Thursday, 31 July 2014

Musings Monday, Helpful Humpday and Photo Tips Friday - Now on Facebook!

Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays on Not Dressed As Lamb's Facebook Page
Since the very start of the blog (just turned three!) I've been publishing the occasional posts about photography tips, better blogging tips, musings on ageing and body image, health and fitness, etc. These posts haven't, however, been as regular as I'd intended or wanted them to be. Partly due to scheduling and partly due to the amount of time they take up (I find it so hard to keep them short), I've begrudgingly let them get more and more infrequent over the last year or so. But that's all about to change!

I still really liked the idea of Musings Mondays and Photo Tips Fridays but this added to the scheduling problem - trying to fit them in around other posts was forcing me to put them further and further back each time. I then had a glut of drafts for posts that I was beginning to think were never going to see the light of day, or they were just too simple and short for a full post. So with the addition of a Wednesday topic as well, I will now be moving these quick and simple tips and musings to regular slots on my Facebook page on Mondays, Wednesdays ("Humpdays") and Fridays:



  • MUSINGS MONDAY: Thinking about and pondering on anything from body confidence, the ageing process and age appropriateness; to fashion and style, looking back to the past and general thoughts on celebrities, lifestyle, family... you name it, I'll talk about it.
  • HELPFUL HUMPDAY: Wednesday will be all about tips and tricks, whether that be about blogging, social media or better business. Or how to get perfectly curled eyelashes.
  • PHOTO TIPS FRIDAY: Does exactly what it says on the tin! From a quick tip on how to make your Instagram pictures stand out more to what type of lens to buy for blogging photographs, I'll post something to hopefully help you improve your photography and understand it better.

Now I won't be replacing my longer posts about general musings (such as What 3 Years Blogging Has Taught Me) or detailed photography posts (such as How to Get the Best Outfit Photos With Your Point-and-Shoot Camera) - those will still happen and they'll be scheduled in between my outfit posts without being restricted to a particular day of the week. Many bloggers stick to particular days for themes but I find it too difficult - kudos to those who are so disciplined with their scheduling!

So do "Like" my Facebook page if you haven't already to keep up with these musings, tips and tricks - they'll go out on my Twitter feed as well so you can catch them there too. We'll start tomorrow with a quick photography tip on how to improve shots of your accessories and jewellery on Instagram - don't miss it!

Let me know if this works for you, and do suggest anything in the comments you'd like me to talk about! (Remember we're after short and snappy, though I'm happy to answer more complex questions on the blog.) What burning questions within the topics I'm covering do you have? Ask away, I'll see what I can do!
Catherine x
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P.S. I'll probably do a monthly or bi-monthly round up of all the posts so you can catch up that way in case you miss them (and so you can Pin Them)!

P.P.S. If you want to catch up on my previous posts, you can catch up on Photo Tips here and Musings here (which include blogging tips)!


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Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Birthday Party Outfit | A Vintage Fruity Midi Dress

Vintage floral wrapover midi dress #summer
So I've continued my birthday celebrations well past the one-day event that was Wednesday last week, and had a little party with my family on Sunday. In my family you're the birthday girl or boy until the next person has a birthday, and I last until September. Get innnnn ;))

A birthday party calls for a birthday dress, and after much deliberation about which dress to wear (several were discounted due to being too fitted around the waist - not good for hiding a cake-induced food baby), I settled on my vintage fruity midi dress that I bought from eBay a couple of years ago. I reckon it's late 70s or early 80s judging by the label (the fonts they use are always a good indicator), and it's so pretty and has so many colours in it that the possibilities of what shoes and accessories to wear with it are almost endless. I went neutral with my fierce pointed heels, added a blue cami (the dress is a bit too boobylicious otherwise) and picked out the pink with a skinny belt and the most amazing crystal drop earrings from Aspire Style. Love them against the colour of my hair.


Oh and if you want to see what I did with my birthday cake candles then check out this picture I posted on Instagram... I can do this only once more before I'm 50!


Are you a big celebrator of birthdays? Do you relish having "happy birthday" sung to you every year (like me), or do you prefer the day to slip by unnoticed? I always say: Birthdays are compensation for getting older, so make the most of them. And why shouldn't we...?!


Vintage floral wrapover midi dress #summer
Lime green manicure and florals #summer
Floral wrapover dress #summer
Pink crystal drop earrings and red hair
Catherine x
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P.S. If you like this dress, you might like to see how I styled it as a wedding guest outfit for a country church!

Dress: Vintage, Heels: Aldo (super low sale price in black here!), Belt: Asos, Earrings: c/o Aspire Style, Silver ring: c/o kuka-me, Nails: Barry M Key Lime




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Sunday, 27 July 2014

Retro-Style Floral Summer Dress & a Panama Hat

Retro style dress and Panama hat
Nothing beats a floral dress in the summer. I've had this retro-style dress for years, yet somehow it's never appeared on the blog before. As I'm a sucker for a ladylike dress (see the one that made me go all Grace Kelly a couple of weeks ago here), it made sense to wear one on my birthday when we visited Stourhead House and Gardens in Wiltshire on Wednesday. Florals were only right for such a beautiful setting - and as always a Panama hat works with any summer outfit. Ever.

The photos at the end really need no explanation (the shot of the lake was taken on my iPhone and I can't get over how unbelievably beautiful and awe-inspiring it was) - and I had to include a photo that you may have seen on my Instagram feed... there were so many statues and busts inside temples that I just couldn't help myself and had to do a selfie with one of them. I may have turned 42 but the child inside will never die ;)


Do you dress up on your birthday? And like me do you always have to do something to celebrate the occasion - do share in the comments!


Retro style dress and Panama hat
Retro style print and delicate jewellery
Retro style dress and Panama hat
Stourhead Gardens lake #scenery #lake
Hydrangeas - Stourhead Gardens
Statue impression #roman #bust
Catherine x
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P.S. If you want to keep up with all my summery outfits from the blog, why not follow my Spring/Summer Pinterest board?

Dress: Very.co.uk (old), Hat: Tumi (similar), Flats: c/o La Redoute, Bag: Unknown (old), Necklace: Gift, Bracelet: c/o Aspire Style




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Friday, 25 July 2014

How to Style a Vintage Midi Skirt | With Plain White Tennis Shoes

Layered tanks, vintage skirt and tennis shoes #summer #style
I've worn this vintage nautical-print midi skirt a few times on the blog now, and this week, rather than automatically reaching for heels, I went for comfort and styled it with white tennis shoes instead. It's a look I've always been quite fond of on other people but never actually tried myself, and anyway it was time I dug out those plain white tennis shoes (I have lots in all different colours but the white ones had been relegated to the back of the wardrobe for some reason).

Something I realised the other day about wearing vintage: it never really dates (and yes, I realise I'm a bit slow on that point). Unlike new pieces that are working this year's trend (which can look a little "last year" when you wear them the following season), vintage pieces are never totally on trend in the first place, so they rarely go out of fashion. This skirt was bought from eBay a few years ago and I still love it - you can see two very different ways I've styled it here and here. I've been scouring the interwebs for similar printed midi skirts that have a vintage look to them (see my selection at the end of the post), and my favourite is this gorgeous Santorini print midi skirt from Chicwish - a total bargain at less than 30 quid.


Do you have any vintage pieces that you bring out year after year? What are your secrets to styling them - and do you agree with me that they never really date? Let me know in the comments!


Blue tank, vintage skirt and tennis shoes #summer #style
Blue layered tanks and vintage printed skirt #summer #style
Blue layered tanks and vintage printed skirt #summer #style
Catherine x
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P.S. If you want to see all the vintage pieces I've worn on the blog, why not follow my My Style - Vintage board on Pinterest? You'll notice the same pieces have been styled many different ways :)

Skirt: Vintage, Tanks: Topshop / F+F Clothing at Tesco, Tennis shoes: Unknown (old), Ray-Bans: c/o Sunglasses Shop, Hairband: Accessorize, Watch: Asos. Check out these midi beauties - great vintage-style skirts you can buy online now!





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Wednesday, 23 July 2014

What 3 Years of Blogging Has Taught Me | My Bloggiversary (and Birthday!)

What 3 Years Blogging Has Taught Me
Here we are again, another year on: Happy Birthday to me, Happy Birthday to my blog! Not Dressed As Lamb is three years old today (aww), and I'm 42 today. Though I have been saying for months that I'm 42 - some of you may know I can't bear my age being an odd number and 41 just sounded horrid. Good riddance, odd numbered age!

I thought I'd reflect on my three years as a blogger and share with you what those years of blogging has taught me - which is quite a lot, both about myself and about others. There's some facts, there's some musings, and there's some wonders. Please do share any similar thoughts in the comments or on Twitter with me (@notlamb) - I'd love to hear from you! 


Enjoy.


Statistics up to my third bloggiversary

  • I've published over 600 posts (this is number 605), of which 429 have been outfit posts.
  • I estimate that over 50,000 photographs have been taken of me. Time for some housekeeping on the out-takes on the hard drive I think.
  • There have been three blog designs in that time, with countless tweaks along the way.
  • My Bloglovin followers after one year of blogging totalled 140. My Bloglovin followers after three years of blogging total nearly 4,000. I've learnt how to market myself.
  • I started a Google Plus account a year ago and now have 1,800 people following me there - I've had 9 million Google+ page views apparently. Google+ is popular, and makes total SEO sense.
  • Six months into the blog I asked whether I should be Tweeting or not (that post makes for amusing reading now); I now have over 3,000 Twitter followers and I use it as my number one platform to promote my blog and make friends.
  • Not Dressed As Lamb has had over 1.6million page visits. That's utterly incredible (and totally mind-blowing).

(Please don't think I've given these statistics to brag; I'm saying that with hard work and a commitment to blog, dramatic increases in followers and activity can be done organically - without resorting to buying followers or annoying others with "follow for follow" requests!)


My best advice to anyone starting a blog

Before you do anything, choose a name for your blog. Make it catchy, make it reasonably short (maximum 15 characters*), make it original, make it say something about you. Ensure the exact same name is available across all social media channels, from blog to Twitter to Facebook to Instagram - and stick with it. If someone else is using that name on any platform - choose a different one. You need to be unique and not be confused with anyone else.

This is the only thing that I'd advise you take plenty of time over, as it's a pain in the proverbial to change all of them later. My best advice to anyone starting a blog: Choose a catchy name [that's] available across all channels, from the dot.com to Twitter to Facebook to Instagram. Use www.namecheckr.com to check its availability everywhere.

MY BEST ADVICE TO ANYONE STARTING A BLOG: CHOOSE A CATCHY NAME [THAT'S] AVAILABLE ACROSS ALL CHANNELS, FROM THE DOT.COM TO TWITTER TO FACEBOOK TO INSTAGRAM.

Secondly, if you're going the simple route and using Blogger as your blog host, create a Google email address (Gmail) with your new blog name FIRST, then use that to create your blog and sign up to all your social media accounts with that email. Things would have been a whole lot easier for me had I known to do it that way.

*the maximum length of a username on Twitter



The very best thing about blogging (above all else)

I think most established bloggers would agree with me when I say it's the blogging community and the friendships you make when you blog that are the very best thing - and they're right. But just edging ahead of bloggy friends, for me, are the odd moments when you receive a wonderful, thoughtful email that a total stranger has taken the time to send you. If any bloggers reading this have ever received an email like this, you'll know exactly what I mean.

I received the following the other day... I've omitted her name with the opening line to keep her anonymous, but it sums up everything that makes this blogging lark so utterly, utterly rewarding:



"I'm in my mid-entering-late-30s, and I used to be somewhat of a fashion-challenged person. Well, not any more. From some time ago I started to take better care of my appearance, and now I love to look for inspiration in fashion blogs that give off a certain vibe I can relate to: not too eccentric, definitely not boring, but everyday flattering style that looks chic, and most important, that fits me.

"Most blogs on my list, while awesome, were targeting a younger audience - fashion tends to do that - and I felt a little out of place for liking things I knew I wouldn't pull off like a 20-something would. What was the point of seeing all these amazing choices if on the other hand I was being bombarded with the old 'age-appropriate' stigma. So I started wandering around the blogosphere. I knew it was not all mumsy clothes (I don't even have kids), because I see celebrities much older looking amazing, but I wanted to see real women with real responsibilities going that extra mile to look fabulous in their day-to-day routine. I wanted to know their secret (yes, and downright copy them).
"The important lesson I learned from you was that if it fits me in every way (my body, my confidence, my circumstances), then I'll walk out the door in it.

"THE IMPORTANT LESSON I LEARNED FROM YOU WAS THAT IF IT FITS ME IN EVERY WAY (MY BODY, MY CONFIDENCE, MY CIRCUMSTANCES), THEN I'LL WALK OUT THE DOOR IN IT"

"And that's when I came across your blog, and an interesting thing happened. I saw this gorgeous red-haired woman who was embracing some of the bold choices I thought were out of my reach, and she was rocking those choices and looking her best (granted, though, you have a face and body that'd look good in anything). 
"I mean, sandals with socks? A Bowie t-shirt? Was that allowed? And it hit me: fashion doesn't elude us once we hit a certain number. It doesn't have to be gray and nude colors and the same hairstyle; fashion wants to be played with, but she - fashion is a 'she', if you ask me - needs a strong companion to put up with her. She's a woman with a huge ego saying 'You think you can handle me? Let's see how bold and confident you are'. And you nail that, you really do. 

"AND IT HIT ME: FASHION DOESN'T ELUDE US ONCE WE HIT A CERTAIN NUMBER. IT DOESN'T HAVE TO BE GRAY AND NUDE COLORS AND THE SAME HAIRSTYLE; FASHION WANTS TO BE PLAYED WITH, BUT SHE - FASHION IS A 'SHE', IF YOU ASK ME - NEEDS A STRONG COMPANION TO PUT UP WITH HER."

"Not all of your looks had me head-over-heels, but most did and it's a matter of preference. The important lesson I learned from you was that if it fits me in every way (my body, my confidence, my circumstances), then surely I'll walk out the door in it.

"I wanted to say thank you in a more concise way, but seeing how long this turned out to be I'm just glad I didn't do it in your comments section. I really appreciate the time and effort you put into your blog to help us out when we're wondering if stripes and polka dots go together. I'm learning to look in the mirror for an honest answer and go with it, with a full smile and full of confidence.

Thank you".

Lump in your throat, anyone?

That's what makes it all worthwhile. To think that I've inspired someone just by the simple act of getting dressed, taking pictures of my outfits and putting them on the internet is utterly priceless. Nothing prepares you for amazing, touching words like that. I've had a few emails and messages along similar lines over the last three years, and they never, ever fail to pull at my heart strings.


From the shortest, sweetest tweets to the longest, heartfelt emails, I appreciate every single one of these kind words and will never cease to be surprised at how me going about my everyday business and sharing a little bit of it online can inspire and delight others. 

So if I can do it, anyone can - it doesn't matter about the method used or the message that's being given. Just get out there and share the things you enjoy with others. You'll be amazed whose day you might brighten.


(Oh and if you leave me a comment or Tweet me you'll make my day, because it's my birthday - just in case I didn't shout it loud enough ;)




Catherine

P.S. You might like to read a couple of early posts: 10 Things I Wish I'd Been Told When I Started a Blog, and 10 Things I Wish I'd Known Six Months Into My Blog. Funny looking back at them now...!

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Monday, 21 July 2014

How to Wear a Crop Top in Your Forties | The Boxy Crop Top

Stripey crop top and rolled hem jeans
It's summer, and that means one thing when it comes to the crop top trend: is it appropriate to wear a crop top in your 40s or over? Many of you may remember me wearing a crop top last year (and I won't be going into the whole debate again!), but as someone who believes that as long as the clothes are appropriate to the occasion and you feel good in something, then wear whatever you bloomin' well choose

This year I'm loving the boxy crop tops - for 2014 the on-trend style seems to be a looser boxy shape as opposed to last year's tight tops - and this nautical style striped crop top ticks all the summer boxes for me. I did order the matching skirt as well because I was longing for some co-ords, but ohhhhhhh no... my large waist-to-hip ratio distorted the vertical stripes on the skirt and it did not look good on me (you need to be straight-up-and-down for that style). Goes to show I don't always know what's going to suit me every time!


The top did look much better, however, styled very simply with my skinny flares rolled up with a super-deep hem, tan accessories and my gorgeous visor-style Ray-Ban 3471 sunglasses in purple and silver (which you may have seen on my Instagram feed). As well as loving the style, they're great for driving as you don't have a thick frame blocking your view and yet a lot of sun is filtered because there's so much lens.


Have you dared to try the boxy crop top trend if you perhaps didn't feel the tight versions of last year were right for you? Do you still make any fashion faux-pas choosing things that you think will suit you - only to find you got it all wrong like I did with the skirt? Do share in the comments!


Stripey crop top and rolled hem jeans

Stripey crop top and rolled hem jeans
Ray-Ban 3471s in purple and silver
Striped boxy top
Nautical striped top
Don't forget to enter my initial necklace giveaway (your choice of gold or silver) from Onecklace!

oNecklace initial necklace giveaway
Catherine x
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P.S. You can see how I've worn crop tops before herehere and here to judge for yourself whether it's got anything to do with age...!

Top: c/o Front Row Shop, Jeans: Asos, Sandals: Asos (old), Ray-Bans: c/o Sunglasses Shop, Bag: c/o La Redoute, Watch: Asos. I've found a selection of skinny flare and bootcut jeans that I think would work equally well rolled with a deep hem as I've done with my Asos Lennox jeans (hopefully these will suit most colour preferences and budgets):






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