Cassiefairy's thrifty lifestyle blog

Cassiefairy's thrifty little lifestyle blog – DIY crafts, sewing, food & fashion – what more does a girl need??


Finding the perfect dress for the National Blog Awards

Next month I am going to the National Blog Awards as a finalist! I am so excited to be attending the ‘Oscars of the blogging world’ and I can’t wait to catch up with my bestie Jenna who has also been shortlisted for her wedding blog Glitter Daze. Luckily, we aren’t competing against each other, as I am a finalist in the Retail and Fashion category so we can just enjoy a few drinks together, a lovely meal and enjoy all the glitz and glamour that the awards ceremony has to offer.

It’s a proper red-carpet type event and I alternate between being very exciting and very scared because I’ve no idea what the dress code ‘dress to impress’ means – Is it an occasion for long evening dresses or short prom dresses? Will everyone else there be in floor-length gowns or will I look silly in a mini dress?? It’s not a problem for my husband, who will wear his lovely shirt and blazer combo and will look fantastic as always – just the right mix of smart without trying too hard – I don’t know how he does it! But for my outfit I have no idea and I’m sure that I’ll end up in photographs at the awards so I don’t want to look a mess, nor do I want to stick out by being overdressed. So this has kick-started a massive dress hunt and here’s my shortlist:

 victorias dress outfit ideas for national blog awards                     

Black lace a-line dress or red chiffon sweetheart dress

I picked out these cheap prom dresses from one of my favourite dress websites because I know that once I choose a shape of dress I can have it made in any colour for around the same price as an off-the-peg high street dress. At least I know that no one else will be wearing the same outfit as me if I have a dress custom-made! I love the red prom dress above but I think that the chiffon might be too girly for me for such a formal occasion, so I prefer the demure shape of the black a-line dress with lace detail but – in contrast – I’d like to have it in a bright colour. Choosing the colour from the rainbow of fabrics will be difficult but I think that a deep red or dusky pink would be nice with my skintone and warm up my complexion. As you might remember, I had a colour analysis done by Janelle from Confessions of a Fashion Stylist blog and the colours that suit me best are pinks, reds and lavenders so as I’m not a big fan of lilac I think I’ll follow her advice to select a rich red because I already wear a lot of burgundy and I know I’ll feel comfortable in it.

Either way, I need to make a decision on my outfit pretty soon and when payday comes I’ll be booking my train ticket to London for the biggest event of the blogging year and I can’t wait! Of course I will report back to you on my progress in the competition and let you know how I get on during the big night – watch this space!

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Take inspiration from Cher Horowitz & make your own fashion lookbook

I’ve recently been thinking about making my own personal ‘look book’. Imagine Cher from Clueless flicking through her e-wardrobe to choose her outfits each morning, but even more old-school in a ‘what-works-with-what’ outfit book. I plan to photograph each item in my wardrobe then I’d take some snaps of me wearing the items in different combinations so that I could flick through and pick out an outfit in no time at all. Okay, it’s a just little bit of fun for me and no-one else will ever need it (or even see it!) but I think it would make me experiment more with my clothes rather than wearing the same go-to outfit over and over again. I’ll finally stop being one of the many people who only wear 20% of their wardrobe 80% of the time and really start to get my money’s worth out of my clothes! Plus it’ll save me time in the morning when I need to choose an outfit in a hurry.

cher horowitz computerised wardrobe - clothing fashion

I’m sure I wasn’t the only teenage girl who wanted to get my hands on computerised wardrobe?!

Blurb is a cool self-publishing company that lets you make books about anything that interests you. And if you’re interested in fashion and style as I am – and love to show it off – making a book of your personal fashion is a fantastic way to capture your sartorial genius for all time. Whether you want it just for yourself, so you can look through your greatest hits, or you’re a bit of an Internet fashionista who wants to make a book to sell, I’ve found these tips on fashion photography pretty helpful:

It’s all about lighting. To make your fashion really pop, choose natural light or some studio light with a soft box (you can even make one from a lamp and last season’s white t-shirt). If you’re using a flash, you’ll probably want to bounce it or stick a diffusion filter on it.

Make a shot list. This is a critical step, and even more important if you are photographing models. Even if your model is just your best friend who owes you a favor, they’ll appreciate it if you know exactly what you want to shoot. Think about the poses you want to capture, the outfits you want them to wear, and the details that you want to highlight in every shot.

White balance (WB). Accurate colour and skin tones come from making sure the WB function on your camera is set to your lighting situation.

Choose the right lens/zoom setting. If you’re using a wide angle, you’re going to lose your beautiful lines (and your model may never forgive you). If you have a camera with different zoom levels, zoom out to minimize lens barrel distortion.

Keep it stylish. It’s a fashion shoot, after all. Play music, keep things moving, try new angles. Attitude, attitude, attitude.

Dress it up. Make your book as fashionable as the clothing featured in it. Choose a simple design that doesn’t upstage the clothing, but still looks chic. Pick a size and paper type that showcases the work brilliantly.

If you’ve ever paid attention to what’s on the catwalk, you know that fashion means different things to different people. Follow your own fashion obsessions and document them in a fashionable book. If you look good today in person, imagine looking great forever on the printed page. I’ll let you know how I get on!


Tuesday Shoesday ~ Maritime trend

With reports of an approaching heat wave, the UK is already gearing up for summer. The supermarkets are stocking up on BBQ goodies and I’ve seen plenty of garden products being pushed in stores. It’s as if we’ve all forgotten that we usually get frosty mornings, sub-zero temperatures and sometimes snowstorms at this time of year. The weather in 2014 has been surprisingly mild and despite buying loads of anti-freeze, windscreen scrapers and de-icer, I’ve not been defrosting the car each morning. Despite buying thermal tights, fluffy socks and insulated boots, I’ve not been stomping through drifts of snow. My woolly scarf, padded coat and chunky jumper has remained unworn. This winter has been weird and unseasonably mild. As a result, the we have decided to skip spring and are ready for summer right now – and it looks like the weather agrees!

Most fashion brands also agree and we’re all looking forward to the trends of the summer already. There are florals, metallic, pastels and – my favourite – maritime. This is what I’m looking at today because even though we’re ready for summer I’d like to hedge my bets and invest in new season footwear that can be worn in the colder weather with tights if needed! No sandals for me just yet – I’m sticking to deck shoes and I’m loving them! Check out these different looks:

spring summer 2014 shoe footwear nautical trends from chatham marine

Maritime trend c/o Chatham Marine Lookbook

As you can see, these cute little pumps are great for all kinds of fashion looks: on-trend and stylish for workwear, classy for special occasions and comfortable for casual looks. And of course a pair of leather or suede deck shoes are perfect for following the SS14 maritime fashion trend in a subtle way. You don’t have to wear a stripes or a full-on life jacket to get the nautical look – a pair of soft flat shoes will get the look without you needing to invest in a whole new wardrobe. Plus, as you can see above, they can be worn with a variety of looks all spring/summer long – they look equally cool with trousers, shorts, skirts or dresses. There are very few footwear choices that can achieve that kind of versatility and this ensures that you’ll get a decent amount of wear out of your deck shoes every year. Here are a few of my favourites from Chatham and (as I am quite greedy when it comes to shoes) I want them all!

spring summer 2014 shoe footwear nautical trend deck shoes from chatham

Tropez Moccasin ~ Rita White ~ Fern pumps

You can just imagine how comfortable these shoes would be when going on long summer walks and they would look equally fabulous on the beach as they would in the office. I especially love the tassel trim on the suede pumps above, plus the colours are so girly and cute, including Pantone’s colour of the year Radiant Orchid and summer colour Mykonos Blue. As deck shoes are such a design classic it’s the detail that counts – so keep an eye out for contrast stitching and embroidered stripes like those on the heel of the Rita shoes above. Although I am ‘vertically challenged’ I think I’d rather wear deck shoes (and be both comfortable and on-trend this summer) than exchange comfort for extra height from heels. What do you think of the maritime trend and this modern take on deck shoes? Will you be wearing comfy flats yourself this Summer? Let me know in the comments below :)

Get involved in a future Tuesday Shoesday blog post – Do you have a pair of shoes that you absolutely love? If you’d like to share your favourites – whether they’re your old reliable boots or your snazziest heels – please send a snap to me with a sentence about why they are your faves to I’ll posting them in an article later this month and will link back to your own blog or website, so get in touch!

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Confessions of a Fashion Stylist – Colour analysis

Blogger Janelle and I have worked on a few projects together in the past; I’ve tried out her La Mere Layering Technique in one of m frosty morning outfit posts and she has already sent me photos of her favourite shoes for an upcoming Tuesday Shoesday blog post (join in here!). So when I asked if the Confessions of a Fashion Stylist blogger would be willing to do a colour analysis for me, she was happy to help and got to work straight away. The first thing she needed was a clear photo of me without make up – my absolute nightmare as you may have read on my blog earlier this week! But I took the plunge and snapped a photo, then fired it off in an email to her before I changed my mind!

Janelle set to work analysing which colours would suit me best and sent me over a report along with a palette of colours to make my future clothing and beauty choices easier for me.

Eye Colour: soft blue/grey, changeable Hair Colour: Medium blonde with warm and cool tones Complexion: Ivory

Colourtime: Primary: Sunlight Colourtime and Secondary:  Sunrise Colourtime

Conclusion: Due to the fair and delicate colouring of the client, the colours that would suit her best are the colours reflected in the sundrenched hours of noon day.  These are the muted and more subtle tones of the Sunlight Colourtime palette.  These colours will compliment her colouring and not overpower and would be best as the main source of the colours she chooses for her wardrobe.

As a secondary palette of colours, meaning those which she should use to as the colours of accent pieces in her wardrobe, the sharp crisp colours of the Sunrise Colourtime palette.

sunlight and sunrise colour analysis

I’m really pleased with the colours suggested in these palettes, because burgundy and blue are already my favourite colours and I have a few pieces in these tones in my wardrobe. I’ve been thinking about purchasing a forest green top for a while and according to my colour analysis this would be a good colour on me and I’d also be suited to wearing emerald green, teal or sage so I can keep my eyes open for some green additions while rummaging though the charity shops! I’m slightly disappointed by the quantity of lilac and lavender shades in both of these charts, because I wore a LOT of these shades as a teenager and don’t think I can stomach wearing it again! But I’m willing to give it a try and I might pick out some of the more dusky tones or rich purple next time I’m heading towards a changing room – I’ll at least try it on and see what happens to my skin tone when I do!

Janelle also sent me a link to her sunrise colour combinations moodboards on Polyvore which showed how these different shades could be combined in outfits – making it super-easy for me to make the change to introduce new colour combinations into my wardrobe. As a lifelong fan of black, I’ve been desperate to move away from dark shades and experiment with colour, so I’m taking inspiration from these colour palettes to bring outfits together and I’ll share my new combinations with you soon.

Would you like your own colour analysis done? Get in touch with Janelle at Sasha Bowman shops!


How amazing do these women look at the Oscars?!

I don’t know how they do it and I am completely jealous of their eternally youthful looks, but I also admire these long-standing actresses for their achievements over the years – as well as for still looking amazing after years in the business. The spotlight has been shining on these women for a lot longer than most yet they continue to shock me with how young and fresh they looked at the 2014 Oscars. I don’t want this blog post to be all about age and how these ladies ‘still’ look good after ‘all these years’, but it has surprised me how much more I enjoyed seeing these grown-up women on the red carpet in their gorgeous gowns compared to the barely-out-of-their-teens actresses that Hollywood seems to favour a little too often.

While I was flicking through images of the Oscars I was stopped in my tracks by some of the gorgeous women but I get rather tired of looking at a slightly grumpy Kristen Stewart or yet another snap of the ‘new fashionista’ Emma Watson so the first photo that I was taken aback by was this stunning image of Sandra Bullock. She doesn’t look a day older than when she started acting and looks effortlessly demure in a navy blue McQueen gown. I wish I looked this good right now, let alone in 20 years time! Where are her wrinkles? How is her skin glowing like that? Look at that healthy head of shiny hair! She can’t really be 49, can she?? I want to be Sandra Bullock and I don’t care who knows it!

Julia Roberts and Sandra Bullock Oscars 2014 fashion from The Guardian

Images c/o The Guardian

Another woman who looks as fresh-faced and gorgeous as ever is Julia Roberts. At 46 years old she’s still one of the most stunning women on the red carpet and her mega-watt smile will always in demand – that’s the snap that every photographer is trying to get! With an amazing figure in her black lace Givenchy gown and time-defying skin, she has inspired me with her hardworking nature and ballsy attitude over the years. I’d rather see Julia on the red carpet, looking classically beautiful, than any of the young whipper-snappers that are coming up behind her.

The ultimate Hollywood couple Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith couldn’t have looked better than when they strutted arm-in-arm down the red carpet at the Academy Awards. They both look amazing and Will is definitely still the Fresh Prince! If my hubby and I can still be this cute together in 15 years time I’ll be happy! I love their youthful energy and check out their fun attitude in this Oscars 2014 video on YouTube:

I think these women are an inspiration for women like me who are getting older and need to know that it’s okay to grow old gracefully and that it is possible to look your best at any age. Finally I’d like to include some of my favourite women – or should I say Hollywood stalwarts? – in this blog post. Here’s Liza Minelli who is the very definition of fabulous without worrying what others think (just look at that blue hair!), along with Glenn Close rocking her curves in this structured Zac Posen outfit and the ever cool Meryl Streep confidently wearing Lanvin. After years of hard work Meryl has become Hollywood royalty and walks the red carpet alongside women a third of her age whilst looking more amazing than all of them – and that can only be an inspiration to us all!

Glenn Close Liza Minelli and Meryl Streep Oscars 2014 fashion from the guardian

Images c/o The

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Tuesday Shoesday ~ Invisible shoes at the Oscars

It’s a tough gig writing about the footwear at the Oscars. Put simply, the shoes are invisible. So how can I create a whole column about red carpet shoes at the hottest celebrity event of the year if I can’t see the shoes beneath the designer dresses? Don’t actresses know that their stunning floor-length gowns are making my job more difficult?! Anyway, I’ve had a go at researching the Oscars 2014 footwear trends using photos of a tiny amount of shoe peeping out beneath a dress and have tried to draw some conclusions – the first trend is thin black straps and that’s where Naomi Watts comes in.

Naomi Watts and Jennifer Lawrence Oscars shoes fashion trends 2014

Images c/o The Metro

Hurrah for a back slit dress! It’s allowed Naomi’s Calvin Klein dress to ping open at exactly the right moment, showing off her super-high heels. We saw the return of ladylike heels predicted for SS14 back at New York fashion week and it looks like Naomi has chosen the Oscars to showcase how on trend she is with a pair of finely strapped heels. And she wasn’t the only one… Jennifer Lawrence wore these clear Perspex heels when she changed into a shorter dress for the Vanity Fair Oscars party – who knows? she may have been wearing them beneath her Dior gown all along – and she has also chosen a pair with teeny tiny thin black straps. This trend reminds me of the strappy sandals of the 90s and early 2000s and I’m not sure that I want to be wearing them again so soon! But then again, I’m sure we all have a pair of trusty strappies in a shoebox somewhere that we can dig out and follow the trend again without splashing any cash. If you want a fresh new pair they are all over the high street – I’ve popped into New Look this week and they have very similar black strappy heels around the £20 mark.

The second trend is for silver platforms and I’m sure it’ll come as no surprise to you that Lady Gaga championed this look at the 2014 Academy Awards. The shiny shoes poked out from beneath her Atelier Versace couture dress and although hmade Brian Atwood heels elevated her tiny 5ft 1in frame to the practically the height of an Oscars statue, they proved very difficult to walk in and most of the photos of Gaga at the event show a hand guiding her along! A more wearable version appeared on the feet of Jennifer Garner who wore a pair of white and silver peep-toe platform shoes beneath her fringed Oscar De La Renta dress. If you want to follow the metallic footwear trend (which we discussed back in October – here) you’d do well to take inspiration from Jennifer Garner rather than the skyscraper platforms on Lady Gaga’s feet!

Lady Gaga and Jennifer Garner silver shoes fashion trend at Oscars 2014Images c/o Fashion Telegraph

Get involved in a furture Tuesday Shoesday blog post – Do you have a pair of shoes that you absolutely love? If you’d like to share your favourites – whether they’re your old reliable boots or your snazziest heels – please send a snap to me with a sentence about why they are your faves to I’ll posting them in an article later this month and will link back to your own blog or website, so get in touch!

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You’re a star! (says Julien Macdonald)

Oh dear. Here we go again… In case you didn’t already know, and have stayed away from my blog, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram profiles all week, I went to London Fashion Weekend 7 days ago. I may have mentioned it once or twice, I’m not sure. But this will be the last time, honest! And it’s really nothing much to do with LFW at all. It’s more about the accidental purchase I made this week as a result of going to the event.

And here it is. Can you guess why I couldn’t resist splashing out a full £5.25 in a charity shop on this shirt? It’s not my usual kind of top, I’m not all that fond of animal print and I’ve been trying to steer away from black in general. Plus it’s a little too big for me. So why did I buy it in the first place? Because of Julien Macdonald, that’s why.

Charity shop bargain Julien Macdonald top

As you might have noticed I went to see the JM catwalk show and it really was the highlight of my week. In fact, I think I’m a little bit in love with Julien after seeing his gorgeous designs (not to mention that I know he’s a really nice fella, thanks to watching him Strictly last year). Anyway, I was going for my usual rummage around the charity shops in the nearby town when this top jumped out at me. I was actually having a rather half-hearted flick through the clothes and wasn’t really looking at anything in particular – this top was the only one that I’d picked up off the rail – and lo and behold! it was a Star by Julien Macdonald shirt. How could I resist it? I tried it on and decided that the larger-than-my-usual size gave it a funky, floaty, fashion-lecturer look, plus I assumed that it was supposed to be oversized thanks to the dipped back hem. I’m going to wear it with a blazer to give it more shape – if I ever find a suitable place or occasion to wear it.

In reality I bought it not knowing whether I’d ever wear it but just being so happy that I’d got a piece of clothing that would always remind me of the time I was invited to London Fashion Weekend. And I’m sure that Julien would be pleased that I’m recycling one of his pieces for Debenhams. Maybe one day I’ll own one of the catwalk pieces, who knows what the future will bring? But in the meantime I’m happy to know that (thanks to Julien Macdonald) I’m a star!


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