Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Top 5 Tips for Winter Blues

I feel like we need to make a public apology. Last week we celebrated shedding our winter wardrobes for lighter spring clothes... and the Beast from the East has made a second, miniature appearance. We jinxed it and we're really sorry!

This winter seems to just be draaaaaaagging on and on, with no sight of ending. As I mentioned last week, March is normally the month where flowers bloom, the sun finally touches our faces and we stop being mole people. not this year! Even with the lighter evenings, the biting cold makes me just want to hide under my duvet and wait it out. Rather than sleep my way to spring, I'd quite like to try to keep an even keel. 

Here are a few things I actually do to shake myself awake:

1.) Live by my Lumie Bodyclock.
The artificial sunrise alarm may seem gimmicky (and expensive) but ohmyword it is brilliant. Mine is 5 years old and still going strong. At the moment I'm not actually using it for purpose, which is to gently wake you with a slow sunrise-style light. The sunrise is getting there by itself. However, I do sometimes turn the light on in the evening to trick my brain into thinking it's still bright daylight. It helps me avoid the 7pm doze- especially when I'm aiming to exercise at home. Which brings us to-

2.) Exercise.
Jeez, I hate it. It's always the advice for any mental health issues though, and with good reason. Walking in fresh air- and making the most of any daylight hours you can eek out- is ideal. I also like to do yoga or use my exercise bike the second I walk through my front door. (Lumie light on full whack)  Otherwise I find myself making excuses and that's me trapped for the evening, slowly slouching down into a lying down position. 

How did that blanket get there? Might as well close my eyes, just for a second...

3.) Make plans.
Basically, do the opposite of what you feel like doing. By filling my diary with nice things- and people!- the days go faster, I feel productive and I don't have the time to mope around. This month I'm chasing around after my toddler nephews and nieces, which keeps me busy!
But I alternate this with evenings of scheduled slobbing around because I recognise that, despite my best efforts, my energy levels are still in conservation mode. I'm pretty bad for overdoing it to the point of burn out. Scheduling laziness weirdly removes the guilt of flaking plans for a rest, and I never find myself cancelling my Netflix plans! ;)

4.) Cook.

A couple of years ago I had a light bulb moment. I've always enjoyed baking sweet treats but I really didn't enjoy making meals for other people. Because, pressure. I get a Come Dine With Me sweat on. My growing Pinterest boards and international flatmates really boosted my savoury repertoire and having to avoid gluten has made me more experimental. Getting creative in the kitchen has totally changed my outlook. It keeps me healthy, gives me things to do, saves me money, and it's really sociable. People like being fed!
If cooking isn't your bag, I also like to do something tactile that gets me away from all the screens. Knitting, drawing, growing kefir bacteria (I wish I was joking but it's Ian's latest hobby), get your hands busy!

5.) Dress up.
Last week I talked about not being in the mood to dress nice, and it's a rut I fall into easily. It's not just the energy required for styling an outfit. It's also that when my mood is low I'm subconsciously drawn to plain, dark clothes. It's a habit that I need to kick because in the long run it can pep you up all day. I'm not someone who dresses up or wears makeup every day, but I often kick myself later on in the day that I didn't bother. Especially when it comes to selfies! A dash of bright lippie or the addition of bold earrings can psychologically boost you.

Now that I've written this, the sun seems to be peaking out. I'm not even mad. Hopefully this blog post doesn't have longevity- I'd much rather have the warm weather than the views!

What are your tips for boosting your mood in this rubbish weather?

Thursday, 15 March 2018

Styled by Helen: Bold Prints

Brining in spring with a patterned Zara dress
Accessorising for Sprin with Freya Alder lady pin, Abbie Gaiger earrings and Spex Pistol glasses
Brass pin shaped like a woman worn on a geometric patterened dress
Scottish blogger wearing colourful patterened Zara dress for Spring

I'm totally in love with Kim's outfit for our Bold Prints theme. In fact, I was so in love with it that I got distracted and decided to wear a dress that didn't actually have a bold print. The pattern may be in your face, but it's not printed on the fabric - it is the fabric. Woven not printed - doh! Considering I studied clothing design for 4 years, that is one rookie mistake. So, let's forget about that and just pretend that it's a print, ok?

This dress was a rather last minute purchase. I wanted something fun to wear to the opening of the new exhibition at work. It's called Shonky: The Aesthetics of Awkwardness and the artworks are all very bold and colourful. Of course I wanted my outfit to fit in - I love dressing to a theme after all! I'd ordered the macaroni cheese tshirt that I featured on my December wishlist and thought I could wear it with my yellow tropical print trousers for a suitably Shonky look. It turned out that I'd left it too late and the tee didn't arrive in time. Realising my planned outfit wasn't going to be an option, I ended up "accidently" going into a few shops and "accidently" buying this dress.

Spring dressing in a bold patterned dress from Zara

I was mostly attracted to it because the pattern reminded me of jazzy bus seat covers. Plus it's super comfy to wear and I'm all about the comfy clothing. The only thing that made me a little apprehensive about it was the fit. It's definitely a little more figure hugging than I'm used to wearing. I'm not one to be overly bothered about my weight but I know I'm not exactly the smallest dress size I've ever been. But hey, this is what I look like and I ain't going to let some extra lumps and bumps stop me from wearing my bus pattern dress of dreams. Also, I'm a big believer in 'the more you wear something, the more confident you feel in it'. That's certainly true for my love of bright colours and patterns. Back in my school days, wearing a patterned belt felt a bit too out there but now I seek out the brightest items whenever I go shopping and feel more than happy to walk down the street in clashing prints. Fake it till you make it and all that. So I bought the dress, wore it to the opening, had a great time and felt fab.

Dressing for Spring in a patterned dress with fun accessories by Freya Alder and Abbie Gaiger

Dress | Zara
Boots | Primark
Brooch | Freya Alder
Earrings | Abbie Gaiger
Belt | H&M
Glasses | c/o Spex Pistols

Kim asked in her post "how are you dressing for Spring?" My answer: in bold, patterned dresses. As long as they're stretchy and comfy, of course. I have my Monki one and now I have this one too.  Combined with my midi skirt looks from last summer, I'm pretty much sorted for warmer weather. Let's just hope we get some more of it!

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Styled by Kimberley: Bold Prints

I don't want to jinx us all but I think that warmer weather may be on its way. Or at least, I am hoping so. So, this week we are shrugging off the winter coats we needed last month to show off some bold prints for spring!

I've written before about how I am affected by SAD (and given my 5 tips for overcoming winter blues). I hibernate in winters, and this year seems to really be dragging. I think it's because I'm acutely aware of the chronic fatigue that accompanies my coeliac disease. It's even harder to keep my energies going in the long, dark Scottish evenings. When I'm really not feeling like doing anything, I don't feel like putting my energy into dressing up nicely (I know, not like me at all), which is why I'm fond of an all black combo. I recently realised that I've been channeling Shirley Carter from Eastenders in my black turtle neck and camel coat outfit. She is possibly the unlikeliest of style icons!

Anyway, I've been thinking recently of the best way to make your outfit look put together without any fuss. Of course, you can go all black with minimalist jewellery, like I generally do each January. But now that layering is not as necessary, it's time to think of something a little more interesting.

Adding colour and pops of print is also one way to feel like brighter days are on their way. Double win!

For this look, I chose a large print in monochrome so that it didn't feel too loud. The dress is quite long, meaning that there is more surface area for the pattern, which gives it that oopmh I love in an outfit! What I love about a good dress is that it makes a statement all by itself. It's the crockpot of styling, doing all the work in one piece. Okay, okay, it's technically quite lazy styling. But if it works, don't over egg it.

I have doubled up the tropical theme with these amazing monstera leaf earrings I got for Christmas. I've been itching to get them out! Tying in the pink glasses, lip colour and ring throughout keeps it consistent. The ridiculous green eyeshadow elevates it to the level of gauche I love. I know it's too much for some so let's call that an optional extra ;)

I've also paired it with these boots, as I'm so excited to be able to walk around in heels after all that snow last month. I was beginning to feel like I'd had the boots for ages without being able to give them a whirl. I'm not a fan of wearing long boots that sit higher then skirt hems, so the ankle boot is perfect for longer lengths. It's also forcing me away from my default black for a softer look.

Dress | Barbican collection at Warehouse
Boots | Primark
Monstera Drop Earrings | Mica Peet
Muir Earrings | c/o IOLLA
Ring | Anais Paulard

How are you dressing for Spring?

Thursday, 8 March 2018

International Women's Day Wishlist

Today is International Women's Day so we thought we'd make some special wishlists to celebrate, picking out some fabulous feminist and female themed items that we would love to own. Take a look:

Wishlist celebrating women for International Women's Day featuring Deep Breaths Collective, Devine Gunn, Glasgow Women's Library, Rachel Antonoff and Tatty Devine
1.) Hysterical Female Tshirt | Rachel Antonoff
From reproductive system sweaters to equal pay tshirts, there are a number of fabulously female designs in Rachel Antonoff's collection. I particularly like this Hysterical Female one as it's a simple and strong way of claiming back what has in the past been a ridiculous medical term and a lazy insult.

2.) Sew on Patch | Devine Gunn
Devine Gunn design with a fabulously feminist slant. I love this patch which uses a quote from The Handmaid's Tale. In fact, I love it so much I bought two of them to give as Christmas presents. Now maybe it's time I get one for myself.

3.) Suffragette Banner Necklace | Tatty Devine
In collaboration with Museum of London, Tatty Devine created this necklace celebrating Vote 100 - marking 100 years since Parliament passed the law allowing the first women to vote. It's part of a small collection in which each piece is fab, but I especially love the colours and message behind this one.

4.) Girls to the Front Tote | Deep Breaths Collective
A handy tote bag is always a great idea and this one also features a strong message in an awesome font. On top of all that, they donate 10% of profits to the Solidarity not Silence Campaign. Win win!

5.) Slogan Mug | Glasgow Women's Library
Designed by Sally Hackett and made by Anna Lewandowska-Mirska for Glasgow's Women's Library. I love Sally's illustration style and the whole range of designs are empowering and just plain fun.

1.) Me Too T Shirt | The Bloushop
I came across this brand one of my favourite ways- through another blogger, Eleanor Claudie. I take that as a double win for supporting women. Also, I just really like the bold and fun design of this t shirt (in collaboration with Lauren Mitchell) that addresses the dark and serious subject matter of the #MeToo campaign in a wearable way.

2.) We Should All Be Feminists | Chimimanda Ngozi Adiche
You can't talk about feminist gifts without mentioning the book-length essay by Nigerian author Chimimanda Ngozi Adiche. Describing modern day feminism and the micro aggressions that women suffer daily in a witty and thoughtful way- everyone should read this.

3.) Venus pin | Kirsten Manzi
This may look familiar because Helen has one already, but this pin is worth sharing again. Apart from being pretty, and pretty obvious that it celebrates women, 10% of each sale is donated to Dundee International Women's Centre.

4.) Stay Loud Print | Doodlepeople
I like the subtlety of this quote but it immediately brings to mind the notion that women should always be nice and not rock the boat. It's good to be reminded that we have a voice and should use it. I also like the tongue-in-cheek puns of some of their patches, such as 'pizza rolls not gender roles'.

5.) Future is Female pin | Sassy Girl
I feel like I've seen this astronaut pin floating around (geddit?) Pinterest for quite some time but it's been hard to pin down where it started. This version is cute and affordable.

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Finding the Perfect Glasses with IOLLA

IOLLA Stockbridge glasses boutique in Edinburgh
Colourful IOLLA spectacles in their new Stockbridge, Edinburgh store
Selection of glasses in IOLLA's new store in Stockbridge, Edinburgh
Affordable and stylish glasses at IOLLA

We've both been glasses wearers since our childhood years (Helen since primary 7 and Kim since primary 5) so it's fair to say we know a thing or two about sporting a pair of spectacles. We've gone through many different stages; from ridiculously small and thin metal monstrosities to big ol' Deirdre frames and a whole lot in between. We both have quite a collection now - these are something we wear Every. Single. Day. so it's nice to have a bit of variety - and over the years we've got to know what we like and what suits us. But if you're new to the whole glasses wearing game, we know it can be a bit daunting. So, after a recent visit to IOLLA's new Edinburgh store, we thought it might be a good idea to share our tips for finding the perfect pair of specs:

Making shopping for eyewear painless with IOLLA
1.) Know Your Budget
Glasses can end up being ridiculously expensive. First there's the frames, then there's the lenses, then there's lens thinning, not to mention all the different types of coatings. It sure can add up! It's helpful to have a realistic idea of what your budget is and don't be afraid to tell your optician/glasses shop of choice what you're looking to spend. That way you won't end up falling in love with a super expensive pair that are out of budget.

If you do want to try on all the glasses without worrying about it then IOLLA is a great place to start. Their price promise means their specs are super affordable and their transparent pricing stops you having  to stress about 'added extras'.

£65 for frames, single vision thinned lenses with anti-glare and anti-scratch coatings or £125 if you require multi focus lenses - easy! Even with Kimberley's strong prescription it's a brilliant deal.

Scottish Blogger, Kimberley, tries on pink glasses in IOLLA Edinburgh
5 tips for finding the perfect pair of glasses
2.) Try, Try, Try

In our opinion, the best way to pick your perfect glasses is to try on as many as possible. This is especially important if you're not used to seeing yourself with face furniture. For us, this is the most fun part. It's like those movie changing room montages without all the faff of having to get undressed! Go for different shapes, sizes and colours until you start to get a feel for what works for you and then you can hone it down. IOLLA have a great selection of styles and, what's even better is, each frame comes in a selection of colours, making it even easier to find the exact right frames to suit your style. They've also just brought out a whole range of new spring shapes and have updated  some old favourites in new colourways.

Scottish bloggers Wardrobe Conversations share their top tips for shopping for spectacles
3.) Come Prepared

If you're in the market for glasses it usually means that your eyesight ain't so hot. This makes trying on glasses a little tricky. Looking at a fuzzy face in the mirror or having to go super close to focus doesn't give you a great idea of what you actually look like in all those different specs.  Our advice: be prepared. That could mean wearing contact lenses or just making sure your phone has plenty of battery and storage space for a number of different selfies. Seeing photos of yourself in different frames can definitely help when it comes to picking the right pair for you.

4.) Ask For Help
This could be asking your bestie to come along to give their opinion, doing an Instagram poll with the selfies you take, chatting to the staff or getting the thoughts of other customers. We did all of those while visiting IOLLA and it really helped us make the tough final decisions. The staff were all super helpful and, because they knew the products, they were able to make suggestions and point us in the right direction. Plus, they were all doing a great job of modelling some gorgeous IOLLA frames themselves.

5.) Go Back
Finding the perfect pair of glasses doesn't stop when you've picked your frame. Getting them to fit right is also very important. Having uncomfortable glasses is no fun, so if your frames arrive and they're too loose or too tight don't be afraid to say. They're usually really easy to adjust and most opticians are happy to help. And, if you're prescription changes, it's super easy to get new lenses popped into your favourite frames. Just be warned: it can get pricey if, like us, you have a number of favourite frames!

Sunglasses in IOLLA's new Edinburgh store
5 top tips for making shoppin for eyewear easy, painless and fun

After following our own advice we were super happy with the frames we picked out (Kim opted for Muir in Baby Pink Fade and Helen went for Wallace in Walnut Tortoise, in case you wondered) so we hope these glasses buying tips also help you pick out your dream frames! If you have any specific spectacle questions do feel free to get in touch - we have a wealth of glasses wearing (and buying) experience between us.

If you fancy trying out IOLLA (and we would certainly recommend that you do) you can find them in Finnieston, Glasgow or check out their fab new store in Stockbridge, Edinburgh. You can also find out more and shop all their frames online, including their awesome new spring range. We already have our eyes on some more frames we want to add to our collections - Swinton and Inglis, we're looking at you!

IOLLA gifted us each a pair of glasses for review purposes. We came up with these tips and opinions all on our own.