Adding A Pop of Colour to Animal Print

I put in a sale order with Yours Clothing recently, I'd been looking at this dress a lot and when it was put into the sale after Christmas I knew I needed it. I ordered it, along with these boots and another top. All of which came to around £50, which seems like a lot for 3 items but the boots alone were £44.99 originally and its hard to come by boots that are wide enough for plus size calves without paying the earth so to get all 3 items from Yours I was pretty pleased.
The dress is made from extremely comfortable material, draping down over my body and coming just below the knee. For reference I am 5'9. I picked the dress and boots to go together initially, and I'm really pleased with how the outfit turned out.

With the outfit being pretty simple I wanted to add a pop of colour, and knew my new Snag tights in burgundy were the perfect thing to do so. I've also paired this dress with ankle boots and black tights since and that also worked well but the colour tights is definitely my preference for this.
I'd have never posted a pic sat down a couple of years ago, I've come so far with my body acceptance/confidence.

Snag tights are tights designed with clothing size and height in mind, unlike other brands who don't design based on both. The design means that the 80 denier tights I picked up are far thicker on me than the counterparts I've bought in other stores, plus they come up to just under my bust which keeps me warm this winter as well as ensuring they don't fall down like every other pair i've ever owned.

Confession: I'm one of those girls that doesn't wear tights, I live in leggings if not jeans. But since trying Snag tights that has changed and I'm a total convert. I've never felt so comfortable in something that I always believed to be so restrictive. I honestly don't even notice I'm wearing them and have worn my selection of them multiple times recently.
This is by far one of my favourite outfits I own. It's comfortable, in style and very me. Admittedly, I need insoles in my boots but with Fibro feet and wedges I wouldn't expect any different, but as they are a wide fit boot it allows for the extra space needed to insert the insoles. Funilly enough, I have chunky calves but my feet aren't that wide which is a blessing when I need wide fit calve boots but also need insoles in them.

I felt so confident all day and this could definitely go day to night without modification and I'm all about the easy transition.

I planned to pair the outfit with a red lip to pair with the tights but honestly felt a little too EastEnders for me, so I went for the nude lip (Birthday Suit from Boohoo) but big Doll Beauty lashes and some simple eyeliner to emphasise my eyes instead. I might go for the red lip when I'm not sporting the burgundy tights too.

Do you love leopard or hate it? I'm a lover.


Comfortable & Casual Night Out Look

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At Curve Fashion Festival, as you know one of my favourite stalls was Topsy Curvy. I have a great relationship with Jo and Nat because they're both such amazing women so seeing them do well is always good.

I picked up a couple of pieces on the day, one was this leopard print one size top and the other was a green velvet dress which I wore on Christmas day and plan to wear over and over again. The leopard top in this post was gifted, but all views are mine.

I ummed and ah'ed about this top because when I tried it on it clung a little more than I'm usually comfortable with, but I'm trying to be far more confident with my body these days because all bodies are good bodies and if you like something you should wear it - hence the leather leggings.
In the end I decided to 'brave it' and wear the top out for my sisters birthday paired with leather look leggings and my silver loafers - I had planned to wear wedges but after moving house it took me weeks to find all of my shoes.  When styling this outfit I was going for a kind of smart but slightly edgy casual look and I think I achieved that.

The pockets in the top are super handy to have and as a blogger (and in general) its always good to have my phone close by plus my lip gloss or whatever else. I love tops with pockets, and dresses. Its something women's clothing is severely lacking but is definitely getting better.

The vibrant colour is amazing and I love how many colours this comes in. The purple is another favourite of mine and these tops make for the perfect comfortable wear as well as looking pretty smart.

I went with false eyelashes to dress this look up, which are Cherry Red Wispies from (gifted),  I used the Makeup Revolution rose gold eye foil for my lids with a Makeup Revolution highlighter in the corner of my eye. My foundation is Makeup Revolution conceal and Define and lipstick was Urban Decay Backtalk which I seem to have had forever and never runs out! I felt good all night and none of it budged which is exactly what I want from my makeup! 

How do you dress up more casual tops?


Creative Gifts And Hopeful Hits From Etsy

For full disclosure, some items in this post have been gifted and those that were have been stated. I was also paid for this post but all views are as always my own. The post also features things I have bought along with images from the stalls at Etsy Made Local, all items that were gifted are declared throughout the post. 

As you may be aware from social media I've been moving house, I spent December in a chaos of boxes and bags. Everything was a little upside down and with Christmas too it all felt a little surreal with me being ill all over December too.

That said, I was very fortunate to be invited to Etsy Made Local again and knew I had to make the time for it, last year left me with a feeling of wonder and I felt far more festive; this time was no different, it was a lovely atmosphere with all the creators and there were some beautiful things to behold and purchase.

I went on Friday evening and throughout my time at the market the lights started to dim from the skylight and you could feel the little bit of magic encompassing the room as the lights inside took over for the night.

Prior to the market I was sent some generous gifts from some of the sellers to give me a feel for this year's experience, I unboxed these over on my Instagram at the time but couldn't have been more grateful for the experience of receiving such a parcel. I was greeted by favourites from last year and new creators too.

The little parcel I received was so thoughtful and full of such beautiful and creative things, I used the tags from Chale designs  on some of my special Christmas gifts for family, they added a really cute, personal touch. The 'Read Blog Edit Post' coaster from Cheeky Geeky sits on my bedside table because my bed is essentially my office and it makes me smile to look at. The Natty Candles Lemongrass and ginger wax melts smell so fresh and are so good that I actually bought a candle in the same scent at the market for my Bestie. The buttons from Blackbird Geranium are so pretty and I'm looking forward to putting them onto a black coat or cardigan to add that pop of colour and add a little quirk too. Mythillogical sent a lovely hair grip and the most adorable little hamster pin that I'm going to add to tons of my outfits. I often push one side of my hair back too, so this little flower grip is perfect for that. 

These wonderful creators are around all year round, not just at Christmas time. But it is nice to go and experience the market at that time of year. I think its so important that we remember to shop smaller where we can all year round so being asked to go to the market means a lot to me as finding something a little special for a gift is something I really value.

Chale Designs
Cheeky Geeky
Blackbird Geranium
I was also sent this dainty necklace from Michelle Tuck at Amulets and Artifacts, it is so beautiful and the wording 'Treasure Every Moment' stamped on it really resonated with me, that's what I'm doing this year - treasuring it and making it the best I can. After all, its not the years in your life but the life in your years. 

At the market there was a plethora of stalls, with a wide range of things to buy - from jewellery to jewellery holders, from wax melts to dolls, there was fabrics, cushion covers, buttons, birthday/Christmas cards, candles, and art. The market was abuzz with the creativity that I've come to expect from Etsy and there was something for everyone.

As I explored I spotted little pieces I wanted to pick up but also lots of things I knew others would like too, either for themselves or to gift to friends/relatives. With being in the middle of moving house I couldn't pick up too much, though I did leave with a few bags full still. 

Paper Ink Alchemy came with a range stunning baubles that could be personalised with your name on, art work that was incredibly detailed and these detailed little necklaces that called out to me. There were a couple of versions of the necklace but I loved the snowflake one, I love the delicate details of a snowflake, so unique and special but once brought together can create a blizzard and easily bring this country to a standstill. There's something powerful and incredibly special about that. 

Cheeky Geeky had some really quirky pieces that you don't find anywhere else. I love my new coaster and because of that I picked up another for my Bestie for Christmas - the 'Load Play Save Fail' one because I thought they'd find it funny and like it for their desk and its something a little eccentric. It made the perfect stocking filler kind of gift and the items from this seller are all such a reasonable cost that they're perfect for showing people you're thinking of them throughout the year.
Image from Cheeky Geeky on Etsy - I do not own this image.

PickleAndPig had a stall full of cards, prepared for any occasion - from the adult only, to the down right hilarious. I picked up some Christmas cards which I loved and had never seen anything like them before. The maker creates cards for lots of themes and I love the new Valentines cards they have produced. Its great to see something on the market that you haven't seen before, and wont see elsewhere. The Morgan Freeman card makes me smile every time I look at the photographs and the IT card was perfect for my horror film loving friend. The Deadpool card is very me, I love Marvel and Deadpool was a genius release in my opinion but I'm a total geek at heart. The quality is good, they make you laugh and they're something you can keep - not just your bog standard card. 
One of the fab cards on the stall.
My purchases.

Natty Candles
had a range of wax melts and candles, including these festive scents which I can confirm were perfectly in line with the season and smelled wonderful. As mentioned earlier I picked up one of the candles for someone special, loving the fresh scent it gave. I also picked up a beeswax candle which I was amazed by, I planned to gift this also at Christmas time - but honestly didn't have the heart. I wanted to see how it burned and am excited for the experience for myself. It was the only purchase from the day that I didn't gift as planned.  The quality of the candles and melts from this brand are great, the creator is lovely and I definitely recommend them.

Beeswax candles

Wax melt (gifted), candles are my purchases.

Taylor Made Planners had a range of planners and diaries, including a pet planner and the ultimate goal-getter diary. The planners were really cute and the idea of a pet planner made me smile. The maker had a photograph of her dog, Tinkerbell on the stand and we spent time talking about pets - I'm a big animal lover and the idea of a planner for a pet sounds interesting and pretty cool to me, being able to keep track of the cute little things they do is a great idea. Their planners are also made with recycled paper, doing a little for the environment in a world of waste. 

The Nine of Hearts Jewellery had some bespoke pieces of quirky jewellery that would be perfect for that rocker in your life. I particularly liked this moth ring, I'd wear it myself for sure but I think its perfect for anyone with that kind of style. I like things that are a little different, and the pieces from this seller stood out.

Honey Pot Dolls were in attendance again this year, it was a pleasure speaking with the maker and seeing all her creations. This doll with the blue hair was so pretty and all the little details were amazing. The raven was really cool, though the eyes unnerved me a little so I couldn't have it in my living room - it gave me the perfect Edgar Alan Poe vibes though and I love its smart little jacket. 

The china doll necklaces were really interesting and are perfect for that little bit of something different in your life, something that when you wear it - everyone asks where its from. I really liked them and think they'd be great gits for friends or for yourself.

I was quite excited when I saw Designs By Anika would be there, as I saw her beautiful art work on Instagram prior to the event. Her art is perfect for a girly bedroom or adding something a little bit special to a room. Now I've moved house I plan to pick up a couple of frames and to display these on my bedroom wall, they make me smile and I believe in filling your bedroom with things that you want to wake up to - the fortune teller and pumpkin house have just the right amount of whimsy to add a little magic to life.
One of my purchases
My other purchase.

Amulets and Artifacts who sent me the dainty necklace above had some splendid pieces made from both silver and gold, and all wonderful quality. The fennec fox necklace was remarkable and I know someone who would adore the elephant. All the pieces were lovely, and all a worthy investment. 

You may remember me raving about Firefly Handmade Creations after the last Etsy Made Local and the lovely makers. I really loved the Snow Fairy wax melts last year and couldn't get over them. This year their selection had grown even further and I picked up melts and a candle as gifts for family and friends. The Avobath melt smelt so fresh and is another little homage to Lush, the blueberry muffin melt was heavenly so I couldn't resist but pick up the candle too for my Mom because it reminds us of a special time, the Christmas Rumball melt really did smell like Christmas and reminded me of happy times so I couldn't resist. There were far more to choose from but I picked out some favourites, I did resist Snow Fairy this time though! 
What I picked up

EllARTshop was the final stall I visited at Etsy Made Local, and I wasn't to be disappointed at the end. With a range of ring cones available in all kinds of patterns they are perfect for the jewellery lover in your life and with so many to choose from there is something for all different styles. I really liked the galaxy ring cones because they're a little bit me but the ones with spotty details were also very fetching. 

Overall, for a second year I really enjoyed Etsy Made Local and it has introduced me to some new sellers on Etsy, and hopefully has introduced you to them too. Seeing some old favourites was really wonderful and meeting the makers behind all these different brands is so meaningful because they're not big high street corporations, you're giving money to people who are small scale and put their heart and soul into their craft and I think that's beautiful and very worthwhile. Bravo, Ideas Birmingham.

Etsy is a hub of creative people and is full to the brim, I'm sure you will find something you love, and all the things you could dream of for gifts this year - birthdays, valentines, little things to show you're thinking of someone and dare I say it - Christmas (I'm just saying, being prepared is never bad); Etsy has you covered and if you can shop local, even better. Next time you're browsing, I recommend these sellers from the Midlands.
How cute is the Birminghamster? I adore this notebook from Ideas Birmingham (Hamster by Mythillogical!)

Happy Shopping!

 A big thank you to Ideas Birmingham and the sellers for the gifted items which were greatly appreciated. 


Curve Fashion Festival 2018, A Hit Or A Miss?

On Saturday 17th November was Curve Fashion Festival, the event I've been looking forward to all year and the thing that actually truly began my blogging journey. It was my second year attending and the excitement had been building up for weeks in anticipation. Curve for me feels like freedom, the chance to be myself and have no judgement in a room full of women who have similar lived experiences and who are beautiful each in their own way. A room full of fashion that is accessible to me as a plus size woman and to many other women attending, its the dream.

Unfortunately this year wasn't so much a dream for me. Get settled guys, this will be a long one.

St Georges Hall is a beautiful venue, it has high ceilings and the features that are retained from years past are a sight to behold. But with such an old building and the hundreds of steps outside and inside it's not fully accessible. Personally, a venue that does the bare minimum to be compliant isn't where its at for being actually accessible for disabled people.
For Curve the 'accessible' entrance was used, to one side cobblestones (which the Christmas Market was on) which weren't the greatest to walk on with chronic pain and outside the entrance was blocked off for cars due to the Christmas market - so taxi's couldn't pull up outside. Its a good job we were on foot with our hotel over the road.
Once inside there was directions on the floor toward a lift, what the directions didn't tell you that the lift wasn't close by, and once upstairs the lift was what seemed like miles from the entrance of the festival too. For someone able bodied these distances wouldn't seem to be as big a deal, but having to walk such a distance to even enter the festival didn't bode well or help when wanting a break through the day in the fresh air (the heat in the hall was difficult to cope with when you can't regulate your own temperature).
Stairs up to the hall if you didn't take the lift
When we finally reached the entrance to the hall I was greeted by the large crowds blocking the first aisle, with my walking stick it was extremely difficult to navigate and I became frustrated quickly and quite upset. The first aisle was extremely narrow, without the crowds it was still not very wide. For an event for plus size women, I don't feel like this was well thought out - we aren't exactly narrow when plus size and the stalls didn't reflect the size of customers who would be attending.

When we painstakingly reached the end of the first row I had to go out and take a break, the large crowd in such a tight area was already taking its toll - being shoved (I'm sure unintentionally, due to space) and not being able to use my stick properly left me feeling already drained. We went to sit on chairs outside the hall and these were very flimsy folding chairs that I didn't feel safe sitting on, there were also benches - but these moved when people sat on them. The seating didn't seem to reflect the clientele of the day. I sat on the bench but felt on edge the entire time, and embarrassed because of it.
This was the first row, you can see how narrow it is without lots of people, imagine what it was like earlier on.
I didn't get a chance to look at the Nicky Rockets stall properly, which I had planned to stop at. I didn't feel comfortable packed in so tight with my mobility and anxiety. Nicky Rockets are one of my favourite brands for t-shirts and I do like to shop independent when I can. I'll have to keep shopping online in this case, which is a shame as its always nice to speak with the creators.

Being outside the hall was the only real chance to actually have a conversation with people, where others voiced their dismay and disbelief while we talked. When inside the hall it was difficult to stop, or make conversation due to the lack of space to do so - there was no seating within the hall apart from (as I'm told) a small amount near the bar; though I couldn't actually get near to the bar during the day due to crowds, queue's on stalls or the sheer fact it wasn't in the easiest place to access it.

After a break we headed back in, the second aisle was wider, but the stalls were still extremely narrow which made it difficult to get around even if able bodied. I tried to look at the Lovedrobe stall but there were so many people in the queue that with the width of the stalls you couldn't look at most of the items on sale so we decided to head back later. When we did head back I picked up the party dress to end all party dresses for my work Christmas do, at 50% off I was very chuffed with their discount (especially since I'd been eyeing the dress online).
This row was much wider but the stalls themselves were still really narrow
The Boohoo stall was full of sparkle and I knew I'd need to get a photograph with the backdrop later but there was no chance of getting near the stall at the time - and when Gemma Collins was scheduled it was like a madhouse.  Due to the queue for the meet and greet the aisle was actually made narrower as the queue took over a lot of space and this didn't make the venue feel as safe for me with my mobility issues and I wouldn't have felt comfortable in that queue either given the limited space in the area cordoned off. I'll admit the clothing on the stall this year wasn't very me, but I did like their layout and the photo opportunity they had created with a lack of photo booths for use this year.
You can sadly see the pain in my face at this point.
I briefly looked at New Look but nothing really caught my eye, it seemed bit dull to me for the most part. I'd recently been into one of their stores and they had some stunning clothes in their straight size range, full of colour and vibrancy and it just doesn't seem to translate across to the curve section at all in recent months - I'd love to see more of  shared patterns and styles, sized up into plus size correctly in their stores. At Curve the great thing is usually there are some brilliant discounts to be had, in New Look's case though they only had discounts on blue label items (things that were already on sale in store/online). And just more of their curve range in stores in general since its usually hidden away and very limited. Honestly, I also struggled to get around their stall which put me off and made it difficult for me to look around without getting huffed at for being in the way with my stick.

Pretty Little Thing were offering some cute goodybags this year, with brow gel in and mirrors in their tote bags and near the end of the day they declared everything as free, so it was a bit of a scramble for people to find items. I was elsewhere but my Mom picked up a beautiful blazer dress for herself a green zebra top for me. This was a great PR plan and worked really well if you were near by. Plus they didn't have much of a stall to travel back with which is always easier.
The empty rails after the free for all.
The beauty section this year was fuller, which was nice to see. Giving more of a whole body approach is great, but it was so squashed in and the stalls were so tiny compared to last year.
Doll Beauty had this amazing stand last year with dressing tables and stools to sit on and have your lashes applied - this year they were having to apply lashes while standing and mine came unglued during (we did return to the stall and they re-glued them for me) which I can't blame the lovely girls for, but it was much better when they had the space and could actually do things in a way that were more appropriate for the brand.

Boohoo had a stall with lashes, lipstick, eyeshadow and little palettes from their beauty range which were given in small amounts to each customer as freebies. I love a good freebie, and the boohoo makeup last year was something to remember so I was glad to pick up a couple of lovely bits including a new matte red lipstick and iridescent eyeshadow.

Other than from Doll Beauty who I had experienced last year (their lashes are lovely and last so well!) and Boohoo's makeup stall I didn't get a proper look at the other beauty products, the limited space was off putting and I overheated at one point while trying to look so my Mom rushed me out of the hall to sit down otherwise I'd have passed out.

For a second time we were out of the hall because I was struggling and my Mom was too. The heat in the hall was uncomfortable and I couldn't cope with it or the lack of space. We sat outside for quite a while trying to cool me and took the long journey outside too so I could feel some cool air once I was ready to be able to move.

Once we came back in we braved the final aisle, reaching Matalan and having a little look at what they had brought, I returned to their stall later and discussed fit with a very helpful lady from the corporate side who I'm going to email my thoughts to on some items soon as she was really open to ideas and making sure that their sizing was the best it can be. They had some pretty pieces but unfortunately that included a couple of pieces that hadn't fit me previously, even sized up (which is what I discussed with their buyer).  It was slightly easier to be able to look at Matalan's stall because of how it had been set out, though the narrowness was still limiting. Also on my later return I got to meet Danielle Vanier, a fellow fibro warrior and all round superstar. She was so kind and genuine and I can't wait to watch her vlog on Curve.
Isn't Danie so beautiful?
We got to Topsy Curvy to be greeted by Jo and Nat and have a nice chat and browse their clothes. Their stall was so busy and I couldn't have been more pleased for them. In their exit from Lovedrobe I really hoped this would be great for them. I picked up a couple of lovely items that I can't wait to wear and their selection was great for such a little stall. They're the perfect plus size brand on a budget, they're my kind of fashion - you can wear an item a few times and still get the worth from their prices because they're so reasonable. They really brought their A Game and made sure that people would be able to look at their clothes as much as possible with the space they had.
River Island brought some beautiful pieces this year and that jacked Callie Thorpe was wearing was the sparkly jacket of dreams (if you know, you know), but they are as always a little out of my price range for general wear and with removal of all plus size clothing from their stores recently I felt a little sad too.
Cute embellished shirt from RI
Curvissa are another brand that are generally out of my price range but Laura (What Laura Loves) has designed a beautiful little collection with a faux fur gillet that is to die for. You could feel the quality in their clothing and it is definitely worth the expense if you can afford the cost. I really liked some of their pieces and it was great to chat to Laura about her collection and about Curve - talking to her last year really helped me in my decision to start blogging, she was so kind and is very encouraging of others and their journey and hearing more about her journey was really great. Its always so nice to see bloggers creating collections with big brands and their efforts being seen by so many people.

Despite seeing some brands and items I liked - I don't know how many times I had to exit the hall due to crowds, the heat or the pain caused by the event but I do know that despite mine, and my Mom's best efforts for it not to it definitely dampened the day.

I struggled so much to get through, to be able to use my stick properly, and to feel like a valid customer at Curve because I don't feel like the disabled access was a priority or the general comfort levels that we had last year were there.
In having a lack of real, comfortable seating I couldn't rest properly, I couldn't get a drink because the bar was awkward to get to and the queues far too long.
I didn't eat anything all day until we reached our hotel on the night because the Christmas market felt so far away when having to wait long times on the single lift in the building to get downstairs and then walk on cobbles that caused me pain and my stick to slip it just wasn't worth it.
I visited the catwalk floor once, to view the fashion show and part of a talk but the theatre style seating prevented me being able to sit comfortably up there so we had to find some floor level seating at the back of VIP as the old theatre seats were not designed with tall people, and especially not plus size people in mind, and all the theatre seats were up a couple of steps so inaccessible to those in wheelchairs too. The directions on the floor were not the easiest to read or the best for really grabbing attention either.
I didn't get to meet some of my favourite people this year, the layout wasn't as easy to get around or chat to people and meeting bloggers who were there with brands was far harder due to space which was a shame.

I returned to the first aisle much later to look at the Yours stand and talk with their lovely buyer. I didn't however pick anything up from them as they're available in the local city centre and are the only plus size store we have in central Birmingham so I know I can pick up their items and actually look a little more regularly than other brands as well as try things on in store in more spacious changing rooms. Plus the stall was like the others, on the small and narrow side.

Fell a little in love with this Yours pinafore dress
At that point of returning though the t-shirts on the Nicky Rockets stall had all been sold.
Even when things had quietened down and I had chance to look at the first aisle it was still too narrow for such an event, especially for disabled attendees. That feeling of unease when I first walked in certainly stayed with me.

Love4All Plus approached me on my return to the first aisle and kindly gifted me a lovely dress which I'll be posting on my socials soon. Their brand intrigued me when announced this year and it was nice to see the owners in real life and the clothes too. The starfish print dress is beautiful in real life and the wine colour dress I was gifted was such perfect quality.

All in all, the day was not what I expected or hoped for. The lack of seating inside the hall, the lack of general space, one food vendor for cake (which not everyone wants) and a bar that I couldn't really get near definitely left me disappointed. The venue is a beautiful place, but the layout and missing links just left a bad taste in my mouth. I love Curve Fashion Festival, it opened my eyes to a world where I wasn't alone, and to brands that I love now but this year was not a patch on the last and the venue being on 3 floors (entrance, fashion hall and catwalks) just didn't flow. I really hope that next year we are back to an event that doesn't leave me feeling disheartened and in pain for days afterward. I definitely thanked past me for booking the Monday off, as I couldn't move after returning from Liverpool and Tuesday was a struggle to face work. I really hope not to feel this way again, I felt so undervalued and let down as a customer, disabled person, and as a plus size woman.
A stunning venue, just not a suitable one.
I'd just like to say a massive thank you to the lovely vendors and the wonderful people I met and did get a chance to speak to this year, however limited that was. It was great to meet bloggers I've admired for years and see those that I've come to call friends too, though I wish it had been in better circumstances. The plus size community is like home, and I'd really like to come home to Curve next year and feel the same way I did in 2017. I really hope curve comes back next year, bigger and better and more accessible. I don't want to feel how I did at the end of that Saturday next year. Thank you so much to the people who made the day far more bearable and the very long journey feel a little less wasted, including my incredible Mom - who without I don't know where I'd be.
Me and my Mom at Curve.

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