Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Not Dressed As Zombies

Happy Halloween


Just a quick Happy Halloween to all my lovely readers! 

If you're partying, trick or treating, or celebrating in any way shape or form have a brilliant time... Mr. Summers and I will be having a spooky meal out somewhere and taking in the sights that you see on the streets come 31 October ;) 

And don't forget to enter my jewellery voucher giveaway from Monday's post if you haven't already - perfect timing for Christmas, no...?

Catherine x

P.S. In case you're wondering, I made up my ghoulish faces with the free tool that is PicMonkey - all sorts of amazing Halloween effects to choose from there! I know it's totally hideous, but I absolutely love the zombie look - normally I can't bear anything zombie-related!

(From top, the effects were: Zombies, Vampires, Day of the Dead, Witches)

Monday, 29 October 2012

Magenta and Tobacco (Plus a £35 Jewellery Giveaway - Closed)

Magenta and Tobacco
Happy Monday everyone - what better way to start the week than with a jewellery giveaway? 

The lovely Sandy of Sandy Mitchell Jewellery, a UK based designer of handmade jewellery, has kindly given me a £35 voucher (about $55) towards any item from her online shop. I'm wearing a red necklace from the Sphere collection which I think looks so gorgeous with all my autumnal colours I'm now wearing in full force these days. To see all of Sandy's designs, click here to visit her online shop... and scroll down to see how to enter the giveaway!

Magenta and Tobacco

Magenta and Tobacco

Magenta and Tobacco
Entries can only be made via the widget below. There are several ways you can enter:
  • Follow Not Dressed As Lamb via Bloglovin (mandatory)
  • Follow Not Dressed As Lamb with Google Friend Connect
  • Like Sandy Mitchell Jewellery on Facebook
  • Name your favourite Sandy Mitchell Jewellery collection
  • Follow @notlamb on Twitter
  • Tweet about the giveaway
  • Follow @notlamb on Instagram
a Rafflecopter giveaway

So please do leave any comments (about my outfit) below, but giveaway entries made using the comment form won't count I'm afraid. The giveaway ends on 7 November - the winner will be chosen at random, contacted by email and announced in a separate post. It's an international giveaway so everyone is welcome to enter :)

Hope everyone has a great week - and good luck!!

Catherine x

P.S. I thought I'd mention: the collar of my shirt was turned up and pinned from behind to form a high turtle neck style top... it showed off the necklace so much better and is a great way to get a new look out of a collared shirt. It also looks a little like a neck scarf which I love!

Necklace: Sandy Mitchell Jewellery, Sweater: ASOS, Shirt: ASOS, Skirt: ASOS, Shoes: River Island, Tights: Unknown, Watch: Red Herring at Debenhams, Nails: Revlon Timeless

Linking up to: Monday Mingle at BonBon Rose Girls, Visible Monday at Not Dead Yet Style

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Blue Fedora With Stars n Stripes n Studs

Blue Fedora With Stars n Stripes n Studs
Blue Fedora With Stars n Stripes n Studs
Studded Stars n Stripes Sweatshirt and Kelly Green
Blue Fedora With Stars n Stripes n Studs
This has to be my new favourite autumnal outfit! I'm a big fan of hats and I wish I wore them more; you may already know that I love a straw fedora in the summer and now I get to wear my winter (felt) ones. I've not worn this one with my Stars n Stripes sweatshirt before, but now they seem like the perfect pairing, especially with Kelly green and my favourite tan boots. 

I wore this for a shopping trip in town, and I got it just right with the layers for the slight drop in temperature. Even though we're having sunny weekends in Blighty this autumn, the days are getting much, much colder, so I think the winter coats will be making an appearance on the blog before long. 

The clocks go back in the UK tonight (boo!), so although we get an extra hour in bed I'll be leaving work in the dark which is so depressing. Oh well... I'm sure looking at Daniel Craig at the cinema this evening will cheer me up somewhat. I'M SO EXCITED WE'RE GOING TO SEE SKYFALL!!!!!!

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!

Catherine x

Hat: Forever 21, Sweatshirt: F+F at Tesco, Skirt: ASOS, Bag: Betty Jackson Black at Debenhams, Boots: Duo, Bracelets: Tesco / Next, Watches: Gift / Debenhams, Rings: Next

Linking up to: Trend of the Month Link Up - Boots at Marionberry Style, Visible Monday at Not Dead Yet Style, Monday Mingle at BonBon Rose Girls

Friday, 26 October 2012

4 Ways to Wear | One Grey Dress, Four Job Interview Outfits

Four Ways to Wear - One Dress, Four Interview Outfits
Just a quick round up of all four of my Marks & Spencer Style Blogger Challenge looks styling just one dress... I didn't win unfortunately, but I really, really enjoyed the challenge and was so pleased with all four outfits I came up with! You can read about the two (male and female) winners on the M&S stories website here :)

One Dress, Four Ways: Job Interview Outfits
Week 1: Creative but Classy - An interview outfit for a fashion role at a well-known UK fashion brand (e.g. a design role, a salesperson, a marketing exec, a buyer)
Week 2: Stepping up the Career Ladder - An interview outfit for a more senior role at a corporate firm (e.g. a bank, law firm)

One Dress, Four Ways: Job Interview Outfits
Week 3: Just Graduated - An interview outfit for a student attending their first post-uni interview for a job at a creative agency (e.g. in media, marketing, advertising)
Week 4: Back to Work - Interview wear for a yummy mummy going for an office based job after a career break

So I was really pleased with my four looks; my personal favourite was the third look for the media/creative job. I couldn't have been more pleased with the dress I chose - I'm going to be wearing it for work, and although it's a neutral grey (which does suggest "workwear"), I think dressed up with even brighter colours and lots of statement jewellery it will be a great staple dress in my wardrobe!

I'd like to thank all of you for your wonderful comments and support - I really appreciate each and every one and have enjoyed reading what you took the time to write (and tweet!). It's nice to have given lots of ideas and help to people, so although I didn't win I've got so much satisfaction out of it for those reasons. Thank you also to Marks & Spencer for the opportunity - it was a great challenge :)))

Catherine x
Come back tomorrow for a new outfit post... it's a good one - my new favourite!

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

My Week In Outfits, Plus a Few Shopping Ideas

Instagram Outfit

Thought I'd share a few of the outfits I've been adding to my Instagram feed over the last week or so! - it'll give you a little more insight into what I wear every day that doesn't get the full outfit post treatment :) 

You can follow me on Instagram here!

Instagram Outfit

Instagram outfit

Instagram Outfit

Instagram outfit

Instagram outfit

Instagram outfit

Instagram Outfit

Instagram Outfit

With the nights getting darker it's impossible to get out and photograph outfits in the evening now, so that'll be a job for the weekends till about March time (boo)! And if you fancy a little inspiration from any of the items I'm wearing, I've searched for some similar things with links underneath: please don't blame me for encouraging any shopping addictions... I can't help myself, even with regards to other people ;)

Happy Wednesday everyone! That means it's Friday Eve tomorrow which is great news!

Catherine x

Monday, 22 October 2012

Cozy Oxblood Cable Knit at Sunset

Cosy Oxblood Cable Knit at Sunset

Cosy Oxblood Cable Knit at Sunset

Cosy Oxblood Cable Knit at Sunset

Cosy Oxblood Cable Knit at Sunset

So I have finally succumbed to the oxblood trend...! I know this knit looks more red in the pictures, but it is in actual fact a very, very deep red. And I love how it's long enough to keep my bum warm (essential in our cold office in the winter) and has pockets for me to plunge my hands into. It's that time of year when my hands are getting cold enough to need gloves, but I just won't accept it's that cold until much nearer Christmas. 

I did really like it paired with my vintage 70s shirt - kind of an old man at Christmas look ;)

Happy Monday everyone - I hope this week brings good things for you all!

Catherine x

Shop my look! Items marked* are the actual item, if still available:

Cardigan: ASOS*, Shirt: Vintage eBay, Jeans: Miss Sixty, Socks: Topshop, Brogues: Office, Watch: ASOS, Chevron rings: ASOS, Bracelet: H&M, Nails: Models Own Mushroom

Linking up to:

Visible Monday at Not Dead Yet Style
Monday Mingle at Momtrends
What I Wore Wednesday at The Pleated Poppy

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Polka Dot Maxi and a Knotted Shirt

Polka Dot Maxi and Knotted Shirt

Polka Dot Maxi and Knotted Shirt

Polka Dot Maxi and Knotted Shirt

Polka Dot Maxi and Knotted Shirt

It's the weekend at last - I hope you all have some great plans! In the UK we've been having some great (i.e. sunny) weather at the weekends for about four weeks in a row now, with the rain continuing during the weekdays... it never happens like that normally! It certainly makes outfit photographing a LOT easier. 

Although I don't expect this milder weather to last much longer, I was able to wear just my summer [holiday] boyfriend shirt and a maxi the day these were taken. And thank you, ASOS, for reducing the polka dot maxi I'd had my eye on for so long - I do love an ASOS bargain. Or three, or four ;)

Catherine x

Boyfriend shirt: ASOS*, Skirt: ASOS*, Shoes: River Island, Monogram necklace: Max & Chloe*, Bag: Jasper Conran at Debenhams, Rings: ASOS*, Bracelets: Debenhams / ASOS / ReVintage Jewellery / H&M, Nails: Chanel Blue Boy*

Shop my look! Items marked* are the actual item if still available:

Linking up to:

Visible Monday at Not Dead Yet Style
Monday Mingle at Momtrends
What I Wore Wednesday at The Pleated Poppy

Friday, 19 October 2012

Photo Tips | Clean Up, Resize, Optimize Your Photos

Clean Up, Resize, Optimize Your Photos
I thought it was about time I did another Photo Tips Friday post... it's been a while, and I've lots more tips to share with you! 

So following on from basics covering camera equipment essentials, how to achieve bokehphotographing in bright sunlight, etc., I thought I'd write about some basics about what to do with those photos now you've followed all my advice(!!) and produced top quality, sharp images for your outfit posts:

CLEAN UP will show you how to get rid of annoying nasty bits that distract from the main subject (that's you) and subtly enhance tone and contrast

RESIZE will make all your images the same width

OPTIMIZE will show how you can utilise free websites or free/cheap apps to create creative and subtle (or not-so-subtle, depending on what you want to achieve) special effects.

Now please note that there are many, many options in terms of what application you could use; there are dozens of free websites or cheap apps available, but I will just give a few examples of what I think may help. The main thing I personally use for my photos is Photoshop, but as it's not cheap I won't give any Photoshop examples - I want this to be an accessible post to everyone from students to bloggers who don't even own a camera (yes, you read that right!). There are many different ways to do things, so don't think I am telling everyone "this is the one and only way to do xyz"; please take these ideas and develop your own ways of creating beautiful images!

1a. Clean up - remove nasty bits

Not everyone agrees with touching up photos to get rid of unwanted nasties; from facial blemishes to cigarette butts, it is totally your choice how "real" you wish the photo to be. Personally, I think it's entirely up to the blogger whether or not they clean up their photos this way.*

I take the stance that photos are not an exact representation of what was actually in front of the camera. I've had comments from bloggers saying that they love my pairing of mint and pink... the actual colours I was wearing were teal and purple. It was simply down to the light at the time changing how my clothes photographed and reacted to that light. It doesn't matter, but it goes to show how a photograph is simply an interpretation of a scene. So if you do remove a nasty cigarette from the floor or a small but bright traffic cone in the background, it won't detract any attention away from your fabulous outfit - and in my book there's nothing wrong with that!

What to use for cleaning up?
The one I read about most often is PicMonkey http://www.picmonkey.com - and although I use Photoshop to touch up any little bits and pieces, from what I've seen of this website it really is the doggy's you-know-whats of image manipulation. Unlike Photoshop, it's user-friendly because it gives you actual recipes that are relevant to us bloggers: there's a whole make-up section with Blush Boost, Shine Reduce and Blemish Fix, for example. For the purposes of post photos requirements (i.e. not turning me into Alexa Chung), I subtly touched up one of my most recent images using PicMonkey.

I re-edited my original photo from scratch (where I used Photoshop) with PicMonkey to get rid of the mud on my shoes and all the bits of wet leaves and twigs on the floor:

Clean Up, Resize, Optimize Your Photos
[Mud on your shoes is a common occurrence when you're a countryside dweller searching for shooting locations!]

When I touched up the photo for my post, I simply got rid of the mud on my shoes - it was my last entry for the M&S Job Interview Style Blogger Challenge, so I felt justified in touching up the photo as you wouldn't turn up for an interview with mud on your shoes...! But for the sake of this post, I went further in PicMonkey and cleaned up all the ground around my feet. I also "erased" the bruises on my right shin - I didn't do this on my original post, but it shows how easily it can be done using this application. I used the "clone" option from (strangely enough) the make-up section for my shoes and the ground.

PicMonkey is VERY easy to use, and the possibilities are endless - from subtle changes in tone, brightness, or colour cast, to full-on changing lipstick or hair colour. How far you want to take it is up to you.

*Not that I know any bloggers that do this, but if you are doing a major air-brushing job à la monthly glossy, it might be nice to let your readers know how you've manipulated the photos...?

1b. Clean up - adjust tone and contrast

I adjusted the colour cast and brightness/contrast of this photo using PicMonkey as the original was taken in slightly different light to that of the full length shots. It was so much colder (bluer) than the rest of the images, and I wanted to warm it up to make it blend in with the other shots.

Clean Up, Resize, Optimize Your Photos
I optimized the brightness, shadows, highlights and contrast under Exposure, and adjusted the saturation and temperature under Colours. It makes for a more pleasing image, and closer to how my hair looks in bright outdoor light.

2. Resize to make images all the same width

Much to my detriment I am a perfectionist. Although in theory it 's a good thing (as a kid I had to colour in neater than anyone else), when compiling blog posts, I simply have to have uniform font styles and sizes and photos all the same width... it does create more work. I don't know whether other bloggers don't mind the difference or if they don't know how to make them all the same width - but if you're the latter and would like to know how, here's my way of doing it!

Now obviously all blogs platforms are going to vary; I use Blogger and so am only familiar with their format. But I'm sure this part is uniform across all platforms: it's simply a case of looking at your HTML coding and making sure your image widths are the same on every image - that's it. But how do you do that?

In Blogger there are two ways to upload photos into your post - using the "insert image" button, or embedding the HTML code from Picasa, Flickr, Photobucket, etc. Both work absolutely fine and will allow you to upload nice large images. But, as far as I can tell, inserting an image directly does not give you the option of resizing to any exact pixels size. To see if your method of uploading images allows you set an exact width, insert an image in your usual way and take a look at the HTML code for it, as below:

Clean Up, Resize, Optimize Your Photos
What you need to see is two measurements of height and width. If you don't see these, you won't be able to make all images exactly the same width. So you either choose to leave them as they are, or you need to embed them. I use Flickr to store my photos; the way to embed them is by using the "Share" option which offers a "Grab the HTML/BBcode" option. This HTML code has the height and width which is essential for resizing.

Your images can be whatever size you want them to be, but the largest size possible (without losing quality) may be a small width depending on the size of the images your camera produces. If you do have photos that are high-res enough to be made smaller from the originals, I think it's worth having large images on your blog.

The tricky bit (bear with me - it's worth it!)

The only part that's not so straightforward, Which you may have realised already, is that if you change the width without proportionately changing the height, you will end up with either a very squashed photo or a very tall thin one. What you can't avoid to amend this is a teensy bit of maths, I'm afraid! So I've broken it up into three easy steps:

1. Decide what your uniform image width is. Your blog format will have a set width for the blog posts, which can be increased or decreased, and ideally the images should completely fill that width without seeping over into the sidebar. My blog's maximum image width is 685 pixels.

2. When I take the "large" image option from Flickr, the width of upright images (taller than they are wide) are thankfully all 685 if I haven't cropped the picture. So it doesn't matter what the height is, an upright picture will fit in perfectly... job done.

3. Landscape (wider than they are tall) images are the ones I always have to change, for example:

The dimensions are height 685 x width 1024 if I haven't cropped the image or resized it in Photoshop.

The maths bit:

To make the width 685, the same as upright photos, I have to calculate current width ÷ desired width, or 1024 ÷ 685 = 1.49.

(So 1.49 is the magic width dividing number I have to remember).

Therefore I have to do the same with the height:

Current height ÷ width dividing number, or

685 ÷ 1.49 = 459.
459 is now the new height for my landscape images.

Simply remember this: if I never, ever cropped pictures before uploading to my web album and they were either upright (height 1024 x width 685) or landscape (height 685 x width 1024), then I can leave upright ones as they are, and landscape will always have to be changed to height 459 x width 685. I don't have to do the maths every time - the two dimensions are stuck on a Post-It note near my computer. It's only if you've cropped or resized images that you have to do some more complicated maths; that's for another post maybe...?!

3. Optimize - add special effects to your images

I've mentioned PicMonkey already, and this can be used for creating fun special effects as well as cleaning up your pictures. Other ones to try are:



TiltshiftMaker is great for creating the effect of miniature scenes with outdoor landscapes, rather than outfit post pictures. So if you have some holiday photos to throw in, consider using TiltshiftMaker:

Clean Up, Resize, Optimize Your Photos

The best types of images to use are those taken in bright sunlight, with a slightly higher viewpoint; if people and/or cars are included then the effect of little miniatures are heightened. If you like, use PicMonkey first to increase brightness and contrast - the effect will be even more convincing.

Use apps to add special effects to your phone photos

No camera but you have an iPhone? If you think you can't produce great outfit posts because you don't have a DSLR, or any camera at all, think again. You probably know you can add some colour casts and frames to what you upload to Instagram, but the choices are limited. Try these:

PicFX app
Add faux bokeh, picture frames, scratches, a retro colour cast... the list goes on and on. It's similar to what Instagram does, but x 100 in terms of effects choices:

Clean Up, Resize, Optimize Your Photos

Clean Up, Resize, Optimize Your Photos

Picture Frame apps
There are loads of these apps to choose from - upload multiple images to make one. They have many layout options and you can vary the proportions and manipulate the borders:

Clean Up, Resize, Optimize Your Photos
I think this one is excellent if you don't have a DSLR, because you can take photos with your phone or tablet's camera, then create little montages that look really stylish to create an interesting outfit post. Upload them from an Instagram Web Viewer like Webstagram to an image hosting website, then embed them into your blog posts.


So this is just the tip of the iceberg of what you can do to improve the quality, style and variety of your photos during the editing process. I fully appreciate that there will be many, many more free websites and apps to use - if you have more suggestions for everyone please do leave them in the comments below!

I wanted to prove that it's possible to produce great images without splashing out on Photoshop or any other high-end software - and it's possible to be a fashion blogger producing great outfit posts even if you don't own a camera.

I hope this has been of some help - as I always say, let me know how you get on!!
Catherine x
P.S. Happy weekend everyone - do come back tomorrow for a new outfit post!

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

One Dress, Four Ways: Job Interview Outfits (Part 4)

One Dress, Four Ways: Job Interview Outfits (Part 4)

This is the fourth and final week of the Marks & Spencer Blogger Style Challenge I'm competing in - at the time of writing I was one of the winners of both week one AND two (the third week's winners are yet to be announced)... I'm so stoked! And not just because of the two wins but because you guys have left such wonderful comments and are so supportive... Thank you everyone! I'm featured on the M&S Stories website with the other weekly winners if you want to take a look.

To recap: M&S have given me a dress of my choice that I have to create four outfits for different job interview scenarios around, depending on the brief they've given me (and four other female bloggers) in a prize competition. Click here to see all four of my entry posts together, the others being "Creative but Classy", "Stepping up the Career Ladder" and "Just Graduated".

By next week there'll be two winners - one male and one female (there are five male bloggers taking part as well) - I'm so excited, and would absolutely love to win... fingers crossed for me?! To see all the Marks & Spencer dresses I chose from, click on this link to their dresses page.

Final Challenge: Back to Work

The brief: I
nterview wear for a yummy mummy going for an office based job after a career break

One Dress, Four Ways: Job Interview Outfits (Part 4)

One Dress, Four Ways: Job Interview Outfits (Part 4)

One Dress, Four Ways: Job Interview Outfits (Part 4)

One Dress, Four Ways: Job Interview Outfits (Part 4)

I thought this was a really great brief, as I can imagine that going for an interview after being out of the job market for a while would be pretty daunting (I suspect many readers may well have been in this situation)? What you wear would play a big part in helping you feel calm, comfortable and confident.

My idea was to go bold and bright - this way I should be very memorable after the interview ("she was the one wearing the bright stripes"), and the punches of black and colour would give me the confidence I'd need if I hadn't stepped inside an office for several years. I avoided florals or soft colours as I'd want to send subliminal messages that this girl is bold, determind, and not a pushover...!

I think I probably deliberated over the accessories more for this brief than the other three put together. Tights seemed appropriate so I went for a sheer/ribbed/fishnet style that gives the impression of sheers but with a more interesting pattern (and less likely to rip); high black platforms show that I may be a mum, but I haven't lost my sense of style or femininity; nude nails and a bold ring with a brooch at the neck (I tried on most of my necklaces but none looked right) make a bold statement but work with the outfit rather than fight against it. That's the theory, anyway - what do you all think?


So that's my four weeks of job interview outfits done! I have really, enjoyed this challenge - considering the job market and the economy at the moment I think it was a really timely and worthwhile idea that Marks & Spencer came up with. I didn't realise I would enjoy styling challenges quite as much as I have... it's given me a lot of inspiration for projects of my own, setting myself mini challenges now and then for new posts! So now I just have to wait to see who is the overall winner =eeek= I'll keep you guys posted! If you Follow Me on Twitter you'll be the first to hear - cross your fingers and toes for me?!!!

Job interview tip #4: It is so important to have a firm handshake. It always amazes me the number of limp handshakes I have experienced as an interviewer. Job interview tips always say have a firm handshake - but many people still insist on dishing out a limp one; it's an immediate turn-off. My advice is to practice yours on a burly family member, friend or neighbour, and ask their opinion. If they think it's fine, you're good to go :)

Catherine x

Dress: courtesy of Marks & Spencer*, Cardigan: Borrowed from my sister (H&M), Shoes: ASOS*, Brooch: Unknown, Bag: Next, Tights: Unknown, Ring: New Look, Watch: Red Herring at Debenhams, Nails: Revlon Elegant*

Shop my look! Items marked* are the actual item, if available:

Linking up to:

What I Wore Wednesday at The Pleated Poppy
What I Wore Wednesday at Transatlantic Blonde
Wardrobe Wednesday at Create Hope Inspire
Visible Monday at Not Dead Yet Style