Leather-Look

When I was re-launching this blog recently, I thought about re-naming it and making the tag line into the name. Since “Country Chick, City Chic” perfectly sums me up.

When I was in my first year of university, London seemed very daunting at first. It was a million miles away from the green fields of home, where wellies were my preferred footwear and “on foot” was my main mode of transportation. I shared a flat in halls with (amongst others) another girl who had also come from a small village, like me. One day she came out of her room wearing shorts with tights (don’t judge – it was the hottest trend at the time!) and I remember her saying to me “I could never get away with this look at home.”

She wasn’t wrong. Communities are smaller, gossip is louder and trends are slower to catch on in the countryside. Which is perhaps why it sometimes feels safer to blend in, than to stand out.

It’s not a mentality I like, but the longer you stay in the countryside the more you feel it taking root. So when I started thinking about experimenting with the leather-look, I was a bit worried it was too edgy for me. But then I found the perfect pair of leather-look skinnies and now I can’t stop thinking about ways to style them. (We’ll save that for another blog post though.) First of all let me take you through my search for the perfect pair of leather-look trousers…

First up is this pair of “Leather-look leggings” from New Look Tall via Asos. When these arrived the label on the packet actually described them as wet-look and that’s a much more accurate description for them. They fit true to size and felt like a second skin but they left little to the imagination and it was really the leather look I was after…

Next up was a pair of coated black skinny jeans from Missguided. I’d never shopped from Missguided before and found the quality left a lot to be desired. The material was very unforgiving on me and the fit wasn’t perfect on me either (as my hips are a dress size bigger than my waist) though I would describe it as true to size.

After that, I tried Next. This pair I absolutely loved. The quality is amazing. They’re a snug fit with just the right amount of stretch to be comfy. They’re also lined with a fleece-like material which makes them very cosy for these cooler temps. And they come with the added bonus that they look much more expensive than they are. Sadly though these were also true to size at the waist and therefore not a good fit for my pear-shape. I was gutted but with no way to alter them I opted to send them back.

I went for these coated jeans instead and finally found the perfect pair! I love the zip detail on these, the quality is great and they fit like a glove. No, actually, they fit like the perfect pair of jeans. (I’m wearing a 12 XL Tall.)

P.S. The t-shirt I’m wearing for this post was designed by a very talented friend of mine and it’s part of a much larger range for this streaming channel. You can buy the exact t-shirt I’m wearing here and you can see the full range here. I’ve found the sizing guide to be very accurate (I’m wearing an M) and was pleasantly surprised by the quality – as well as being a decent length and the perfect fit it’s also 100% cotton.

48hrs in Stockholm

First things first – this is a post about a trip I took in 2018 (pre-Covid) and the pictures reflect that. It’s also worth pointing out that some of the info below may not be current and/or the attractions mentioned may be closed or operating under restrictions. Please visit their websites for the latest info.

I don’t fear getting old (it is after all, a privilege denied to many) but I do worry about growing old without living a full life. I think that may be why I have developed a bit of a habit of taking mini-breaks around my birthday. In 2014 I spent my birthday in Rome, in 2015 I went to Scotland and in 2017 I went to America. Ok, ok… that one wasn’t a mini break, but then again it was my 30th birthday!

In 2018 I chose to spend my birthday weekend in Stockholm.

We landed mid morning and headed straight for the Gamla Stan district where we checked into the Scandic Gamla Stan Hotel. I chose it mainly for the blue gingham armchairs. (Anyone know where I can get one of those?!)

The first stop on our minibreak was the Fotografiska gallery. I’m not much of a photographer, but I’ve always loved the art form. In this gallery I found myself immersed in a feminist body of work by Ellen von Unwerth whose work presented “a compelling journey through a world of emotions, from a feeling of strength and power to high-spirited games and play, then from the great moment of drama to profound passion, leading us into the sugar-sweet valley of love, taking a detour via the question of gender roles and concluding in the intimate space of desire and lust.”

After a wonderful afternoon spent admiring her work, we took a stroll through the Gamla Stan neighbourhood. I was craving Swedish meatballs for dinner yet somehow, we ended up in the Ardbeg pub & bar (and if you know anything about Whiskey, you’ll know that Ardbeg is Scottish). I will say this though – the meatballs were as good as any others I had on the trip.

Slightly tired from our flight and afternoon excursion, we opted for an early night, determined to pack as much in as possible the next day.

I was travelling with a scientist in tow (with her very own PhD) so our first stop of the day was the Nobel Prize Museum.

This plaque detailed the discovery of plastic in 1963 – how strange to think that something society is now working to eradicate was once considered such a wonderous discovery.

Nobel Prizes are awarded every year on the date of Alfred Nobel’s death (10th December). While the peace prize is presented at a ceremony in Oslo, the other prizes are presented in Stockholm. There are 5 prizes in total (including the peace prize) and a 6th prize sponsored in memory of Alfred Nobel. The 6 prizes are for Peace, Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine, Literature and Economic Sciences.

During our visit, the museum was holding an exhibition titled “Literary Rebellion” which profiled 12 Literary Laureates who had used their writing to “question, create change and offer resistance.” The exhibition profiled writers of both prose and poetry and opened my eyes to a host of new writers.

The museum also profiled the life and discoveries of Alfred Nobel himself – as well as the recipients of his prizes. These days knowledge of Alfred Nobel’s legacy revolves around the Nobel prizes themselves, but I made some discoveries of my own during my visit (did you know he is also the chemist who invented Dynamite?)

While my sister might have a PhD, I can’t claim to be much of a scientist. I enjoyed learning about Alfred Nobel and the literary laureates though and came away with many new books added to my Amazon wishlist. (Incidentally, if you ever want to feel inspired by humanity or have your faith in it restored, I would also highly recommend a visit to the Nobel Peace Prize museum in Oslo.)

Before lunch I found an hour to explore the Royal Palace – which could rival the Louvre for opulence.

And to watch the changing of the guard.

After a lunch which mainly consisted of Gelato, we hopped on a boat…

Taking in the sights from the water, we travelled to an unusual museum away from the hustle and bustle of the central districts of Stockholm.

The Vasa Museum is home to just one exhibit – a 17th Century war ship. This spectacular vessel (which has got to be the largest and most ornate ship I’ve ever seen up close) sailed just 1300 metres on its maiden voyage before sinking. It never even left Sweden. Several hundred years later, and miraculously preserved by the sea bed, it was recovered, restored and moved to the museum where it has been on display ever since. In order to preserve it, the cavernous room which now holds the Vasa is kept cold all year round – be warned, you’ll need an extra layer to visit it.

After our excursion to the Vasa Museum we were in need of something to warm us up again. I was determined to find a more Swedish dining experience, which led us to a Viking restaurant back in the Gamla Stan neighbourhood. While obviously more touristy and less authentic than other restaurants we could have chosen, what this place lacked in sophistication it made up for in interesting conversation. Dining here is done communally at long wooden benches. We could have met a whole variety of travellers – but instead we got seated next to some fellow Mancunians. At least we had something in common!

Our last day was just like the others before it – gloriously sunny. So after leaving our bags with the concierge, we headed out on foot to soak in the sights before our flight home.

Having now ticked all of the main tourist attractions off my list, I’d love to go back to Stockholm one day and take it in at a slightly slower pace. The Swedes have a word for this: Fika. It means to make time for the important things in life – good friends and good food. A concept I could totally get on board with.

Nasty Gal Try-On

I’ve never shopped with Nasty Gal before. Mainly because they don’t carry a tall line and that’s my go-to when it comes to finding the perfect fit for me. That being said, I’ve had lots of pleasant surprises from non-tall sections of other retailers over the years, and if you don’t try, you’ll never know. So I tried a lot of their clothes for you!

The Nasty Gal sizing was a bit hit and miss for me. (For reference I am a UK size 10 on my torso but a UK size 12 at my hips.) I used the sizing guide on the Nasty Gal website to select my sizes. However, I found that everything offered in a UK Size 10 came up too small and for other items I should have got a small instead of a medium. At least now I know what to order in the future and hopefully this will prove useful for you too!

Up first are these thigh-high boots. I’ve wanted a pair of over-the-knee boots for ages but haven’t been able to find a flat pair that hit the right height. Of all the items in my order, I thought for sure I would be sending these back but the height was spot-on. If you have narrow feet, I would recommend sizing up as the pointed toe makes for a snug fit. Not suitable for those with a wide fit but perfect for those with long legs!

This square neck top features split sides below the waist – which I guess are there to make it easier to tuck in but that’s not the real issue. The wide neck might be sexy but it leaves no room for bra straps to remain hidden. That wouldn’t necessarily be an issue but (although you can’t see it in the picture above) the top has an open weave to the knit across the chest – so a bra really isn’t optional here. You could go strapless – but either way your bra will be on show. I bought the size 10 and found it a snug fit.

It struck me recently that “girl in the pretty dress” hasn’t featured any girly dresses for a while, this dress was my attempt to rectify that and it wasn’t too bad on. Sleeve length was good and so was the hem length – it’s described as a midi and fit that way. It’s definitely more of a summer dress though as the material is very light and floaty. For me the waist sat too high and the consequence was that the wrap-over was also a little higher than felt safe. Fits true to size.

I ordered a size 10 of this polka dot top but it definitely runs small. The neckline is lovely but the sleeves were 3/4 length on me and the whole thing just felt much too snug and almost corset like. Perfect for petite sizes, but if you’re regular I would size up and tall ladies – avoid!

It turns out this fluffy cardigan isn’t Nasty Gal brand but is actually by Brave Soul – one of my all time favourite brands. They do also have a tall line (available on ASOS). So no wonder I loved it! The material (also available in black) is so soft and snuggly. I ordered a medium which felt really comfy on, but I think I could probably get away with a small. The button detail is lovely and it’s super cosy – the perfect winter cardigan!

I’m usually someone who likes a close-fit when it comes to tops, but I figured that since I was trying a new brand, I should also try some new styles. It turns out the saying “if it aint broke, don’t fix it” goes for personal style too. This statement-sleeve jumper was a disaster on me. Firstly, it runs big, so you’ll want to size down if you’re tempted to try this. Secondly, the colour is a little different in person (the cream is a little more mustard toned). And lastly it’s not tall-friendly. The sleeves just looked baggy on me, rather than stylishly oversized.

Ok, I loved this knitted hoodie. It runs quite big so again I would need to size down but as chic and cosy loungewear goes – it’s pretty great. I’m tempted to buy the set in fact. Again, the colour is a little different in person – it has a slightly more oatmeal tone – but that’s not really an issue. 10/10 would recommend for lockdown.

This ruffle detail jumper was just not for me. The sleeves were ok, but the body was so short it looked cropped and the ruffles did me no favours. I don’t know how this model is pulling them off so well – all credit to her because it’s not easy to make such an oddly proportioned piece look that good! Runs big – size down.

I got this button-down midi dress in a Size 10, which would have been ok, were it not for the gaps in between the buttons. Moving in this dress was a risky business and would be for anyone with curves. It was also knee-length on me rather than midi – but in spite of the sizing flaws I did find it very comfortable.

Lastly I tried this bodycon dress on and I was loving it right up until I noticed the seam across the chest – which sits neither above nor below the breasts and which I just couldn’t get used to. It’s a real shame as it fits true to size and was both comfy and sexy on.