Beginner's DSLR Photography for Fashion Blogs

fashion photog edit
I'll be the first to admit that my photography isn't always top notch, especially my fashion photos as they're usually taken using a tripod and self timer which is why I very frequently end up with blurry pictures of myself trying to hurry along to the spot where I've focused my camera and not quite making it in time! Not that you'll ever see these pictures, although I should probably do another bloopers post sometime - comedy material like that shouldn't go to waste!
I have been taking photos for this blog for nearly 5 years now, so I thought that somewhere along the way I've probably picked up a few tips - I mean, I went from this to this (Nov 2010 & Now)
Before/After fashion photography
I've owned my DSLR for about 3 years now and have collected a bit of equipment around it, so I don't really use a good old point and shoot anymore (aside from that time Canon kept my camera hostage for months at a time while they attempted to fix it...). Because of that, this post will focus on how I use my camera and the equipment I have (nothing fancy, I promise!). I'm only going to give a few tips, and they're not necessarily going to be the most groundbreaking, earth-shattering things you're going to hear, but they're what works for me at this time and what I've slowly picked up.
So, here's my little camera kit - I do own a few other bits and pieces, but they don't feature frequently in my "fashion photography" (ie. outfit photos):

Canon Rebel T3/EOS 1100D - this model is now discontinued as there are newer upgrades (ie. Canon EOS 1200D)
Canon Kit Lens 18-55mm - f/3.5-5.6
Canon Portrait Lens 50mm, f/1.8 (my favourite to use)
Canon Zoom Lens 75-300mm, f/4.0-5.6
Canon camera bag

1. Don't take it too seriously

The first thing everyone will tell you is to take your camera of "auto", but unless they went straight into doing a photography class or already knew a bit about what they were doing, I'll bet the first picture they took was on auto. Don't feel too stressed about learning how to use every single feature on your camera straight away. For me, the quality of moving from my old point and shoot to my Canon was so different, that even auto mode looked amazing; take a look at the pictures below, the first was taken with my old point and shoot, the second a month later with my Canon. This isn't to say that if you have a fashion blog you must go and buy a DSLR - of course, everyone's priorities are different, but for me, I wanted to learn how to use a camera better and I had an upcoming trip to Greece that I wanted amazing pictures from, so it made all the difference. The pictures below show an image from a point and shoot (on the left) and my DSLR (on the right) within a month of each other - I hadn't yet learnt many settings, and I didn't have a fancy lens, but you can see how the quality, even on auto, makes a big difference:
dslr vs normal

2. Learn your way around your camera

Take a few pictures on auto, then take the plunge and spin that dial. I'd recommend starting on a "semi-auto" mode such as macro - you'll have a bit more freedom to change settings, but things won't go completely wrong, not that it matters if they do - all that will happen if you go wrong is you'll end up with something like an overexposed (too bright) or underexposed (too dark) picture which you can delete and try again.
Once you're comfortable with using those, try going manual. There isn't actually much scary about this once you've figured out all what all the numbers and letters mean. Brief list of the different camera modes:

A/Av: Aperture Priority


This prioritises Aperture (see below), meaning you choose the amount of light to let into the lens, which allows you to keep a background in focus ("large depth of field") or make it blurry ("shallow depth of field"). It's useful for fashion photography (with a blurry background to focus on the subject) and landscapes (getting the whole scene in focus). This is the setting I use most on my camera for outfit photos and fashion photography. With my portrait lens on, I set the F stop to around f/1.8 up to f/2.2, make sure the white balance is right and mostly just leave the ISO and shutter speed (which is auto on this mode).

Tv/S: Shutter Priority

This prioritises Shutter Speed (see below), meaning how long the shutter stays open and how much light comes in (you can hear the shutter on DSLRs making a "click-clunk" sound as it opens and closes). It's useful for capturing moving wildlife or sports (with a short shutter speed so it doesn't blur), to blur moving objects (ie. waterfalls) or when it's dark (to get maximum light).

P: Program

You can set either the aperture or shutter speed, and the camera will deal with the exposure for you automatically.

M: Manual

You have full control over both the aperture and shutter speed as well as the ISO (see below). You will need to balance them correctly depending on the setting you're in to get the correct exposure, so that it is light enough and the focus is how you want it.

So there are a few words there you might not know if you're a beginner DSLR user; here are the important ones and the very basics of what they mean and what they do:

Aperture 

(comes from the Latin meaning "opening"...sorry, had to thrown that in there :/) How much light is let into the lens, thus how blurry the background is. This is measured in F Stops, which are the numbers you see that look like this: f/1.8. The lower the number, the blurrier the background. All you need to know for now! 

Shutter Speed 

How long the shutter stays open, which allows more or less light into the lens. A slower speed (ie. 1/25) will allow more light in if the scene is dark or will help to blur the scene (ie. waterfalls). A quicker shutter speed (ie. 1/250) will let in less light for bright places and to capture moving subjects without blur.

ISO 

How sensitive the camera is to light. Most DSLRs will deal with this themselves so you don't need to worry too much. Use a lower ISO, around 100 or 200 in bright outdoor scenes, or 400-800 if it's cloudy. A higher ISO will make a picture grainy but is useful in low light conditions. Try to use the lowest ISO possible for your lighting, but the camera will try to do this for you on most settings.

Focus

A DSLR will have an autofocus and a manual focus switch (usually on the lens). Stick to autofocus as much as possible to start with (and further on too!) to make life easier. You hold the shutter button half way while lining up the subject where you want them in the frame, wait for the small beep or flash of red light from the focus point dots in the viewfinder which means it's found its focus point, then click the button all the way to take the photo.

White Balance

This affects the colour temperature of your photos. If it's set wrong, you may end up with bluish or orange toned photos. Your camera will have preset modes such as "Daylight", "Cloudy" and "Shade" which are self-explanatory, and "Tungsten", inside lighting that gives a yellow tone, and "Fluorescent", inside lighting with a green or blue tone. Simply choose what the lighting is like around you, and the camera will compensate it giving you more natural tones. You can set it manually if you want, but even professionals don't always do this.

3. Choose your pieces of kit

Once you've figured out how your camera works for you, you'll want to start thinking about what "extras" you might want to make your fashion photography a bit easier. For me, there are a couple of necessities for taking outfit photos: a tripod and a portrait lens.
If you take photos by yourself, or even if you want to take product photos with a steadier hand, a tripod is worth buying. Yes, you may feel a bit silly out in the street with a tripod, but it's better than balancing it on a wall or pile of books! My tripod is an old one, but a simple one is only cheap to pick up. I started off with a little GorillaPod which is super handy wherever you go in case of uneven flooring, but I'd also recommend one with sturdy adjustable legs for outfit photography - I think mine is the second on this page, but any of those are great.
My second piece of kit that I always use is my portrait lens. It's the Canon Portrait Lens 50mm, f/1.8 and is perfect for fashion photography, nature shots, portraits (obviously), and, well, I pretty much use it for everything! It has a fixed zoom (50mm), which is fairly close, so not perfect for close quarters like a small dining table. But its selling point is the F stop of f/1.8, which means you get that blurry background that all the fashion bloggers love. My Canon came with a kit lens, which is great for everyday use when you want to change your zoom length, but doesn't give you the blurry background to such an extent.
I'd also recommend getting a camera bag too to keep your bits and pieces safe and undamaged. I have the Canon camera bag which Ben bought me and fits in all my lens along with my camera and battery charger as well as a few other things I haven't mentioned here (filters, a flash and a remote). Really it's just important to ensure your camera is safe, so all it needs is a fairly padded inside and the ability to stay fairly dry. It doesn't necessarily need to be a branded one like your camera, for example, the AmazonBasics camera bag would work just fine.

4. Check out some online tutorials

There's only so much you can figure out on your own, so it's worth taking a look at the tutorials that are already out there to save yourself a bit of time. I keep my favourite tutorials and inspiration in a Photography folder on Pinterest. Here are just a few I've found useful in the past:


5. Practise, practise, and practise a bit more

There are loads of other things that you can learn about how to use your camera - all the different modes, fancy things you can do, learning how to get your pictures physically better by using fancy studio lighting and external flashes. But before you delve into all of that, there's one simple thing to do: practise. Learn how to frame your photos best for your subject and your surroundings. Experiment with natural lighting for fun shots, such as ones which are backlit (with the sun behind the subject for a silhouetted look). Focus on something unexpected so that your subject is blurry. Just try everything; you might end up discovering an angle that works perfectly for what you're trying to show off. And once you've got all the basics down (I know I still haven't!), then delve into the more complicated and expensive bits of kit, but remember that throwing heaps of money at something isn't necessarily going to give you the perfect shot; practice will do.
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Sewing: Eiffel Dress

Eiffel Tower dress
Sew Your Own Wardrobe Shift Dress
Tartan Shift Dress: Handmade (from Great British Sewing Bee book; fabric: Market Stall) | Cardigan: ASOS | Tights: M&S | Boots: F&F
As you may know, I've got into sewing big time recently. It took me a while to make my first dress (which I haven't yet worn on the blog), but I'm now able to trace out a pattern and knock up a dress lazily over a couple of days - if I really wanted to, I think I could do it in a day now! My favourite one I've made so far has been my tartan shift dress from the Great British Sewing Bee book - I've already worn it several times and it hasn't fallen apart yet! There's a full skirted version of it too which uses the same bodice but with sleeves and a full skirt, and I've made that with gingham fabric (coming soon to the blog!). A couple of weekends ago I wanted to sew something, but I didn't want to have too much faffing around starting something entirely new and needing to trace out a pattern, so I pulled out my shift dress one again along with this Eiffel Tower fabric that I got for £5/m off a little fabric stall I came across in York. I'd also picked up some black bias binding in Hobbycraft since I love the look of it when it's exposed on necklines and armholes, and gave that a good go for the first time. Since I'd already made the pattern once for this and once for the full skirted version, it was a little bit easier, and turned out really well I think! Ben says it's his favourite of the dresses I've made, while I still prefer my tartan one. I was really impressed with my bias binding since it came out really neatly in the end, and even though it's fiddly in places, I think I'll definitely do it again.
Unfortunately while the fabric is kind of awesome with its Eiffel Tower print, it's not the greatest quality ever because it goes super creasy very quickly! I wore the dress at work for the day and ended up with all the creases you can see here across the hips and thighs where I was sitting - never mind!
Great British Sewing Bee Shift Dress
Handmade dress
As usual, I've been pretty busy doing all sorts of random things! As I said on Twitter today, despite seemingly doing a thousand things with my life, including full time work, running various blogs and social media accounts, choir (we have a concert this weekend that I'm doing the soprano solo for!), Brownies and sewing, I always want to do more. So I've now decided I'm going to write an eBook - it was a bit of a spur of the moment thing, but something I've considered for a while. I suddenly hit on a topic in my head, and during my drive home from work I had the outline of it planned out in my head. I'm 1200 words into the introduction now and have the skeleton of it prepared, so let's see how that goes! In other news, we're still on the house hunt, but things are moving forward a little bit right now. I'm not going to go into detail yet because, of course, things may not move any further ahead, but it means I've got even more on my plate right now!
I had a lovely weekend too. It was my cousin Mollie's fourth birthday (remember when she was only a month old?!) on Friday so we went round to them with my family and spent the evening playing with her and 18 month old Eva - it consisted of a lot of Frozen, a lot...not that I'm complaining, but I'm not sure how everyone else felt about that! Then it was my sister's birthday on Saturday, so I went to their house that morning and spent the day with my family over at Whitby and Sandsend - we walked on the beach, ate waffles and played the 2p machines in the amusements (again!), and it was lovely. Ben joined us in the evening to go out for a meal at a local pub - I ended up eating a "Yorkshire Hotpot" which was a giant Yorkshire pudding filled with beef and gravy and topped with potatoes - it was as awesome as it sounds!
Eiffel Shift Dress
Shift dress with black tights
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What To Wear To A Wedding

what to wear to a wedding
Can you tell I've recently discovered how to use PicMonkey (I know, not that difficult, but I never bothered before!) with all my little graphics on posts recently?! Pretty impressed with my new skillz!
Anyway, on with the post! I've suddenly reached that time in my life where my friends are getting married and having babies - some people seem to be horrified at this and hate seeing their Facebook timelines packed with weddings and children, but to be honest I love it! Deciding on what to wear for a wedding though can be a little bit of a struggle, even with all the clothes I have packed into my wardrobe (ahem, on the floor...). There are a lot of factors to consider, so much so that it almost outweighs the stress of what to buy for a wedding present! You never want to look like you tried too hard, but you do want the effort you put in to be appreciated. It’s exhausting. But with a few simple ideas, you can show up looking appropriate, comfortable, and fabulous.

Coast Tulia Dress, tights, heels

Pick One Statement Piece

Guests often think that they have to dress modestly for weddings so as not to outshine the bride. While this is somewhat true, it doesn’t mean that you have to show up looking like a beige blob. A little bit of colour and sparkle is welcome at a wedding! Pick one thing, like a dazzling necklace, or a bold dress to wear to the wedding. The rest of the outfit should be relatively modest, but one statement piece will be a way to show off your sense of style without outshining the bride.

IMG_3766

Shop Your Own Wardrobe 

With the many brides nowadays that opt for a second-hand wedding gown from Gumtree.com or online wedding sites like preownedweddingdresses.com (which I totally approve of - I've spotted many a preloved dress in perfect condition at like half the price it would have originally been!), it is completely appropriate to bring a little bit of your own established wardrobe to the party.
You can absolutely wear something you already own and dress it up to fit the occasion. Have a pair of boots you totally love? Pair it with a mid-thigh sundress for a cute country-Americana look. Wear anything from your closet that makes you feel comfortable and happy and class it up to make everyone happy.
You could even find a nice dress at a charity shop. If you need something new, but are a bit strapped, there are loads of places to grab a bargain - I even picked up my shoes for my graduation (pictured above) at a charity shop the day before (talk about leaving it till last minute - oops!).

Hell Bunny Poppy Dress

Echo the Colour Scheme and Wedding Theme

Pay attention to the save-the-date, invitation, and wedding website for any common colour themes. If you notice any similar colours used by the couple, try to honour their special day by showing your support in your outfit. You don’t have to be a cheerleader for their wedding and dress head to toe in their theme; just one or two nice pieces will do. Such a small effort will go a long way with the bride and groom and will ensure you're not looking like the odd one out. It's popular to have themes at weddings now, and 50s style is one I've heard of a lot, so the poppy printed Hell Bunny dress (above) would work ideally for that.

Pastel tulle skirt outfit

Consider the Venue

Think about the actual location of the wedding, as well as whether the wedding and reception will be indoors or outdoors. Church weddings call for respectful attire; nothing strapless or too short, and I like to make sure my shoulders are covered just in case. Outdoor weddings, however, are much more casual and are a great place to wear your favourite sundress or a floaty skirt like this one that you wouldn't usually consider for a big white wedding day. Indoor weddings are a bit more sophisticated, so a nice cocktail dress or strapless gown may be the way to go for something so intimate.

Blue Floral Dress

Keep it Classic

If you’re still stressing out about what to wear, the best thing to do is just to wear something timeless and classic. Look in your wardrobe for a basic outfit that will cover the required dress code. From there, you can spruce up your outfit in multiple ways and look as though you spent hours putting together the look.
As long as you wear something appropriate and do your best to showcase your own personal style, there’s only one thing left to do: put on a smile and have a great time. 

OOTD, outfit of the day, NOTD, nails, cardigan, floral dress, flats

Consider the Weather

This is probably a major one for most people - whether it's a spring, summer, autumn or winter wedding, you really need to be in the right attire. Not necessarily to "match" the colours of the season, but because you'll end up freezing or sweltering if you get it wrong! If it's a winter church wedding, or held in a marquee outside, make sure you've got something to use as a cover up so your arms aren't getting chilly, and even consider wearing a pair of tights under your skirt or dress too. For a summer wedding, you've pretty much got free reign, but do bear in mind that rain (there was a bit of a pun there!) can happen any time, so ensure you're covered on all bases, maybe keep a pair of flats in your handbag in case your stilettos disagree with the muddy ground!




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Weekly Wishlist: Boden (25-30% off!)

Saying "Weekly Wishlist" isn't strictly true, particularly since I already posted an ASOS casino style wishlist this week, but I came across a code for 25% off at Boden on Facebook, plus they've got a load of stuff at 30% off anyway at the moment, so I decided to do another to curb my desires for, well, basically everything on their site. I've always loved Boden pieces but haven't actually bought anything directly from them (yet...). Their clothes have always had a sort of "grown up" feel to them - it feels like the type of place teachers, GPs and professionals would shop for something that's still pretty and stylish but slightly more modest and practical for a work setting. Unfortunately, I still have a tendency to buy cheaper clothes rather than going for better quality - I'm working on this at the moment, and saving towards buying more expensive but higher quality clothes that are more classic and will last me longer. But in the meantime, I'm trying to keep my money as close to me as possible with Christmas coming up plus our current house hunting journey. So instead of putting everything into my basket and purchasing, I decided to make a wishlist instead in the hopes that will appease me (unlikely - it is entirely possible that you will find me opening a Boden parcel at the end of the week...).



003: Hattie Top (30% off)

004: Lois Skirt (30% off)




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My Top 12: Disney World Attractions (Part 2)

Welcome To Disney
I recently posted about my Top 12 Disney World attractions, but as you may remember, that was only part 1! I just couldn't keep myself brief on what I was writing, and I'd already upped the list from the usual "Top 10" to a "Top 12", then I accidentally added honorable mentions, so of course, it had to be in two parts!
I kept part 1 to current attractions, ie. ones that are still running and are newer. Part 2 is what I'm calling "nostalgic" attractions - some of these are running still, and will likely be for a long time as they're "classics", but some have sadly closed down now *cry*. I wanted to include them in my list though as they're part of my Disney experience over the years and are still what I'd describe as my favourite rides. Generally what makes all these rides "nostalgic" for me though is that I remember them clearly from when I was little and visited Disney, so that means these attractions (if they still exist, which is mentioned in their descriptions!) are all perfect for kids and families.
Enjoy!

Spaceship Earth (Epcot)

Spaceship Earth 3
Spaceship Earth 2
spaceship earth
Spaceship Earth is Epcot's iconic attraction - you quite likely recognise the giant sparkling ball even if you're not a Disney fan! What some people don't realise though is that it contains a ride inside that big ball, and it's one of my old favourites. This is most certainly not one for thrills and is more educational than anything! The style of it reminds me of Tomorrowland in Magic Kingdom. You climb into a "time machine" ride vehicle and ascend through a tunnel of twinkling stars where your picture is taken (to be used later...!). Dame Judi Dench then narrates your journey through time based on human influence and communication - how these have shaped the world we live in. You see everything from Neanderthals to ancient Greeks and Romans, Michelangelo, the introduction of radio and television, right up to the present day. The culmination of the ride takes you out into space to view our "Spaceship Earth" from above, surrounded by stars. As you head back to earth, the screen in front of you asks questions about what you like, where you'd like to live etc. in future, then your "tomorrow" pops up in the ride car for you to see, complete with the picture you took at the beginning slotted into place on the depiction of you in your "future" outfit - a pretty awesome feature (see above)! You'll also be placed on a map in Project Tomorrow when you exit the ride, so make sure to pull a nice face (unlike my rather witty father!!).

Ellen's Energy Adventure AKA Universe of Energy, or to me, Ellen's Dinosaur Ride (Epcot)


Universe of Energy, Epcot
universe of energy
There really isn't that much exciting about this, and Ben admitted to me that he didn't think it was very good, but I love it! You first enter the pre-ride theatre room where you are surrounded by screens on which Ellen Degeneres pops up, telling you about a recent dream she had in which she was a contestant on Jeopardy (flashbacks and interruptions all included!) up against her old college room mate (played by Jamie Lee Curtis) and Einstein, with "energy" themed questions. Bill Nye the Science Guy intervenes though, telling how important energy is, then we follow him into the next room...Guests are seated in blocks of seating, watch another short film in which Bill Nye sends Ellen (and us with him) back in time to find where energy came from, and suddenly, the seats begin to move forward! When I was little, I remember the shock of this, finding out that you're actually in a huge ride vehicle! You're taken through a prehistoric scene filled with dinosaurs, with Ellen and Bill Nye animatronics up to no good exploring the landscape. Eventually you head back to the original room, watch the scene where Bill explains everything about energy to Ellen, and finally Ellen beats her nemesis at Jeopardy. Obviously a very outright educational attraction, but there's just something nostalgic about it for me!

Honorable Mention: Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress in Magic Kingdom has to get a mention somewhere in here. It's not the most exciting ride ever, but it's one I remember right back from when I was 6 (along with the People Mover, which is to most people probably just as unexciting!). The Carousel of Progress was designed by Walt himself for the 1964-65 World Fair and moved to the Magic Kingdom in 1975. It's pretty advanced for its age - guests sit in a revolutionary (literally!) theatre which revolves around a stationary stage, taking you through the decades in a family household, narrated by the father figure animatronic who ends each segment with the theme song: "There's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow" which will stay in your head all day (but don't worry, because it's awesome!).

Maelstrom (Norway, Epcot) plus the film afterwards


Maelstrom Troll
Troll in the Maelstrom/Norway shop
Maelstrom 2
Maelstrom
This is a bittersweet entry because it has literally just closed this month! As you might know, Epcot is home to the World Showcase, a series of countries set around the "sea" (the lake), including Britain, Morocco, Mexico, Japan and Canada among several others. Don't ask me to choose my favourite of those, I tried that the other day and was unsuccessful, but Norway is definitely up there! The Maelstrom queue was definitely not the most inspiring, but there is (/was?!) a pretty awesome Hidden Mickey in there (hint: check out the Viking boat on the wall). Guests embark on a small boat which heads off into the dark Fjords, rivers and woods of Norway. Basically, you travel through an awe inspiring landscape, and almost topple off the edge of a waterfall which you can see from outside the attraction where boats appear every 30 seconds or so. The attraction ends with something most people tend to jump off and ignore - you disembark into a scene set up as a small Norwegian fishing town, which really has extraordinary attention to detail. You then head through a small theatre (which many bypass) that shows a short film about the country of Norway that I actually love - not sure why because it's nothing special, but really just has that old fashioned Disney feel to it.
Maelstrom is currently being replaced by a Frozen themed ride, and as much as I loved it, I'm excited to see the new version. I'm hoping it will be pretty much the same ride, just with a few new modifications, and please don't let my favourite film at the end change!

Honorable Mention: An honorable mention must go here to the Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros which is very similar in parts to It's A Small World, but is the only other World Showcase ride and is also in a boat. The Mexico Pavilion in which it's located is also stunning, designed as an outdoor market street in a Mexican town in an eternal twilight/night.

Honey, I Shrunk The Audience (Epcot, in days gone by)




Still sobbing over here because this is another closed attraction, and has been gone for longer than I'd care to think about now (it was replaced by Captain EO in 2010, which is definitely far from being in my favourites list!). It was part of the once very popular Honey, I Shrunk the Kids film series, and was basically just a 4D film where we as the audience are shrunk by inventor, Wayne Szalinski . It included some pretty awesome effects such as feeling mice running beneath you (I was too small to feel this the first time and didn't know what everyone was laughing about!), a dog sneezing on you (and yes, you got wet!), a toddler lifting the entire building up (you felt it shake) and a seemingly giant (to the tiny audience) snake about to eat you! Much more interesting than Captain EO (can you see I have a thing about that?!).

Muppet Vision 3D (Disney's Hollywood Studios/MGM)


Muppet Vision 3D 2
Muppet Vision 3D
Ah, Muppet Vision! Now this is almost a nostalgic attraction, but it's still going and, really, just as current today as it ever was. You cram into the pre-show room and grab a pair of 3D glasses (but don't put them on yet!) filled with props for the Muppets' show (look around and read the jokes on them again - there are always a few "hidden" things in Disney queues which will keep you occupied), then the preshow begins on the monitors around the room, introducing you to the show you're about to see. You then file into the very luxurious theatre where Kermit on screen begins to give you a tour of the Muppet Studios, jam packed with awesome 3D effects - as I've said already, no one does 3D like Disney, you honestly sometimes feel like you can reach out and touch the things flying out of the screen! The effects also translate to real life, with bubbles floating down from the ceiling at points, and a cannon blowing the place apart. It's a typical laugh out loud Muppets show, and you're guaranteed to love it.

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Fur Collar & Cuffs

Fur collar coat
Fur cuffed coat
This is a pretty typical outfit for me at the moment, at least the part of it you can see! My daily coat at the moment is this one from Miss Selfridge. Yes, in reality it is way over the top for every day wear and looks more like something you'd only wear for nice outings, but I don't do things like that - I prefer to look overdressed every day! I grabbed it (literally, I'm not just using one of those fashion blogger terms for funsies - I grabbed it because I was worried it would disappear suddenly) when I was shopping in Scarborough with my sister. There was a coat from Miss Selfridge a few years ago which was similar, but I was at uni at the time and it was far too expensive for my poor student budget, but it's been on my mind ever since. I'd been hoping this would finally be the year I'd find one similar, with a fur collar and cuffs and a nice skirted style on the bottom, so this was like the coat from my dreams, hence why I never take it off. Add on top of that that it has its own little belt too (which I occasionally accidentally throw across the office as I take it on and off...), it's definitely worth the price, even though it was a bit painful to part with that money on a whim! Miss Selfridge is definitely my favourite for coats at the moment - there was this one in cream too, but it seems to have disappeared off the website, a very similar one with a Peter Pan collar which is also available in black and a camel coloured one which is a similar shape but without the fur.
The boots are my latest part of my "winter uniform" - I had some vouchers from Clarks to put towards some boots, and discovered that they also had 20% off in store last weekend, so we made the trip down to York to make a decision. I'd spent a while before browsing the boots section on the website but hadn't made any decisions because they were all gorgeous, but I knew I wanted some tan or brown ones that were knee or thigh high, possibly with a little bit of a heel. I narrowed it down to the Lindley Charm and the Maymie Stellar, and finally decided on the Maymie ones (strange name!) because they were tighter on the calves and slightly more flattering. I've worn them for a couple of full days at work and they've been really comfortable, even when I wore them to walk the mile or so in and out of town. They've also got a bit of grip on the bottom which is very useful for me in autumn and winter! They are more expensive than I would usually go for, but I'd decided this year I wanted a really good pair of boots anyway, and they're definitely worth the price too.
Clarks boots
Fur collar & cuffs coat
So, how's life at the moment? Busy! As you know, I redid my blog design and layout recently which has really spurred me on to get creating some good posts rather than being so lazy! In addition to buying boots at the weekend, I also had a little cinema trip with my Brownies which was a lot of fun! I persuaded my sister to come along too since I was the only adult for my troop going. It was at a local cinema and we'd booked the whole place out for all the local Rainbow, Brownie and Guiding units, meaning it was packed full of little girls. And of course, we were watching Frozen, so there was plenty of singing going on! Only 4 girls went from my troop in the end, and they were all lovely ones that aren't any hassle too, so we grabbed an ice cream, got our seats and actually got to enjoy the film!
I've also been working hard on my sewing recently - I made another shift dress with the same pattern as the tartan one but in an Eiffel Tower print fabric with bias binding around the neck and sleeves (which I'm really pleased with!), a full skirted red gingham dress with the same bodice but different skirt, and I'm also planning a few other sewing projects at the moment - excited to get started! I've been practising a bit for my solo for choir too which is only a week away now, eek! I had to write a soloist bio to go in the programme and it was probably one of the most difficult things I've done - I hate writing about myself in things like that!
Yesterday we went to look at another house which actually turned out to be really lovely. I don't want to get too carried away because you never know how these things might go, but it's definitely going into the careful consideration file in my head. It's slightly more expensive than we'd like, but fortunately we're in a fairly good position financially right now as Ben has recently inherited a small amount (lucky we've never had any issues with will disputes like these!) and it sounds like the vendors might be willing to accept a lower offer too, but we'll see.
And final note, I haven't talked about this yet, but I've recently been having more troubles with illness with a lot of stomach pain and problems. I'll try not to go on, but you know how I get! I've never really suffered with stomach problems (gallbladder aside, but that's not really stomach), so I just kind of ignored it for a while. When it started to get more frequent, as in several times weekly, nothing awful but an annoying amount of stomach cramps, I decided I should probably get it checked out. And according to the doctors, I have a very classic case of IBS - it's something I've always been wary of as my mum suffers badly from it, and it runs in a lot of my family, but I hoped I'd steered clear of. Fortunately, I've got some tablets which seem to be helping, and even more fortunately, it's not that bad at all for me for the time being, so I'm hoping it stays this way! I just remember that it can't possibly be as bad as my gallbladder ever was!
Fur coat with boots
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Casino Christmas Wishlist

what to wear to a casino night
I've spoken recently a little bit about how I was having a bit of a blog identity crisis since I would only post if I had suitable pictures or something to say that was, to coin a popular blog phrase, "blogworthy." Since realising that I don't have to have the best things to say or show to you all the time, I'm feeling a lot happier with my blog, hence the huge stack of posts waiting! A lot of my free time at the moment has been taken up writing all sorts of different posts, and I'm excited to share them.
So here's the first of a new thing I've wanted to do for a while: a wishlist! I know, not groundbreaking, but I've always read them on other people's blogs and really enjoyed picking up tips about what people with similar style to me are loving right now, but thought that they wouldn't go down well on my blog. Since changing my ideas about blogging, I've decided that it doesn't matter whether it "goes down well" or not - it's my blog and I like these dresses.
Our work Christmas party is Casino themed again this year (last year's here), at the Old Swan hotel in Harrogate again, so even though I chose and bought my dress about two months ago (yep, organised for once!), it hasn't stopped me from scanning the shops for casino/Christmas-themed attire anyway. I've only ever once been to a casino before, which was actually a hotel we stayed at for one night, the River Rock Casino (which is pretty amazing) in Vancouver; my dad gave us like $10 each to spend and that was that (although my sister wanted more!), and he was the only one to win anything (so of course, he bought us tea that night!). I just know I'd end up spending all my savings, so for now, the pretend money at the casino-themed night will do for me.
I'm still kind of confused by all the rules surrounding the different games in casinos so I’ve been reading up in the glossary at Full Tilt. We got our menu for the Christmas Party the other day too, so it feels like it’s not that far away now! There wasn’t a lot of “casino” fashion going on at the River Rock. Sadly, most people were just stopping in on their way to dinner or seemed like they’d been there for days! So I didn’t really get a chance to dress up for that, although I did do my best. Here are my picks of what's out there at the moment for a fancy night out at the casino or a glitzy Christmas party:

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Okay, little confession - I may have already bought this dress, and I may be wearing it today. But it is totally dressed down with a slouchy red cardigan and flats, but with heels and a glitzy necklace, it's sleek and elegant for a Casino night.
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I do love a bit of embellishment on a dress, although I've never owned one quite as embellished as this - I feel like it would be a bit heavy?! But nevertheless, imagine rocking up in that to a Casino - you'd look and feel awesome.
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I'll let you in on a little secret - the Christmas party dress I've chosen has some similarities to this one - red and sequins, but I'll say no more! I think red is really the colour of both Casinos and Christmas, and you can't go wrong with sparkles.
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And finally, a super swishy gorgeous dress. Green is another of my favourite Christmas colours, it's got sparkles and embellishment on the neckline, and it's full length and elegant.

Have you got a Christmas party function you're going to this year and is there a theme? What are you planning to wear?



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How To Wear Midi Dresses In Winter

How to wear midi dresses in winter
In the past I used to wear super short skirts all the time. Okay, they weren't necessarily super short and it wasn't all the time, but a few years ago, barely a week would pass without seeing me in my old denim mini skirt or flared black skirt that skimmed my thighs (nice face there, Sian :/). A skirt that hit at or below the knees was definitely not a thing of style to me, aside from the occasional maxi dress for holidays. However, in recent years, especially since leaving uni, I've noticed my skirts getting longer and longer, and it's now rare to see me in a dress or skirt that sits too far above the knees. I've got rid of pretty much all of my old pieces that skim the thighs and feel far more comfortable in something a bit longer. It's not necessarily that I've become more "modest", I've just discovered that nowadays, longer lengths flatter my figure a bit more and balance me out, and who doesn't love a figure flattering look?!
There's only been one issue for me though, how are you supposed to wear midi lengths in winter?! I've seen plenty of uber cool bloggers and models rocking all sorts of looks with midi skirts, but not all of these are necessarily for me - some of them are wearing ankle boots (tends to make my legs look a little bit odd if the skirt is below the knee); some wearing over the knee boots (on me, where have my legs gone?!). The whole coat scenario is a different matter altogether - if your coat is just slightly longer than the dress or skirt, it looks a bit weird; if it's too short you get cold. If you wear black tights, your legs look funny again, but nude tights are usually not as thick. Ah, the trials and tribulations of dressing oneself!
I decided to take a look back through my archives at ways that I have managed to pull off the midi skirt in winter, but obviously these aren't absolute and are what have worked for me personally, so here are a few tips. I know that my dresses and skirts don't all technically qualify as a true "midi" length, which is mid-calf, but this is what I think of as midi:
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Ox Pasture Hall, Scarborough: Review

Ox Pasture Hall entrance
Ox Pasture Hall bedroom
Ox Pasture Hall Room
About a month ago, I was invited to stay at the Ox Pasture Hall hotel just outside Scarborough for an evening of good food, a bit of relaxation and just getting away for a night. We decided to book ourselves in to stay the night on Thursday 23rd October after a day at work, then we would both take Friday off (and Ben took Saturday off too, a proper weekend!) to wander around Whitby and Scarborough a bit. Despite both of us only living about 25 miles from Scarborough for pretty much our whole lives, we hadn't heard of Ox Pasture Hall, although my mum had as she'd been to a memorial service there once. The hotel is branded as a Country House Hotel offering relaxation and luxury, and that it did! It is actually constructed in an old farmhouse and its buildings, which give it fantastic character, especially with the courtyards and grounds.
We arrived after the sun had set, so unfortunately couldn't see a great deal of the hotel or its surroundings when we arrived, aside from the trees on either side of a steep valley that we meandered up to reach it. The hotel is situated in the North York Moors National Park, although the surroundings to me don't scream North York Moors as I know them - more woodland and fields, but still beautiful, especially in autumn when we visited. We were welcomed in at the reception warmly then led to our room, the Filey Suite - it seems that all the suites were named after local areas which is a lovely touch - through a couple of courtyards, with the restaurant and cosy lounge pointed out on our way through.
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