Friday, 31 August 2012

Embellished Vintage Shirt

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(No Photo Tips Friday today, I'll give you guys time to digest all the waffle I've thrown your way so far!)

Although I do shop a lot online, I don't always buy new: I'm a big eBay fan, mostly for vintage items. This shirt may or may not be actual vintage as it was described - I call it my old lady shirt (I got an "oi, oi" from my mum about that description!) - but it's one of my favourites. This time it just needed a little adornment in the shape of some pretty pearl collar pins (I'd been meaning to do a DIY to make some, but ASOS shoved some under my nose in the sale. Tut, tut).

It's pretty much the weekend, so here's to you all having a great one! Oh and I'll be back from my sabbatical in my next post on Sunday: you might find that the blog looks a little different when you come back...!

[she does a little excited dance]


CATHERINE Signature - SMALL

Shirt: eBay vintage (Betty Barclay), Trousers: ASOS, Collar pins: ASOS, Belt: Next, Heels: Debenhams, Black bracelets: Unknown

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Linking up to:

Visible Monday at Not Dead Yet Style

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Happy 40th, Cameron Diaz (Celebrating Her Style)

Cameron Diaz - Happy 40th
Tom Munro, Courtesy of Harper's Bazaar

So today is Cameron Diaz's birthday... 40 years young and born the same year as me! 

Now I know a lot of blogs feature celebrity "how to get the look" posts, but I wanted to do something a bit different! Till the end of the year I'll be celebrating the birthdays of celebs that were featured on my Musings post It IS an Age Thing, where I talked about actresses who are also turning 40 this year. Cameron, among others, is one of what I like to call my "celebrity ageing yardsticks" (I think everyone should find out who theirs are, even just out of fascination)!

So for these posts I thought I'd pick some pieces to buy that I just really like that are influenced by their style, rather than trying to recreate a particular look exactly. I thought it might be more fun to do it this way - you may see an item that you really like that you may not have considered before, I know I've been inspired by what I've found online! So more "inspired by" than "copy the look"... plus I've tried to include affordable pieces (with maybe just one or two splurge items).

I love her off-duty style. She definitely has a penchant for hats: she's a fedora/panama hat kinda girl, and I'm a hat kinda girl. Soft neutrals seem to be her favoured palette, and she often favours skinny jeans with heels or boots and a short sweater layered over a long one (cleverly breaks up her long body). Though if I had those legs I think I'd be showing them off in short skirts too...!

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The following pieces are what I'd like to wear myself after searching for Cameron-inspired pieces:


However, in contrast to her everyday wear, it's on the red carpet and at press calls that she breaks out the brights or pops of colour. She also wears occasional bold patterns - I especially love the shape of the Victoria Beckham tangerine dress and the Michael Kors striped dress:

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And I'm watering at the mouth thinking about these pieces - I may not have considered them before studying her style!




Let me know what you think - both of this style of post, and of the pieces I've chosen!

Happy Thursday to you all - outfit post tomorrow!

CATHERINE Signature - SMALL

(I'm currently on a blog sabbatical till the beginning of September and all posts are scheduled. Still here to reply and comment, however :)

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Lesser-Spotted Bohemian Chic

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Bohemian chic is not a look I normally go for, but it's often the most practical and obvious choice on hot summer days: cotton maxi skirt, sleeveless tank... job done. And trying to avoid the infamous Lady Diana backlit-skirt shot was not easy when taking these photos, but the best lighting for that evening was definitely the sun being behind me. It was sooo pretty filtering through the trees.... when we get hot days in Blighty, the countryside is really quite beautiful.

So the UK's long weekend is long over (boo), but here's to a great week to you all :))

CATHERINE Signature - SMALL

Tank: Topshop (old), Waistcoat: La Redoute, Skirt: Debenhams, Wedges: Dune, Bag: Betty Jackson.Black at Debenhams, Belt: Unknown, Sunglasses: ASOS, Necklace: Unknown, Bracelets L-R: Debenhams / H&M / ASOS / ASOS / H&M, Watch: Debenhams, Rings Top to bottom: ASOS / H&M / Debenhams, Nails: Boots No.7 Union Blue

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Linking up to:

What I Wore Wednesday at the Pleated Poppy

(I'm currently on a blog sabbatical till the beginning of September and all posts are scheduled. Still here to reply and comment, however :)

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Black and White-Out, Vintage Style

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In June of this year I started to fret that summer was never going to come to the UK (oh, the rain), and with that came the fear that all my pretty summer dresses would go unworn. But we have had a few gorgeous days, and if this was the only time that I got to wear my prized vintage eBay white cotton dress, then so be it!

I think the great thing about buying vintage is that it's less likely to date quickly. I hope so, anyway :)

Happy weekend everybody! Have a good one!



Dress: Vintage eBay, Hat: ASOS, Sunglasses: Red Herring at Debenhams, Belt: Unknown, Heels: Debenhams, Ring: Topshop, Watch: ASOS, Nails: Barry M Peach Melba

Shop my look!

Linking up to:

Visible Monday at Not Dead Yet Style
Monday Mingle at Mom Trends
Thrifters Anonymous at Color Blind
What I Wore Wednesday at the Pleated Poppy

(I'm currently on a blog sabbatical till the beginning of September and all posts are scheduled. Still here to reply and comment, however :)

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Friday, 24 August 2012

Photo Tips Friday: How to Get the Best Results in Bright Sunlight

Blog photography tips: How to Get the Best Results in Bright Sunlight
Another Photo Tips post! Today I'm talking light, which is the key to getting better pictures. The more light you have, the higher the quality of your pictures, because photographic film reacts to and likes light (I know digital cameras don't use film - it's just easier to explain the old fashioned way)!

Think of it this way: The more light there is travelling through the camera's lens and shutter, the more information the film has to interpret. The more information on the image - the sharper and more detailed the photos.


You could break down your (outdoor) lighting conditions into three very basic groups: cloud, rain and sun.

  • Cloudy is straightforward - your light will be evenly diffused wherever you shoot, so you're not really restricted in any way unless it's extremely dark due to extra heavy cloud cover.
  • Raining is obviously tough but there are ways round it - I'll do photographing in the rain in another photo tips post.
  • And if it's sunny, you've actually got a lot of different effects you can create - so read on for the low-down!

1. Strong, daytime sunlight is your only option.
Although it's a camera's dream to have lots of sunshine, it can be a photographer's nightmare. Too much light and/or the wrong time of day can cause lighting headaches and you can easily end up with unflattering results - it can cast high contrast shadows on your face and outfit and makes you squint. Here's the best tips for how to work with strong, direct sun:

Firstly - get round squinting by wearing sunglasses. Some bloggers feel a bit of a poser wearing sunnies (doesn't bother me), but don't forget they're an accessory in themselves. If the sun is blinding your eyes they really are a necessity... you don't have to wear them in every outfit post.

Stand in some shade. Make sure it's not dappled light or it will cause havoc with the photo's exposure. If the sun is strong there will still be enough light (remember the sun is four quadrillion times brighter than a 100W light bulb). Here's how we got round strong sun in two outfit photographs by standing me in a shaded area:

2012-08-24 PHOTO TIPS FRIDAY 007 (find shade)
Turn around so that the sun is behind you (the subject). Personally I think this is the best way to get flattering light when the sun is really strong. The photographer has got to be careful - and probably experiment a little with exposure settings - if you want to avoid flare from the sun. However you'll get that wonderful backlit halo effect:

2012-08-24 PHOTO TIPS FRIDAY 010 (sun behind)
To see how much of a difference positioning can make, compare the two images below... we purposely photographed me facing the sun first, knowing it would be far too harsh. As well as the unflattering shadows mentioned earlier, it has totally bleached me out - I pretty much look like I'm wearing white from head to toe:

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So be brave and move your position in relation to the sun. It may take a few goes to get the shooting angles and exposure correct, but it really is worth it.

Please note: the photographer must not, under any circumstances, look directly at the sun either through the lens or otherwise if shooting into the sun. Safety first, folks.


2. There's occasional cloud cover in the sky.

If you've got sunny intervals, waiting for clouds to cover the sun is often a preferable option. At the time of shooting yesterday's outfit post, the sun was constantly peeking out from behind the clouds, so we experimented a little with the lighting. Before showing you the rejects, the final image I chose was this one:

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As you can probably tell, the sun had gone behind the clouds for this shot. But because the cloud cover was very thin, it cast a really eery light. It was a sort of strange glow, which created a lovely depth to the image and made the outfit pop.

Want to see what the other options were? See below - we experimented...


1. With full sun (not good - it bleached out my top)

2. With backlighting (photographer and model had to swap positions, but the background was much less appealing)
3. Back in the original position, but with the diffused light when the sun went behind the clouds... we knew straight away this one looked the best.


3. The sun is setting (or rising).
The golden hour is the hour of the day leading up to sunset (or the hour after sunrise). As most of us are dressed and can be ready for a shoot in the evening as opposed to the early morning (I couldn't possibly look awake that early in the day), a sunset will create a beautiful light in your photographs and won't be as harsh as overhead sun:

2012-08-24 PHOTO TIPS FRIDAY 008 (golden hour)
The beach photo on the left was taken literally as the sun was setting on the horizon, so the light was very soft and very warm. And the image on the right shows how creating flare from the sun during golden hour is easier for the photographer than at midday (because the sun is much weaker). With some careful positioning, your photographer can position the sun to just peek out from behind you and create some beautiful sun flare spots. This takes practice, but it's probably my favourite effect to create with the sun.

The golden hour is a favoured time of day for many photographers to shoot - you've just got to be ready to get your timing spot-on (you can find yourself in a race against time with the sunset, but the results are worth it).


4. Be adaptable depending on your outfit, the location, and the time of day.

I know I've said don't shoot in harsh sunlight... unfortunately I'm going to give some examples of where it can work! Always be ready to break the rules (though my 'rules' are really only tips of course).

Deep, bright colours photograph well in very strong, direct sunlight:


2012-08-24 PHOTO TIPS FRIDAY 009 (break rules)
Like the paler colours above were bleached out facing strong sun, these vibrant colours would have been deadened if the sun had been behind me. With some exposure experimentation and correct angles (to avoid a really big, dark under-nose shadow), we got depth, tone and good contrast all at the same time.

Secondly, the location and/or the contrast of colours and background are sometimes better suited to full sunlight on the subject:


2012-08-24 PHOTO TIPS FRIDAY 010 (break rules)
The stripes of the nautical outfit were echoed in all the lines of the horizon and gates in the background, and the sun on the field made the green luminous, giving a great contrast to the white top. And it goes without saying that if you have a gorgeous, sandy beach to shoot on, you'll want to take advantage of the bright white sand and blue sea - especially if your outfit is a dark contrast as mine was.


Let me know if these seem doable - and please do come back at a later time to report back on how (if) they have helped you at all!

The best advice really is to experiment. I've given examples only from my outfit posts because I could give you details of how we came to shoot them that way, but do look at more than just the outfits of your favourite blogs. Here's my choices of blogs with great photography who use fantastic lighting (I've tried to pick more than just the usual "top tier bloggers", hopefully you'll find some great new blogs to follow as well):


Eat Sleep Wear

It's Not That Deep
Aminta's Fashion
Forever Amber
The Marcy Stop
Yours, Truly

Study their images. Look at the lighting and the position of the sun. Are they standing in the shade or in the sunlight? What does the time of day appear to be? Rarely are they standing under and facing harsh, midday sun... at least, not without sunglasses!

But if you find any good examples that prove me wrong, leave a comment with the link to a particular post, I'd love to see them!

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Loose, Cool and Floral

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More hot weather wear! When these photos were taken it was muggy enough to have to wear clothes that were as loose as humanely possible (hot weather in Blighty is always the humid variety) ... a wide blouse-style top is a godsend. With a little manual labour it makes a great personal air conditioning unit ;)

Plus I'm getting as much wear out of the floral pyjama pants trend as I can before the summer's over... please don't end, summer, I beg you! We're only just getting to know each other!

Come back tomorrow for another Photo Tips Friday: Thanks everyone who's left such great comments, I'm so glad you've found them useful!



Shirt: Unknown (old), Trousers: ASOS, Heels: Betty Jackson at Debenhams, Panama hat: Tumi Latin Crafts similar, Sunglasses: Red Herring at Debenhams, Watch: 4itgirls.com similar, Black bracelet: ASOS, Black ring: ASOS

Linking up to:

What I Wore Wednesday at The Pleated Poppy

(I'm currently on a blog sabbatical till the beginning of September and all posts are scheduled. Still here to reply and comment, however :)

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Lace and Neon in the Heat

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This was a hot day... but I certainly wasn't complaining - hot days are few and far between in the UK!

These photos were taken early in the morning when Mr. Summers and I decided to get a walk in early before the day got too hot. I love how the tall green grass was competing with my satchel in the "most luminous thing in the photo" competition. I think the grass won ;)

Hope you all have a lovely day - thanks for stopping by :)))



White top: Gift from my mum, Grey tank: F+F at Tesco, Trousers: La Redoute, Flats: Jones the Bootmaker similar, Hat: Very.co.uk similarBag: The Satchel Co similarSunglasses: Fabris Lane similar, Necklace: Unknown similar, Bracelets: F+F at Tesco / Gift / My christening bracelet, Rings: Boots / H&M, Watch: Fossil similar, Nails: Barry M Peach Melba

Linking up to:

What I Wore Wednesday at The Pleated Poppy
What I Wore Wednesday at Transatlantic Blonde
Whatever, Whenever at Rolled Up Pretty

(I'm currently on a blog sabbatical till the beginning of September and all posts are scheduled. Still here to reply and comment, however :)

Monday, 20 August 2012

Musings Monday: What Is Age-Appropriate Dressing, Anyway?

What Is Age-Appropriate, Anyway?
Today I'm musing an expression that's heard a lot in the media today with regards to fashion for ladies of a certain age: age appropriate. I guess it's meant as a term that's there to make older women feel reassured that they're doing the right thing, that they're dressing 'correctly', as society is expecting them to do.

Unfortunately, as with many of these terms, I always feel they create the exact opposite effect; that is, to deem unacceptable any diversity, creativity or freedom of expression that may be already present or ready to burst out of the average woman. Not least because older women tend to be more confident, have lived life a little and often have less concern about trying to "fit in" - not a good time to try to deny them some of life's pleasures. Like the term real women... talk about a Goldilocks principle in action: it makes you feel abnormal if you're not what society deems acceptably curvy. Not too fat, not too thin - you're only healthy and beautiful if you fall perfectly in the middle.


I digress.


So I've made a firm decision, though it's been mulling around my head for a while: The older I get, the more I'm going to dress crazy/stylish - think Zandra Rhodes or Vivienne Westwood. I want my age to be directly proportionate to where I am on the dressing bonkers* scale. The term "age appropriate" isn't going to stop me. I mean, there's no pressure from friends to fit in with them like you had to during school (thank goodness), or children I might embarrass at the school gates (though I'd like to think this still wouldn't stop me).


My reasons? As you get older you're less tied to fashion, plus you have to get more creative with where to shop - your choices do get limited. Also, life's too short not to have fun, as long as what you do doesn't genuinely offend or hurt anyone.


Advanced Style - Rita x8
Source: Advanced Style (and believe me, you want to click on this link to see more)

I think it's because I miss being a kid and literally being able to run round all day till I can't stay awake anymore. I may not be able to run round all day (I do give it a go but get tired so much more quickly than I care to admit), but I'll have fun with what I wear instead. It does seem probable that we lose our inhibitions as we age - much like children - so to me old age seems the best time to go all out on the dressing up front, and what we wear should surely depend on where we're going and what we're doing.


Which brings me onto what I consider so much more preferable and practical than age appropriate: Occasion appropriate. Why should age dictate what we wear? Shouldn't we wear 1. What we like, 2. What makes us feel good, and 3. What is appropriate to the occasion...?


To that effect, no-one should turn up to a formal church wedding in jeans and a leather jacket - that's just disrespectful whether you're 18 or 80. Likewise, I'm sure if you have a corporate job you'd be ill-advised at any age to wear mini skirts and spaghetti straps if you want to be taken seriously.

But if you work in the city, why shouldn't you let you hair down at the weekend? Wear a vintage leather jacket if you're over 50? Why should anyone care if the leather jacket is "age appropriate" or not? If you're the kind of person who wants to wear clothes that are deemed "too young" for you but the occasion is appropriate, then I say go for it.

Advanced Style - Carol Olten
Source: Advanced Style

I still believe, however, in wearing fabulous clothes that flatter and highlight your best bits. And if that's wearing patterned tights with high-tops whilst out shopping to show off your enviable pins (above), then who's to say no - even if you have reached your sixth, seventh or even eighth decade.

So dressing age-appropriately is nonsense, if you ask me. Really, the things women of any age should consider when dressing are:

1. Do I like it? (If you can't say yes to that you need to question why it's in your wardrobe).
2. Does it flatter me and draw attention to my best features?
3. Is it occasion appropriate?

Following those three guidelines should help with throwing the age appropriate notion out the window. It allows women to be classic, trendy, edgy, outrageous - whatever they want to be. We don't want more rules as we get older.

In July this year, Seth Ari Cohen of Advanced Style asked the fabulous Isabel about her style and she responded:

"I'm too old to think about what other people want me to look like." Advanced Style - Isabel

I couldn't have put it better myself.

*I mean crazy and bonkers in a good way

Top picture source: Advanced Style

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Peach Polkadots and Floral Skinnies

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Hi everyone and happy weekend! I hope you brought your sunglasses because this outfit was bright even by my standards ;)

I am dressed almost head-to-toe in ASOS (damn you, online fashion shopping giant). When I bought the polka dot shirt in their sale I didn't think about what to wear it with, but pairing it with my floral skinnies made for a lovely riot of print and colour. Up to that day we'd had a few rather glorious days of sunshine, so that's why I broke out the super brights; however, as the day went on it started to rain... so typical!

* How I love you, glorious British summer *



Shirt: ASOS, Tank: F+F at Tesco, Jeans: ASOS, Heels: ASOS similar, Belt: Unknown, Sunglasses: ASOS, Earrings: ASOS, Watch: ASOS, Bracelets L-R: Debenhams / ASOS / Shh by Sadie, Rings: H&M / H&M / ASOS, Nails: Revlon Elegant 380 / Models Own Nail Art Pens, Toenails: Essie Turquoise and Caicos

Linking up to:

Visible Monday at Not Dead Yet Style
Monday Mingle at Glamamom
What I Wore Wednesday at Transatlantic Blonde

(I'm currently on a blog sabbatical till the beginning of September and all posts are scheduled. Still here to reply and comment, however :)