Sunday, 18 December 2016

A Margaret Dabbs Christmas

  For those who follow my blog, you may have seen my post back in August, where I visited the then, brand new Margaret Dabbs' salon in the beautiful Aldery Edge, Cheshire. It was an incredible experience and I was well and truly pampered with an incredible medical pedicure (exclusive to Margaret Dabbs' salons) and an equally amazing manicure. My hands and feet haven't been the same since! So when they asked if I'd like to receive some exciting Christmas goodies, how could I say no!

Christmas definitely came early for me, and as you can see, all of the stocking fillers arrived in the most festive packaging you could imagine; absolutely perfect for a last minute gift! In the parcel, I received; 3 glossy nail varnishes cleverly disguised as mini Christmas trees that can actually hang on your own tree (ahhhmazing!), some hydrating foot lotion and cuticle cream, both inside golden crackers, and finally, some of their famous 'fabulous hands' in a beautiful little decorative gift box. 

I'm a massive fan of all of the Margaret Dabbs products, and I'm lucky enough to have been given some samples when I visited the salon, so I can give you first hand reviews for all of their unique and hard working products. I wear the nail varnishes often, and not only do they have a glossy finishes and beautiful colours, but they also contain vitamin E and rose extract to help nourish your nails whilst you wear them. For me, these would be the perfect little gift under the tree, and for just £14 you are getting 2 products in 1!

I use the fabulous feet, which came in a large cracker, every single week. I actually met Margaret herself earlier in the year, and she said this was one of her favourite products. It's incredible nourishing and I find it helps maintain my super soft feet (since the incredible medical pedicure!). Finally, my absolute must have for anyone with natural nails, is the nourishing cuticle cream. I swear by this, it works and my nails have never looked better! To get any of these as a gift would be a total joy, so I recommend you get yourself over to their website and find some last minute buys! With prices starting at just £14, there really is something for everyone!

Friday, 9 December 2016

Styling Jennifer Metcalfe in The Manchester Arndale's Top Party Picks

Earlier this year, I was given a very exciting opportunity to go behind the scenes of the Manchester Arndale’s SS16 video and photo shoot. Being a Manchester girl, and having grown up shopping at the centre, I couldn’t have been more excited, and it turned out to be a fantastic day! Fast forward to this week, and I’ve had another incredible opportunity working with Manchester Arndale Centre, this time it was all about the up coming party season! 

The centre is the focus point of shopping in the city. Whether you fancy a bargain at TK Max or splashing out on a designer bag at Radley, you’ll always find what you need. I can go shopping with my mum, husband and even my little brother and we would all get kitted out in the latest fashion, and technology and then finish off with food at the fab choice of restaurants. 

Coming up to the festive period can be stressful. Presents to buy, people to see and more importantly clothes to buy for the ultimate party look. There’s something about going in and trying on, that will always appeal to me over online shopping. Apart from being a self confessed shopaholic, and loving the purchase in my hand, it’s also a chance to see what clothes look like in ‘real life’. No matter how good the photography, you can’t compare to feeling the fabric close up and seeing the colour in day light. So for me, the only option for a party outfit is to brace the crowds and get in there!

To highlight some of the best party looks available in the centre this season, I was asked if I would pick out some outfits for the beautiful Jennifer Metcalfe. Obviously, I jumped at the chance (and being a complete Hollyoaks addict made it even more amazing!). I, along with another blogger, the gorgeous Irena, got to pick from 4 of the Manchester Arndale’s stores. We each got a high end and high street shop, I had New Look and House of CB.

It wasn’t difficult to choose when you have such a beautiful model to dress. I wanted to add a bit of my style to Jen’s look, so for my first choice, I picked a stunning dark green, velvet jumpsuit from New Look. Velvet is literally everywhere this season, so I knew I wanted to incorporate it somewhere. The sumptuous emerald one piece, jumped out straight away. As soon as Jen tried it on, I knew I had picked the right thing. She looked outstanding! The jumpsuit hugged her curves in all the right places, and the tie belt synched in her tiny waist. I chose to finish the look with simple black heels and a sequin gold bag for a bit of glam! Jen loved the jumpsuit too, so much that New Look kindly gifted it to her, so I’m on the look out for when she wears it!

The next look was the high end choice from House of CB. A favourite of the Kardashian’s, I’m not going to lie, it’s not really my cup of tea. However, I can appreciate the stunning dresses and know that if I could somehow pull it off, I’d be styling that barley there sequin mini! Again, with Jen as the model, it was much easier to choose. I wanted something classy yet on trend and not too skin baring (granny alert!). I chose a beautiful green (must have a thing for it this season) bandage dress which I knew would accentuate Jen’s beautiful figure. Yet again, she looked like a Hollywood superstar! The dress fit like a glove, and was just the right length. We took some shots in outside in the centre, which even thought Jen didn’t enjoy too much, she was such a star and embraced the challenge!

Although I didn’t get to see Irena, as she had styled Jen earlier in the day, I did get to see her looks. Loved them, especially the Next outfit. 

I had such a fantastic day meeting Jennifer and the rest of the Manchester Arndale Team. I felt honoured that I had been chosen to help style up the best looks this season. Whilst I was there I actually bought my party look from Topshop, I just cannot go there without shopping!

Thanks to all involved, can’t wait to work with the team again! 

Friday, 25 November 2016

Win Your Best Night Out With Little Black Dress

The leaves have fallen, the nights are drawing in and the Christmas songs are starting to be heard up and down the high street (arghhhh!) - yes, the festive season is well and truly upon us! What better reason to call your friends, dust of those sequins and get prepared to have your best night out yet! Parties and Christmas go together like...Dolce and Gabbana, and I have teamed up with Little Black Dress to give you the chance to win the party of a life time with three of your best friends, including lots of goodies and a night in one of the best cities in the world (bar Manchester) LONDON!!! 

Yes, Little Black Dress are offering one of you lucky people a chance to win a night out worth £3000! This will include a super swanky hotel in the capital, lots of goodies from their range of beautiful dresses, £100 vouchers for some gorgeous accessories, and VIP pampering for not just you, but three of your besties! Get your hair done, cocktails drank and your fave LBD on and make sure you turn heads for a night to remember! On the night you'll get your hair styled at the fantastic Neville Hair and Beauty, you then swan off to a 3 course meal at Drake and Morgan (including wine, yay!). After you've wined and dined, you will be treated to cocktails at an exclusive, members only club! What a night out, I need to enter this myself!

To celebrate the exclusive competition, I was lucky enough to be able to choose my very own party dress from the Little Black Dress website. What better time of year to style up a new LBD?! I'm not going to lie, it took me forever to pick one, they just have so much choice, especially with the new collab with Alisha Dixon (ahhh-may-zing!). I eventually went with my beautiful "Clara" flapper inspired shift dress. With some gorgeous embroidery and subtle, yet stylish sequin detail (it's on sale right now, so go go go!) it was my perfect match. The dress itself screamed quality as soon as it arrived! It's heavy due to the embellishment which not only makes it hang like a dream, but it also looks so much more expensive than the price! The sheer sleeves are brought to life with the dazzling sequins, which is such a lovely touch. 

The fit is divine; it skims over everything and is roomy enough for the copious amounts of food that I will consume whilst wearing it over Christmas! The sequin fringing on the hem gives it that "wow" factor, and as you can see from the pics, I very much enjoyed swizzing around in it and I cannot wait to wear it to a few nights out this festive season!

For your chance to win this dress (or many many other choices) plus a luxury night out for you and three friends all you have to do is take a selfie saying why an LBD is so important to you and hashtag #MyLBDStory (you can also tag Little Black Dress @teamlbd) Good luck!!! 

(find out all the details here)


Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Lunch at the Garden

Last Saturday, I spent a wonderful afternoon in the beautiful village of Hale, sampling the scrumptious new menu at The Garden. The Garden specialises in fresh, organic, and seasonal produce and has a fabulous selection with something for everyone. Being gluten free, I really struggle to find anywhere up North, (especially outside the city centre) to get some good wheat free options that don't taste like cardboard. Luckily for me, The Garden has a wonderful menu with a wide range of gluten free goodies, including some incredible pancakes which I will tell you more about later. It also has great variations of healthy vegan options, which again, can be a real struggle to find up here.

I took my lovely hubby along with me, as I'm on a very boring medical exclusion diet right now, and I knew that Mus would devour anything and everything. He's Turkish, so grew up with a Mediterranean diet and would happily choose a salad over a pizza (I know!?) so I knew he would really appreciate the all of the different flavour combinations that I wouldn't be able to enjoy. Hale itself is beautiful, and only a 30 minute drive from where we live. The Garden looks truly inviting with fairy lights and neutral colour schemes, but as soon as you walk through the door, your senses go wild! So many flavours and colours and hustle and bustle. It was full when we arrived (always a good sign) and I loved having a little nosey at what people had ordered. 

We started off with drinks, I had a delicious soya hot chocolate and Mus had tea. You can get everything you could think of as the drinks menu is a dream. We found out a little bit more behind the origins of The Garden. It's run by two friends, and has proved so popular, that their juices and a selection of their food is now available exclusively at Selfridges in the Trafford Centre. They have a great holistic aspect behind their menu, and their ethos is definitely to nourish your body but enjoy food too. With this is mind, Mus chose the Gentle Lentil salad bowl and he enjoyed it so much he actually says it's THE nicest salad he's ever had! Which if you knew him, would know that that really is a massive compliment. He has salad every day, sometimes twice a day, and would never say anything is better than his mum's cooking, so believe me, it's good! 

Me being me, I obviously chose the macha pancakes. I chose the cacao spread and banana, but you can also have fresh fruit and cashew cream. They were incredible! As mentioned earlier, I really struggle eating out, and finding an enjoyable gluten free option. The pancakes are full of goodness and have just natural ingredients, so it was practically one of my five a day...I couldn't finish them all as you get a huge plate, but I will definitely prepare myself for next time!

The cafe itself has a warm and friendly atmosphere. It's clearly very popular with the locals, but I know a few people who have travelled from the other side of Manchester just to try it, as the recommendations are nothing but 5 *! It was a lovely afternoon and the food was scrumptious. I'm actually taking my vegan friend nearer Christmas, so keep an eye out for more #foodporn pictures over on my instagram!

Thank you to the lovely Grace and everyone at The garden, Hale. I can't wait to visit again!

You can view the full menu here

Monday, 21 November 2016

London With Hermès

I often write about incredible experiences that starting my blog has exposed me to. Working with brilliant people, great brands and doing things I never thought I would. Last week, was a real highlight of the 2 years that I have run Fashion Panic. I was invited down to London by Hermes and Selfridges, to their Crazy Carre scarf launch. Not only the party in the evening, but also a visit to their flag ship store. As you can imagine, I tried to stay cool, but this was MAJOR for me. After the initial melt down over what to wear to one of the most luxurious brand events I have ever attended, I started to get just little excited about my trip to London. Hermes treated me to first class tickets down, so I travelled in style and was already feeling totally spoilt. 

I made my way to New Bond Street which is where the stunning Hermes store stands. Passing countless designer brands on the way, I noticed the difference when I reached Hermes. Modern, with a vintage twist, the store stood out from the rest of the street. There was a certain elegance and class, that a lot of the other brands seem to have lost. There were no glitter balls, bright colours of over the top mannequins; it was plain, simple and effective. Inside was even more breathtaking. I may sound a little OTT, but it's a little dream come true as a fashion lover, being able to experience the most beautiful brands, and I've admired Hermes for years. Whilst at the store, I met the lovely PR girls and my fellow Northern blogger Samio (she's done a fab vlog about it, you can view it here)! It was such a lovely surprise to have a friend there, and we were even more surprised when we realised it would just be the two of us! We were treated to scarf workshop where we were taught all of the different ways we could tie their famous scarves. The 2 store assistants were experts and showed us things we'd never seen from a scarf before; including how to make a clutch bag and even cat ears!

After a fantastic afternoon in the store, we then had the afternoon to explore London before the party later that night. I actually brought my mum along with me to do a little Christmas shopping. We had a fabulous time in Covent Garden and even had time to do the tourist spots. Later that night, I met up with my best friend who now lives in London, as I had a plus one for the event. We had no idea what to expect, but the moment we walked through the door at The Old Selfridges Hotel, we were transported to the magical, elaborate world of Hermes! Those of you who follow me on IG may have seen my (many) snaps from the night. I literally do not know where to start. 

As we checked in our coats, we noticed the buzz and excitement instantly. We were like children in a sweet shop and couldn't wait to get inside! We entered the party through dry ice and a tunnel of lights (Instagram dream!), to be then met with gorgeous waiters (we presumes male models!) with copious amounts of cocktails. As you walked into the converted warehouse, your senses were on overload. The DJ, the cancan girls, the wall of doughnuts, it was like stepping into the Film Mouiln Rouge. We were greeted by yet more beautiful waiters handing out mac and cheese and burgers, girls giving us temporary tattoos, make up artists adding glitter to our faces, the list goes on. As we made our way around the transformed space, we discovered bars, light rooms, paint splat art work and rooms filled with exciting experiences. There were beautiful models sitting on swings, tropical plants hanging from the ceiling and cages filled with paper birds. We were in awe! Every so often the cancan girls would perform, and then dance around the crowds. My mum joined us after an hour, as Hannah was so lovely when her friend left early, and let her come in and join the fun! 

Later we were treated to Mabel and later on her mum, Neneh Cherry (legend) DJ'd. We danced, we ate we laughed so much. It was such an amazing evening and we loved every second. I must also mention Mark Francis, who attended the event, but we were too giddy to go and speak to him. My friend practically self combusted with excitement! The scarves are so beautiful and is definitely on my "wish list" and I will be saving up for one in the future!

You can now peruse the new collection at the new Hermes Boutique in the Exchange Square store (it's all AMAZING!)

I just want to thank the lovely Alice from Carousel PR and Hannah from Hermes for making such an incredible experience possible. I will honestly remember it forever!

Sports Luxe With Size?

Anyone who follows my blog, will know that comfort is a major factor when it comes to choosing and styling looks. There was no one more over joyed than me when trainers came back into fashion. I mean, there are 100's of makes, styles and colours, definitely something for everyone. Back in September, I was lucky enough to be sent these Nike mega babes from Size? I shared the pictures back then, but I wanted to share them on here too, just to show you how versatile they actually are!

As it was September, it was much nicer weather than we're having now (okay a RARE day of warmth up here in Manchester!). So I kept things simple with my black tapered trousers and my band tee from H&M. I love how my Nikes actually jazz up the look with their beautiful gold metallic finish. I cannot tell you how many compliments I've had both on the pictures and in 'real life'. They are such a statement shoe, but are subtle enough to wear through the day and not look too casual. I've worn them once or twice a week for the past few months, and not only do I feel comfortable, I also feel on trend - the perfect combo!

You can check you out the mega babes here.


Sunday, 6 November 2016

Nugg Depuff Eye Masks (AKA My new beauty hero!)

I've been on a sort of roll this month when it comes to beauty. I feel like I should have embraced all things beauty/skin care related YEARS ago, as I'm having so much fun trying new products; not to mention finding some life changing (literally) beauty finds. Now I wasn't asked to right a review for Nugg, I just happened to be sent some samples a while back. Along with some gorgeous face masks, which were also amazing, but nothing came close to their 'depuff eye masks'. 

If I had to say something about my make up regime that I struggled with, it would always be my eyes. I have fine lines (okay, so I am 28 in 2 weeks, so I should probably expect some) but I also suffer from under eye bags. To be fair, this is something that I've disliked for years, so I don't think its just ageing. I have tried countless products, from £100 eye creams, to simple cucumber. I drink loads of water and don't have too much sugar; basically I've done everything humanly possible to help make things look better. This is where Nugg come in. I was intrigued to try their depuff masks, but had no great hopes having already tried a million "depuff" creams. They come in packs of 6, and you get 12 eye pads to put on after you've smoothed the thick gel under your eyes. The gel is cooling and my eyes felt refreshed after just a few minutes, so I was already pretty impressed; but it was when I removed the pads, that I instantly noticed a massive difference! Now, as I said, I've not been asked to do this review, but I felt compelled to share my new hero, as quite frankly, I've never had a product work like it!

My under eye dark circles were gone. Not just faded, but gone! My husband noticed a difference straight away, and I did a little test, by not mentioning what the product did. He said I looked awake and "healthy"! You can honestly feel the difference before you see it! My fine lines and wrinkles looked plumper and less distinguished. I applied make up after using them and I hardly used any under eye concealer. The gel contains all natural ingredients like caffeine and vitamin B5, both designed to reduce puffiness and soothe the skin; which it definitely does!

You can buy the pack of six for just £12.95 and they are worth every penny. I now use them before nights out or special events, I would use them every day if I could afford it! The reviews online all agree, and they get numerous 5 star reviews. If you want to add a great new product to your regime for under £15 then Nugg Depuff Eye Mask is the one to get!

Friday, 4 November 2016

Clarisonic Mia Fit

Admittedly; I'm no beauty blogger. I've never really been into make up, I just wear what I've worn for the past 10 years bar highlighter (I know, It's awful). This is a completely different story when it comes to skin care...I'm a bit of a junky. I will try everything and anything; creams, lotions, oils; all of the new ranges, toners, cleaners - the list goes on. I have annoyingly pale and sensitive skin; this does not make for a good combo when it comes to trying the latest ranges as I usually end up getting breakouts, rashes and all sorts of issues, so unsurprisingly, I'm now quite weary of skincare trends as I have to make sure I don't aggravate my skin. However, for the past 2 years or so, I have been aware of the new sonic facial cleansers that are the new "must have" for skin. To be honest, I've never been able to afford one, especially as they were a lot pricier back when they first launched. Many brands have dabbled in the sonic cleanser, but the only one I had actually heard good reviews from (and happened to be the first to launch) was the Clarisonic. I was incredibly lucky to be sent the brand new Clarisonic Mia Fit from Current Body which now comes in a handy portable size, and to say I loved it would be an understatement!

As mentioned, I'm a skin care lover. I think having good skin is the foundation of any make up look. I suffered quite badly from hormonal breakouts. Nothing would clear it, but eventually, as I grew older, they just dissapeard. I still get break outs at the time of the month. They are really sore and at 28, I still feel self conscious. I was actually having a bad skin week, when my new baby arrived. I was slightly reluctant to use a sonic cleanser on my incredibly sensitive skin, but having read the reviews and all of the instructions, I was assured it would be gentle enough. It absolutely was, and it cleared my break out within a few days, whereas normally I would have red, aggravated skin for at least a week. Originally I used it with the soapy cleaner it came with, which is lovely, but I do use Liz Earle every day, so thought I'd pair it with that. Admittedly, it would probably be better to use with a foaming cleanser, but I find amazing results with the creamy hot polish cleanser. 

The bristles, which oscillate over 300 times per second, are incredibly soft, and do not pull at your skin at all. As you can see from the pictures, they don't necessarily look soft, but trust me, they are. I was surprised at just how clean my skin was after just 1 minute, it literally glowed and felt so smooth without having some rough abrasive exfoliator. As soon as I mentioned it on my IG story, I had 6 different people telling me how amazing they had found it, and the online reviews speak for themselves. This is a skincare game changer. It's such a fab size too, I have taken it with me to the gym and for a weekend away. It charges on a little platform and I've found the battery has lasted over a week (using once a day for 1-2mins). You can buy replacement heads, which you should change every 3 months, which means you can also share one with a partner/house mate as they are easily interchangeable. It's light and very easy to use, and I actually look forward to taking my make up off at the end of the day, as my skin looks so good! (never thought I'd be able to say that!). 

For me, in the 5 weeks that I've used the Mia Fit, it has made my skin brighter, cleaner and healthier. As mentioned, I haven't invested before as I felt they've always been quite expensive, and I admit that this isn't the cheapest; but in my opinion, and from the reviews I've compared with online, it is worth every penny. It's a tool that using just one minute a day, will change your skin care regime for life. 

 I'd love to know your thoughts if you have used one, or are thinking of being one; I would definitely get it on your Christmas list!

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Fashion and Freedom with 14-18NOW - Part Two

Following on from a fantastic evening of events, it was time to find out more about the Fashion & Freedom exhibition. If you haven’t had chance to read my previous blog post, then Fashion and Freedom is part of 14-18 NOW a five year programme of events that aim to get us involved with the centenary of the First World War and bring us closer to the people and events that took place and impacted on the way we all live now.  

This particular exhibition looks at how fashion evolved before, during and after WW1, something I’d never had the chance to think about before. Although a big fan of history, especially the history of fashion, I’d never looked into the early 20th century before. I’d obviously known about the revolutionary flapper girls, and the even the social strategies that got women out of the house wife roll and into men’s work during WW2. But WW1 had never caught my interest. Well I can honestly say, after the two days of events, I’ve never felt more inspired by an era of British history. Not only by the brave soldiers that fought for our freedom so bravely and at such a young age, but by the women that stayed behind and kept the county afloat in an age where we couldn’t even vote.    

14-18 NOW commissioned 6 designers (Holly Fulton, J JS Lee, Roksanda, Vivienne Westwood, Emilia Wickstead and Sadie Williams) to create looks inspired by the women of the First World War. Based at the Manchester Art Gallery; you see these stunning pieces as soon as you walk into the exhibition room. Each outfit is breathtaking beautiful, and for me, the beauty of the clothing was discovering what inspiration the designers had drawn on for their particular piece, as you couldn’t immediately tell. My favourite has to be J JS Lee’s stunning look. She was inspired by the end of war and how women had transitioned from long restrictive into more male forms such as trousers. She references this by adding leg warmers under the skirt in her design. She kept a neutral palette and concentrated on recycled textures.

“It was a time for women to celebrate and embrace their new found freedoms whilst fighting to retain this new independence and their place within society” - J JS Lee  

As well as the designer pieces, 14-18 NOW also worked with 5 Universities to create the Restriction/Release collection (Leeds College of Art, London College of Fashion, Manchester School of Art, the University of Salford and the University of Westminster). This collaboration aimed to showcase up and coming talent as well as highlighting the social changes that took place during WW1. Some of the designers used the abolishment of the physically restrictive corsetry that women wore before the war and “broke free” from due to the new roles that were forced upon them. They incorporated them in to their designs to show it wasn’t just metaphorical restriction that existed at the time, but every day garments made life difficult for all women, whatever their social status. 

Along with the garments, the exhibition also consisted of 4 thought provoking films, that were all beautifully shot. I was lucky enough to view Luke Snellin’s film, that was shown on the big screen in Exchange Square. The film centre on a young woman starting her first day as a bus conductor. Luke mentions that the idea focuses on the feelings of the young woman not just her new clothing; 

“…initially it came from the clothing, but then thinking emotionally about a narrative I started to consider what it must be like to face a first day at work when you are thought of as inferior or inadequate to do that job”  

The uniform in the film was designed by Manchester brand, Private White VC who were named after WW1 hero, Private Jack White. Much of their collection has a nod to military, so they were the perfect match to get involved on the project.

The other 3 films are being shown at the Manchester Art Gallery, and are equally as fascinating and incredibly moving. My favourite has to be the film by Show Studio, directed by Rei Nadal which shows the freeing of women wearing corsets. Having touched upon this theme in both the designer and student pieces, it was wonderful to see how this translated to film. You can watch all of the films here

The final event that I attended was the one day ‘Fashion is Work’ symposium which was again held at the gallery. The focus of the day stemmed from the Fashion & Freedom exhibition, and made a great talking point. The day was filled with talks from experts in the industry, from Caroline Rush, the Head of the British Fashion Council, to photographers and stylists (Jez Tozer and Kim Howells). The day was hosted by Darrell Vydelingum, Jenna Rossi-Camus and Senior Curator at the gallery, Natasha Howes. It was an incredible day, and such a valuable experience, especially for people who want to get into the fashion industry. Hearing from the exhibitions designers was truly insightful, I loved finding out the inspiration for each piece, and in turn, how the project had inspired them and their work continuing after their initial involvements. Like many, WW1 wasn’t something they knew a lot about, so when asked to look at it from the angle of the women, many found it an empowering subject.

I’d like to thank the team at 14-18 Now for inviting me to take part in such an education and inspiration few days of events. I have a new passion for history and women’s rights and have even gone on to do my own research about women and WW1. If you’re in town and can spare 20 minutes, I definitely recommend you go and see the exhibition which is on until the 27th November. Let me know if you do go, I would love to hear your thoughts!
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