Back to School :: Teacher Style with F&F*

Back to School :: Teacher Style with F&F*

When I was little, a new school year meant a new uniform and a pair of fitted shoes. Some things don’t change. This year, the new term starts with F&F. I’d never considered clothing at Tesco before, however their new range ticks every box for me. It’s quirky, on trend and dare I say it, practical.

As you know, I am a primary teacher with a penchant for pretty dresses. The clothes I wear at work need to reflect my personal style, whilst remaining professional and comfortable. The kind folks at F&F were kind enough to gift me with £40 to send me back to school feeling confident and ready for a new term. I chose to invest in two dresses that I could style in different ways. 

Firstly, I chose this fit and flare dress for £22. My wardrobe holds an abundance of patterned blouses with quirky collars. I’m always looking for alternative ways of wearing them, rather than teaming them with the traditional black trousers. This bottle green tunic dress fits seamlessly into my wardrobe. What’s better? The dress is knee length. Once the warmer weather arrives, I’ll be able to wear it without a blouse or tights and still feel professional. 

Secondly, I chose this heart print tea dress for £18. After seeing this instore, I was delighted to discover it came in petite sizing when ordering online. You can also buy this dress in burgundy, a colour tipped to be huge for autumn/winter. I chose the black dress as I felt it would be incredibly versatile. I can add colour with my tights and choice of handbag. I also plan to wear this dress with black tights and my yellow satchel. 

Did you notice my shoes? Of course, they’re new too and also F&F. Using Tesco Clubcard Boost, I was able to turn £5 of my Clubcard vouchers into £10. With a sensitive sole, these Mary Jane wedges are so comfy. Whilst being a bargain at £15, they provide me with a little extra height and save my feet from the pain of heels after a 12-hour day.

I’m so pleased with each of my F&F purchases. They’ve given my wardrobe a new lease of life and will definitely help me to feel confident for my fifth (fifth!) year in teaching. It’s clear to see I’m a convert and will most definitely be returning when it’s time to update my work wear again. 

What style rules do you live by for work? 
Have you ever bought work wear from F&F?  
As always, much love,
Donna x
Lily Collins :: Get her look with New Look

Lily Collins :: Get her look with New Look

When I saw Lily Collins on the front of this month’s Glamour magazine, I thought ‘Who IS this girl?’ and, most importantly ,’Can I BE her?’ Impeccably dressed in a red jacquard dress, a perfect side swept fringe and bouffant hair, she looks like an extra from the American show Mad Men. With sixties dressing making a come back this autumn/winter, her styling has captured the look effortlessly. 

Turns out Lily is a movie star with a famous dad called Phil, you might have heard of him. It’s foolish to think I could actually be her, but I can get her look with this range of glamorous red dresses from New Look. Along with sixties styling, red makes a welcome return this autumn/winter. This range of New Look dresses are on hand to see you kitted out in the latest trend. Here’s my wishlist:

// 1. Tokyo Doll Red Zip Dress £22.99 // 2. Red Floral Lace Skater Dress £19.99 // 3. Burgundy Heart Print Dress £19.99 // 4. Red Bardot Neck Skater Dress £9.99 // 5. Tenki Red Geo Print Dress £26.00 //
With my love of red, I’d snaffle any of these dresses for my autumn/winter wardrobe. I love the versatility of the Tenki Red Geo Print Dress. For me, it’s the perfect dress. I’d wear it for nights out, sixties eyeliner and beehive in tow! For the day, I can already envisage it with my thin grey knit jumper, biker jacket and chunky boots. Oh! Let’s not forget a mustard scarf for when the weather gets a little cooler. 

Now, no one likes to be a total copy cat and the burgundy heart dress suits my style to a tee. My wardrobe is splattered with hearts; chambray shirt with hearts, yellow floaty skirt with hearts, pink shirt dress, you guessed it, with hearts! The list is endless. However, there’s always room for another dress, especially in burgundy!  It’s a winning combination. Mixed with knitted tights, a cream chunky knit cardigan and brown riding boots, I can see many an autumn walk in this. 

Whatever your taste or style, whether it be shapely bodycon dresses or sublime ball dresses, New Look has a range of budget busting dresses to take you into the new season. 

Which dress is your favourite? Are you style crushing on Miss Collins too?

As always, much love, 

Donna x

Guest Post :: Karen from Tiny Bird Heart talks Ebay

Guest Post :: Karen from Tiny Bird Heart talks Ebay

You’re all aware of my eBay mini series, aren’t you? Imaginatively named ‘How to eBay‘, I aim to share my eBay secrets with you! If you missed it, just click here to find out more. Whilst I’m strolling Viennese streets and indulging in speciality coffee, fear not! For I have one vintage loving,  eBay seller extraordinaire on hand to share her top tips for buying and selling on everybody’s favourite marketplace.

Hi everyone, I’m Karen and I blog over at Tiny Bird Heart, and the lovely Donna has let me loose with a guest post! I am a vintage buyer and seller and love nothing more than scouring car boot sales, charity shops and the internet for wonderfully whimsical things for me, my home or etsy shop, Twentythreetwo Whimsy. 

I’ve been an eBay user since 2005 (oh my, that’s more than 8.5 years!) and I’m a little bit too excited that I’m away to hit the 500 feedback mark!

Buying on Ebay

I remember that the first thing that I ever bought was a fake Louis Vuitton scarf, and this initial transaction had already taught me some valuable lessons, which I apply to all eBay purchases, but especially vintage ones:
Look carefully at the images
The pictures usually draw us in and make us want to know more. They not only show us what the item is, but can also give us clues about the condition, colour, size, etc. Look carefully for any flaws (including loose threads, tears, stains, discolouration and missing pieces). Check that the images cover all angles that you’d like to see.
Read the description
Do the details match what you want the item to be? Does it tell you what you need to know? What does it NOT say? Has the seller mentioned specifically any flaws you’ve seen in the pictures?
This John Bull vintage printing set was a purchase from eBay where I had no knowledge of the item and what the set should include, but because the seller had written a really full description I was confident that it was what I was looking for.
Also beware phrases like “vintage style” and “retro”, these phrases are applied to newer items. There’s no way to get away from them, people still post these items using the vintage categories (which really annoys me!). Remember that vintage generally means that the item is 20+ years old.
Ask questions
If your questions aren’t answered through the images and description, just ASK! Better that you take the time to make an informed decision than open your parcel only to be disappointed. I often write to the seller to check the condition or to ask more about the history of an item.  Sometimes the seller doesn’t have the answer (and sometimes they don’t reply!) but at least you can amend your best price accordingly.
Do your own research
Try searching for similar items online e.g. on eBay or Etsy for an idea of price and some further information and images. Sometimes comparing two or three examples can highlight differences.
I bought a Rainbow Brite Sprite once and by comparing it to another one, I noticed that it was missing the star shaped antennae that it should have on its head.  I bought it anyway for the grand sum of £1.04, but I’m glad I checked as I would have gone much higher otherwise.
Check the seller’s feedback
I very rarely buy items from anyone with less than 98% feedback, and less than maybe 25-50 ratings. Everyone makes mistakes and you can’t please everyone, so I make allowances for that, but I also want to make sure that the person I’m buying from is trustworthy, sells items as described, packages items well and dispatches them on time.
You have to do a sort of risk assessment and weigh up whether to trust the seller based on the mix of information provided for you (and sometimes the wild punt can end in disaster or really pay off!).

Selling on eBay

The above tips are also helpful for sellers. If you plan on selling vintage items on eBay make sure you put yourself in the buyer’s shoes and try to pre-empt what they would like to know.  Make sure your listing includes clear images from multiple angles, highlighting any detail or flaw, and describe EVERYTHING! Also:
Describe, Describe, Describe!
The more information you provide, the less chance there is of the buyer looking elsewhere for details and finding an alternative that is better/cheaper/more suitable! Try to find out as much as you can about the history of your item and put it in the description, along with any interesting stories you already know.
Also make sure that the information you are providing is as accurate as possible and includes the correct age (state the decade if you don’t know the year), brand, version, size, etc.
Price Your Items Reasonably
I often see vintage items for sale at prices which seem really excessive or low.  Whilst researching your piece also try to get an idea of the item’s worth from other sites and alter it to suit the condition. As with all types of sales, you don’t want to out-price your customer or undercut yourself.
Package items carefully
Once the item has sold, you want it to get to the buyer in the same condition that you described to save any disputes. Make sure you package items in enough bubble wrap and tissue paper to save breakages, and check the parcel is sealed and watertight to minimise dirt and damp.
Send As Stated
Post the item using the service you stated (hopefully you’ve priced it correctly!) and within the time frame. Remember to “under-promise and over-deliver”, don’t state that you’ll send it same day/next day unless you can guarantee it. It’s better to offer dispatch within 2 days of cleared payment and to surprise the buyer with an early delivery. People respond well to it and it leads to good feedback.
So there we are, I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my guest post! This is by no means an exhaustive list, I’m sure there are plenty of hints and tips that you guys could teach me and it’d be great if you could share them in the comments below!

Thanks Karen, you’ve definitely provided me with some food for thought! Don’t forget you can keep up with all of Karen’s buying and selling by following her on Twitter @tinybirdheart
How to EBay #1 :: Let’s Get Ready to Sell, Sell, Sell!

How to EBay #1 :: Let’s Get Ready to Sell, Sell, Sell!

As times get harder and clothes become a luxury, more and more of us are turning to eBay and rightly so. Whether it’s to buy or sell, use eBay to your advantage and it can save you money. For me, being responsible for a house means that pay day just doesn’t come quick enough. I don’t want to give up my city breaks nor my love of clothing, so this September I am getting my eBay on! 
Why September? Well, as you’ll find out, the key to eBay is timing. In August, the high street sales are your competitor. Factor in that people are enjoying their summer holidays and it isn’t a winning combination. In my experience, October is a successful month to sell. However, I’m taking a gamble and starting earlier. 
Let’s just say, I have rather a lot to sell…
Maybe you’re like me, an overflowing wardrobe with clothes in excellent condition that, for some reason, you just don’t wear. Sounds familiar? It’s time to let go of them and that guilt. Are you in? Let’s get started then. This is how I eBay. 

1. Clear Out What You Don’t/Can’t Wear

Try everything on that you own. Sounds simple right? Not quite. For this, you’re going to need to allocate 2-3 hours. I’m not kidding. Try absolutely everything. Put on a cheesy movie, or your favourite music, lock yourself in your bedroom and try, try, try. In the past, I’ve asked for the opinion of others when trying things on. Never again. Although their intentions were good, they just confused me. Make three piles: keep, ebay and charity

The Keep Pile

Excuse me for stating the obvious here, if it fits well and you’re comfortable in it, it’s likely to be a keeper. Consider where and when you’d wear it, if you can name an occasion or place then it’s destined to stay yours. 

The Ebay Pile

Clearly, if it doesn’t fit you’re better off getting rid. However, if it meets all the above criteria but you know you’re unlikely to wear it, it may be better to let it go and create room in your wardrobe. Before you resign anything to the ebay pile, consider if you’d buy it. Basics that are cheap to buy (plain vest tops, plain t-shirts, leggings) are unlikely to raise the money to justify your time listing them. It’s a judgement call. 

The Charity Pile

Subdivide this pile into charity and rags. Clothing which is in good condition, but I doubt will sell well on ebay always goes to charity. As an aside, I always try to be generous with the charity pile. Yes, we’re here to make money but I do buy a lot from charity shops and think it’s important to donate. If you find any clothes which are ready for the bin, stop! Put them in a bag labelled rags and donate them to charity. Sustainable and raises money for needy causes.
Now that you have your pile of clothes to keep, the final questions to ask yourself are: What does it match? What will I wear it with? 

2. Make Sure Your Items are Ready for Sale

If you’ve had clothes sitting in your wardrobe unworn for a while, chances are they may benefit from a quick whizz in the washing machine. If you’re conscious of the cost, check if your machine has a quick wash cycle. Once washed, give them a quick tickle with the iron. Ironed, clean clothes sell. Creased clothes look uncared for, who wants to buy clothes that aren’t in tip top condition?

3. Invest in a Mannequin

Sure, the postman (or woman) may give you a raised eyebrow when your mannequin arrives, but it’ll be the best £8 you ever invested. Put simply, clothes look better when worn but sometimes, it’s off-putting to see people wearing them. Silly really when you consider someone has clearly worn it before. Save yourself the awkward selfies in the mirror and get a cheap mannequin. I bought one five years ago and Manny the mannequin is still going strong.
Next up, How to eBay #2 :: Photographing Your Clothing. If you are joining me on my ebay mission, please get in touch and let me know. (I need all the moral support I can muster!) Let’s get our ebay on and make a few extra pennies!
Found this post helpful? Did I miss any key nuggets of advice for ebay preparation? Do you do it differently? I’d be eager to hear your thoughts on this.
As always, much love,
Donna x (Currently clutching on to *all* my pretty dresses)
*For the record, I’m not claiming to be an expert on ebay. The ebay marketplace is unpredictable. I am merely sharing the tips that have worked for me over the years. If you want to know the reason I started this series, check out this post: How to Ebay :: A Mini Series Coming Soon.
Bratislava :: In the City

Bratislava :: In the City

I love a city that feels like a town. For me, Bratislava has the perfect mix of heritage, culture and charm. John and I have been here for two nights and, in the morning, we’re travelling to Vienna. We’ve seen so much in just two days and indulged our cameras to the point of using spare memory cards. It really is a beautiful city! There is so much history here, you can see the reminders of a soviet era all around the city. My favourite part? The old town, without a doubt. It’s here that we’ve enjoyed Slovak cuisine and downed a Zlaty or two. I’ve been updating Instagram with my favourite shots and will continue to do so! In the mean time, you’ll be able to read my eBay tips and meet Karen, guest blogging about her eBay experiences.

As always, much love,
Donna x