this night the Mr and I sloped off for a cheeky date night. The dress and hat are from Matalan than he had very kindly picked up for on the day we went away (I tried them on in the airport hotel) and they fit like a dream, unfortunately I only managed two wears of the dress before the zip ripped (just as I was about to wear it for a third time and on the way out the door) so that was he end of that.

5 Hull, May

You can tell here, but despite the fact it was spring it was ridiculously freezing! However, it was Bank Holiday and I was determined that I couldn’t have to wear tights so smiled through the chill and hoped my legs wouldn’t look too blue.

6 Lanzarote, April

I tired my hand at a getting a bit of body confidence back and decided a good way to do this would be to post a couple of swimwear pics and see that nobody was going to write anything horrendous in the comments. This was the second of the two I posted (I lived this Next swimsuit so much I bought it in cobalt blue for my Mykonos trip) on a day I felt very happy about Bank Holiday weekend and booking a holiday.

7 Liverpool, June

I headed to my fave UK city for my birthday for a day of chill at a time when my life was very hectic for some not so good reasons. I had cocktails, did some shopping and ate all the food, which definitely helped to give a bit of respite.

8 Mykonos Town, August

This photo was taken at exactly the same time as the other Mykonos photo, it was literally the other side of the camera. You can also see from this angle that I’m just a little bit sunburnt, which is why I was wearing an off the shoulder frock.

9 University of Hull, August

Rounding things off exactly where we started, back at uni with a very unposed shot! This was a very really laugh and it was because my gal Kat was crouched on the floor in front of me saying all sorts of random stuff whilst her cleavage was pretty much in my face. That was a fun outing.

And that, my friends, is some of my year in pics. It definitely doesn’t cover a full spread of my year but it does remind me of some of the best bits. I hope you enjoy looking through yours too.

Thanks for reading,

J xx


5 Outfits I wore in Italy

Items gifted have been marked with a *

As you’ll have seen from my previous post, I recently went on a wonderful Italian adventure courtesy of Bookings For You and fellow HEY Blogger Violet which meant, yup you guessed it, packing too many items of clothing into a small space and worrying about how you’ll close it (and later, how you’ll close it again before you go home)

I thought a lot more about my holiday wardrobe for Italy for a couple of reasons – firstly because I knew the weather wouldn’t be height of summer hot, secondly because of the variety of activities I’d be doing (including driving, something I’ve never done out of the UK) and finally because it’s Italy and I wanted to feel nice.

For a four night stay I managed to pack in a fair few outfits, but I’ve picked out five of my faves to share

Photo by Olivia Lennon

This is what I’m calling my “I’ve partied hard, but only ’til 10pm” look. As soon as I saw the bold print of this shirt dress I knew it had to be mine, and in a bizarre twist my nan also picked up a pair of wide leg trousers in the very same print on a recent shopping trip…great style runs in our family it seems! I’d definitely suggest sizing up one or two in this frock if you have bigger boobs as the fabric doesn’t have any give, it easily clinches back in with the attached belt so the shape isn’t lost. The biker jacket was necessary for the chill or early mornings and evening, and made me feel a bit more cool and Italian.

Dress, Matalan* (sold out online) / Jacket, ASOS / Shades, ASOS

Photo by Olivia Lennon

for me a skater dress is an absolute essential wardrobe item as it’s simple to style, throw in a cute print and it really does make dressing just that little bit easier! The fabric of this is very soft and stretchy so moves really well when out exploring, and I picked it up for the bargain price of £22! It’s a great transition piece into the colder months too; sack on some tights and boots and hey presto. I picked up the hat last year before heading to Santorini last year and it just felt like it would add some cuteness and glam whilst in the Italian countryside.

Dress, Next / Hat, Accessorize (Similar item here) / Shades, ASOS / Sandal, borrowed from Emma Picks (similar style here)

I have lived in this frock since buying it at ten start of summer! Soft jersey, fit to flatter my hourglass shape and the length makes it appropriate for a variety of occasions. I added in my trusty Converse as I was walking around the beautiful streets of Siena, but switch them out for a pair of heels and you instantly have a more dressed up look.

Dress, Dorothy Perkins (sold out online, the A/W print in the same style is linked here) / Trainers, Converse / Shades, ASOS

Photo by Olivia Lennon

This dress was such a hit with our group that two of us brought it away with us, and a further three went on to wear or buy it! It’s easy to see why – great colour, lovely ditsy print, fantastic shape that shows off shoulders and cleavage and hugging curves. I adore it so much. As my hair is kinda short I enlisted my tried and trusted clip in bun and fashioned this low up do thingy, it’s actually more fiddly than a high bun but makes for such an elegant look.

Dress, ASOS (Sold out) / Sandals, Dorothy Perkins (similar style here) / Bun, Hair Rehab London

Dress, Next / Shades, ASOS / Trainers, Converse

I’ve always been a “if the shoe fits, buy it in every colour” kind of a gal, so it will come as no surprise that this dress is the same style as the leopard print one from before. I also have it in black and white floral (which I’m actually wearing as I type) and red polka dot. They’re just so easy to wear and fantastic value! This version was more of an impulse buy on the way to the till with the leopard number, I love the retro feeling of the floral print. As the weather gets cooler I’m definitely going to have a go at styling it with a roll neck underneath as it is on the website.

Hopefully this has given you some inspiration for holiday style a little later in the year, as well as items that can be just as wearable when you’re back home. Maybe I a, getting a bit better at this shopping smarter malarkey after all…

Thanks for reading,

J xx


5 Things for 2019 – Update #3

So, you may remember from my last update that I’ve decided to take one of my goals out (not drinking) because it wasn’t looking achievable for the year, so I’m down to 4 things for the next two updates. Here’s how the rest have been going and a sneak peek about what’s coming up in chapter 4 of 2019…

  • Shop in my own closet 75% of the time

Aside from (and partly on) holiday this one is still going well, much to my surprise and delight! My thought process has changed a lot so now when I think “I’m going to XX, what am I gonna wear?” I head straight to the closet instead of the Internet and take a long hard look at what I have. Usually, this resolves it. Top tip I’ve learnt during this process – don’t forget to check your washing and ironing baskets as part of this process, you’ll get a fuller picture of exactly what you have and probably find stuff you forgot about that feels brand new again!

  • Get a home bar

Brief and to the point – not moved on any further since the last update, can’t really say much more!

  • Un-join the gym and get outside

This has still happening but on a far more ad hoc basis – in between peoples holidays and life commitments, the girls and I haven’t been as on it as we’d like in the last couple of months. The intention is still there and I’m fully expecting this to kick back up a notch now that normal service has resumed. I did a decent bit of walking on holiday over the summer which helped to plug the gap a tiny little bit too!

I’ve also been starting to think about adding a little more heavy duty cardio to my regular activity – I don’t want to go back to the yay, but I do want to try some exercise classes to see what I like and if they can help me meet some of my health goals going in to 2020 (eek!)

  • Get out of the house more

I’d say this is going OK, not sure if the Mr would give a matching answer! I’ve definitely made myself do more over the summer, but there are still a decent amount of times that I’ve done closer to nothing and stayed at home on the couch a lot. I’m feeling good about the amount of social vs antisocial activity, which is the positive outcome of this goal, so I’m just going to carry on and see what else happens over the next few months.

So, what else has is happening?

  • I went to Mykonos
  • If you follow me on Instagram and are a regular reader, you’ll probably be very well aware of this fact by now! I was lucky enough to work with a couple of great companies during my trip including Mykonos Vioma and Truffle Shuffle who featured in my 7 Outfits I wore in Mykonos post. There were a few things that surprised me about Mykonos that I’d not seen anybody else mention before, and I’m going to cover those in a future post so keep a look out for that.
    • I’m going to Italy (Image credit: booking.com )
  • This is something I’m ridiculously excited about saying, and by the time you read this I will be there! I’m heading off to a beautifully villa in Tuscany with a fabulous group of gals as guests of Booking for You*. As a huge fan of the cuisine, it’s been a long held goal of mine to eat Italian food in Italy, on this trip I’ll get to do that and so much more. I’ll be putting up posts about my experiences in October/November as well as social media activity, so make sure you’re following me to see wassup.
    • I’ve booked a VERY exciting bucket list adventure for next year

    The travel plans just keep on coming, that’s what we like! This is as much as I’m willing to share at the moment, just in case something happens, however when the up gets a little closer I,l reveal more. Stay tuned….

    And so we head in to the final chapter – dark evenings, autumn leaves, festive fun and who know what else!

    Thanks for reading,

    J xx