Sunday 5 July 2015

Henley Regatta Stewards' Enclosure

Last weekend we were fortunate enough to be invited to the Henley Royal Regatta - and to the Stewards' Enclosure, no less. I know. So posh.

This is the most prestigious enclosure and is only open to members and their guests, and the dress code and general rules reflect this. The most important element being that ladies' hemlines must be below the knee.

This might seem a little austere - especially in the wake of the controversial announcement about women's heels at Cannes - but I'm fortunate in that I really like midis and maxis. I think that sometimes more is more and these lengths can look so elegant. The key is to get the proportions right to ensure your legs don't look stumpy. Avoid strappy shoes that cut you off at the ankle: this will help to elongate your legs. A hat is optional.

I opted for a hat because...well, who needs an excuse to wear a hat? 

The day was fabulous. I definitely fell into the trap of objectifying all the golden Adonis-esque male rowers - and, I might add, envying the athleticism of the female rowers. We cheered on our university team (Exeter) - who won, by the way - and ate a picnic in the car park and drank lots of Pimms. There's even a tent that ONLY sells Pimms. 

Choosing an outfit was a little tricky, but in the end I opted for a midnight blue dress from & Other Stories, bolero and shoes from Hobbs, and hat from Debenhams - all of which are in the sales. The clutch is from Lucy Choi and I accessorised with a simple blue pearl and gold necklace, which was a birthday gift from the hubs, and sunglasses by Tom Ford from Fenwick Bond St. 

Outside of the Stewards' Enclosure the other sections run along the riverbank, so you're guaranteed a good view wherever you are, and while dressing up isn't compulsory in those areas, everyone does it anyway and there's an almost tangible atmosphere of Prosecco bubbles and Pimms. A lovely day indeed - and I'm seriously considering taking up rowing. 

Sarah x

Very warm...wide brim hat from Debenhams+Debenhams 

Hobbs Carrie Bolero
Dress by &OtherStories, shoes by Hobbs

The hat and cardigan are gone! Dress from &OtherStories. Glasses from +TOM FORD NEW YORK available at Fenwick.

Wednesday 1 July 2015

Sale Treasure - the Hobbs cover up

I dragged a very grumpy husband around the shops at the weekend in the pursuit of Sale treasure - him grumbling behind me, placated only by the promise of beer and ice cream on the beach. He engaged a shop assistant at length in a discussion about why there was not a seating area for men. She and I agreed that would be a wonderful idea.

But it was worth it - at least on my part - because I managed to find some lovely pieces, including the much coveted cover-up.

In recent years I have found it somewhat irksome to find an appropriate piece to pull on over the top of a frock and I realised a couple of months ago that my wardrobe was indeed full of (to quote the hubs) SO MANY DRESSES...and not a lot more. But the cover-up is essential. So, imagine my delight when I discovered the Hobbs sale. I picked up a cropped seventies inspired jacket, 2 pairs of shoes (very indulgent, I know), and a bolero - all of which  I can wear with multiple outfits, but I chose to experiment with my new +emilyandfin swooshy polka dot dress.

Dress +emilyandfin bought from +BrandAlley UK for £19!; ivory Carrie bolero, £49 from +Hobbs; pink low heels, £79 from +Hobbs (SALE!) 

The cropped style of the bolero and jacket make them perfect for high waist skirts, dresses and trousers. The Farrah jacket will look gorgeous with cropped trousers such as these from +ME&EM Ltd.

Dress as above; Farrah jacket, £125 and white Elsie sandals, £69 from +Hobbs (SALE!)
Sunglasses: wayfarer by Rayban ; necklace from +andotherstories 
Jubilant twirling. I do love the sales.

Sarah x

Sunday 31 May 2015

Lady Sarah goes to Downton Abbey

As a treat this week, the hubbins took me on a trip to Highclere Castle in Berkshire (aka Downton Abbey!) so that I could finally pretend to be Lady Mary.

He suffered in relative silence while I romped around singing the theme tune, acting like a fan girl, and was placated by the Egyptian Exhibition, which is currently on display there. Did you know that it was actually the former Earl of Carnarvon whose death triggered the legendary curse of Tutankhamun? He and Howard Carter discovered the famous tomb, but the earl died a couple of months later in curiously similar circumstances to the young Pharaoh. You can read more about it here.

I chose to wear the lovely Orla dress from Allium B, which I reviewed earlier this month. If you're fast you can still use the discount code and I paired it with pink pumps from Victoria Plimsolls.

Highclere is a beautifully situated stately home - and if you ever thought the design looked familiar, that's because it was designed by the same person who designed the Houses of Parliament in London. The grounds are very pretty and there's a sweet 'secret garden' encased by old walls to wander around, too. Inside you can walk around some of the rooms used by the television crew and imagine yourself as the formidable Dowager Duchess or dream of Matthew Crawley coming around the corner...

It is super busy though, and you have to get there early if, like us, you didn't buy your tickets several months ago. Make sure you visit the website for opening times. We were told that the crew were heading back on Wednesday to film the last ever scenes...and I was sorely tempted to hide in the bushes.

Sarah x

Monday 11 May 2015

Review: Allium B

Is anyone else stuck in frock limbo? After that glorious summer-in-April spell I was all ready to go with my shorts and floral dresses and linen shirts. My skin was dappled with childish freckles and the faintest hint of a tan began to appear on my almost transparent limbs.

But now that the sunshine is but a memory I’ve been stuck. 
I don’t want to wear thick dresses and dull colours any more. The romance of such items faded back in January when the long nights lost their Christmassy allure.
However, I might just have found the solution. 
I know. This is big.
I was recently asked to review a dress by one of my favourite British brands, Allium B. Many is the time that I have extolled the virtues of this design duo (sisters Mary and Clare) and you can read more about them here and here.

Choosing a dress to review was very tricky because they are all just so lovely! When you head over to their website (which you absolutely must – once you’ve finished reading, obviously) you will see what I mean.

I eventually settled on the Orla dress in Liberty’s Betsy print. This sort of pattern is a complete departure for me as I normally opt for pastel prints - if any at all, but I decided to go against my usual grain. And I am so pleased I did!

The dress is cut in a simple and classic style. The waistline creates wonderful definition (I was particularly happy because I have a very ‘athletic’ – read ‘straight up and down’ figure) and the slightly curved neckline with subtle folds is feminine and flattering. And it has pockets. Hooray for pockets!

Posing in Petworth.

I'm 5"7 and the dress falls just above my knees. To give you some sense of sizing, I'm wearing an 8. 

I opted to wear this over a sleeveless linen shirt from Uniqlo and pink suede Mary-Jane shoes from Radley when I went for an outing to a local craft fair. The cute little sheep necklace is from Joules. 
On a chillier day, I opted for Falke tights in charcoal, red ankle boots from Shoe Embassy London and white speckled jumper from Uniqlo. The necklace is from &Other Stories. 

This dress proved itself to be ideal for a summery day, as well as a transitional piece. 
If, like me, you're an investment dresser then you'll love these dresses. They are made to be worn and loved again and again, but the beautiful Liberty print gives a nod and a wink to this summer's seventies' revival, so they'll still make you look on trend. They'll carry you through a whole host of social occasions, too. I'd be just as happy in this at a wedding as I would mooching around the shops. 
I can't recommend these dresses enough. You will not be sorry with one of these in your wardrobe.
P.S. Readers of the SoManyDresses blog get 20% off until 1st June. Just quote somany at the checkout. Ta-dah!


Sarah x 

Thursday 23 April 2015

Patriotic Dresses

I'm coming over all patriotic today and, to celebrate all things English, here's my pick of the best red and white dresses:

Anthropologie, £158
& Other Stories, £65
& Other Stories, £79
Anthropologie, £118
Boden, £55.20

Wednesday 22 April 2015

Out and About: Vintage Finds at Sarah Moore's Textile Sale

As part of our adventuring, the hubs and I decided...or, rather, I decided I'd like to find some more vintage pieces for our house. So, when I found out that Sarah Moore was holding a vintage fabrics and textiles pop-up at her home in the South Downs, I thought I'd scoot along.

I must acknowledge here that I really do have a very patient husband. He gave up a rugby match for this outing. But that same patient husband is no good with a map.

For those of you who don't know, I'm learning to drive now at the grand old age of 28 and three quarters. So, in our little Fiat, complete with L plates, we set out, with hubs as navvy. And it was all going so well until we ended up turning onto a track; 'a short cut', said the hubs.

Cautiously, I continued along this track which became increasingly uneven and stony and exposed with each minute. Up and up and up we went, and the track turned into more of a path and the steep ridges meant that I grew too scared to go on. We haven't covered off-road driving in my lessons, you see.

"James!" I groan, "We're never going to get there. All the best fabrics will be gone!"

But with hubs in the driving seat, I can sit back and admire the sweeping vistas over the Downs. Our Fiat is still chugging and spluttering along the track and we pass several groups of walkers looking rather bemused by us. And it is at that point that I see a signpost ahead of us. And do you know what it says? 'South Downs Way'. Hubs is beside himself; the car is growling; and I'm just laughing, albeit very unhelpfully.

"Shall we not just go back and go back on the main road?" I ask.
"No," hubs replies, "I did off-road training a few years ago. It'll be fine". And all I'm thinking is how embarrassing this is going to be when the AA has to tow us down from the South Downs Way.

But, true to his word, after turning the air blue around us, James got us off the track and we arrived at the vintage sale in one piece (and a few days later we paid a very nice man at the garage to remove several boulder-like stones from underneath our car, but that's another story).

The setting of Sarah's house is lovely and idyllic. Think barns, a courtyard, antique fabrics sailing in the wind and children playing cricket on the lawn, and you have a fairly accurate picture. We wandered around the peaceful barn, perusing the selection of antique fabrics, floral wall papers, well-loved homewares, and one-off creations. Every nook and cranny was filled with some old treasure.

We hummed and hawed over an old headboard (only £35!) and I tried to justify the purchase of a very bright, busy floral wallpaper, but James glared warningly at me. He knows my impulsiveness all too well.

I really recommend having a clear idea about the sort of fabrics, textures and colours you are looking for before you enter the barn, as the choice can be mind boggling and you don't want to buy the wrong thing. In the end, after a contemplative cup of tea in the courtyard, we settled on some vintage Sanderson curtains, which will go up in our back bedroom, which has essentially become my den. No boys allowed.

Sarah holds regular events - including craft courses- at her home and, if you live in the local area, I thoroughly recommend going along. Just make sure you stay on the main road.

Sarah x

Oh dear...
Top Gear eat your heart out.
Grumpy, but we're here!!
The entrance to Sarah Moore's house in Sussex
Vintage home ware
Haberdasher's heaven
That lovely headboard.
Local woodwork.
Sussex Pimps. Not what they sound like...
A cup of contemplative tea...
Clutching my curtains. It's time to go home. A different way.
I'm wearing white jeans and cashmere jumper from The White Company and my favourite pink salt water sandals from Toast.

The curtains are now up in our back bedroom.

This photograph says it all :)


Tuesday 21 April 2015

Victoria Plimsolls and Italian Ice Cream

If you buy one thing this month, make sure it's a pair of Victoria plimsolls. I first spotted these last year, but I hesitated and then the moment passed. Not so this year. On a recent trip to Lindfield, Sussex, I visited The Leaping Hare. You can read more about Lindfield here.

This is a small business which houses high quality clothing items and accessories. It's the sort of shop where both you and your mum can find something lovely to add to your wardrobes.

I spied the Victoria plimsolls in the shop window and was overjoyed! If the thought of plimsolls makes you come out in a cold sweat at the remembrance of school PE lessons in vests and leotards, then fear not. These are plimsolls for grown ups.

Trying to settle on a colour from the vast array (you can see the full collection here) is like trying to choose just one flavour of ice cream in an Italian ice cream parlour. You know what I mean. But in the end I opted for the pink -or, the 'framboise'. And so did my mam! So I look forward to the day we both turn up wearing them at the same time...

My favourite design is the Dora because it has all the benefits of wearing your favourite pair of Converse trainers, without looking really clunky. These are slender and the shorter toe means more of your foot is on show, which in turn means your legs look longer. Win, win.

Are they going to revolutionise the shoe world? Unlikely. But they will be your faithful go-to this summer, going perfectly with hazy summer dresses, pastel jeans, chino shorts...and everything else. As a tip, go up a size as they are quite snug.

I've already taken mine out for a spin to Wakehurst Place. These are adventuring shoes and, at £35, they are a snip. Buy them now!

Sarah x

And some touristy shots of Wakehurst Place, Sussex...