Monday, 5 December 2016

Brunch with Lizzi

And so this Sunday morning I met Mel Wall for brunch in her home town of St Albans, and for a lady in her forties she is a busy bee as a working mum, singer and stylist of Styled By Mel.

Here's what she had to say!

What's a typical day in the life of Mel?

Let's see, I get up 6.45am to make tea for myself and my partner plus breakfast for my eleven year old son. Then I usually head out around 8am for the school run and get to work for 9am; work for me is PA to the CEO of a marketing agency in the grounds of Hatfield House. Lunchtime is usually the daily grocery run but I occasionally meet a friend for coffee.  As soon as I get home from work the bra is off!! (She says with a big grin and a little laugh) & I then get changed into the baggies! Then it's dinner by 8.30, usually cooked by other half, followed by a bit of telly; we love Gogglebox, Ripper Street, Humans, Planet Earth and of course, Strictly!

You're a PA, a stylist and a singer - how do you juggle it all?

I always wanted to be a singer and was lucky enough to be asked to join a band in my early twenties and I've been singing ever since! My band is called MacLaren Wall which I've always said sounds a bit like a firm of Accountants, but that's been our name for the last twenty years. We're well known around St Albans and usually gig once a month.  Singing makes me very happy -  it "feeds my soul".  I like to say it's like going to the best party ever as my family and friends are usually in the audience along with the usual 'groupies'.

My PA role is very varied to say the least! Mel goes on to clarify that she really is a "personal" assistant and not your typical just managing the diary kind of PA.  I've been given a varied range of tasks which have included spraying a toilet seat gold for an award ceremony, flying to Florida to look after a directors child for a week, to dressing up as a breakfast bowl and singing for client (breakfast cereal related btw). The bowl was massive and I had trouble getting through the door and so had to bend over double (oh the glamour) and then start singing! 

And as for the Styling, this is saved for the occasional Wednesday (my day off each week) and weekends. I do colour analysis, wardrobe weeding and personal shopping. 

Out of all the jobs you do - which is your favourite 'hat' to wear? 

The mum hat. My son is always my priority and I love spending quality time with him - he's great company and very funny.

What's the best part about being a stylist?

Watching a client looking into the mirror and saying "OMG I look amazing. I'd never dream of choosing this outfit".  I will always have one moment with each client when I get goose-bumps and or a little teary and that for me has to be the most rewarding part of the job.

You're Mum to Tom, do you give him style tips or him to you?

Both (with a little giggle again) - So he'll sometimes come down the stars and ask if what he's wearing looks OK?  And sometimes he will look at me and go "I'm not going into town with you dressed like that", the last time I remember him saying that was when I had my black & silver, embroidered bomber jacket on! But most of the time he's actually quite complimentary (big grin whilst saying that)

What kind of Mother-in-law do you think you will be?

Let's see, a shopping & wine drinking companion would be good! I don't want to be a nagging/annoying one, that's for sure!

As a mum, is it important to stay stylish?

As a mum it's important not to lose your own identity and if that's staying stylish then that is important. Being a mum can affect you in different ways, but staying true to yourself is the best.

What advice have you got for mums who are struggling with the know-how to look good?

Ha! Give me a call and I will help you! Failing that, spend time flicking through magazines or perhaps try Pinterest - both are great ways to get an idea of what you want to wear.  Once inspired by these you can then decide what you need to buy. Consider key pieces as you don't need a whole new wardrobe, just focus on a few things and get them right.

If money is a little tight put the effort into wearing some make-up & accessories - mascara and a bit of lippy go a long way and a really good scarf is a great way to bring an outfit together.

How do you relax?

With a glass of wine and I like to write my blog.

What's the best thing going on in your life right now?

I love getting ready for Christmas.  I'm also excited because I'm preparing for an audition in January at our local Abbey Theatre for a musical taking place in June, wish me luck!

Who's your style icon?

Audrey Hepburn and Victoria Beckham

What's your beauty regime?

Cleanse, tone and moisturise - twice a day! Been doing this since my early teens.

What's your favourite beauty product?

Clearcalm 3 Clarifying Clay Cleanser by REN. I used to have really spotty skin but this has helped immensely.

What's the best thing you own in your wardrobe?

My new silver boots or my 7 For All Mankind jeans were also a favourite but they don't fit me anymore. I won't be losing weight to fit into them though as I like the shape I am -  I'll just need to invest in a new pair or add them to my Christmas list. Nudge nudge wink wink.

What book are you currently reading?

I've just finished this brilliant book called Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Are you a book fan or kindle?

Always a book, I don't actually own a Kindle

What book should every woman read and why?

Going Gently by David Nobbs, I love everything about it, it's touching and very funny.

If you can only buy one magazine a month - which one?

Hello Fashion, although I used to love Easy Living, but sadly it's no longer published.

What three things should every professional woman must own?
  • A good dress
  • A good phone
  • A great pair of shoes

What three things do you always take on holiday?
  • Coconut oil, great for removing eye make-up remover and for looking after sunburn
  • A book
  • And my favourite Clark silver sandals that look "Birkenstock-esq"

Handbags - Big shopper, cross-over or clutch?

I would say a mix between big shopper and cross-over; I need to keep my hands free - I'm a busy mum and it's also ideal for when I'm personal shopping with clients.

High heels or trainers?


What's your favourite app right now?

PicTapGo - it's got great filters which I use for some of my Instagram pictures

What's your favourite indulgence?

Shopping, Dining out and Perfume  - Chanel Coco Mademoiselle

And so brunch was at a new coffee shop called Gail's in the centre of St Albans, and we munched on almond croissants and fruity scones with lattes - delish!

Friday, 28 October 2016

St Albans Fashion Week: Catherdral Catwalk Show

I can't believe that a year has gone by and we are back at St Albans Fashion Week.  The week started with Kim Miller and her style talk with LK Bennett.  Last night Carol and I attended the first of two shows at the Cathedral - front row of course! And my week will end with Mel on Sunday watching The first Monday in May, a fashion film at The Odyssey.

The Cathedral never fails to impress, it has to be one of the most glamorous venues to hold an event like this.  What I love is how the church people and the fashion people all mix in together to create an unforgettable night., plus volunteers from St Albans and the surrounding areas give up their time, to showcase a fun and fashionable event - an excellent way to get community spirit and help local businesses. I'd love to see more towns and cities across the UK doing stuff like this.

The catwalk enticed us with fashion labels of Red Velvet, Essie and Betsy, Twisted Fabric, RareONE, Prom Sisters and much more.  I've chosen to stick with regular HIgh Street labels for the content of this post, giving you a chance to shop locally should you see anything you love. Key trends they focused on for Autumn/Winter 2016 was Tartan, Check & Plaid, Military and finally Velvet, Fur and Luxe.

And until next year...

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Kim Miller Talks Style with LK Bennett London

Last night I attended an event held by LK Bennett London for St Albans Fashion Week in collaboration with Kim Miller Styles.

Kim opened the event by giving a talk about styling and colour choices for your wardrobe and the value you can get out of it.  With over twenty-five years’ experience, she gave the audience an insight into some useful tips that they could easily adopt just by spending a little time on their wardrobe.

Kim Miller opening the LK Bennett event
Kim Miller talking about Colour Analysis
Model demonstrating how colours can or cannot
suit you - these do and she is an Autumn! 

Let’s be honest, we all have things “hiding” away from sight, that we’ve forgotten about or saving for best – but if you don’t use it, was it really worth the investment? One of my very first blog posts was about this subject, and so for a trip down memory lane, click here to have another read (circa Nov 2011)!

The LK Bennett woman is likely to be the well-travelled professional and with that you need a capsule wardrobe that works hard for you.  With only two minutes to make an impression, because people look and then make an opinion – it can be hard to change these views once it’s made.  So what you wear, every day, can make a real impact on your career opportunities.

The theme of the night was 15 key items into 50 potential outfits – whilst we didn’t see every single possibility, it soon became clear that by having a good basis of neutrals with one to two colours, mixing textures, shoes, bags  and accessories – you soon could do a lot with very little.

Model showing off the Andra Black Trousers and
the gorgeous Lorde Smoke over the knee Suede Boots

I loved this long cardigan, ideal for the current weather where its not quite cold
enough for the heavy winter coat - great for travelling in too.
Sorry Ladies I can't find it on the website, so ask in store if your interested

This Saskia Deep Rose Dress is perfect for business day or dress it up for a night out.
Stitched perfectly to shape your body and with those sleeves ending at the elbow
it covers up and enhances the length of your legs. Also available in green

To see the full range of this seasons clothes by LK Bennett London, click here.

Some top tips for Kim!

  1. Nail your style – Use social media like Pinterest for ideas and you’ll start to see a theme of what you like. 
  2. Add colour – balance your outfits by mix & matching. Try to wear three colours in every outfit to add interest
  3. Think outfits – organise your wardrobe so can access all components like jewellery, scarves etc – take photos to remind yourself of outfits to help you select quickly
  4. High-low balance – think about where you really should be spending the money, Kim used an example of a dress for a wedding, why spend a lot if you will never wear it again?!
  5. Savvy with your cash – Think about the cost per wear, only buy what’s needed for your wardrobe by creating lists.  Will it go with at least three items already in your wardrobe?
  6. For the Love & Joy - just OK is a big fat NO! – This has to be my favourite tip that everyone can adopt from NOW! Stop wearing what’s ok, if you don’t love it, if you don’t get joy from it – STOP!

Sunday, 23 October 2016

What I Wore: Black Floral in Velvet

Girls night, last night, meant I got to treat myself to a new dress.  I saw, I tried on and I purchased all in a space of what felt like five minutes!

I headed into NEXT in my hometown simply to buy a top, but I came across this fabulous black floral range which had a variety of different items that you could style with black or gold pieces to make a lovely capsule range for Autumn/Winter 2016.

Velvet is a big trend this season and I've been looking out for a velvet dress or top - most I've found have been in plain black or plain bright jewel colours which have a tinge of cheapness about them and yet the price tag states otherwise.

This floral dress plays homage to the velvet trend and yet has this understated glam about it. I styled the dress with black platform suede shoe boots, ultra thick black tights and some simple gold jewellery as I didn't want to distract from the floral design - which has birds, flowers and butterflies all over it.

NEXT have quite a few pieces in black floral - some that I loved in store I couldn't find for you on the web, but hopefully the items below will give you a taster to perhaps explore this range for yourself.

Friday, 21 October 2016

Are we all a minimum two bag, bag lady?

Let's stop and think about it, when was the last time you didn't have TWO bags??! Some days I have so much to carry, I personally dream of a second pair of arms or should that be shoulders?  

So it starts with the handbag - I can never ever go anywhere without that! I would love to do the 'day clutch', I think they are very glam but I can't, just can't, as I have too much to carry.

Then there is my work bag, my gorgeous Samonite laptop bag, I just love, love, love - but hey that can get really heavy with all my equipment so that's the max I can have on the one shoulder.

I then have my shopping tote - this comes in a variety of styles depending on what I am up to.  I have a lovely foldable shopper from Eco Chic that lives in my handbag and it's perfect for the daily food shop or a Saturday morning stint in town.  But if I need to carry a change of shoes or say a jumper then I have my orange Topshop tote (in photo below), it's a real Mary Poppins, and yet so stylish.

And whilst for you mums I know you have all the kids stuff to carry, I need another bag for my dog - well he needs stuff too - and I've given up on using my handbag for that!

The two bag look!

How did our busy lives get so crazy? and do we really need to carry all this stuff? Well if you want to work on-the-go and if you have other life-beings to look after then YES we need bags.

By the way - I have not mentioned HIM, yes the other half - have you noticed he never has to carry much, and on a night out you always seem to end up having to squeeze his phone and keys into your clutch bag (just saying!)

And so with that, this post is dedicated to more upmarket shopping totes than the plastic bag - well if we have to be 'bag ladies' let's at least do it with style.  And you also get permission to book yourself in to the nearest spa for that neck, shoulder and back rub, we've certainly earned it! And perhaps HE should pay for it ;) 

I love this khaki green bag, but if it's not for you then there is a brown or grey/black option too

Slouch Shopper Bag

Mesh Shopper

Black River Island shopper bag

If you want one that folds up tidy so that you can have it in your handbag, Warehouse have a couple of designs, this one's my favourite

Zip Around Shopper Bag


ooh and the irony bag!

Tote bag from Cafe Press

Monday, 17 October 2016

Plum it Up!

This season colour trend is definitely plum, it's everywhere, you can't miss it - shoes, handbags, scarves, gloves, purses and on it goes.

It's such a versatile colour you'll find it goes with everything. Team it up with brown leather accessories or your favourite navy jacket. It can lighten up an "all black" look and it's the perfect combo for dark denim jeans.

I've been wearing my plum scarf with my cream Zara jacket most of this week.  

Instagram: @lovedbylizzi

This fabulously soft scarf from Accessorize comes in a variety of colours - so if you're not keen on plum then I'm sure there is one you'll love, as it's such a great price.

Lily ribbed scarf
Colours: Plum, red, lime, yellow, teal and pink

I purchased these shoes from New Look about six weeks ago in preparation for a wedding. I am not surprised that they are now out of stock - as they are gorgeous, yet comfy (danced all evening) and OMG they were only £24.99!  

These are a great alternative for a fabulous autumn look, especially with skinny jeans.

Dark Red Comfort Strappy Heeled Boots
New Look

Now I've not yet invested in a handbag, but there is still time!  And if I was this is a likely option...

Lipsy Mock Croc Tote Bag

And finally - if you get your gels applied at a salon that specialises in Jessica gels - then simply ask for Windsor Castle - and you'll match perfectly with your accessories!

Monday, 10 October 2016

AW16 Trend: The White Shirt

One of the best things about Sundays, is brunch.  There is nothing more relaxing, I think, than heading to a cafe, sitting outside (weather permitting of course) and having a cooked breakfast at leisure.  After a busy week at work and smoothies most mornings, this is just bliss.

Now I like to get a little dressed up for brunch; don't get me wrong there are times when you want to keep it more relaxed, but if I'm heading into London then I do make more of an effort.  And you can't go wrong with a white crisp shirt, teamed with dark jeans and either boots or flat pumps.

This classic shirt can be dressed up or down, and a must for this season.

When investing in this classic, here are a few tips:

  • Invest in quality - you want the fabric to be of good quality, you can pair this alongside cheaper jeans, trousers or leggings but the shirt itself needs to ooze quality
  • Keep it white - if you're not good with laundry then either get it cleaned at the dry-cleaners or wash it on its own
  • Well ironed - it needs to look crisp! And the only way to do this is to iron it - especially if it has cuffs and collars they need to be sharp.
  • Think about your body-shape - if you have a waist then get a fitted one that enhances your hour-glass line, if you're not and perhaps more flat or say round then go for a straight cut. 
  • Think about your bust - depending on the size of your bustline, the larger the less fussier you want it
  • Baggy relaxed shirts should only be worn with slim-tight leggings or jeans - be sure to check that this doesn't make you frumpy
  • Dress it up or down - have fun with jewellery to keep changing your look
  • Keep it fresh - if in doubt buy a new one each year there's nothing worse than a tired looking white shirt!

Here's three that I've picked for you:

Mapel by Reiss

Frill Front Shirt by NEXT

Autograph by M&S (And featured in Vogue)
Supima® Cotton Blend White Shirt

Monday, 26 September 2016

Autumn Trend: The Choker

This is one trend you can easy get on board with and it's not going to break the bank. And if you get it wrong, pass it on to a girlfriend and find another one that may suit you better. The classic is the simple black velvet band - you can get these super thin or super wide. Perfect for evening wear but looks just as great daytime with a denim shirt.  

There are lots of styles to chose from and most high street stores from Topshop, H&M, River Island to Accessorize are selling them from as little as £6.  Here are a few hints and tips to help you out:

  • Do consider the neckline of your top in relation to where you wear the choker - you need to give it some space - try a v-neck or scoop neck tee 
  • Instant glam for a night out - opt for simple black or metallic like silver or gold
  • If you do opt for black velvet - you hitting two trends this season!
  • Try a choker that's been accessorised with either extended beads, a second necklace or if they are super thin wear more than one at once
  • Don't wear them too tight, not only for comfort but there is nothing glam about a red neckline!
  • Adopt the more dainty look for daytime super chic fun.

Fans of the Real Housewives of Cheshire will know model Misse Beqiri, and she sports the choker trend a lot, check out her instagram page for inspiration on how to wear this trend. 

MISSÉ BEQIRI (via Instagram)


The one I wore in the picture above is from Topshop, a velvet black choker for £6


I've also opted for a thin brown cord choker with a gold heart - I've yet to wear it as I only got it this Sunday in London.  It's going to be a great to wear daytime with a tee and jeans.