Style: Autumn/Winter capsule wardrobe

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The term ‘capsule wardrobe’ is certainly not a new one. However, a quick Google will soon find a whole myriad of ‘rules’ and a vast variety of ‘how to’ guides. In my mind, there’s no hard and fast way that capsule wardrobes have to be put together. Some people protest that when they expand to 30+ items, that they can hardly in considered capsule. But I reckon, that whatever works for you is best!

I don’t have a huge space to store clothes, but equally live in a climate where it really wouldn’t work to wear the same clothes all year round. For that reason, I like to keep the same basic wardrobe but to update it or rotate items seasonally.

Back in March, I put together my wardrobe for Spring which saw me through most of the Scottish summer too. I had to add in a few pairs of shorts for our holiday in America, but for the most part it has remained the same.

Obviously, the return to work necessitated that I also needed to address my formal wardrobe. I’m still about 4lbs above my ‘normal’ weight now but was well over a stone heavier upon my return. For that reason, a capsule wardrobe made more sense than ever; I didn’t have the budget for vast variation but needed something that would fit well and be functional.

I do still like to adopt a more casual look on the weekends though; and actually changing my clothes is a good way to ‘switch off’ work mode. Therefore, for Autumn/Winter 16 I effectively have a capsule with two subsections. As I said before – my wardrobe, my rules!

Capsule wardrobe for ‘work’

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1-3. Hobbs suit

I love a good tailored suit but in teaching you really need clothes that are hard wearing and practical. In the past I’ve coveted more unique designs or fabrics; but in reality, adaptability has to win. Hobbs certainly isn’t what I would deem ‘affordable’ fashion; however it does provide cost effectiveness in that it wears well and provides options that are machine washable. I have some beautiful LK Bennett suits (in a smaller size) but I found I didn’t wear them often purely due to the cost of dry cleaning.

By buying a jacket that has a co-ordinating dress and skirt, I have so many more options available. I could go more informal by matching the dress with a cardigan; and I can of course match a variety of tops with the skirt that can vary through the seasons.

4. White shirt

I attribute a crisp white shirt for getting me a job to begin with so it makes sense to retain one in my wardrobe. On days where it’s necessary to adopt a formal look, I find that you can’t really go wrong with a well fitted shirt. I favour Thomas Pink for shirts but as long as it’s clean and crisp – I wouldn’t care too much about the label.

5. Sleeveless blouse

I have at least one day a week where I teach for several hours in a room with no windows and no fresh air. It’s incredibly hard to regulate the heat in the room and find it can get unbearably hot sometimes. By having a top that can easily be layered with a jacket, I don’t look like I’m heading to the beach and can adapt easily to the demands of the day.

6. Simple t-shirt

A t-shirt wouldn’t be the first thing I would consider ‘formal’ but I don’t think they should be ignored. By choosing a different fabric mix or by pairing it with a formal jacket, they can easily be ‘dressed up’. Additionally they are comfortable and fulfil that all important rule of being easily washable.

7. LK Bennett heels

After suffering with years of blisters from cheap shoes, I finally realised that the shoes that had lasted me the longest were sadly the most expensive. I have a few pairs from LK Bennett and my gold flats are going into their 7th year of service. I decided that rather than buy two or three cheap pairs for a year, it made more sense to invest in a single pair. Whilst gossip papers may not be the most reliable, it’s also said that the Duchess of Cambridge wears LK Bennett shoes. Given the time that she’s on her feet – it follows that I’m not the only one to find them comfortable.

8. Duo flats

Edinburgh used to be home to a wonderful branch of Duo shoes. Sadly, it has now disappeared but the brand has emerged online rebranded as ‘Ted and Muffy’. Whilst not the name I would’ve chosen, I would hope that there shoes continue to be of good quality. I’ve had two pairs of black patent flats from Duo over a span over about nine years; and on days where I just can’t face the heels – these are my go to item.

Capsule Wardrobe for casual wear

Last Autumn I posted about what I was wearing that week – true to the idea of capsule wardrobe – things haven’t changed that much! However, I have admittedly been attracted to few things that are probably more of a passing trend…

Capsule wardrobe for ‘play’

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1. Dungarees

I am not convinced that these are the most flattering item but I think they have a number of advantages. They are incredibly comfortable and practical for running round after kids. As an added bonus for me, they are also great for breast feeding. I’ve had a lot of positive comments whilst wearing them and they can be paired with lots of items from my wardrobe.

2. Chunky cardigan

Layering is crucial for me when the weather begins to dip. I got a beautiful chunky knit from Hollister last year that looks as good as when I got it. The colour goes with a lot of different things in my wardrobe and feels autumnal to me.

3. Ponte leggings

These also featured in my Spring capsule wardrobe and are a rediscovered favourite. They didn’t fit that well before but do now I’ve lost a bit of weight. They are thick enough to provide some warmth and the high waist helps to hide my mummy tummy. They’re easy to pair with my boots and even my husband has commented they look nice.

4. Checked shirt

I had a myriad of shirts in my wardrobe whilst on maternity leave for good reason. They’re easy to layer, wash well, and provide easy boob access for feeding. The brushed cotton ones I have are so soft I’m not about to part with them.

5. Slogan sweatshirt

I posted about Slogan sweatshirts last Spring and I actually have three in my wardrobe. I find that they’re easy to throw on and great for running about with the kids. Katie has a similar one in Pink and after all, twinning is winning!

6. Striped top

I’m not sure how long I’ve had this top before it’s pretty much a staple in Mum wardrobes. I think they’re universally flattering and are obviously easy to throw on in a hurry. I pair mine with pretty much everything in my wardrobe.

7. Ripped jeans

I needed to buy new jeans after finding my maternity jeans were falling down but I didn’t quite fit in my old ones. Fortunately I found a pair from Top Shop that had a nice amount of stretch but also a good high waist to pull everything in a bit. I also decided that although ripped jeans might feel a bit ‘trendy’; I’m not ready to be overly sensible enough yet.

8. Chelsea boots

Another purchase from last year, my Ugg boots in disguise are still going strong. These are waterproof and look nice, but are lined in sheep skin and are soft like my Uggs of old. Rapidly becoming my favourite boot of all time.

9. Stan Smiths

Whilst not great for wet weather, these are so adaptable that they have to stay in my winter capsule wardrobe too. I can pair them with everything in my wardrobe and they wouldn’t look silly. I’ve seen they do a slightly slimmed down version now which I would probably opt for next time, but only because I have giant feet after two pregnancies!

10. Padded jacket

Finally, I have a couple of Winter coats lurking in the cupboards but this one is sufficient for the moment. Bought from Hollister in the sale, it’s incredibly toasted with the added bonus of having a hood that stays up. I’m glad I have a more weatherproof one for the really horrible weather: but on days when it’s not too wet this one it great.

What are you main ‘must have’ items for Autumn/Winter? Do you have a capsule wardrobe or prefer to have a bit of everything? I’d love to know if you think I’m missing something crucial for the season ahead as I could always add it to my Christmas list!

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November in Retrospect

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Time can be a funny thing sometimes. In some ways it feels like November has simply flown by, but when looking back an awful lot has happened. It’s like Halloween was both yesterday and a life time ago. Although I’m definitely going to yesterday given that there’s still jack-o’-lanterns sitting in my garden! I’m aware at how quickly the kids are changing and wanted to take some time to just reflect on what’s been happing. Hence, I give you November in Retrospect:

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Continue reading

Design: Shop local

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Last Thursday, I treated myself to an evening off childcare in order to venture out to Bon Tot’s house party. Bon Tot has long been a favourite haunt and they had good cause to celebrate; the business was turning two and the shop one. They’ve had so much success that it’s only right they should party! If they weren’t winners already they definitely won the night with prosecco, a beer keg, and pizza!

Whilst the shop was packed out with people, I did have time to pick up a few things for the kid’s Christmas. I written about buying Birthday gifts for other people’s children before; but this was also a great opportunity to update my repertoire too.

As I was loitering in the corner admiring all the things Bon Tot had to offer, I pondered the importance of shopping ‘local.’ We are so lucky to have a range brilliant shops in Edinburgh and with that in mind – here’s my top 5 reasons that you should shop local too: Continue reading

Fitness: Finding time to workout

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Life sometimes feels insanely busy. Work is demanding and I always seem to have a never-ending ‘to do’ list. I think all parents with small children must be in a similar boat. Once everything is ‘done’ the priority really is spending time with the kids but should we find time to workout?

Somehow going to the gym or making time for a run seems lower down on the agenda. It somehow seems selfish to be doing something that is a solo activity. That doesn’t involve the children or entertain them in any way.

Whilst, there’s obviously ‘active’ things we can do together. Realistically swimming with the kids is NOT the same as doing laps for half an hour. Thomas is undoubtably heavy but lifting him in the air does NOT replace a kettle bell session. So why make time? Continue reading

Activities: Play Schemas

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I don’t know how atypical I am as a parent, but I do like to watch my children play rather more than I like to join in. I find it fascinating to watch them evolve their own little worlds of play and to see what unfolds in their minds.

I’ve ascertained that I feel guilty about most things and occasionally think that I should get more involved. I’m just not exactly sure what I would do – am I meant to guide play by bringing out set toys? Perhaps set up a scene for them to exist within? Or tell them what certain objects are for and what they should act out? I’m just not sure I have the capacity to sit and push a train back and forth.

That’s not to say that I’m not around whilst they are playing; I just like to stop and observe from afar. I’m happy to act on instruction and set things out, and I find that this usually results in a day of play that’s varied and fun. For example, today Katie has played with her playdoh, played with her Sylvanians, and is currently scooting round the house with her rucksack on playing ‘ambulance driver who also runs coffee shop.’ I’ve had to facilitate this by occasionally fetching things or setting things up in a certain way, but I have a feeling that if I had to tried to interfere it would’ve resulted in some severe reprimanding.

Thomas is also really interesting to watch at the moment because he doesn’t particularly gravitate towards a type of toy. In fact sometimes, he would be happier playing with wires and plugs. In honesty he would actually be in heaven sitting up high and dropping things on the floor.

I was thinking about these patterns of play and reminded of something that I read at University on ‘play schemas’: Continue reading

Activities: 50 things to do

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Life is sometimes unfair. Life doesn’t always go your way. You don’t always get what you want.

Those are the truths that we have to learn from a very young age. They are also those of which we are reminded more often than I deem necessary. But there is no doubt that they cannot be avoided.

I see Katie’s frustration with the world on almost a daily basis as she struggles with not getting her way. She has to get out of bed. Wear clothes. Eat nutritious food. Not have sweets on a daily basis. It’s tough from her perspective.

But it’s times like these that I’m reminded of the importance of developing resilience. Kids need to be equipped with the skills to be able to cope when things don’t go to plan. They do need to get up when they’ve fallen and carry on. Continue reading

Food: Iced biscuits

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I’m not what I would consider a ‘baker’. It’s not something I do incredibly often, I find it marginally stressful (I don’t like mess), and yet it’s something that I return to with alarming frequency. Perhaps it’s the Bake Off effect, or maybe my drive to get the kids to not watch TV all day; but I do like producing something that looks good and that other people can enjoy.

As always, for this years Bake Off I attempted to ‘bake along’. In my version of this game, I simply have to make something inspired by one of the rounds of the week. Continue reading

Style: Girl’s outfits for A/W16

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I was recently putting a bag of Katie’s old clothes together ready to hand on to a friend when I realised how ‘functional’ her wardrobe had become. As a fairly headstrong (read stubborn and opinionated) individual, Katie has pretty much dictated her wardrobe for the last year or so. As a result it’s mostly comprised of leggings, psychedelic colours and garish prints. Sorting through her 18-24 month wardrobe was like going through a bag of delights – muted colours, beautiful dresses, and to top it off the most divine velvet blue coat.

Last winter I bought her the cutest duffle coat which she generally refused to wear. More often than not, claiming that it ‘hurt’ her. In HER opinion, the only acceptable Winter wear was her Polarn O Pyret padded coat. As a result, this year I just bought her the same coat – obviously in the size up – to make for an easier life. Given that it’s a sensible Winter coat – so far, so good.

However, determined not to lose the joy of dressing my girl in beautiful clothes quite yet – I set myself the challenge of expanding her Autumn/Winter wardrobe with a balance between the two worlds – fun patterns and colours, comfortable to wear, suitable for play, but in a style that I would look back on with affection rather than exasperation.

On the whole – we’ve had a fair amount of success: Continue reading

Design: Smiggle

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I wasn’t sure what to expect from Smiggle before our visit, but given I’m not one to turn down an opportunity – last Saturday I found myself with Ben and Katie, ready to explore the newest stationary shop to hit Princes Street.

Following our visit, I can thoroughly understand the catchline ‘Smiggle – where a smile meets a giggle!’ Continue reading

Food: packed lunch for kids

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One of the many things I worried about upon my return to work was providing packed lunches for the then three-year old Katie. Although she had obviously attended nursery before, they had always provided a hot lunch. At her preschool there isn’t a facility for this and I was really concerned about getting things ‘right’.

At home, I would usually just ask Katie what she wanted to eat, maybe giving a few options but really just throwing together stuff from the fridge. If she was still hungry, she could obviously just ask for more so I usually opted to give her a small portion to begin and go from there. I knew from parent’s evening at school that some parents packed ‘too much’ but I wasn’t actually sure what constituted too much.

Additionally at both home and her old nursery, she also ate a wide variety of food each week. I imagined that I would just fall into a pattern of packing the same food each day or her becoming more picky after seeing what other children were eating. Or even that she would just end up feasting on one particularly food group as it’s so easy to just chuck in a load of packaged things that are a bit ‘samey.’

It was therefore with some relief that I discovered the ‘Yumbox.’ Continue reading