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Brand In Focus | Southwood Stores.

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Southwood Stores is an online concept store by Hayley Southwood, where you will find handpicked, quirky, Scandinavian influenced gifts and homewares. Hayley believes passionately about empowering women and has recently launched her own in-house label GRAY, celebrating strong women.

I first came across Hayley and her online shop back in 2013. (I can’t believe it was 3 years ago?! Time sure does fly with a toddler in tow!) At that time, Hayley was the only UK stockist of Hello Apparel; and I went straight ahead and ordered a HELLO Jumper from her, along with one of our most loved prints that sat in Eli’s bedroom, The Mountain Print by Clare Nicholson. I always loved parcels from Hayley, with the attention to detail of packaging and customer care; with some treats even winging their way over to Berlin!

Watching Hayley, via Instagram, over the past few years has been wonderful. Seeing how her little shop has grown and expanded with wicked new products and new brands, through to the launch of her very own clothing label: GRAY By Southwood Stores.  The ethos of Hayley and her shop is to be brave and follow your dreams. And she’s definitely succeeding there – having now opened her very own Southwood Stores showroom – where you can not only have a cuppa with the lady herself, but from here she also offers Social Media / Branding services with sessions operating on-site.

Details of showroom opening times are as follows:

Monday 10am-2.30pm
Wednesday 10am-2.30pm
Friday 10am-2.30pm
First Saturday of the month 11am-2pm

I could buy everything that Southwood Stores have in stock, but here are some of my current favourites hitting the top of my #MoMWishlist:

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WIRE MESH MEMO-BOARD (BLUE) – £55.00

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VINTAGE SCHOOL CHAIRS – £60.00

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PALM LEAVES – £55.00

Back to GRAY By Southwood Stores. Hayley worked really hard to find the right garments for her label – high quality and responsibly made. The slogan graphic prints are also locally screen-printed by a “woman owned business”. I think it’s fantastic that Hayley has stuck to her local roots here too – there’s nothing better than championing your local business community and spreading the love even further afield.

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The sweatshirts are super soft, wash well and have a really flattering fit. I went for the WARRIOR sweatshirt. Because, well, we’re all WARRIORS. “The strongest people are not those who show strength in front of us, but those who win battles we know nothing about”. This is something that resonated deeply with me – and I do feel like a proper WARRIOR when I’m wearing my sweatshirt. It’s more than just words, isn’t it? It’s about how these things make you FEEL.

On top of alllllll this, Hayley is also hosting a series of Conversational Meet-Up’s, of like-minded Women. The recent one looked brilliant so look forward to the next Event’s being scheduled. You can find the latest details and tickets, here. 

Hayley is a true inspiration and I look forward to seeing how Southwood Stores continues to grow and evolve! (Oh, and I can’t wait to have a cuppa with her in person at the new showroom soon!). Keep doing what you’re doing Hayley, everything about your being is amazing. Just remember to BREATHE (and get the kettle on!).

 

MM.

*NB: This is in no way a sponsored post. I just wanted to big up a Mama who I think is frikkin amazing*. 

 

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SAINT LAURENT | Fall / Winter 2016 Showcase.

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Oh Saint Laurent, how I love thee, let me count the ways…

The rumours were rife ahead of the L.A showcase that this collection could indeed be the last from Saint Laurent Creative Director, Hedi Slimane. I sincerely hope it isn’t the final showcase – but if it is, he’s certainly gone out with a massive bang. The Fall / Winter 2016 collection is incredible. I want every. single. piece.

The showcase was presented during New York Fashion – Men’s Collections – but included around 40 Women’s looks, revealing a heavy influence of 70’s-glam-luxe wear. Lavish embroidery, fringing and signature Slimane leopard print adorns the Women’s collection – with highlights of gold and snake print added for good measure. I love the mixture of texture and print. The delicate beading and brash boots.

A glimpse of David Bowie was captured throughout the Men’s collection with 70’s tailoring and that glam-rock essence that was magically brought to life through Ziggy Stardust himself.

This is definitely not a subtle collection and I imagine not one for everyone, but my goodness, this is definitely a collection for me!

The showcase was brought to a close with a bow from Slimane, something unusual for the Hedi who would notoriously walk from the stage with the models. An added smile and short wave also hinted that this could indeed be a “goodbye wave”. Which makes me incredibly sad. Let’s hope the rumour-mill is simply in overdrive and Slimane is simply just ecstatic to be showcasing such a wonderful collection in his adopted hometown of LA.

 

MM.

 

© Photography courtesy of Vogue.com

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BRAND IN FOCUS | SAINT LAURENT.

That’s right, SAINT LAURENT.

Saint Laurent Creative Director, Hedi Slimane, decided to drop the ‘Yves’ ahead of the ready-to-wear collection during Fashion Week last year. A bold move, that of course did not come without criticism. A spokeswoman for Slimane said “he was drawing inspiration from 1966, when the ready-to-wear line was launched as Saint Laurent Rive Gauche. The name changed again after Saint Laurent retired. He produced the label’s last haute couture collection in 2002, and died in 2008. The founder himself may have approved, as he enjoyed making radical changes: he became the first couturier to diversify into ready-to-wear, pioneered the trouser suit and introduced the first black models to Paris catwalks.”

I was confused when I first saw ‘SAINT LAURENT’. I steered clear. But now I am well and truly obsessed. The re-brand has been magnificent. I want it ALL.

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SAINT LAURENT – Gold Vermeil Bapteme I.D. Bracelet, £260.00 | Available from MatchesFashion.com

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SAINT LAURENT – Polka Dot Silk Blouse, £605.00 | Available from MatchesFashion.com

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SAINT LAURENT – Medium Bucket Bag, £1265.00 | Click here to purchase from Selfridges.com
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SAINT LAURENT – Rock Suede Chelsea Boots, £695.00 | Available from MatchesFashion.com

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SAINT LAURENT – Zip Jersey Sweater, £395.00 | Available from MatchesFashion.com

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SAINT LAURENT – Slit Detail Leather Pants, £3, 395.00 | Available from Net-a-Porter.com

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SAINT LAURENT – Paris Suede Court Shoes, £390.00 | Click to purchase at Selfridges.com

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SAINT LAURENT – Sac Du Jour, £1560.00 | Click to purchase at Selfridges.com

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SAINT LAURENT – Classic Babylone Art Deco Ring, £395.00 | Available from SaintLaurent.com

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SAINT LAURENT – Leather Card Holder, £110.00 | Available from Net-a-Porter.com

 

 

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Talipes | Struggling to find First Walker shoes.

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As I’ve mentioned, our darling boy is doing well with his walking – despite being born with Bilateral Talipes.

We’ve always just wanted Mr Eli to wear his Converse – just like Daddy (and occasionally Mummy too!). But we noticed that the Con’s just weren’t offering him much support around his ankles; and frankly, his new red Hi-Top’s are absolutely massive a wee bit big.

Eli’s Size 4 Black Converse trainers were too small, his toes are end the toe cap, so he had been wearing his new Red Hi Top Converse – which are a 5. We went to Clarks at the weekend where Eli was measured – his feet came up as a size 3F. The assistant did advise that Clarks sizing does vary against branded shoes, but it did make us think that Eli is really not wearing correct footwear right now. He requires a pair of shoes that will support his feet as he gains confidence in his walking, but also a pair that will encourage him to keep walking. The Converse he has right now seem to deter his walking as they’re ill-fitting, so he’s been mainly in stocking feet. Obviously, he can’t go outside the house like this, so we need to find him so First Walker shoes.

Here the issue begins…

It’s very common for children with Talipes to have odd-sized feet or feet that are on the smaller side. One foot could be a size 4, while the other foot could be a size 6. Meaning many children are bought two pairs of shoes to ensure they have correct fitting shoes for each foot. Clarks DO offer a discount for children affected however – you can read all about the Clark’s Odd Sized Feet Scheme on the STEPS charity website. Luckily, Eli’s feet do match up perfectly – but they are small. We didn’t realise until we started looking at the First Walker shoes in the shop… all of the shoes start at a size 4. The Pre-Walker/Cruiser shoes start at a size 3. But the sole is very thin on these styles and there isn’t the support on the shoe for a child who IS indeed walking.

We were looking online last night. Call me ridiculous if you will, but there are A LOT of boring or frankly unfashionable First Walker shoes out there. I know Eli is not par-taking in a fashion show, but we do take pride in our little man’s appearance, he has his own style. Also, these shoes are not cheap, so we want to make sure we’re all happy with them as he’ll have them on most of the day.

We don’t want velcro – we’re not a velcro family. We’d prefer Eli to be in Desert Boots, Brogue style shoes or at a push, some fashionable trainers. Take a look at the styles we’ve seen so far below…

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First Walker Shoes, Desert Boots in Brown £36.00 – Click here to purchase at Clarks.com

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First Walker Shoes, Desert Boots in Brown £36.00 – Click here to purchase at Clarks.com

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First Walker Shoes, Crazy Crew in Khaki, £36.00 – Click here to purchase at Clarks.com

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Digby, Zip up Brogue Boots, £40.00 – Available from StartRite.com

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Sullivan Brogue Shoes, WAS £49 NOW £18.00 – Available from StartRite.com

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Sullivan Brogue Shoes, WAS £49 NOW £18.00 – Available from StartRite.com

As you will notice, all of the lovely shoes above start at a size 4. So we’re in a wee pickle. If you have purchased from StartRite.com before, do their shoes match the size guide of Clarks? I’m so tempted to just get the size 4F shoes, especially considering the rate of growth; but can’t be sure that they will fit Eli correctly. So would ideally like to go into a shop to be able to have them expertly fitted.

Can you recommend any other stores where you can buy similar styles to the above? That perhaps start at ‘Clarks size 3F’ or the measured equivalent?  (And styles that don’t cost an arm-and-a-leg, to boot).

MM.

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Women’s Fashion | Check Mate.

I’ve been looking at Womenswear for some style inspiration this week and I’m noticing a lot of check prints across online stores. Check print is a great way to jazz up your Winter wardrobe – you can go for full on geometric digital prints or more muted tones to suit the weather.

Here are some of my favourite pieces, on my must-by list!

(Some check’s might be cheating as they’re not quite your stereotype check’s… but you’ll catch my drift, I’m sure).

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Houndstooth Check Blouse, £29.99 – Zara.com

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Noisy May Checked Shirt Dress, £28.00 – ASOS.com

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Lace Trim Check Top, £29.99 – MANGO.com

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Black & White Check Full Skirt, £30.00 – RIVERISLAND.com

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Checked Coat, WAS £14.99 NOW £79.99 – ZARA.com

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ASOS Smock Dress in Chain Print, WAS £30.00 NOW £24.50 – ASOS.com

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Lacoste Live Shirt, WAS £60.00 NOW £32.00 – ASOS.com

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Vintage O & O Trousers, £48.00 – UrbanOutfitters.com

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HOUSE OF HACKNEY Tartan Swing Dress, £175.00 – ASOS.com

See more on my Pinterest board: Women’s Fashion | Check Mate.

MM.

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REVIEW | Meadham Kirchhoff x AMAZON.

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Following the amazingly successful sweater collaboration last year, Meadham Kirchhoff and online retailer, Amazon, have joined forces again for this incredible 4-piece silk scarf collection.

London Fashion Week design duo Edward Meadham and Benjamin Kirchhoff are famed for their rebellious take on fashion. This second collaboration with Amazon Fashion is an exclusive collection of four distinctive scarves, in the spirit of the designers’ main catwalk collections.

I was absolutely thrilled to be asked to get involved with this collaboration as I’d very much enjoyed their initial offering with Amazon – and we all know how Meadham Kirchhoff flies out of Topshop!

My absolute favourite scarf from this collection is ‘PEARLS’. The print is so pretty, and of course, I love all things gold.  I really like how it’s been styled on the model too (take a look at all the below photos for some unique scarf styling!).

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Each silk scarf is pretty massive and measures 120cm x 120cm! So LOTS of value for the £75.00 price tag. These scarves are all limited edition and can only be purchased from Amazon Fashion, here: MEADHAM KIRCHHOFF FOR AMAZON FASHION. PLUS, if you’re UK based you already qualify for FREE delivery – BOOM!

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“Pearl scarf is an ornate design of baroque gold detailing and drop pearls that we featured in our S/S 13 collection”.
Click here to purchase the PEARL scarf.

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“The Drawings scarf is a visual archive of Edward’s sketches from the ‘Cosmology of Women’ Autumn’11 show”. 
Click here to purchase the DRAWINGS scarf.

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“The Curtains scarf features signature imagery from our Spring/Summer ’13 collection, in this case opulent swaggered curtains with ornate gold fringes”.
Click here to purchase the CURTAINS scarf.

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“The Ballerina scarf features the tiny ballerina motif from our Autumn/Winter ’13 collection in a fresh new colourway. The artwork originates from a vintage silk scarf”.
Click here to purchase the BALLERINA scarf.

Which is your favourite scarf? And are there any different ways you’d style any of these scarves?

MM.

 

NB: I was sent the Meadham Kirchhoff x Amazon ‘PEARL’ scarf, for free, for the purposes of this review.  All opinions in this review are my own and are 100% honest. 

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BRAND IN FOCUS | Whistles.

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As it’s London Fashion Week this week, I’ve been really drawn to what’s actually going on, right now, on the high street. One of the first places I always turn to is John Lewis. I’m a little bit of a John Lewis mega fan…  But that’s just because I always get the best service there; as well as the best selection from all of the designers and brands they kindly house under one roof!

This week, I’ve had a good rummage through one of my fave British High Street brands, Whistles. As the weather is absolutely abysmal, I thought I’d try and brighten your afternoon with my edit of Whistles treats that are available in store and online at JohnLewis.com!

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#1 – Whistles Katlin Heart Blouse, £125.00
WHISTLES SAY:  Crafted from luxurious silk, the Katlin Blouse from Whistles is a playfully lux addition to your new season wardrobe.
MM SAYS: Got to start off with this heart print shirt, reminiscent of Burberry’s own heart blouse that has taken celebritydom by storm. I actually prefer this Whistles one however! It’s got more going on, more interesting, lovely colourway. Tucked into skirts and trousers – or even jeans, this makes the perfect addition to your trans-seasonal wardrobe.

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#2 – Whistles Lula Tailored Trousers, £110.00
WHISTLES SAY:  These smart tailored trousers from Whistles are the perfect style for summer.
MM SAYS: I’d have to disagree with Whistles here, I think these smart tailored trousers are a perfect style all year round! Love the cropped length and side-slit detailing.

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#3Whistles Blake Dress, £135.00.
WHISTLES SAY: Chic and directional; this elegant shift dress from Whistles offers a round neck, short sleeves and a flattering waistband for feminine appeal.
MM SAYS: I’m really enjoying jewelled tones at the minute – think it’s that shift into Autumn and Winter. I love this emerald green dress. The shape is beautiful, will give you wonderful definition and silhouette.

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#4Whistles Kir Royale Ankle Boots, £150.00.
WHISTLES SAY: A smart pair of round-toe ankle boots that are a perfect heel height to wear throughout the day and into the night. Versatile enough to be worn with either skinny jeans or a dress.
MM SAYS: I love these boots! Much like the infamous ‘Pistol Boot’ from ACNE, these boots look really comfortable – yet fashion-conscious at the same time. I’d team these boots with midi skirts and dresses, jeans and smart tailoring. Great versatile footwear style for your Winter wardrobe!


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#5 Whistles Cora Exposed Seam Cardigan, £165.00.
WHISTLES SAY: This luxe cashmere cardigan from Whistles has a relaxed open neckline with a minimalist shape, raw exposed seams and two draping side pockets – ideal for layering.
MM SAYS: Don’t you just want to cosy up in this cashmere beauty? Again, the perfect piece for your wardrobe; perfect for smart or casual, plus great for layering on those chilly days!

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#6Whistles Long Sleeve Sculptured Dress, £110.00.
WHISTLES SAY: Update your wardrobe with this contemporary, chic style from Whistles. It has an on-trend midi length, side panelling and a simple straight shape, it’s feminine and functional.
MM SAYS: POW! Check this amazing dress out for a pop of vibrance in your life. I just LOVE this dress (I was saving the best till last). Great colour, again, for all year round. Definitely put a smile on my face on this absolutely miserable September afternoon that’s for sure! I love the length of this dress; as well as the sleeve length. It would certainly hide a multitude of sins when you’re not feeling your best. I think it looks REALLY expensive. It’s worth the pricetag this one!

Hope you enjoyed my picks from Whistles. Don’t forget you can shop Whistles online at JohnLewis.com – they offer FREE delivery for all order’s over £5o too. Bonus round!

MM.

 

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Our changing bag: The Mulberry Clipper Holdall.

This has been the sight next to our front door, for the past NINE weeks. These are all our hospital bags, ready and waiting! Suitcase is mine, and is filled to the brim with every essential you need for your stay at hospital – you can read what those absolute essentials are, here>>I’ve FINALLY done it! Hospital Bag(s) are packed! The amazing Mulberry Clipper Holdall is our changing bag (more on that in a second), the Barbour bag to the bottom left is OH’s essentials (iPad, change of clothing, toiletries) and the Borough Market bag is all our food supplies!

So, Changing Bag… we spent such a long time searching for the “perfect” bag. We wanted something that didn’t look ‘Mummsy’. We didn’t want something that was feminine, OH will be carrying it around too! During our search we found that there was nothing that was completely unisex – apart from the generic black satchel style bags… which to be honest, just didn’t hit the spot for us! This is going to be a bag that we’ll use every day, so we wanted to be really happy with it! All of the ‘Mummsy’ style bags are pretty expensive anyway, £250+!

We looked for actual Leather satchels as we felt this would be most universal for us both. But with Leather, comes a pricetag. We soon found that even just nice Leather satchel bags, that weren’t necessarily for our purpose, were coming up at £400+. When we would look into the details of these bags, we found that there just wouldn’t be enough space for everything that a babba needs on a daily basis – as well as what we might need to cram in for ourselves too! We also decided we wanted something that would be kind of waterproof – Britain is not renowned for it’s dry weather is it!

We went to all the usual high street stores in search of just a standard, but small, holdall that would meet all our demands. We almost settled on this one from Barbour – Barbour Wax Cotton and Leather Trim Satchel, £119: Style available from JohnLewis.com

But, this bag is actually a little too big for what we need it for! It looked massive against me and I just couldn’t see ME using it. OH on the other hand, was chuffed with it.

So on with the search!

I’m a massive fan of Mulberry. It’s my favourite brand. So, I said I wanted a Mulberry Alexa…

Mulberry Oversized Alexa Messenger & Shoulder Bag, £925. Style available from JohnLewis.com

But then we realised that the £795 size wasn’t big enough… and £795 is a ridiculous price for a ‘changing’ bag! OH also concluded that an Alexa was too feminine for him. I did email Mulberry regarding changing bags, as they’re clearly missing a huge audience by not offering a selection! They replied to me with:

We have taken on board customer requests for changing bags and our soon to be available Autumn Winter 2012 collection will include the Rosie Baby bag in Black or Oak Tiger Print Nylon as part of the range.

Pretty exciting! But a bit too late…

Then I started looking at their holdalls. We’d always said we wanted a Clipper holdall. They’re classic Mulberry. They’re perfect for trips away. They’re a style that just will not date – but will get better with age.

We went along to Westfield: Stratford City to take a closer look. The Simple Mulberry Clipper Holdall (£350), was the perfect size! Inside and out 🙂

So we said “sod it” and bought it 😀 It’s beautiful. We’re over the moon with it – and more to the point, unlike ‘real’ changing bags, we’ll be using this holdall for years and years and years and years to come. It’s a style that is built to last! So we were happy to pay the £350 price-tag, because it’s going to get so much more use than a standard changing bag. It completely meets our very niche criteria and OH cannot wait to get outside with it 🙂

MM.

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Dressed for the Occasion: Maternity Dresses from ASOS.com

We’ve been invited to a wedding on Saturday 21st July… my due date is just 6 days after said-wedding. Whether we even make it to the 21st July without Baby Boy arriving is actually a bet in itself!

But this set aside, I thought I’d have a look at some Maternity ‘Occasion’ dresses anyway. I headed to all the usual Maternity stockists online and came to ASOS.com last, but by no means least. I was quite honestly shocked at the full range of smart to casual that they had on there! Wish I’d visited earlier in my pregnancy now!

Anyway, here are my favourites… These dresses all scream elegance, but also look really very comfortable. I’m sure you could also get away with most of them post-pregnancy too!

ASOS Maternity Grecian Maxi Dress With Side Split – £35.00
ASOS Maternity Exclusive Dress With Scallop Sleeve – £45.00
ASOS Maternity Exclusive Dress With Embellishment And Fluted Sleeves – £50.00
ASOS Maternity Midi Dress With Lace Detail – £50.00
ASOS Maternity Katie Lace Dress – £45.00
ASOS Maternity Midi Dress In Lace – WAS £55.00/NOW £33.00

 

MM.

 

 

 

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I’ve FINALLY done it! Hospital Bag(s) are packed!

After weeks and weeks of , “Oh, I’ll definitely pack it this weekend!“, I did actually get round to packing my hospital bag(s) this week! But only after I thought I was going into labour with my coccyx pain! Perhaps Baby Boy Bump was tired of my excuses for not packing the bags too!

So, with this all in mind. I thought I’d share my list of ESSENTIALS. I’ve been through absolutely dozens of “What to pack…” lists, along with forums and speaking with friends. And I think I’ve pretty much formed the definitive list. You DO need to take lots to the hospital. I’ve chosen to take everything in a suitcase simply because it’s easier than cramming everything into lots of bags… it will also fit in the boot of our car neater 🙂 I do know it looks like I’m going on holiday, but I swear, it’s all completely necessary!

Here we go then…

FOR ME.
To have ready to hand.
Birth plan/preferences
Maternity notes
Cash for carpark
Cash for payphone – there might not be signal. The battery might go on your phone!

For labour/ward.
Maternity pads – two packs of 10
Breast pads – 15 pairs
Cheap nightie(s)
Large cotton knickers – 7-10 pairs
Bedsocks with grips to the bottom – your feet get cold during labour.
Massage oil
Lipbalm
Bobbles
Headband
Hair grips
Brush
Pillows – my usual pillow and maternity pillow
x2 Dark towels
Phone chargers
Change of clothing for leaving the hospital – baggy, to fit at least a 4-5 month pregnant bump.
Slippers/Flip flops
Fan
Stopwatch – to time contractions
Swimwear – for the birthing pool!
Hot water bottle
Plastic jug – useful for afterwards, going to the loo is likely to be quite painful. Pouring a jug of warm water over the affected area whilst going to the loo can allegedly help sooth the pain.
List of phone numbers on paper
Face cloth
Camera
Toilet roll – we like our quilted Andrex!
Plastic bag for dirty clothes/towels
Book/Magazines
Pen and paper – useful for writing down notes that may be passed on from doctors/midwives; or in the instance that I can’t talk whilst mid-contraction! Also good to have if we get bored and fancy hangman!
Clean clothing for James (Other half)
Ear plugs – it might be quite noisy… 
Nice nightie for afterwards
Dark dressing gown
Birthing ball – just incase there isn’t one spare. This can be left in the boot if not needed.
Birthing ball pump

Toiletries
Shampoo
Conditioner
Makeup bag
Mirror
Deoderant
Toothpaste
Toothbrush
Mouthwash
Facewipes
Antibacterial hand gel
Gaviscon
Anusol
Deoderant
Dettol wipes for ward
Lavender Oil
James’ wash bag with toothbrush/deoderant/bryl creme

Something extra…
Chocolates for the Midwives for afterwards
Card for the Midwives for afterwards

Food/Snacks/Drinks
Raspberry Leaf Tea
Mini cheddars
Bananas
Cereal bars
Frozen drinks – it’s apparently quite hot on the wards. A frozen drink will melt slowly, so will be much nicer than warm bottled water!
Juice – cordial
Bottles of water
Glucose tablets
Bendy straws – useful for drinking at any angle!
Crisps
Two plastic cups – so we can celebrate afterwards?!
Peppermint teabags – useful for trapped wind and cramps afterwards.
Dried fruit
Chocolate
Soreen

BABY CHANGING BAG.
Going home outfit
x5 vests
x5 baby grow’s
Pair of scratch mittens
Hat
Booties
Blanket
x6 muslin squares
x6 bibs
Soft toy
Swaddle
Towel
Cardigan – just incase, I know it’s July, but I do live in England.

Toiletries
Cotton wool balls/Cotton wool pleats
Grooming kit – for his little nails!
x27 nappies – a whole pack of Pampers New Born.
Sudacrem
Vaseline – useful for smothering over Baby Boy’s bum, it makes it easier to clean the first newborn poo’s away.
Bottles – just incase there’s an issue with breast feeding.
Ready made formula bottles – just incase there’s an issue with breast feeding.

Is there anything I’m missing from your own list?! Something that might have proven absolutely essential for you during labour or afterwards?

MM.