More than just shopping

So last week was a bitch. Apologies if that offends you but I seriously can’t think of a better word to describe it. I’m not sure if it was that Oscar was struggling with being off preschool. The week before had been half term and while he seemed to cope ok with that, this past Monday he had to miss it again, while he had his Speech and Language assessment at my favourite place, Royal Surrey County Hospital. So maybe it was that? Or maybe he was just sick of the sight of me and bored out of his mind. Either way the pair of us just seemed to spend the week miserable. By the time Friday rolled around and it was time for him to go back to preschool we both cheered as we arrived. One day I hope to enjoy my child’s school holidays, but for now I enjoyed it most when it was over.

So anyway last week left me feeling completely battered and in serious need of some time alone. It just so happens that next Saturday we have a weekend away in Devon to celebrate the 60th wedding anniversary of Ben’s maternal grandparents, and blow me if I didn’t need a new dress for the occasion. It’s been a while since I went actual clothes shopping. I mean yeah I got my new jeans recently and the occasional top, but it’s mainly been online or a ‘run in run out while the boys wait in the car’ job. And while it can achieve the same objectives, it just really isn’t the same.

So Saturday morning found me up and ready pretty early. I got the train to Guildford and made the decision on the way, to challenge myself. Since losing over 6 stone, clothes shopping has become much more fun that it ever was, but I do tend to gravitate to stores I know and feel comfortable in. And while I don’t think this is wholly unusual, I decided on Saturday that enough was enough! I was going to go in AND try things on in at least two shops I’d always been too scared to go in before. I mean it sounds rediculous. Who was ever afraid of a shop? I admit I was. But no more.

My first stop was a new Phase Eight store that has opened since my last trip to Guildford. I would never normally go somewhere so dressy, but it was a dress I was looking for, plus I’ve never been there before making it the first of my two ‘new stores’. While their stock was lovely, some of it was much more mother of the bride than I was looking for. I did try a black and white shift dress on, however even in the 18 it squashed my boobs flat – no mean feat in itself. I left, but not disheartened. I was thrilled I’d gone in and tried anything on at all. Sad I know!

The second shop was faithful old Monsoon. You may remember I got my dress for Ben’s Christmas party 2013 there, when I’d been losing weight for less than 6 months. I was thrilled that day to fit into a size 22 and wore that dress with such pride I was bursting (and not out of the dress!!) This time however I tried on a beautiful lace dress in a size 16! I was just as proud, but this time knew I had more possibilities to try. That while this was a beautiful frock, what if there were others out there I could fit in to? Other beautiful dresses still to try on. I left it behind the counter, just in case, and carried on.

The socks really set this Monsoon dress off dontcha think?

The socks really set this Monsoon dress off dontcha think?

Took me days to notice, but my sister in law pointed out how clear my collar bone is

Took me days to notice, but my sister in law pointed out how clear my collar bone is here!

And carry on I did. I checked out Jigsaw and Jack Wills, having been in neither shop before, although I didn’t try anything on as neither had anything that spoke to me. I then tried on three dresses in my beloved Joules, but none were right. I remained too scared to go into LK Bennet, but I think that had more to do with the price tag. What if I fell in love with something and just couldn’t afford it? I decided it was just best to move on!!

I’d been in Anthropologie several times before, in fact I discovered it in the States in 2008 and bought a beautiful leather handbag there, but I’d never bothered to look at their clothes. The biggest size they’d had in anything was a 16, so I’d never had reason to. Before now. Granted a lot of it was not my style. A bit on the Hipster side. And very expensive. I did find one dress in a print I adored, but luckily they didn’t have my size (I just couldn’t have justified the £148 price tag).

IMG_9854.JPG

Dress in Anthropologie. Not in my size luckily

But I did try on a couple of things. A grey midi dress with a slash neck and long sleeves (just not me at all) and this shirt. Oh my god this shirt. How gorgeous is this shirt? At home I’m Mama Bear and here I was depicted on a shirt with my Daddy bear and cub! I loved it. And had it fitted better on the bust I’d have paid the £68 they were asking for it. In fact the more I think about it the more I’m tempted to go back and make it fit 😉 !

IMG_9855.JPG

The cutest shirt. Damn you big boobs!

It seemed my bust was just against me on Saturday. Nearly everything I tried on was scuppered by my double Fs. I tried on a gorgeous spotty dress in Cath Kidston that, even in a 16, wouldn’t go anywhere near me. Clearly Ms Kidston cuts her clothes for those with a much smaller cup size. I didn’t leave too disheartened though. I did purchase 2.5 meters of the cutest fabric. I’ll have me a Cath Kidston dress even if I have to make it myself*

(*I’m not making it, my amazingly talented husband is. Is there anything this guy can’t turn his hand too. Website one day, summer dress the next!)

IMG_9873.JPG

Can you see me in this print?

So taking into account the boob situation I decided to give Pepperberry another whirl. You may remember last year I had no luck at all in the store where everything is cut to fit different chest sizes. Either nothing fitted or the styles were all wrong. But I’m all for second chances, so went in and grabbed a couple I liked the look of. I tried the first one on and that was that. I just knew this was the one. It made me giggle and smile and well you just know don’t you? It’s smart enough for a celebration meal, not not so smart that I look like I’m going to work, fancy enough to feel special, but not so fancy I look like I’m off to meet the queen and sassy enough to suit me, but not so sassy I look inappropriate! And the best bit was the size, a 16, but cut generously over the boobs. Means it can be fitted, but without restricting my lung capacity!! And I already have shoes and a bag to match, so all in all it’s perfect!

I promise I will post a picture of me wearing it after the event, but you know me, I like to keep a special dress for the special day. If you really can’t wait, here’s a picture of the dress on the Pepperberry site.

I spent the rest of the afternoon, well just happy, I guess. Relaxed and a little bit giddy at the same time. I bought a couple more bits in some old faithful shops. Jeans and sweater for Oscar in Next, some soap and shower gel in Lush. If you follow me on social media, you’ll now how much I lamented the come back of 90s fashion everywhere. Man, I wish I’d kept all my teenage wardrobe, I’d be making a killing on eBay right now. And if you ever wore a choker back in the day, guess what, they’re in again. Dig them out, you’ll be right on point! You shouldn’t laugh, but I couldn’t help myself! I went in Topshop for the first time in 19 years and funnily enough very little had changed! Did you know DUNGAREES were back in fashion, god love us!

IMG_9880.PNG

IMG_9881.PNG

But then I realised I hadn’t technically achieved my goal for the day. I’d been in new shops and I’d tried on clothes in familiar shops for the first time, but I needed to bring the two together one more time to complete my challenge. Which is how I came to try on a fabulous coat in Mango. In fact I liked a lot of the stuff in Mango and despite it being a shop I have literally never been in, I definitely would again. Ahh well, next time.

(And did you know Mango had a plus size section on their website? No me neither! Wonder if it’s new. Typical, now I don’t need it!)

Not normally into text on t shirts, but I really liked this

Not normally into text on t shirts, but I really liked this

I may not have had a great week last week, and my weight loss motivation may have been stalling recently, but a day alone, fitting into clothes I’d never dreamt would fit, in stores I was too scared to go in, well it’s cheered me up more than any cake could do. And the feeling of achievement I came home with has seen me through this week too. I wish I could afford to do it more often! I just can’t wait to wear my beautiful Pepperberry dress on Saturday.

I’ll let you know how it goes down with la familia.

xxx

Mama and More

 

 

A Dress to Impress – a wedding guest shopping haul

So you may or may not remember I had a rather unusual weekend planned for the weekend just gone. When I say unusual, the sad thing is that it didn’t used to be unusual. We had friends to stay and I went shopping to buy things for me. That used to be so run of the mill that it was hardly worth talking about. Today, time spent entertaining (anyone other than the boy) and focussing on me a2re a luxury and one to be absolutely cherished. If you’re new to this blog and wondering what on earth happened to turn something so ordinary into the extraordinary I can sum it up in one, sweet word.

Oscar.

Yeah, it’s the same old story. Girl meets boy, girl moves in with boy, boy and girl live together doing their ordinary things and taking them fully for granted for years, girl and boy get married, girl gets pregnant and kisses goodbye to shopping days and leisurely trips to the hairdressers. I kind of guessed this would be the case, which is one of the reasons we chose to wait to have him. We wanted to be selfish for a bit. I’m so glad we did.

Wistful sigh

Anywho! As these weekends are so precious to me now, I thought I’d record it in something of a haul post. I’ve never done one before (partly cos I don’t go shopping enough!) So I hope you enjoy.

Saturday morning saw my friend Michelle and I getting up and ready in record time. We left the house as soon as we could, leaving the boys to sort the children out. This was going to be a proper day off and although I know Michelle felt bad leaving her hubby with their daughter all day, I’m sorry Ben I really didn’t. Maybe it’s because I’m with Oscar all the time with no break at all in the week? Or maybe I’m just a heartless wench – whatever!

We chose to get the train so we didn’t have to worry about parking and we behaved like two excited girls on a school trip the whole way there (by which I mean giggling and stuff – we didn’t moon anyone or sing rude songs, well much 😉 ) When we arrived we cracked on with the job of finding me a dress for the wedding I’m off to this Saturday. The first shop I wanted to try was Pepperberry. As I’ve written about before I’ve had great success in Bravissimo, their sister shop, and wanted to try some of their dresses which are fitted depending on your chest size. I tried on so many styles and designs, in any number of combinations, from 18 Super Curvy to 16 Really Curvy, but not one fitted me properly (except one, which I quite liked until Michelle took a picture and I realised how mumsy it made me look – gah no!) So I left, feeling a little down. If I couldn’t find something in the shop that actually catered for my shape, what chance did I have elsewhere?

Bleh! Couldn't look more frumpy.

Bleh! Couldn’t look more frumpy.

We wandered up the high street where I saw Joules. I mentioned how gorgeous their little peoples clothes were and glanced through the open door, where I saw the most amazing mint and floral shift dress. It was so summery. I pointed it out and Michelle suggested I try it on, and any others that might be around. Despite my initial reticence (“nothing in here will fit me!”) I picked up two dresses and took them into the changing room. The mint dress sort of fitted except it was a bit too tight across the boobs (story of my life) and the sleeve length wasn’t right for me.

Not right for me but such a happy dress. Joules - Marcie Dress size 18

Not right for me but such a happy dress. Joules – Marcie Dress size 18

So I held out no hope for the ivory and floral number Michelle had picked out. It was the only dress I’d tried on that I could do up myself and it fitted perfectly. Everywhere. I took a step back looked at the mirror and welled up. It really accentuates my new shape. Since losing 6 stone I actually have a waist and boy does this frock set it off! I became so emotional I wasn’t actually sure what to do with myself and ended up ducking back into the cubicle and closing the curtain on a poor bewildered Michelle! After that I had no option but to buy it. It didn’t matter that it was a shape, colour, pattern, design I’d NEVER have bought or worn before. It was the dress. Simple.

Joules - Julie Dress, Size 18

Joules – Julie Dress, Size 18

Now I know this isn’t a picture of me in the dress, but I promise to post one once I’ve been to the wedding. I’d love my family to see me in it first; nothing beats the real thing for impact 😉

I couldn’t believe I’d achieved what I set out to, even before lunch! Which for the record we went to Nando’s for. Who knew Nando’s could be so low syn?! I had a Butterfly Chicken (medium heat) for 3 syns, a large spicy rice for 5.5 syns and a mixed leaf salad and a diet coke for nothing. A full on proper meal for 8.5 syns! The lowest sandwich I’ve ever found was 13 syns. Madness! It was really nice and I will definitely be going back.

After such an early dress success it meant I could relax and enjoy wandering round for the rest of the day. I got some make up which I’ve desperately needed for a while now. A new mascara to replace the rubbish No7 one I’m using (I used to love their 360 mascara til they stopped making it and flogged me one that is NOT the same), a neutral eye palette (great for travelling and pretty much the only colours I wear these days anyway) and a new creme blusher from MAC (I’ve used this blusher for years, but the last time it ran out I tried to economise by buying a much cheaper No7 one. What a false economy that was!)

A rare make up haul!

A rare make up haul!

Soap and Glory Thick & Fast Mascara in Super Jet Black - although I fear the wand may be too big for my stupidly short lashes :-(

Soap and Glory Thick & Fast Mascara in Super Jet Black – although I fear the wand may be too big for my stupidly short lashes 🙁

Soap & Glory Lid Stuff

Soap & Glory Lid Stuff Neutral Eyeshadow Palette

MAC Cremeblend Blush in Ladyblush - which sounds a bit too much like lady bush to me!

MAC Cremeblend Blush in Ladyblush – which sounds a bit too much like lady bush to me!

And in keeping with my theme of trying more bold summer wear, I also got a t-shirt from M&S in an amazing neon orange. Had I not worn it yesterday and splattered pomegranate juice all over it while making tea last night I would have posted a picture! I’m hoping it comes out in the wash, but for now you’ll have to believe me that its an awesome colour and it makes me look uber tanned!

We had the most relaxing day, just pottering and chatting and I want to say thank you to Michelle for coming with me and to Ben and Lee for looking after the children. I know Oscar wasn’t the easiest to handle when I left, but he needs this as much as I do. I came back feeling like a different person. Only that different person was just me and I don’t often feel like that.

I’m so excited for this coming weekend. Oscar gets to see his favourite person in the world (his cousin Lucas) and to have a night away from me. I get to see my family and I get to see Stacy marry her Craig. I also get to wear my dress and feel like a grown up.

I can’t bloody wait.

 

 

Not sponsored, not paid for, just me

 

 

Mama and More