Anxiety, Eczema, It me, mental health, personal, tattoos

New Year, New You, New Danger

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I’m a bit of a sucker for a new start. I love the idea of each year being a tabula rasa filled to the brim with potential. I buzz off the excitement of new projects, the crisp lines of a new notebook, the opportunity contained within the pages of an empty diary. But, I’m also acutely aware that writing about new year’s resolutions is one of the worst lifestyle blogging cliches. And, before you say anything, I also know that reading about other people’s new year’s resolutions – many of which they’ll have broken by the second week of the year – is pretty boring. So, I’m (going to do my best) not to write about them here.

I’ve been thinking a lot about reinvention recently. I read this piece by Deborah Orr in the Guardian and was shocked by how much I related to her experiences of living with difficult mental health. Like too many people I know, last year wasn’t the easiest one for me. I was stuck in a job I hated (and was eventually made redundant from), experiencing some pretty nasty health issues, saw too many bad things happen to the people I love and – the cherry on top of this cake of shit – the return of the crippling anxiety and depression that has plagued me since my teenage years. At one particularly low point, I deactivated all of my social media accounts and almost deleted this blog because I was just so tired of seeing everyone else leading brighter, better, happier lives than mine. I hated the way I looked, I hated the way I felt and I hated logging on to discover everyone living it up while I was stagnating.

Of course, this is not a particularly rational way of thinking. Particularly for someone who works in social media and so should be totally aware of the glitter and artifice people sprinkle over their lives when discussing them online. Being alone with my thoughts only made them worse. I found it increasingly difficult to get out of bed and had to start working from home more to accommodate this. I was having panic attacks in my sleep and drinking too much. When I was at my office, I would repeatedly find myself bursting into tears and having to go and hide in the toilets. I had to finally face up to the fact that I needed help.

I went back onto antidepressants and discovered one that worked for me (I had been wary of them since a terrible experience with Citalopram in my late 20s.) I started seeing a therapist who helped me to unpick some of my ways of thinking and examine them in a new light. Being made redundant helped me to realise that one of the reasons I was so depressed was because I was in a job which wasn’t right for me and it provided me with the impetus (and money) I needed to finally go it alone.

I’m saying all of this not out of a desire to make people feel sorry for me, but more because I’m proud of managing to come out on the other side. I did some amazing work in 2016 – both professionally and personally. I’m entering 2017 happier, stronger and with much better hair. I’ve also acquired some awesome tattoos, but that’s by-the-by.

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My noble steed

Like many people, I have big plans for 2017. I want to write more, both for myself and for others. I want to make my freelance career a success. I want to be more careful with my money, not just because I am acutely aware of the precariousness of freelance life but also because I want to find methods of self care which don’t just involve purchasing things that I don’t really need.

My friend James came to visit me over the Christmas break and was kind enough to fix up the old Raleigh Shopper bike which had been gathering dust in my hallway for a number of years. Last week, I found myself going on a 13 mile bike ride alongside the River Mersey, enjoying the feel of the wind through my hair and feeling so incredibly lucky to live in such a scenic part of England. I don’t know what will happen to me this year. But I know that if I continue to take pleasure in the little things, I’ll be OK.

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ASOS Curve, Bbloggers, Beauty, Beauty bloggers, Charlotte Tilbury, Jewellery, Junarose, Make Up, Marks and Spencer, office wear, plus sized bloggers, plus sized blogging, Tatty Devine, what i wear to work

Grey Sunday

I’ve been in a bit of a bleak mood recently. Blame it on the achingly cold weather, the lack of natural sunlight or the fact that every time I look at the news, I want to curl up in the foetal position and wail, but I haven’t really felt like my best self. But, I’m a busy woman and I have important shit to do, so vacuum sealing myself inside a pillow fort for the foreseeable future isn’t really convenient. So, I did what I always do when I feel like the world is a flaming skip fire. I slapped on some eyeshadow, threw on a snuggly roll neck jumper and treated myself to a rather fancy brunch.

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ROLL NECK: Junarose 

TROUSERS: ASOS Curve (old)

BELT: ASOS Curve

SHOES: Marks and Spencer

NECKLACE: Tatty Devine

EARRINGS: Accessorize

Despite the vast amount of #dealz filled emails hitting my inbox, I managed to be quite restrained on Black Friday. Somehow, I managed to limit myself to only purchasing a sweatshirt, a belt and the Junarose roll neck you see here in the ASOS 20% off everything sale. Not that I needed much of an excuse to buy this roll neck mind you, it’s been sitting in my ‘saved’ items for longer than I care to admit.

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Like all Junarose items I’ve purchased, this roll neck is simple yet stylish. I love the soft, neutral grey colour (the exact shade of a freezing December sky) and it’s shaped really nicely. While I will never quite avoid the dreaded ‘shelf tit’ effect that larger boobed women such as myself are prone to, the cut and fit of it feel – forgive me here – flattering. While I love my body, I also feel remarkably self conscious about having very large breasts so any item of clothing which makes them look relatively proportional to the rest of my body is very welcome.

I’m wearing a ‘large’ here, mainly because I found it impossible to find an accurate size chart on Junarose or ASOS’s websites. I do wish retailers would realise that people appreciate being given accurate size guides, rather than just having to pick a size at random and praying for the best.

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My birthday gifts from my (utterly wonderful) husband were a delightfully snarky Laura Callaghan necklace from Tatty Devine and a gorgeous Charlotte Tilbury eyeshadow palette in Legendary Muse. One of the most rewarding things I’ve done with my look this year is to experiment more with eye make-up, and I feel it’s really paid off with the look I’ve created here using Legendary Muse. The golds and green tinged yellow shades blend together to make the green-blue colour of my eyes really stand out. I’d recommend putting it on your Christmas list if you’d like Santa to stick some truly outstanding eyeshadow underneath your tree.

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Animal print, Beauty, Beauty bloggers, dresses, L'Oreal, Leopard print, lipstick, Marks and Spencer, Monki, Plus sized, plus sized bloggers, plus sized blogging, plus sized fashion, psbloggers, Topshop

34

I turned 34 last Tuesday. 34 doesn’t feel like a real age. It sounds far too grown up, the kind of age that ‘real’ adults are, rather than overgrown teenagers like myself. In my head, I’m still a scruffy 21 year old who mooches around in ill fitting clothes while attempting to make a living by writing overwrought features about post-rock bands rather than a middle aged woman who wears slightly better fitting clothes while trying to make a living by (terrifyingly) starting up her own business. It’s a lot.

Of course, being a proper grown up, I ameliorated these fears in a rational and adult manner. By which, I mean I went for a very fancy lunch, hung out with some cats, went to a gig in a cathedral and had a McDonalds on the way home. I couldn’t have asked for a better birthday.

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COAT: Marks & Spencer

DRESS: Alexa Chung for Marks & Spencer

SHOES: Marks & Spencer

NECKLACE: Topshop (old)

EARRINGS: Monki (old)

HANDBAG: Kate Spade (old)

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I was a bit devastated recently to hear the news that the clothing arm of Marks & Spencer is experiencing some difficulties. As you may have gathered, I absolutely adore Marks & Spencer. Their underwear is comfy, their jeans fit my weird hips and butt area like they were moulded around them and I know their stuff won’t fall apart after a few wears (unlike some brands I’ve encountered recently – River Island, I’m looking at you here.)

Their recent Alexa Chung collection, where she revisited designs from their archives, has been a bit of an eye opener to my chubby self. Seeing as they stopped at size 18, I fully expected not to fit into any of her items. Hence why I was pleasantly surprised to discover that I could easily fit into this size 16 shirt dress (which, according to a Twitter friend of mine, makes me look like a ’80s space dominatrix’) with room to spare. While I’m well aware that I’m being pandered to via some serious vanity sizing, I’ve never been pandered to so effectively. The only parts in which it falls down is that it creases remarkably easily and its silky fabric makes it a bugger to wear when you’re drunk as you’ll end up sliding off pub stools and onto the floor while mid conversation. You can probably all guess how I discovered this.

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I realise that this outfit doesn’t resemble the ones above, but I feel it would be a dereliction of beauty blogger duty not to mention L’Oreal’s Colour Riche lipstick in Blake Red. It’s the most perfect, carmine red I’ve ever found and knocks socks off pretty much everything else I’ve ever tried (and yes, that does include MAC’s Russian Red, a lipstick so matte it feels like you’re trying to drag a crayon across your lips.) It’s beautifully creamy, costs a mere £6.99 and stayed on throughout a challenging 2 hour tattoo session last Saturday. Frankly, it’s one of those bargain high street beauty buys that thrifty types like myself live for. Apparently, L’Oreal are discontinuing it, so I’d recommend buying it in bulk now, if only to provide a pop of colour in these increasingly grey times.

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Animal print, Autumn, Beauty bloggers, coats, Jewellery, lipstick, MAC, Make Up, Make Up Revolution, Marks and Spencer, metallics, Monki, ootd, Outfit post, outfits, plus sized bloggers, plus sized blogging, plus sized fashion, psbloggers, skirts, Topshop, wiwt, Work outfit, Work wear

Luxury Witch

Recently, I attended a job interview where I found myself explaining the concept of a ‘Luxury Witch’ to a rather bemused interview panel. ‘Imagine a really well dressed Goth who takes Ubers everywhere,’ I exclaimed before informing them that crushed velvet and pleated skirts were really in this season. They’re yet to let me know if I’ve been offered the job.

Whatever happens with my employment prospects, I’m deeply happy to have introduced the concept of ‘Luxury Witch’ to a wider audience. And – if this term ever appears in the Oxford English Dictionary – you’d probably find a picture of this outfit underneath it.

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COAT: Marks and Spencer

ROLL NECK: Marks and Spencer

PLEATED SKIRT: Marks and Spencer

BELT: Vintage

BOOTS: Topshop

EARRINGS: Monki

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My love of Marks and Spencer’s clothing runs deep – I will go to my grave arguing that they make the comfiest underwear on the market – and they are really knocking it out of the park this season. Their stuff is chic, reasonably priced and doesn’t fall apart after a few rounds in the washing machine (handy when you spill as much down yourself as I do). They do great everyday basics and on trend pieces like this gloriously witchy metallic midi skirt and leopard print coat, both of which look far more luxurious than their price tags would lead you to believe. Plus, M&S remains the only shop I can pop into during my lunch hour where I can purchase moisturiser, a skirt and a sandwich at the same time. What a time to be alive.

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In the spirit of Halloween, I opted to experiment with my eye make-up and try out a more dramatic look. I used Make Up Revolution’s ‘Fortune Favours The Brave’ palette (an absolute bargain at £9.99) to recreate this gorgeous rose gold smokey eye look. I’m a bit of a novice when it comes to eyeshadow, but this is such a lovely (and easy!) tutorial to follow. While it’s not quite as elegant as Nancy’s,  I’m super pleased about how well it turned out.

I completed the look with MAC’s ‘Roxo‘, a limited edition blood red lipstick. While this particular shade is sold out on their website, I’m fairly sure that you could find lots of lovely dupes without searching too hard.

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Jewellery, Monki, ootd, Outfit post, outfits, Plus sized, plus sized bloggers, plus sized blogging, plus sized fashion, psbloggers, Topshop

Eye Eye, McMc

Since my last post, I have a) lost my job, b) suddenly decided to go freelance, c) had my wifi box blow up and d) developed a rather irritating twitch in my left eye which just won’t quit. Honestly, it’s all been a bit exhausting. Thankfully, I was able to alleviate some of this stress by jumping on a train and heading to Glasgow – one of my favourite cities – last weekend. If you have never visited Glasgow, I cannot stress enough all the reasons why you should, such as amazing buildings, stunning scenery, excellent bars and (my personal favourite) haggis pakoras. If I had my way, all Saturday nights out would end with eating a bag of mixed pakora in bed while watching ‘Colombo’.

Seeing as I was going to be spending a lot of time walking and eating, I wanted to wear something extremely comfortable yet extremely fashionable. This excellent tunic dress and David Bowie-esque boots outfit felt like the perfect fit.

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DRESS: Monki

EARRINGS: Monki

BOOTS: Topshop

BAG: Liverpool Psych Fest

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The pattern on this polo neck dress is so unique (very Schiaparelli!) and it looks so great worn over opaque tights. I also absolutely adore these Topshop silver boots.Like me, they’re a little bit business and a little bit ridiculous. I’ve barely taken them off since I bought them.They were an impulse panic buy after I left a pair of comfy shoes in a hotel room after a night on the champagne (If you’re thinking I live a life of glamour and excitement, I can assure you that I would only wish the hungover & panicked train dash I was forced to do the next day on my worst enemy).

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While I’ve always been a huge Monki fan, they really have been absolutely killing it in the style stakes recently and I want pretty much everything from their new collection. I was also overjoyed to see fellow blogger (and style icon) Danielle Vanier featured in their new campaign, proving that it’s not just straight sized people who can rock their excellent clothes.

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and other stories, Autumn, Beauty, Beauty bloggers, fashion, jumpers, lipstick, Make Up, Marks and Spencer, MDMFlow, personal style, Plus sized, plus sized bloggers, plus sized blogging, plus sized fashion, Primark, psbloggers

Autumn Leaves

After a year which could charitably be deemed to be ‘a bit difficult’, I am freaking overjoyed that Autumn is finally here. It’s always been my favourite season, mostly because it feels like a new beginning, that bigger and better things – crisp cold days! Big coats! Opaque tights! Excuses to make soup! My birthday!  – are just around the corner. It also means that I can legitimately purchase all the jumpers I’ve been swooning over for the past few weeks.

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JUMPER: Marks & Spencer

JEANS: Marks & Spencer

SHOES: Primark

NECKLACE: Oliver Bonas (old)

EARRINGS: And Other Stories (old)

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The theme for Autumn 2016 on the high street appears to be ‘Barb from Stranger Things chic’ which is an aesthetic that I can totally get on board with. The ultra femme side of me loves frills and flounces in all the right places, even more so if they come in delicious shades of mustard, like this Marks and Spencer jumper. Everything about this is perfect, from the lovely ribbed details to the fact that it’s just the right length to wear with jeans. Too short jumpers are a big bugbear of mine, as there’s nothing worse than leaving the house feeling your look, only to spend your afternoon constantly tugging your top down.

I paired this with my trusty skinny jeans (MARKS AND SPENCER, NEVER STOP MAKING THESE) and a pair of gold block heels from Primark, which – surprisingly – happen to be the comfiest pair of heels that I have worn in a long time. So much so in fact, that I recently managed to spend a whole weekend in them while lugging a wheelie suitcase around North London.

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My new favourite lipstick at the moment is Supreme from MDMFlow, a rich warm reddish pink which is perfect for the season. I’ve been raving about MDMFlow’s make up for a while now, as it’s everything I love in a beauty brand. It offers affordable products in bright bold colours, all created by a bad ass woman of colour. I am in total awe of Florence Adepoju, the woman behind the brand and I totally recommend reading this brilliant Buzzfeed piece about her. If you’re thinking about tinkering with your look this Autumn, their products are a great place to start.

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ASOS, Beauty, Beauty bloggers, Charlotte Tilbury, ootd, Outfit post, outfits, summer, Tatty Devine, what i wore, wiwt

Barcelona Beach Baby

Much like my beloved Liverpool, Barcelona is a city with its own beach. Frankly, it would have been rude for us not to pay it a quick visit. And while I promise that this will be my last ‘hey look everyone, I went to Barcelona!’ post, I feel like I’ve saved the best outfit for last.

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JUMPSUIT: ASOS Curve

BELT: ASOS Curve (old, but this is similar!)

SANDALS: ASOS

NECKLACE: Tatty Devine (old, but this one is very similar!)

EARRINGS: Oliver Bonas

I’m mildly annoyed that I wasn’t able to take a killer outfit pic while I was wearing this jumpsuit because I love it so much. It looks like something I’d find being sold in Whistles, a store whose items I frequently lament over. (Seriously Whistles, extend your sizes and I will become one of your most devoted customers.) It’s loose and flowing, and the colours are gorgeous. The only – minor – quibble I have with it is that I wish it had a tie belt to define the waist, but this is more down to the way I’m shaped rather than any fatal design flaw.

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It’s my blog and I’ll pull a stupid face if I want to.

I so wish that more plus sized designers would create modern, vibrant pieces like this instead of thinking that we’re content with twee frills and bows, boxy shapeless tents and ‘cold shoulders’. (We may be fat, but don’t we deserve to have warm shoulders too? Do you know much it rains in the UK?)

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I know that this has become a bit of a Charlotte Tilbury fan blog, but I’m in awe of how good her dreamy glow highlighter made me look. One quick swish of this stuff turned me into a golden glowing goddess, despite three days of late nights, giant gins and salty snacks.

The packaging is also divine, featuring a gorgeous picture of Carmen dell’Orefice shot by Norman Parkinson for Vogue, in the Bahamas. Norman Parkinson is one of my favourite fashion photographers, so I’ll be cherishing this compact long after the highlighter powder has run out. Sadly, this was limited edition, so isn’t being stocked by Charlotte Tilbury anymore. However, I’d seriously recommend taking a nosy around Ebay and seeing if you can snap one up. It’s that good.

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