Evening Maxi Dress: Black & White Floral

Friday night was 'girl's night' out in my neighbourhood.  Not just any old 'girl's night out' but one to celebrate a special lady's 70th birthday.  The evening merited an outfit worthy of the occasion.

Floral Maxi Dress with Faux Leather Jacket

TallBrownFox and I have been very lucky that where we live now and at our last place, we know / have known our neighbours.  Not just known them, as in, we've smiled nervously at each other over the garden fence, but as in we've become friends, purposely hung out with each other down the pub, barbequed together, even been to each other's weddings.  I know, who has neighbours you actually like so much, you have them in your wedding photos?  FOREVER!

There's a long established tradition within my immediate neighbours that on big '0' birthdays and at Christmas, the girls go out for a meal to celebrate.  And a couple of times a year, the boys go out for a curry.  We're not talking Michelin-starred haute cuisine here, just local bistros where we can all enjoy each other's company, without having to sell one of our vital organs in order to foot the bill.

My business attire pretty much consists of wearing lycra and leggings (no, I'm not an aerial artiste for Cirque du Soleil), which doesn't allow for much creativity in the dressing department.  When I do go out, I like to be a little more stylish than opting for a great pair of jeans and a sparkly top.

Floral Maxi Dress with Faux Leather Jacket

My love affair with maxi dresses is ever growing.  Over the last couple of years, petite ranges have increased the variety on offer from casual / beach maxis to ones that wouldn't look out of place at a wedding.  This season, there are some uber stylish petite ones around.  When I saw this not-quite monochrome dress first appear in Debenhams' Petite Collection a few months ago, I thought how striking it looked but at £50, it struck too deep into my monthly budget.

I quietly bided my time and was duly rewarded.  Sales are getting earlier and earlier these days and 2 weeks ago, when it was barely mid-June, it was in the sale.  I swooped silently, like a kestrel descending upon it's prey.  A few clicks online and it was mine, at a more budget friendly £35.

Black and White Maxi Dress

Days are definitely warming up thankfully but evenings can still be chilly.  My petite, faux leather, waterfall jacket was perfect for that early evening dip in temperature.  The shorter length means the print of the dress is shown off to maximum effect and the jacket's snug fit doesn't bulk me out (which can so often happen when you're petite).  The zip pockets on the side add another focal point to the soft draping of the jacket's front.

Side view of Maxi Dress and Faux Leather Jacket

Once inside the restaurant, I just slipped off the jacket.  The dress is so comfortable to wear as the material gently drapes from under the bust.  Good thing too; not only were profiteroles consumed for dessert but one of the 'girls' had sneakily bought a birthday cake.  When the waiters brought it out to accompany tea and coffee at the end of the meal, candles blazing in the soft light of the room, the whole restaurant erupted into a hearty rendition of Happy Birthday.  Cue delight and embarrassment in equal measure from the birthday girl!

Front view of Floral Maxi Dress

Black and white, although crisp looking, can be a tad dull if you love colour, like me.  Although yellow isn't really my colour, I get away with it here as it's only in the centre of the flowers.  I love how the print is graphic style; it's as if the petals and their striations have been hand-drawn on the material.

Skirt of Floral Maxi Dress

You even get the detail of the stamens.  An epicentre of energy bursting outwards.

Close up of flower on Maxi Dress

I debated which necklace to wear.  In the end, I chose my multi-strand, faux pearl and glass bead, illusion necklace over a black one (try saying that mouthful after a few glasses of wine).  That evening I prefered how the pearls softened the dress slightly.  A more formal occasion, I'd have worn a jet black, beaded, waterfall necklace (not such a mouthful to say).

Illusion Faux Pearl and Glass Necklace

I even had time to pamper my feet with a mini home spa treatment.

I'm pleased to report neither nail varnish remover or nail varnish was spilt in the execution of the mini home spa treatment.

 Black Strappy Wedge Sandals

Wedges with maxis are like bread and butter; made for each other. 

Madam, your carriage awaits.  

Side view of Floral Maxi Dress

Special mention to TallBrownFox who commuted home earlier than normal to be in time to take the photographs for me before I nipped 2 doors down, for pre-restaurant fizz.  And extra special mention to the lovely B, who organised the whole evening single-handedly.

Floral Black & Cream Evening Maxi Dress: Debenhams Petite Collection
Faux Leather Waterfall Jacket: Dorothy Perkins Petite
Black Raffia Bag: Jones the Bootmaker, old
3 strand Necklace and Bracelet; old
Black Wedges: New Look last year

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Tropical Maxi Dress: Coral & Blue

Before we'd even booked the flights for our holiday to the South of France, I knew I would pack a maxi dress.  For the wonderful quality of light and ambience of the Riviera, my tropical print, coral and blue maxi dress was the only contender.

Maxi dress

I've been quietly collecting maxi dresses over the last couple of years as they're just so versatile and easy to wear.  I could have readily packed them all but luggage allowance dictated I could only take one (darn those airline restrictions!).  For some inexplicable reason, Tall Brown Fox was reticent, nay even territorial about allowing me to intrude into his luggage allowance!  Ah well, on this occasion, fortunately, I didn't have to draw lots to decide on which one to take.

We celebrated my mum-in-law's birthday when we were there.  She had long wanted to visit a couple of special villages; Tourrettes-sur-Loup and Saint Paul de Vence.  Both are reknown for their galleries and artistic connections.  Marc Chagall, the Russian-French artist lived in Saint Paul for almost 20 years, from 1966 until his death in 1985 and is buried in the village's cemetery.  If you're ever in Nice, while away an hour or two in the Chagall museum there.  You won't regret it.

Vivid blues are colours that constantly recur in his work, so I felt I was honouring the spirit of Chagall in my outfit.

Maxi Dress

I have to be careful with citrus colours as they don't compliment my skin tone.  However, soft oranges, corals and peaches are fine, especially if the colour is balanced out by others, as with this dress.  The coral is the canvas for the cobalt blue, turquoise, black and ivory to dance upon.

I adore the fact that although the pattern is floral, it's not a 'twee' floral.  The flowers are BIG and bold.  They want to be noticed.  They hang, swing and swirl around each other like exotic dancers, creating a feeling of movement.  With the high waistband, the material drapes and falls beautifully, making it so comfortable to stroll around in, I feel like I'm gliding.

Close up of maxi dress

Moonstone ring and silver cuff

Did you know moonstone (my ring) is associated with new beginnings and good fortune?  Seemed appropriate to wear on a birthday. 

Close up of moonstone ring and silver cuff

The bolero comes from another dress but the blues match so well, it's as it they were a two piece.  Did you spot the 3 dainty buttons on the sleeve?  Ahhh, I'm not just giving you a wry turn of the head, you see.  I give you detail.

Temperatures in the South of France in May are pleasantly warm rather than scorching - thank goodness - but you still have to be careful about burning.  The bolero protected my shoulders from the sun, without making me feel hot and grumpy.

And you wouldn't want to see me hot and grumpy.  It ain't pretty.

I happily admit to loathing wearing suncream.  Of course, I do wear it.  I'm not rash, my dears!  With my celtic genes, there's no escaping the dreaded greasing of skin, but I avoid it where possible. 

Side on view of maxi dress

As the two villages were about an hour's drive away, it meant we'd be out all day and well into the night, only returning chez nous after the evening's birthday meal.

Wearing an outfit that's both comfortable for daytime sight-seeing, yet is 'dress-y' enough for a celebration meal in a smart restaurant can be challenging but that's where this maxi dress came up trumps.  All I had to do was swap the bolero for a wrap, the shoes for latticed wedges!

Maxi dress and bag

With the amount of walking we were going to do, footwear had to be pratical first, pretty second.  Hill top villages and cobbled streets may sound romantic but coupled with steep steps, they aren't forgiving.  For the sightseeing, I wore my trusted cream Skechers.  I can walk miles in these whilst they feel as soft as slippers.

Close up of cream skechers

Luckily, I could leave my turquoise wedges in the car, all ready for a quick change when we went to the restaurant. 

And yes, my feet did look gorgeous.

Turquoise wedges

Don't worry, I didn't turn into Cinderella and leave one shoe behind at the ball.  By the time we got home, long after midnight had chimed, bellies groaning under the weight of delicious French cuisine and champagne, it was all I could do to take a photograph of one wedge against the pattern of the dress.

What?  You wanted one of me wearing them WITH the dress?  

I reiterate, there was alot of cuisine and ...  'hic', champagne...

Close up of wedges against dress

Maxi Dress Wallis Petite
Skechers slip on trainers
New Look Turquoise Wedges

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Peaches & Cream: Embroidery Anglaise with Denim

White Jeans

The second day of our French sojourn fell on a Sunday and Sundays in France are just as lazy as they are in the UK.  After a respectable lie-in we went 'en familie' (inlaws & TallBrownFox) for a mid morning visit to the beautiful village of Cotignac.  It was another warm, bright day; a 'peaches and cream' day.  Time to don the peach embroidery anglaise top and white jeans I bought pre holiday. 

I'm wearing one extra item that I didn't leave the house with... But more of that later...

When these photos were taken it was heading for midday.  Although the bright sunlight was wonderful for boosting my Vitamin D levels, it wasn't so good for capturing detail in photographs.  Colours can look washed out in such bright light, so I took some more when we returned chez nous.

I did take the denim jacket with me in the car when we went out originally but it wasn't needed.  It stayed in the car and missed out on the fun of Cotignac.  Sorry denim jacket, next time, I promise.

I'm really pleased with the white jeans.  Normally I buy my skinny jeans from Dorothy Perkins Petite as I find their Eden Jeggings are such a good fit on me but these BHS Petite ones have also come up trumps. They finish a tad higher on the ankle than the Dorothy Perkins ones but all the better to show off my white sandals, my dear.

Wearing block colours, can sometimes look flat but the embroidery anglaise top, the texture of the straw bag and jewellery, give the outfit some depth.

Now, dear reader, remember when I said earlier I was wearing one extra item that I didn't originally leave the house wearing? Do you think it was the necklace or the bracelet?  Place your bets, folks!


If you bet necklace, you'd have won. I bought it that morning in the village.  I snapped it up for a mere 9.00. If you ever find yourself visiting Cotignac, pop into Déli-Cat on the Cours Gambetta (the main high street).  It's an over-flowing treasure trove of jewellery, hats, bags and object d'art.

I was drawn to the soft shades of the colours - brown, amber, turquoise and ivory.  And the different shapes and sizes of the beads also attracted my eye.  

Plus the length of the necklace meant I could play around with different ways of wearing it.

Beaded Necklace

Excuse the bare toes nails.  I hadn't got round to dabbing some colour on them! 

White Sandals White Jeans

But I give you a better shot of the block heel of the sandals to take your mind off it.

I'm pleased and relieved in equal measure that block heels are in the shops right now.  I've never got on with completely flat sandals.  They don't support the arches of my feet enough.  These are so comfortable to wear and I like the sleek, simple design.

White Sandals and Jeans

I want an olive tree behind me everytime I have my photo taken!

Denim Jacket with White Jeans

Denim Jacket Denim Jacket is currently available from Dorothy Perkins Petite.  I managed to nab it when they had one of their 25% offers on, but even full price it's a great buy.
Embroidery Anglaise T-shirt is Peacocks, available in blue too.  Currently reduced.
White Denim Jegging are Bhs Petite, currently on offer.
White Low Block Heel Sandals are New Look.  They come in 5 other colours.
Karen Jones Bag from ebay
Now every mid-morning stroll requires refreshment.  And what better way to refresh than indulging in some Glace Artisanales.  A mind boggling choice of 35 flavours!  Much ruminating went on before I decided upon 'deux boules': Chocolat et Pistache (Pistachio).  TallBrownFox was more adventurous, plumping for Menthe Choc et Figue & Miel (Fig & Honey), the last one at the very bottom of the board!

What would have been your choice?

Ice Cream Sign

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My Riviera Moment: Ivory Embroidery Anglaise Dress

Picture if you will, the bluest of skies, the calmest of seas and a sweeping bay as far as the eye can see.  I give you... drum roll please... the Promenade Des Anglaise, Nice.  The perfect setting for my Riviera Moment.  Isn't it bluer, than blue?  Not for nothing is it called the Côte d'Azur - The Azure Coast.

If you own an embroidery anglaise dress may I suggest you book a flight, rapidement, to this coastal City where it can be shown off in its natural habitat.  If you don't own an embroidery anglaise dress, why are you still reading?  Go forth and buy one and may I suggest you book a flight, rapidement, to this coastal City where it can be shown off in its natural habitat.

I'm rather ashamed to admit that I've had this sweet dress in my wardrobe for over 2 years.  I'm even more embarrassed to admit that it still had the price tag on (£29.99, before you ask).  *Hangs head in shame*.  I can only argue in my defence that it required the appropriate setting and as we didn't visit the in-laws last summer, it had to patiently bide its time in my wardrobe.  But it's the kind of dress that was happy to patiently bide its time because it knew that when it debuted, it was going to debut with a capital D.

It was a happy accident that I came to pair the jacket with the dress.  When I bought the jacket I hung it on the nearest hanger to hand in the wardrobe which had this dress on.  It was only when I was deciding on which dresses I might take on holiday that I pulled this one out.  Seeing them together made me think, um, they work rather well ensemble.

Subconcious brain quietly said.  'You're very welcome'.

Being such an avid fan of textures, I like the bouclé effect against the delicate embroidery.  As the jacket is a pale blue, its texture gives it a lift against the ivory.  With a bold colour, I wouldn't have needed a textured jacket; the pop of colour would've sufficed.   

With the dress being ivory, so many colours would have worked with it.  Hot pink, bright red, immediately spring to mind but as we were on holiday I was slightly limited by my luggage allowance!  Accessories had to go with multiple outfits.  I knew I was going to pack my silver bag and silver sandals so added this chic, silver belt to give a focal point at the waist.  My timing could not have been more perfect; I only spied the belt in TKMaxx about a week before the holiday.

The other accessories were kept simple with different shades of blue and silver. I'm drawn to semi-precious stones, especially lapiz lazuli.  The ring was a gift from my husband.  Funnily enough, bought on a previous trip to France.  The bracelets were made by an ex-colleague of mine.

The necklace must be nearly 15 years old now.  A much loved find, from when I was on holiday in Trento, Italy.
All the promenading was thirsty work.  A light, delicate rosé was the perfect apperitif.  Salut!

I wish I could say that I often wear white/ivory dresses with never a care in the world but this is not the case!  Oh boy, was I worried about even a speck of lunch landing on my pristine dress.  I'm very pleased to report not a speck landed.  Off camera, I grabbed every blinkin' napkin I could find to cover every square inch of my dress!

It's set in stone that I have to have Moules Mariniere when I visit the Côte d'Azur.  These were so tasty I couldn't wait to eat them.  As you can see, I demolished the lot before I realised I hadn't taken a photo of their steaming deliciousness.

After lunch, we strolled around the squares and streets soaking up the atmosphere and the architecture of Nice.

Dress from TKMaxx.
Here's a gorgeous White Broderie Dress from Oliver Bonas
Belt from TKMaxx
Bouclé jacket from New Look via ebay
Silver Leaf Sandals from Bhs.  They're sold out but they still have them in Black Leaf Sandals and Coral Leaf Sandals.
Straw Trilby Hat from New Look

If you could have a Riviera Moment, what would you wear?

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Beyond the basic: silver grey marl sweatshirt

'The details are not the details. They make the design.'  So said designer and architect, Charles Eames.  And I couldn't agree more with the chap.

Having experienced a couple of days where the temperature shifted upwards, today it's dropped down again, necessitating a switch back to long sleeves and thicker material.  It's also Sunday, a day where I've been at home, gently meandering through my 'to do' list of household jobs.  I'm in a cosy, casual kinda mood and reached for a recent purchase to give it a test drive; my silver grey marl sweatshirt I bought on holiday in France a couple of weeks ago.

I know, I know, buying an item more associated with the winter months, in May?  But I'm a savvy Silver Vixen when there's 30% off due to a special promotion that day!

Every wardrobe should have some trusted basics and I'm all for comfy sweatshirts but basics needn't mean bland, or lack design.  This sweatshirt is elevated above 'basic' due to three small, but important eye-catching details that, as Charles so sagely said, 'make the design'.

Pray tell me more...

No. 1:  The triangular pattern of the overstitching.  Adds depth and texture, almost an embossed feel.

No. 2:  The silver band on the cuffs and around the hem.  I get excited about these things.

No. 3:  This, this this!  The keyhole, ribbon tie detail at the back.  See, I told you I get excited about the details.  I love the creative mind that decided there should be this design element at the back.  Not least, because with my short hair, I can show it off! 

I'm wearing my silver, miniature Japanese Bonsai Tree necklace.  I've not really taken it off at all since buying it on Wednesday, I've fallen in love with it so much.  You can read the story here.

I'm topping and tailing my silver greys today.  Just as the overstitching pattern lifts the sweatshirt, the scales have the same effect for the shoes and I couldn't resist them when I saw them.  The sweatshirt and the slip ons I bought at the same time.  They are from the French brand, Bonobo.  As they both adjust to being en Angleterre, it made even more sense to pair them up! 

Mock croc and tortoiseshell effect slip ons are on trend at the moment but it's been difficult to find them in my size.  I nearly jumped for joy when I picked up one of the shoes from the display, turned it over and saw it was a size 36!  And I think I did actually squeal with happiness when I put them on and they fitted.  I'm cursed blessed with quite narrow feet.

In between my silver greys, are my trusted Eden Jeggings in light blue from Dorothy Perkins Petite.

Bonobo: Silver Sneakers
Sadly, the sweatshirt isn't on their website anymore.  However, here are a couple of alternatives.
I like the waffle texture of this one from The White Company
Or the skewed side seam detail of this one from Joules

Do you have any staples in your wardrobe that have been lifted out of the ordinary by subtle, unusual features?  If so, what are the design elements that caught your eye?
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