altrocklife’s wardrobe refresher: Christmas sale haul

As you will have seen from my post last Thursday, I did my fair share of post-Christmas sale shopping in 2014, as I decided that my wardrobe was in dire need of a bit of refreshment.

So, what better way to welcome you back to my blog for the year, than show you my final purchases of 2014?  Here goes!

DI V I N E D E N I M

Three pairs of jeans - one grey acid wash, one black, and one blue acid wash.I realised going into December that none of my old pairs of jeans fit properly any more, and one of the belt loops was coming loose on my pair of blue acid wash jeans.  These are their replacements, and at only £33 for three brand new pairs of jeans, my purse is also happy.  Plus, these new pairs open up a whole new world of outfit-matching: the grey acid wash go well with my new black boots (spoiler alert!), the black skinnies look awesome with my metallic purple Doc Martens, and the blue acid wash look lovely paired with my tan fur-topped boots and matching trenchcoat.

D A I N T Y D R E S S

Burgundy patterned wrap dress.

Even though this dress wasn’t on sale, I simply couldn’t resist it.  The silky material is soft and luxurious, and it has a tie waist which will help to define my figure.  Plus, wrap-front dresses look really good on me!  I can’t wait to style this dress for formal occasions, such as my cousin’s wedding next month, and for more casual wear such as my university’s student showcase on Thursday.

P E R F E C T P L A I D

Purple and black plaid shirt

Whilst I already have a lot of plaid in my wardrobe, I don’t have many purple pieces, so this shirt was a great compromise: inject more purple whilst satisfying my plaid cravings.  For me, button-up shirts are always a winner.

S P L E N D I D S H I R T

Denim long-sleeved shirt

I was in dire need of a new denim shirt, and I’m completely in love with this one.  It’s quite baggy on me, which means it’s easy to layer in outfits like this one I wore a few days ago:

Outfit of the day: denim shirt, wave-pattered t-shirt, black skinny jeans and a black Drop Dead beanie

B E A U T I F U L B O O T S

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These bad boys are my favourite festive purchase.  Though they have a fairly significant heel, they’re still super comfortable to walk in, and I now finally have boots which match my leather jacket, which makes me extremely happy.  Plus, at just under £20 from New Look, they were a bargain too!

So, what do you think of my Christmas haul?  Did you spot any items in the sales that I missed out on?  Or did you find some incredible bargains?  Let me know in the comments or on Twitter!

Currently listening to: Asleep At The WheelBand Of Skulls

altrocklife’s Top 10 sale shopping dos and don’ts

Hello readers!  Hope you all had a fantastic holiday period – I certainly enjoyed my time at home during the Christmas break chilling with my family and drinking far too many cocktails.  I know you’ve probably missed my updates terribly, but never fear, altrocklife is back for 2015 with plenty in store for you lucky people.

First off, I’m sure I’m not the only person who clears old, outdated and ill-fitting clothes from their wardrobes in December, am I?  It makes sense to do this boring task in December, to make way for the inevitable tsunami of post-Christmas sales purchases.

I was out first thing on Boxing Day, and again on New Year’s Eve, to make the most of the gift cards and spending money gifted to me by my generous friends and family.  Although we’re now well into January, there are still plenty of deals to be had if you look closely enough!  Here are my Top 10 hints to help you get the best deals.

DO – try and wait until January to buy expensive items

If your winter coat is starting to look a little worse for wear, or your favourite boots are starting to let the rain in, try and hold out until January to purchase replacements.  I bought a new pair of boots in November for full price because my old ones had a hole in the sole so large I could fit my thumb through, but if I’d just made do with the shoes I already own and waited until the post-Christmas sales, I could have bought them for half the price.  It may feel like you need replacements for your worn-out items NOW, but it pays to be patient.

The best high-value items to purchase during sales are:

  • Handbags
  • Coats and jackets
  • Anything made of real leather
  • Footwear

DON’T – buy for the sake of buying

Yes, I know that it’s tempting to go overboard during the sales, but chances are you may end up buying items that you never would have purchased at full price, simply because they’re discounted or ‘seem like a good deal’.  When I’m out sale shopping, for every item I pick up I try to imagine two or three different outfits from my existing wardrobe I could wear it with – if I struggle to come up with ideas, I put it back.  Sale items aren’t a bargain if they stay scrunched up at the back of your drawer with the tag still on!

DO – have an idea of what you want before you hit the shops

Before I hit the high street on Boxing Day, I already had a mental list of items I actually needed to buy: black ankle boots, jeans, a denim shirt, a dress, and a handbag.  By the time I was finished shopping, I’d crossed four out of five off the list.  Just remember that half of the fun of Christmas shopping is the element of surprise, and it’s OK to deviate from the list if you spot something – or multiple things – you really love.

DON’T – spend too much on wardrobe staples

My best finds this shopping season were discovered by nipping into the denim section of Primark and discovering that their super skinny jeans were only £11 per pair.  I would advise going to cheaper retailers for items such as jeans, leggings, tights, socks and job interview clothes, so you have more to spend on higher value statement pieces.  I bought three pairs of jeans for £33, when my previous three pairs of jeans cost me over £50, so that £17 saving went towards my annual December sale HMV raid.

(One tip, though: make sure you try on Primark jeans before buying as they tend to run small, and I had to buy size 14 denim when usually I’m usually a 12.)

DO – spend gift cards first

I know it’s tempting to save gift cards for a special occasion, but if you’ve essentially been given a card with FREE MONEY to spend in a specific store, why would you choose to spend your own hard-earned cash there when you could spend that money in a shop you don’t have gift cards for?  I was the lucky recipient of two New Look gift cards this Christmas, which added up to a total of £70.  After my Boxing Day blitz, I only have £3.79 left on one of the cards, but I hadn’t touched any of the cold hard cash I was gifted.  On the other hand, my sister – who also received £70 of New Look gift cards – went Boxing Day shopping, forgot her gift cards, and ended up not being able to afford to buy items in other shops because she had to spend her actual money in New Look.

DON’T – buy online

This may seem like strange advice, considering my dependence on online shopping, but during busy periods I find buying online is more of a hindrance than it is convenient.  Often websites can’t keep up with how quickly items are selling, and there have been too many occasions where I’ve put an item I like in my basket, only to find it’s sold out of my size by the time I check out.  Plus, due to the sheer volume of orders postage takes far longer than normal, which means if you need an item for a specific day, there’s a chance it may not arrive on time.  Obviously for people who live in rural areas online shopping is the best option, but if you have the chance to actually visit a store and do your shopping the flesh, take it.  At least in a shop you know exactly how many of each item there are available, and you can try things on!  Which leads on to my next point:

DO – try everything on

I’ve already brought this up in two of my previous points, but I think it’s important enough to warrant a segment of its own.  During sales, many stores adopt different policies which means if you buy a sale item and then have to return it, you won’t get your money back – you’ll either have to hope you can exchange it, or get a credit note.  I know that the queues to the changing rooms can look daunting at times, but the feeling of satisfaction when you take your sale purchases home with the knowledge that they all fit perfectly is compensation enough.

DON’T – be tempted to buy items even if they’re the wrong size

Following on from the last point, have you ever been shopping and spotted the most beautiful item of clothing you’ve ever seen, but felt your heart shatter into tiny pieces when you realise there’s only one left and it’s not in your size?  I’ve experienced that tragedy too many times.  Sometimes people purchase clothes that are too small for them as an incentive to lose weight or tone up, which could work, but on the other hand it could also become extremely demoralising if you don’t slim down enough to fit into it.  Don’t run the risk of that beautiful garment gathering dust in the back of your wardrobe – if you truly love something, you must set it free, and hopefully someone else will give it a loving home.

DO – set a budget

I’ve left one of the most important points until last.  If you’re like me and you received a fair amount of cash for Christmas, it can be tempting to throw caution to the wind and spend EVERYTHING in the post-Christmas sales.  However, this could lead to problems later on – say your bag breaks in February and you need a replacement, or you urgently need to visit home and have to buy pricey train tickets, you could be left in an unpleasant financial predicament.  I always make sure to put at least 10% of all my Christmas and birthday money away in my savings account, which I’m currently using to save up for driving lessons and my next tattoo.  Every little helps!

DON’T – get into fights over clothes

Am I the only person still haunted by CCTV footage of this year’s Black Friday debacle?  I hope not.  My final point is a simple one: don’t take inspiration from Black Friday shoppers.  At the end of the day, it’s only clothes you’re buying, and believe it or not you can live without that exact shirt, so no need to rip it out of someone else’s hands.

What do you think?  Did I miss out anything obvious?  Let me know in the comments or on Twitter!

Currently listening to: Let’s Talk About Your HairHave Mercy

#OOTD: 27/11/14

Today I decided to wear autumnal tones of warm berries and fallen leaves, adding layers to help fight off the November chill.  Jumpers combined with collared shirts are a personal favourite look of mine, and one I want to take right through the winter months and into spring.

The embroidered owls add a cute and playful touch to the outfit, whilst the pleated skirt gives it a punk edge.  The thick soles on my new winter boots are perfect for jumping puddles, but the outfit would also work nicely with my favourite Doc Martens.

Finally, the outfit is completed by a warm berry lipstick, which adds colour to the dreary grey days.  All that’s left to add is a leather jacket and thick wool scarf, and I’ll be prepared for any weather.

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Jumper: ASOS
Shirt, Skirt, Boots: New Look
Leggings: Primark
Doc Martens: Nevermind The Music
Necklace: Love Little Treasures
Lipstick: Boots Natural Collection Moisture Shine Lipstick in Berry Sorbet

Currently listening to: CenturiesFall Out Boy

Lookbook: Beautiful boots

Today’s lookbook is inspired by my latest New Look purchase: a simply beautiful pair of winter boots which I can see myself wearing for a long time.

Winter boots from New LookThe thing I love about these boots is that they’re adaptable – they’re suitable for casual wear, office formal and evening glam. Here are a few ideas of how to work this fab footwear during the winter months.

# 1 – C A S U A L W E A R

Beautiful Boots Lookbook #1 - casual wear

# 2 – O F F I C E F O R M A L

Beautiful Boots Lookbook #2 - Office formal

# 3 – E V E N I N G G L A M

Beautiful Boots Lookbook #3 - Evening glam

Do you want to see more posts like these? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter!

Currently listening to: Ugly BoyDie Antwoord

Lewis-Manning A/W 2014 Fashion Show: The Lookbook

As you may remember, on October 2nd I went along to the Lewis-Manning Fashion Show in Poole, and it really inspired me to use charity shops to keep my wardrobe bang on trend, but still affordable.  You can read my previous post here.

Unfortunately there were no photographs available when I wrote my previous post, but now they’ve been released I thought I would take the opportunity to show you all my favourite – and the most inspired – outfits of the night, courtesy of photographer Tanita Cox.

I61A2006-Edit I61A2011-Edit I61A2032-Edit I61A2079-Edit I61A2092-Edit I61A2132-EditI hope these autumn/winter trends have given you some ideas for the coming cold weather and party season!

Currently listening to: HappyRoyal Blood (Pharrell Williams cover)

 

Review: Lou Lou’s Vintage Fair Bournemouth

First of all, I’d like to point out that in order to get to the vintage fair on time, I set my alarm clock for nine a.m. on a Sunday morning.  NINE A.M.!! I think I deserve a round of applause for that.

Anyway, I rocked up to Lou Lou’s Vintage Fair, held in the lovely Bournemouth Pavilion, and entering the gorgeous 1950s interior I think my heart skipped a beat at the sight of practically endless rails of vintage and reclaimed clothing.

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The atmosphere was great, and I absolutely loved the performance by Lauren Hillier which went on throughout most of the morning – it really set the scene and made me feel like I had been transported back to the 50s.

So, without further ado, check out my haul!

Jumper: Mabel’s Customised & Vintage Clothing, £15
Scarf: The Vintage Room, £3
Belt: £8
Necklace: Little Treasures, £10
Choker:
The Vintage Room, £2.50

I’m really happy with everything I bought, and can’t wait to start wearing everything out and about!  If Lou Lou’s Vintage Fair is coming to a town near you soon, I’d definitely recommend going along and seeing the wares for yourself.

Currently listening to: Something From NothingFoo Fighters

Review: Lewis-Manning A/W 2014 Fashion Show

On Thursday night I had the privilege to be invited to a fashion show, hosted by Magna Mazda Poole and organised by the Lewis-Manning Hospice.  The goal of the fashion show was to demonstrate that it is possible to follow the latest trends by purchasing items second hand from charity shops.

Unfortunately I was unable to take photographs on the night, however if you are interested in seeing the outfits from Thursday night, keep an eye on the event’s Facebook page for an update.

The first catwalk looked at colours and prints, and most of the outfits focussed on solid primary colours or bright floral prints, teamed with more earthy-coloured accessories, thick coats and chunky boots to make it clear that autumn has arrived.

As well as casual and office wear, many outfits in the first catwalk hinted at the return of cocktail party and office Christmas dos with some gorgeous cocktail dresses – one in particular was a gorgeous deep blue colour, but unfortunately somebody else got to it first when it came to shopping.  Boo.

Some of the jewellery, provided by a local Stella & Dot stylist, was absolutely gorgeous, and whilst fairly expensive the accessories are truly one of a kind.

Entertainment during the interval was covered by GJ Cabarets, an excellent dance cabaret troupe who performed to a wide range of songs, from Michael Jackson’s Thriller to Paolo Nutini’s Pencil Full Of Lead and Marilyn Monroe’s Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend.

The second catwalk was based around fabrics and shapes, and it demonstrated how easy it is to find statement pieces for your autumn/winter wardrobe on a budget from charity shops.  Some of the looks teamed sheer, soft and silky materials with thick winter coats, parkas and fake fur detailing to add opulence to the outfits.

They also focused on fashionable silhouettes for the season – outfits with a fitted top had looser, less fitted bottoms, and vice versa.  Using a belt to draw attention to a cinched waistline was also an awesome feature.

The night ended with entertainment from Richard Knight, an opera singer, who got the entire crowd dancing to a Queen medley, ABBA’s greatest hits and more.

I had a really interesting night, and it definitely encouraged me to take more time rummaging the racks at my local charity shops to look for bargains which are also bang on trend.

Many thanks to Louise Croft, the organiser, for sending me the invitation in the first place!

Currently listening to: CarapherneliaPierce The Veil featuring Jeremy Mckinnon

Top 10 collar tips: my new favourite accessory

One of my favourite pass-times is rooting through men’s clothing shops to find styles, cuts and accessories that you wouldn’t find in the women’s section.  Last time I visited Topman, as well as picking up my new favourite checked shirt, I also purchased some collar tips.

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At £7.50 the tips were a little pricey, however considering how often I wear them out, I think they were good value for money.

Collar tips are a nice alternative to wearing a necklace if you’re wearing a collared shirt or blouse – dress them up with a chiffon blouse, or wear them casually with a denim shirt.

Here are my top 10 favourite collar tips available at the moment.  Once my student loan comes in, I will seriously be considering picking up a couple of pairs of these.

  1. Triple spike collar tips via Ebay
  2. Little devil collar tips via Etsy
  3. Dark grey chain collar tips via New Look
  4. Deer collar tips via Ebay
  5. Reclaimed eagle collar tips via ASOS
  6. Dancing couple collar tips via Etsy
  7. Cross drop collar tips via Topman
  8. Angel wing collar tips via Ebay
  9. Mountain collar tips via Etsy
  10. Western collar tips via Topman

What do you think of my choices?  Let me know on Twitter or in the comments!

Currently listening to: WolvesThe Blackout

#OOTD: 08/09/14

So, summer is gradually melting away into autumn (not that you’d know it here in Bournemouth – it was 24 Celsius today, whaaaat?) which means cooler days, less sun and chilly breezes.  This outfit is a great transition outfit – a thick chunky-knit cardigan works really well with checked shirts, and if cardigans aren’t a sign that autumn is coming, what is?

The shirt adds some colour to the outfit, and the rich blue, forest green and deep red are great colours for this season.

Turned-up jeans add a summery feel, but the light grey denim is good for reminding us that there should still be a bit more sun to come this year.

Combined with chunky-heeled ankle boots, which are great protection from light showers and puddles, you shouldn’t need any more layers to keep you toasty all day long.

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Cardigan: Store 21
Shirt: Topman
Jeans, Boots: New Look

What do you think of this outfit?  How would you wear it differently? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter!

Currently listening to: Chalk OutlineThree Days Grace

Lookbook – contrasting textures, fabrics and prints

Guess who’s back, back again, altrocklife’s back, tell a friend…

Sorry about that, I couldn’t resist a little lyric pun to mark my return.  My holiday in Cyprus was pretty fabulous, and I’ve eaten enough kebabs, extremely alcoholic cocktails and fancy fish salads to keep my tummy happy for a long time.

Multiple contrasting textures within outfits is one of my favourite things right now, and one of the looks I’ll be sporting at Leeds festival this year.  I headed over to my Polyvore to show you some of my favourite combinations.

1 – Acid wash + Check/tartan

Acid wash and tartan/check

 

 

I have an outfit much like the one on the right which I absolutely love, except my shirt is from Topman and is made up of red and green colours.  I like the subtle pattern that acid washing creates in contrast with bolder check prints.

2 – Lace + florals

Lace and florals

 

 

I love the colour combination of nude tones and black in the outfit on the left.  A lot of lace comes in floral patterns anyway, so this duo was an obvious choice.

3 – Fur and leather

Leather and fur

 

This combination may seem obvious, as items like the bomber jacket above have been around for decades. However, subtle flashes of fur can really soften leather accents in an outfit.

What do you guys think of my combinations – and can you think of any I missed? Comment or tweet to let me know!

Currently listening to: I Want OutYoung Guns