Thursday, 28 July 2016

Birthday Adventures!

Last Thursday was my birthday! There has been a bit of a heatwave here in the UK and I am the sort of person who wilts at the first little bit of heat, but I was determined to get out there an enjoy myself. I am really glad I did, as I had a fantastic day in London with James, and then a fun Saturday with Sammi and Shalisa. 

For my actual birthday, I went to One Aldwych in Covent Garden for afternoon tea. I didn't wear Japanese fashion because I was a bit concerned the staff would take one look at me and turn me away. I wouldn't usually go for an afternoon tea as expensive as this one, but it was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory inspired, and I thought the menu sounded fascinating. Besides, we were allowed seconds on literally anything we wanted. We ended up with 2 lots of savouries and I feel that if we had really wanted to, they would have given us a third round. With the exception of the ham and horseradish on rye, the savouries were all lovely. I would say this was the nicest salmon sandwich I have ever had.

But the real fun came with the sweet half of proceedings! Here we had scones with hedgerow sauce, berry compote and clotted cream, blueberry brioche, chocolate financiers, chocolate and caramel milk, rhubarb and custard candy floss, golden chocolate eggs filled with vanilla cheesecake and mango coulis, lemon cake pops and Eton mess. My favourite item had to be the rhubard and custard candy floss. I cannot put in to words just how intense the flavour was, and it really did taste like the sweets you sometimes get in pick 'n' mix. The staff were friendly too and there was also air-con. I would definitely do this again, although I was almost in a food coma. I couldn't eat another thing, and I was so grateful when we were given a doggy bag for the leftovers.

Afterwards we went to the 40 years of London punk exhibit being held at the British Library. I was very pleased to see that my favourite band were acknowledged for being the main inspiration for the UK punk movement! 

When we got home, I had time to open my presents. As far as J-fashion related stuff goes, I got given these Mu-fish socks and Yidhra tights from James. I have to be really careful at the moment to not buy any more main pieces and some other things, as my wardrobe needs a bit of a clear-out, but accessories were totally fine. I also got given a load of budgie related stuff, as I have turned in to a crazy budgie lady as of late. I will just do a mini review, before people complain this post is not really that J-fashion related! The socks fitted me perfectly and ends a few inches above my knee. I wouldn't recommend them for plus-sized wearers though, as I get the impression the socks don't have that much stretch. The ivory colour is quite obviously white and the pink has a very slight peachy tone to it. The pink is a good match for several items in my wardrobe though, so I am quite content. The tights were a bit of a let-down if I am being completely honest. They fitted me, but it was a bit of a stretch. The navy blue colour is also quite hard to distinguish and they look almost black, although the blue shade is a bit more obvious when worn. The main issue is that when you put them on, the colour almost completely disappears, as does the constellation pattern. It was so faint and became to transparent in places, that could could actually see my skin tone in places.To get a decent colour, I would have to layer navy tights underneath. They are also a weird sort of mesh and they are almost like fishnets. So they are not completely unwearable, but I would not recommend them. I got lots of lovely other presents though, including the sweetest little locket from James. I opened it to discover a feather from both of my budgies inside. It was so thoughtful and I started welling up when I opened the locket for the first time!

On the Saturday, I met up with Sammi and Shalisa. It was another quite hot day, so I didn't want to wear lolita. Yet weirdly, you can still see the lolita influence a little in my "casual" outfit! I am not really sure what this outfit would be labelled as. There are definite retro, sailor and lolita aspects to this, but I am just going to call it casual street fashion! I used a skirt from Primark, which I decorated with some Sugar Trampoline bows. The cutsew is Cherie Cerise, and the rest is a mix of Bodyline and off-brand.

When we got to Reading, there was a "beach" that had been constructed temporarily by the train station. Aside from putting a bit of sand down, it was dire. I would say it was more like a fairground than a beach. There were a couple of stalls where you could win prizes and an over-priced pick 'n' mix stall, but that was pretty much it. The website had promised donkeys, but we never spotted any! The worst part was the ferris wheel, which overlooked a construction site! Isn't the main point of those sort of attractions that you can see a glorious view? After assessing the situation, we left abruptly.

After seeing how full most of the eating establishments were, we ended up getting a Maccy D's and eating it outside the Abbey Ruins. It turned out to be a good call. The food was far better than the disappointing meal we had at the Outlook last time and I got to have my beloved toffee sundae. It was also lovely being sat outside in the shade. There were a lot of Pokemon Go people going by, but we were mostly left in peace. We saw the prettiest little dragonfly flying around as well. Sammi also brought some mini cupcakes, which were much appreciated.

With our recent foray in to perfume buying, Shalisa got given some samples by her mother, who works at a department store. So she bagged them and labelled them in this cute manner! 

Sammi made this adorable budgie themed rosette! It looks a bit like one of my budgies. I pulled the most embarrassing reaction face whilst opening this. It was pretty hilarious, but I wasn't confident enough to share it here! 

During our perfume sampling session, Shalisa inflicted on Sammi the most horrendous smelling perfume ever. She had already tried it and knew how bad it was, but I think she wanted us to join in her previous suffering! Sammi's reaction? She said "it smells like death". The worst part is, this scent was very long-lasting! It was supposed to smell like lilies, but I have never been a fan of lilies and it reminded me of a crematorium. It definitely had a smell of funeral about it! Not even Sammi's strawberry laces smelling hand sanitiser could save her from the death scent.

As we had discussed it previously, Sammi and Shalisa were in casual fashion as well. I liked Shalisa's Banana Fish top and Sammi had layered this lovely dress over a green dress to create a pretty mint shade. I really like how we each took the more casual theme and went very different ways with it. I had to take off my petticoat eventually though, as it was getting way too hot.

I didn't get a good shot on the day, but these are the bloomers that Shalisa gave me. I have been meaning to get a pair for so long. If you would like a pair, you can get them from Shalisa's store Sugar Trampoline. I can tell you that they are very comfortable. As I have a digestive system condition, I can't stand having lots of layers pressing down on my stomach. But these bloomers don't dig in and they are very comfortable to wear. I also found that the elastic stretched comfortably enough that I could wear the bloomers low-slung if I so desired. These bloomers also featured a cute little rose detail at the waist and some bows on top of the gathering at the leg holes. I cannot recommend these bloomers enough and I will be buying myself another pair at some point.

I would like to say a huge thank you to all the well-wishers. I know a few of you who left messages may be reading this post. As you can see, I had a great time and I was so happy to spend some quality time with some much loved friends. I even got to do the Crystal Maze experience the week before with another group of friends, which was incredible. I haven't had the easiest of times recently, so I am so grateful that I have these happy memories to look back on.

Monday, 25 July 2016

Milky Swan by Angelic Pretty

Today I shall be having a look at Milky Swan by Angelic Pretty. This series includes 3 dresses, a head bow, socks and a plush bag.

First up is the Collar OP. The bodice seems fairly well fitted and the shape is cute. I am not usually a fan of this shape of sleeve, but I do think that the choice of material makes it work. As a result, the sleeves look suitably light and airy, with a good amount of puffiness to them. They are also gathered very nicely at the cuffs, and the cuffs themselves have been kept nice and simple. The bodice features a collar layered on top of a bib. I am not a fan of the bib anyway, as I don't feel it works with the overall 'feel' of the series, but I think it is a bit ridiculous to have this overlapping bib and collar. The bib is a nice shape but quite big, and it takes up a lot of room. I like the good quality lace lining the bib, but I wouldn't say it was anything special. The inside of the bib is set out neatly with some tidy looking pleats and a ruffle of lace, which sits really well on the bib. If it was me, I would not have bothered with the bib and just had the collar. The collar itself has some interesting detailing to it, so I don't think the bodice would look too plain without the bib. Maybe a few discreet lines of thin lace on the bodice could have worked with just the collar. The collar has an interesting hemline, which creates an almost cloud-like shape. I imagine this is what AP were aiming for. Personally, I think the collar could have been shaped cuter, but as it is it doesn't look too bad. However, I am not a fan of the pearls placed along the very edge of the collar hemline and also the small ribbon bow in the middle. The pearls look very poorly positioned and I just don't think it works. As for the bow, the ribbon used is super shiny and I also don't think the colour quite matches in some cases. Thankfully the ribbon bow is detachable, and I would be tempted to detach it and replace it with my own ribbon bow in a colour and ribbon choice I feel would be more suitable. The back offers no shirring, so size flexibility is very limited. I don't feel the zip is that well concealed on the back either, as you can see an obvious break in the clouds in the print and also at the collar. The stock photos show that the skirt is generous in volume and it flares outwards greatly. There is a lot of potential here to create a fantastic skirt shape. The skirt is kept simple in design, so the print is displayed perfectly. The bottom hem is then finished off with star and AP logo themed lace. I am not quite sure where stars fit in with the print or themed of this series, but at least the lace is of a good quality I guess.

Here we have the Mini Sleeve OP. The bodice looks quite lumpy, so perhaps the decision to use chiffon hasn't worked quite as well here. I am also not a fan of the sleeves. I feel the sleeves need to be more gathered and be a bit puffier. The neckline shape and the straps are lovely though. There is a large waist bow, which has a beautiful, well formed shape to it. The waist bow seems to be attached to the organza over-skirt, which I was hoping would be detachable, but it doesn't seem to be. There are 3 additional bows on the bodice. Again, these bows are a lovely shape, although with the waist bow as well I think these bodice bows need to be a bit smaller. These bodice bows sit ever so neatly on top of some lines of lace. The lace has been really well placed and gathered. Nothing looks out of place and it looks so tidy. The V shaped neckline is softened by generous amounts of lace. This gives the neckline a really frothy appearance. I imagine though, that this lace could tickle the wearer a fair bit. The back is fully shirred, so there is plenty of size flexibility, although it also means the shirring is very exposed. The stock photos show that the skirt is very full and it looks like it is quite well rounded in shape (although that may also be the over-skirt). Speaking of the over-skirt, I do not know what to make of it. You can still see the print fairly decently through the over-skirt, but I am just not that keen on it covering the entire skirt and I think it could have been shaped better. The shape of the over-skirt is just a bit uninspiring and I also think it is too long. Also, if you look at the close-ups, the over-skirt is made from shimmery material. Sadly, this material looks a bit costumey and cheap. The bottom hem is then finished off with the star lace again. Now that I think about it, AP could have quite easily used crown shaped lace instead. Seeing as some of the birds in the print are wearing crowns, I feel that would be quite apt.

This is the JSK. The bodice seems fairly well fitted. Although the bodice shape is quite simple, I think there are enough details going on to keep it looking interesting. The straps look to be a suitable and supportive width, although it is hard to tell with all the lace in the way. Like the Mini Sleeve OP, this dress has a gorgeous waist bow teamed with the full over-skirt again. The bow sits so well on the dress and it is really well formed. There is a line of lace going along the waistline, which sits neatly and I like that it hides the top of the over-skirt as well. There isn't much to say about the bodice, other than it has A LOT of lace. The entire bodice is practically covered in the stuff. Thankfully, the lace is of the quality you would expect from AP, and the lace has also been set out quite neatly. It has been gathered well, to create lots of frothy looking ruffles. I appreciate this very lacy approach is not to everybody's tastes but in all honesty, I kind of like it on this dress. There is a shiny ribbon bow on this dress as well. Sadly, this time it doesn't seem to be detachable. But among all the lace, the bow doesn't stand out as much as it does on the Collar OP. The back has a panel of shirring, which has been topped very neatly with a ribbon corset. My feelings about the over-skirt on this JSK are pretty much identical to those about the over-skirt on the Mini Sleeve OP. I would say that it perhaps looks a little bit better on the JSK though, or at least it does in the stock photos. The skirt is plump with volume and it flares outwards a lot. I like the rounded look of the skirt in the stock photos, and I feel the skirt has a lot of potential. The bottom hem is then finished off with the star lace again (boring). However, after seeing the close up of the bottom hem of this dress, there is a slight hint that the over-skirt may be detachable!

Finally, this is what the print looks like. This series comes in pink, mint, lavender and dark blue. The colours are very dreamy and I feel they suit the print really well. My only criticism is that I think the dark blue needs to be a darker shade of blue. As for the print itself, I really love the swans. I think they look so pretty, especially decorated with the flowers and crowns. Also, the baby swans (which I am pleased to see look like ducklings, as I love ducks!) are absolutely adorable. The castle in the background is well drawn and I also like that it isn't too distracting, so the focus is still on the swans. The clouds make for a lovely background, although I feel the clouds could have been a bit more spread out. 

So I have to say, I really like the print. Sadly, I am a bit unsure about the dress designs! Would I buy this series? Possibly. I am a bit on the fence about it, and I would need to be sure before I considered getting it. My personal top choice is the JSK, but I am unsure about the colour. It is between the pink and lavender! I think the lavender is just about edging it for me. But this is the most I have liked an Angelic Pretty print since Chess Emblem. I am really keen to see what wonderful ideas people come up with for this series. It could be quite promising.

Thursday, 21 July 2016

The Chaos of Big Outfit Planning

As I write this, the next Tea Party Club anniversary meet is about 2 months away. Due to personal reasons, I am not 100% sure I am able to attend this year and as such, I haven't really been planning an outfit. Usually for a big event like this, I feel it is a good opportunity to do a more OTT outfit than usual. It is not necessarily about showing off, but getting excited about the event and wanting to do something special to mark the occasion. With 2 months to go, I would usually be having one of my little outfit panics by now and to be honest, it feels really odd not having to worry about my outfit this year. It feels pretty refreshing too!

Out of all the outfits I have done for big events, the outfit I did for Regalia was the only one that didn't really cause me any major stress. Despite making a lot for my outfit, I managed to just get my head down and just get on with it. My other outfits were a lot more chaotic, right up until the very last minute! How exactly does one go about getting on top of all the tasks that come with a 'big' outfit?

I think a good place to start is to have a basic 'base' outfit. You need to decide which dress you want to wear, and then make up an outfit for it with items you already have in your wardrobe and requires no additional purchasing or crafting. Then you need to build on this 'base' outfit.

To build on your base outfit, you need to make a list of all the tasks you want to do. Then you need to put these tasks in order of priority. Rather than your outfit being an all-or-nothing situation, perhaps we should focus more on seeing how far up the progress ladder we can climb. Each task completed should be seen as an achievement, rather than just one task crossed off a long list. Because at the end of the day, wearing your outfit is only one of many ways you will be enjoying the event.

I think it is also vital not to get weighed down with the idea of 'competing' with other lolitas. I have touched on this subject previously on this blog, and I feel it is very easy to become preoccupied with what other lolitas are wearing and how you 'measure up' next to them. Yes, there are going to be amazing OTT outfits, but remember that there are many lolitas out there who appreciate a simpler, but well put-together outfit just as much.

When you are buying stuff for your outfit, it can sometimes pay off to think outside of the box. I remember when I was thinking up my outfit for Enchanted, I was struggling to find any wings small enough and of a decent quality to make these winged shoe clips. I almost abandoned the idea completely. In the end, I found the perfect wings online from a store that does dolls craft supplies. I would have never have thought to look in a place like that and I only found the wings by complete chance. It is funny because since then, I have found countless feather accessories on Taobao and even spotted stuff on the high street! At the time though, feathers were not a common accessory in lolita fashion. 

If all else fails, I try to have a back-up plan. My main challenge with my Regalia outfit was not my clothing, but trying out a completely new hairstyle. My hair is notoriously bad at behaving itself and doing what I want it to, so on the morning of Regalia I had a wig all set out. Thankfully, on the day everything went to plan.

It is going to feel strange not attending a big event this year, but I admit that the peace and tranquility is much appreciated! I am curious to know- how do all of you deal with these big event outfit stresses? Do you follow something similar to what I do, or do something completely different? I think it is safe to say that most lolitas do not simply pull these amazing outfits out of thin air. If nothing else, rest assured that you are not alone in feeling stressed!

Monday, 18 July 2016

Print Double

I am taking a look at 2 prints today. So scroll down further for Angelic Pretty's Checkmate.

First up today though, is Fantasy Parade by Metamorphose. This series includes 3 dresses, 2 skirts, 2 hair accessories and socks.

First up is the Twinkle JSK. I am not a fan of the low dropped waist, but the bodice shape is otherwise quite pretty. The neckline shape is really pretty and the straps are a good width, which also suit the style of the bodice. I initially felt that the bodice needed some more trimmings, like lace, but on reflection I quite like the thin and subtle gold lace. The lace creates neat, bold lines, which are well set out. There is a ribbon corset in the centre, and I feel the ribbon could have been spaced out wider. I like that the sides of the ribbon corset are lined with lace though, as that keeps things looking tidy. There is a bow topping the neckline, which has a cute shape and design to it. The bow is a nice size too. This bow is double layered, and the gold ribbon used for the top layer has a gorgeous design to it. It is very decorative. This bow is detachable, but I personally think the bodice looks too plain with it detached. There is also a random drape of chiffon on one of the shoulders which I think doesn't really work. I can't see it working well with anything other than a long-sleeved simple blouse, or no blouse at all. The drape is quite big and bulky too, although I admit it does hang in a nice way. This chiffon part is detachable too. I am a bit undecided on whether it would be better to detach this or not. It is one of those things that I feel you have to see in person to get a real feel for how it works. The back has a panel of shirring, which is topped neatly with a ribbon corset. The stock photos show that the skirt is quite full, despite the drop-waist. I think with the right petticoat, the skirt has a lot of potential, although I am still not a fan of the low waist line. The skirt is kept simple in design, so the print is displayed well. The bottom hem is then finished off with a line of gold lace and a neatly done chiffon ruffle. 

Here we have the Shirring JSK. As you would probably expect with such a shirred bodice, the shape of the bodice is pretty lumpy and bumpy. I don't think it looks appealing, although it looks a lot less obvious on the black colour way. At least we know this JSK is going to have plenty of stretch. The straps seem to be quite a supportive width and I like that the straps and neckline are lined neatly with lace. I find the straps and very straight neckline a bit uninspiring though. There is a ribbon bow at the waist. Unfortunately, the shape of the bow is quite basic and the ribbon used is super shiny. The quality of the ribbon looks cheap. It is the sort of ribbon I would expect on an inexpensive box of chocolates, rather than on a dress from a Japanese lolita brand. This same ribbon is also used for the small bows at the bases of the straps, which don't look much better. All of these ribbon bows are detachable, but you are then left with a very basic looking dress. It is hard to find a good balance here between details and quality. The front centre of the bodice has a line of buttons with a double ruffle on either side. The ruffles are well gathered and sit nicely on the dress. I do feel the button design is too basic though. Meta could have so easily gotten some buttons with a cute design here. As you would expect, the back of the dress is also fully shirred. The stock photos show that the skirt is very full and it flares outwards plenty. I think the model photos among the stock photos show that this skirt has lots of potential to look fantastic. The skirt is again kept simple in design, so the print is displayed beautifully. The bottom hem is then finished off with some Meta swan logo themed lace.

This is the High Waist JSK. I do wonder how well this bodice is going to fit on those who are larger in the bust area. Also, the bodice shape is generally quite dull and uninteresting. There is a small detachable panel at the chest area, but regardless of whether it is attached or nor, the neckline looks too square and harsh. The chest panel is at least gathered nicely and features a small bow, so I would leave it attached. If nothing else, this panel adds some much needed detail to a very boring bodice. The straps are at least a decent width and look quite supportive. They are lined with gold lace on the insides, which then continues along the neckline. This lace only emphasises how straight the neckline is, but I would rather have the lace there than nothing at all. The only other detail of note is the ribbon waist bow. This time the ribbon used looks a little less shiny, which is an improvement. I still don't think this waist bow is that well shaped though, and it seems to hang quite limply on the dress. This bow is detachable and as a suggestion in the stock photos, Meta have placed the bow on the chest area. I have to say that I feel placing the bow here instead is a massive improvement. It is amazing how much better the dress looks just by moving this one bow. The bow also has a cute star charm dangling from it, which is a nice finishing touch. The back of the dress is fully shirred, so there is plenty of size flexibility, but also means the unattractive shirring is exposed. I like that the skirt appears to be generous in volume and how much it flares out. The stock photos show that the skirt will hold more than enough petticoat. The skirt is once again kept simple in design, so the print is displayed excellently. The bottom hem is then finished off with a double ruffle of the main dress fabric. I like that these ruffles have been lined so neatly with thin gold lace. There are also some small bows on the bottom hem, which add a nice extra finishing touch without being too distracting.

And hopefully, this gives some idea of what the print looks like. A decent close up was not available at the time of writing. This series comes in black, red and mint. The red colour is maybe a bit 'out there' but the 3 colours generally work quite well with the print. As for the print itself, I think it is quite a nice idea for a design. It doesn't look too crowded or overdone, which is a huge bonus. The buildings are well drawn with some nice turret shapes making for an interesting skyline. My only criticism is I think the word 'Metamorphose' randomly floating in the sky, behind some of the buildings has been quite poorly placed. I wouldn't have bothered putting that writing in the print at all. The fireworks are suitably sparkly. I like that they fill up the whole of the background, but at the same time the design is quite simple and it never looks too overwhelming. I like the subtle inclusion of the famous Meta swan in the fireworks too!

So overall I think this is a pretty decent print. It may not be that original a design, but I think the print is decent enough. There are a couple of things in the dress designs which are maybe a bit questionable, but I feel there are ways of working around that. The great thing is that most of the parts on all the dresses are detachable, which means you can mix and match things. Would I buy this series? Possibly, although it wont be going on my wishlist. My top choice is the High Waist JSK in black. After initially hating that dress design, all it took was the movement of one bow to completely change my mind! Perhaps this serves as a good reminder to me to keep an open mind!

Today I am also looking at Angelic Pretty's Checkmate. This series includes 2 dresses, a skirt, 2 hair accessories and socks.

First up is the OP. The bodice looks well fitted and the overall shape is cute, but mature. I think the arms have a good amount of puffiness to them, not looking too OTT. The cuffs are set out really neatly, with a nice military feel to them. I adore the gold emblem buttons used here, and the gold braid and the lace keeps the cuffs looking very smart. For some reason, I am not really liking the waist details. The gold piping along the neckline doesn't work in my opinion. Whilst I think the idea of the chiffon drapes on either side is interesting, I don't feel the soft and delicate feel of the chiffon goes with the sharper, bold military details on the dress. It is a shame, because the chiffon parts have been well executed and fall nicely, with a neat line of gold lace lining it. It just doesn't work with this particular dress. The bodice features a boldly shaped yoke, which has got such neat pleats around the edge. The inside is set out well too, with a nice use of gold braid and more gold buttons. I do feel the bow topping this though, doesn't quite work. It is a cute shape, but it is a bit big. Also, the choice of colour for this bow looks a little bit out of place on certain colour ways. This bow is detachable, which I definitely would detach if it were me. There are some sharp looking epaulettes on the shoulders, but with all the other details going on, it just looks a bit too cluttered. The back offers no shirring, so size flexibility is very limited. I do think the back is set out very smartly though and it looks very tidy. The stock photos show that the skirt is super full and it flares outwards very widely. There should be more than enough room for petticoat. Aside from the little chiffon bits, which finish before the border print anyway, the skirt is kept simple in design. This means the print is displayed beautifully. The bottom hem is then finished off quite neatly with a line of gold braid and a ruffle of the main dress fabric. If I was being picky, I would say the ruffle is perhaps a tiny bit too wide.

Here we have the JSK. The bodice seems well fitted and although the shape is a bit simple, I think it looks quite smart. However, I do feel those thin straps look a bit flimsy and I would have liked them to be a bit wider. They are lined very neatly with gold lace on the outsides though, which stops the straps from looking too plain, but also doesn't look too frilly teamed with the military themed style. There is a ribbon belt, which does emphasise the waist area, but I feel it sits oddly with the flaps on the skirt. Although the chocolate box themed ribbon has a lovely design, I am not really feeling it on this particular dress. Although as we get to discussing the print, you will see I am not that keen on the chocolate part of this series anyway! The flaps on the skirt I mentioned have been done quite neatly. I do feel this idea works better than the chiffon parts on the OP. The bodice features folded over parts, which look a bit like lapels, and also a folded down collar. All the different flaps and folded bits are lined neatly with gold lace, which emphasises all the lines nicely. It also works well with the stripes in the print. The 'lapel's are topped with more of those emblem themed gold buttons. I personally think having that many buttons is a bit much, and I would have just had 2 buttons at the top of the lapels, instead of 6 buttons. The centre has some criss-crossed gold braid, which I don't feel is needed, as there is already a lot of detail on the bodice. There is a bow on the neckline, which is a decent size and an okay shape. I like that this bow has been kept relatively simple and doesn't look too frilly. This bow is detachable, although I am not sure if I would detach it or not. The back has a panel of shirring, which is topped very neatly with a ribbon corset. The stock photos show that the skirt is very plump and flares outwards loads. I love the full bell shape of the skirt. The skirt is again kept simple in design, so the print is displayed perfectly. The bottom hem is then finished off with a line of gold braid and some regal looking lace. Although the lace is beautiful, I personally would have preferred a ruffle at the bottom instead, like the OP.

Finally, this is what the print looks like. This series comes in wine, navy. black and green. The colours are very mature and suitable for a fall release. If I was being critical, I would say that the navy version is perhaps a bit too bright. The regimental stripy background is perfect though. As for the print, the chess pieces and crowns are pretty, but AP have essentially taken the chess pieces from previous series and made them all gold. To make the print seem a little bit more original, they appear to have attempted to add a chocolate theme as well. Although as we know, AP have already done Chess Chocolate. So it seems that AP have essentially taken popular themes from previous releases and mixed them in a way that looks like a new print. I personally really like the golden chess pieces, but I don't think it quite works with the chocolate bar bit at the bottom. If the chocolate part at the bottom wasn't there, I would probably really love this print. 

As this is similar to some other AP series which I liked, I thought I was going to like this series. But actually, I think the print looks terrible. There are also times where the dress designs feel overdone and they have taken the detailing a bit too far. I think the OTT dress designs teamed with the busy print makes this series a bit too overwhelming. There are definitely bits about this series which I would like to take out. So I think it is safe to say I would not buy this series. My top choice would be the JSK in wine. However, I will be keeping an eye out for any potential jewellery that later gets released for this series. Fingers crossed there will be some nice pieces, like when AP released Chess Chocolate!

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Recent Haul- Late June/ Early July 2016

So as I sort of promised, I am doing another haul post of things I have purchased outside of my usual Taobao and other shopping reviews, mainly my auction buys and anything I have brought from shops I have purchased from loads and no longer feel the need to dedicate a blog review to. 

Lately I have been pushing myself to fill in the necessary gaps in my wardrobe. Although I have lots of off-white and ivory blouses, this Innocent World blouse is my first long sleeved off-white blouse that isn't chiffon. As much as I love my chiffon blouses, it is very awkward wearing them with skirts, as you then have to wear a camisole underneath to stop your underwear from showing. Although I have been okay with doing this in the past, I just wanted to own a good, cotton blouse that I could just wear by itself. Also, I find I don't always want to wear a super floaty chiffon blouse, as it doesn't always fit the overall feel of an outfit. This Innocent World blouse had been hanging around on the Japanese auctions for ages and I finally decided to go ahead and get it. I initially put a bid on, despite the buy it now being reasonable, as I see no harm in trying to get something for a little bit cheaper. Unfortunately, the second I put a bid on, it seemed to spur other Japanese bidders to have a go for it as well (typical!). So I ended up doing the buy it now anyway. There was a bit of confusion, as the seller accidentally got 2 auctions mixed up and sent Japonica the wrong blouse. Luckily, Japonica were able to handle the mix up brilliantly, and I got the blouse I won eventually.

My initial thought was that the cotton felt super soft. I have so many crispy paper-like Bodyline blouses, that I had sort of forgotten how lovely brand cotton blouses can be. The lace is lovely too. I got one of the trump button blouses (I don't know the exact release, as IW have done a few of these trump button ones). The buttons are so pretty, but I have to admit that I found them really annoying to actually button up! They can be a bit fiddly.

Once I had conquered doing up the buttons, I was relieved to find that the blouse fitted me okay. This blouse was missing the ties that help make the blouse smaller, but I seemed to have gotten the ideal size for me anyway. As you can see, the arms are a good length on me as well. I think the blouse is ever so slightly see-through, but not so much that a camisole is needed. I will be testing this out with a nude bra and the camera flash before I wear this out though!

I love the rose lace on the collar. The collar is perhaps a bit bigger than I was expecting, but I quite like it.

I had a bit of an accident with my long-sleeved black Bodyline blouse which saw the colour run, so I got this Angelic Pretty blouse as a sort-of replacement. It was only when I put this AP blouse next to my Bodyline one that I realised how faded my Bodyline one had become. The cotton was again very soft, as was all of the lace.

A picture with the flash, just to show up all the details. The ribbon has buttons to detach it. As this blouse is a little bit sweeter than my Bodyline blouse, I like that one of the cutest details is at detachable. Perhaps I will be able to use this blouse in a more varied way. 

There is even lace running up the arms! 

The collar is again maybe a bit bigger than I was hoping, but I think it looks pretty good worn. Please excuse the hastily tied bow.

I have to admit though, that I am disappointed with the fit. The blouse is maybe a bit smaller on me than I would have hoped, but my main issue is the torso length is quite short. I decided to add this photo to demonstrate this point. I have a feeling I will mainly be wearing this blouse under JSKs, rather than with skirts... Although weirdly, the arm length was absolutely fine on me. I guess I will just have to be careful.

Who doesn't love a bit of AP logo lace?

I also managed to get hold of AP's Cosmic necklace in navy x gold, which came shortly after my last haul post. Well, it is meant to be navy, but in person it actually almost looks black. If you hold it up to the light you can see a slight tinge of blue. I am not going to lie- I intend to wear this as if it were black! The cluster of stars on the chain is a nice touch too, and the star charm at the top is stamped with the AP initials as usual. I absolutely love this necklace and I want to get it in clear x gold as well. I am also still on the lookout for the matching ring. If you see it then please let me know.

Finally, I got a pair of Bodyline shoes in beige. The style number is S519. A part of me was secretly hoping they would be less beige, as they look almost off-white in the stock photos. I suppose it serves me right for trusting Bodyline stock photos. I was very annoyed to discover that my shoes had arrived with marks on them, and one patch was even a bit sticky. The marks came off okay with no damage, but this is not acceptable. This is why I very rarely order from Bodyline now, because the quality control is appalling. 

The bows are quite well shaped, and I like the heart scalloping. The stitching is generally quite neat. There was a slight glue mark on the inside of one shoe, but it was quite small.

I like that there is a slight heel. The heel has generally been done to satisfactory level. It feels quite sturdy.

The straps are a good length with plenty of holes to adjust them. These shoes have poppers like pretty much all of the major brand and Bodyline shoes. Size-wise, I found this style ran true to size. I got my usual 25cm size and they fitted me fine. I have only worn these for a few hours around the house so far, so I can't really judge how comfortable they are yet. So far, they seem quite comfortable and on the same level as other Bodyline shoes. 

So I have managed to successfully fill a few wardrobe holes and tick yet another item off my wishlist. The shoes were a little disappointing though, with the colour being quite a dark beige and them coming with those stains. I am also pleased to say that I went and brought a bottle of YSL's Black Opium Nuit Blanche, after featuring it in my recent post about perfume. I have done pretty well shopping-wise lately, and I am eager to go out and find some bargains soon.

Monday, 11 July 2016

Mon Chouchou Hermitage by Baby the Stars Shine Bright

Today I shall be taking a look at Mon Chouchou Hermitage by Baby the Stars Shine Bright. This series includes 3 dresses, a skirt, a blouse, tights and 2 hair accessories. There is also an accompanying non-print series called Le Petit Chat, which features pieces including cat themed jewellery, so be sure to check that out as well. 

First up is the Reine JSK. The bodice material seems a bit loose in some of the stock photos, but I am hopeful it fits better in person. I feel the bodice shape is a bit simple, but not too dull. The straps look a suitably supportive width and I like that they are lined with lace on the outsides to stop them looking too plain. I do think the lace chosen has an interesting design. It stands out, but I actually like that about it. There are 2 stripy bows at the waist area, which are a cute shape, but perhaps are a bit on the big side. However, my dislike of the use of stripy material and also the colour of these bows for some of the colour ways is going to become apparent very quickly. So rather than keep repeating myself, I will just make a note here to say that I think the choice of using stripes looks out of place, and the colour choices for the stripy bows is sometimes very jarring and gaudy looking. Please go ahead and assume I feel this way about the use of the stripy bits throughout this entire series. So I think it is safe to assume that I am really pleased that these stripy bows are detachable! The bodice is mostly kept simple, with just some thin lines of gold lace used to break up the empty areas. Considering the non-border part of the print is quite busy, I think this is a blessing. There is a bow on the neckline, which has the most beautiful shape to it. The folding of the bow tails is pretty and it has been so well executed. It sits well on the dress as well. Yes, the bow is a bit big in size, but I think I can forgive that as it looks so nice. The bow also makes good use of the same lace used on the straps, so that is a good bit of continuity as well. The only downside is it doesn't appear to be detachable, so that isn't helpful if you are not a fan of this bow. The neckline is finished off with some gold braid and some simple ruffles on either side of the bow. It looks quite neat and softens the neckline well, although I think I would have preferred if the ruffles gradually tapered off at the sides. The back has a panel of shirring, which is concealed neatly with a ribbon corset. The stock photos show that the skirt is very full and flares outwards generously. I think there is a lot of potential to create a lovely shape. There is a bustle on the front of the skirt, which I feel could have been a bit wider at the bottom. I do think the bustle layers have been well spaced out though, and they are layered well too. The edges of the bustle are also lined neatly with gold braid, which really smartens up the edges of the bustle. Perhaps there could have been some bows at the bottom of the bustle (but not the stripy bows!) as an extra finishing touch. Despite the bustle, the print is still displayed quite nicely at the sides and I like that the main points of interest in the print have been positioned carefully around the bustle. However, this is maybe not the sort of print that you would pair with a bustle, or at least not a bustle on the front of the skirt. I don't mind it, but I could understand if people didn't like it. The bottom hem is then finished off neatly with a line of pretty lace layered on top of a ruffle. I like the soft, floaty appearance of this bottom hem.

Next we have the Amelie JSK. The bodice seems fairly well fitted, although the overall bodice shape is a bit boring for my personal tastes. I am really not liking the very straight neckline, and even a line of lace along the neckline does little to soften it. Maybe it is because the line of gold braid emphasises how straight the neckline is. The straps are a little bit on the thin side, but the cute ruffles along the outsides of the straps help to bulk them out a little bit. I like that the straps have these ruffles, although I feel there is a bit of a clash with these ruffles and the neckline lace. There is a belt at the waist area, which helps to define the waist quite nicely, although I obviously would prefer a non-stripy belt. I think this pink colour way above demonstrates what I mentioned about the stripy material colour choices being quite clashing in places. The bodice then features a line of gold braid and a line of lace cutting across the chest area. Even though I think the lace used here has a gorgeous pattern, I don't think having this cutting across the chest in this way is the most flatting of details. It also has the potential to sit awkwardly on some wearers. The bodice is then finished off with 2 bows, with one on the neckline and one on the chest. I wouldn't have bothered with the chest bow, as I don't feel it is needed. The neckline bow is big enough. Or maybe Baby could have done 2 smaller bows at the bases of the straps instead. I do think it is a shame that these 2 bows don't appear to be detachable. The back offers a panel of shirring, which has been topped neatly with a ribbon corset. The stock photos show that the skirt appears to have a great amount of volume to it and flares out decently. I reckon there should be plenty of room for petticoat to create a lovely shape. The skirt is generally kept simple in design, so the print is displayed okay. My main complaint is the bits at the bottom with the bows and lace. Some of the more interesting bits of the print happen to be where these bows are situated, and they get a bit cut off to make way for yet more bows. It does make me feel a bit sad, because this detail features some of the most stunning lace, and yet it cuts in to the print. I feel this detail could have been done in a less disruptive way. The bottom hem is then finished off with a wide tulle ruffle, which I feel looks a bit limp, although that is probably just the petticoat that Baby chose for the photos that is causing that.

This is the OP. The bodice material looks a bit loose and baggy, and I personally don't think the bodice is the prettiest of shapes either. The sleeves could of had a lot of potential, and I quite like the chiffon part if you ignore the stripy bows, which make them look a bit too overdone. But the printed material part of the sleeves look too long and saggy. They look really shapeless. I also think the way the 2 different fabrics connect to each other looks very awkward and too fussy. There is a waist bow, which I don't feel has the most attractive of shapes. It is also quite big and I think it sits weirdly on the dress. I am so glad to see the waist bow is detachable, which I would definitely detach if I had this dress. Underneath the waist bow, we can see that the waistline is actually V shaped, although it doesn't look all that appealing in the stock photos. I would still prefer the waist bow to be detached though. One of the things I do love about this dress though, is the use of this fantastic pleated trim up the bodice and then around the sides of the neckline. This pleated trim has such an interesting look to it and I think this is something I would like to see used again. I really like how the pleated trim sits on top of the wide neckline lace as well. The lace has a pretty design once again, and it has been placed so carefully along the neckline and around the trim. I can take or leave the 2 bows sitting on top of the line of pleats though. They are a bit too big in size for my liking. This dress also comes with a sash, which I am not that fond of. I just don't like the way the sash looks with the dress, although it is hard to put my finger on why exactly. The first time I saw this dress I noticed the sash and immediately disliked it for some reason. The dress is already quite OTT anyway, and I think the sash is just overpowering. The back offers no shirring, so there is limited size flexibility. I think the zip line has been quite well concealed though. The stock photos show that the skirt is very full and it flares outwards beautifully. I want to like the bustle on the front of the skirt, but it is so narrow and cuts up the print, so I don't really see the point of it. By the looks of it, the bustle tiers are spread out well and layered nicely. With such a small area though, the bustle never really reaches its full potential. Despite the interruption of the bustle, the print is still displayed pretty decently on either side. The bottom hem is then finished off neatly with 2 very soft looking ruffles, which are nicely layered.

Finally, here is one part of the print...

... and another part...

... and an overall view of the border part of the print. This series comes in ivory, pink, bright green and black. If you ignore the stripy ribbons, all 4 colours seem to work quite decently with the print. However, the decision to pair both the ivory and pink colour ways with bright red stripy parts has really put me off these 2 colours. The ivory and pink shades are very soft and delicate looking, which clashes with the bold red stripes. The stripy parts at least compliment a bit better on the bright green and black versions. As for the print itself, I think the overall idea is good, but I don't think it quite works. I think it is fair to say that some of the cats look cuter than others. There is a grey coloured cat in the print which I think looks really creepy. I also don't like the way that some of the black cats look more faded in comparison to the rich black colour on some of the other cats. However, I think my biggest issue with the print is the fact that the non-border part of the print is also very busy and it looks too overwhelming paired with the cat bit at the bottom. I do think the portraits on the non-border part are beautifully drawn, but a simpler background is needed here. Also, if you look at the print close up, you will see it seems to have been printed on a polka dot fabric, which I don't think really works.

I feel this series could have been very promising, but it is let down by an overly ambitious print and some questionable dress details. If I am being brutally honest, I feel like Baby are trying too hard to shoe-horn a load of popular themes and ideas together and it doesn't pay off. Cat themed prints generally seem to go down quite well, but even some of my cat print loving friends have commented that they don't like this series, which says a lot. So I think it is safe to say I would not go for this series. My top choice would be the Reine JSK in bright green, and that is only because all of the stripy bits are detachable and overall it feels like the safest of the dress designs. However, I think some of the cat jewellery from the sister Le Petit Chat collection could be quite promising, so that is worth checking out if you are a general cat fan. Dare I say, that the tights from this series look quite pretty too, although I wouldn't be pairing them with the rest of this series!

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Fun With Friends and an Encounter With Arabella...

With all of us in desperate need of meeting up and having a good long talk, I met up with Sammi and Shalisa in Reading on Saturday. I thought it was going to be a pretty quiet day, but it turned out to be quite eventful.

It has been a while since I last wore Meta's Candy Star Rabbit, so I decided to wear it. I had been intending to wear it one last time and then sell it, but I ended up coming up with a few outfit ideas for it. So selling this skirt has been put on hold for a while! I had my concerns about this outfit. I decided to try and make use of the wide variety of colours which appear on the skirt, which involved adding pinks which I am not sure 100% matched. There was also the task of balancing the 2 main skirt colours throughout the outfit.

My accessories were mostly candy themed, which ended up with me using a lot of Angelic Pretty jewellery. As the blue on the skirt is not a widely used shade, I ended up making the star clips which I attached to the cuffs.

We initially went perfume shopping in the Oracle Centre. I ended up getting a bottle of perfume which I had mentioned in my recent post about perfume. Shalisa also ended up getting a lovely rose perfume from the Body Shop. It was interesting to find another rose perfume which actually smelt of roses! Perhaps I need to keep more of an eye on the Body Shop in the future.

As we exited the shopping centre, we were confronted with this interesting "lady" called Arabella. This is where things went a bit strange. Upon seeing us, the lady with the umbrella and Arabella decided that they absolutely had to come over. There was the usual questions about what we were wearing and where we got our clothes from. Then the lady told us that Arabella had a gift for us, and we were given a box to open which contained a key and a safety pin inside. Upon taking the gift, we were told that we had to go underneath Arabella's skirt (cue internal screaming). The lady absolutely insisted that we should do it and this poor gilr holding a sign just sort of muttered "just go with it" at us. After scrambling underneath her skirt, which was very small and claustrophobia inducing, we spoke to a man who wore a dodgy veil and one of the worst fake 'French' accents I have ever heard. We were told that this key had the power to grant each of us a wish and then we had to attach the key to the underside of her skirt. If the weird, sexual undertones were not bad enough already, we then each ended up having to take Arabella's cherry. And there is also photographic evidence somewhere out there of us being underneath this lady's skirt.

Sounds peculiar right? Here is a picture of the cherry I took from Arabella. I wonder what that is supposed to symbolise... Allegedly, this was part of some sort of art festival that was being held in town. This has to be one of the weirdest experiences of my entire life and I am still confused over how on earth all of this even happened. As we walked to the pub, the 4 of us looked at each other in disbelief.

Before getting food, we decided to go and take some photos by the riverside. Don't be fooled by the lovely, sunny picture. It kept alternating between sunshine and cloudy skies, which made photo taking very frustrating. It also kept raining at several points during the day. But aside from the weather, I am glad we found a nice photography spot so close to the only pub in Reading that we dare to set foot in.

There are these lovely ruins nearby but sadly the general public are not allowed in. It is a pity, because they could make for a lovely photo opportunity. Sadly, it seems they have been closed for a very long time and there are no signs of it opening again.

There was a sculpture nearby, which seemed quite contrasting to the old looking ruins. I did quite appreciate the hidden faces in the sculpture though.

We got so flustered with the weather, that we sort of forgot to take group shots. But here is a solo shot of Sammi. She wore Dreaming Macaron so cutely. Sammi loves yellow, so it seems a natural choice for her to wear.

Shalisa looked pretty in her Baby dress too. I believe it is Alice's Ribbon Kingdom? I always get so confused with all the print names when it comes to Baby. I liked that her hair and bolero matched the lighter pink in the print so well.

Then we went for food and it started off by sounding so promising. The Outlook had some new options added to their menu and a few of us were keen to try out their new hog roast burger. Sadly, the burger did not live up to its name at all. There was barely any pork, which seemed to have just been mixed in with the stuffing. I had way too much apple sauce, so when I bit in to my burger I got a very appley and salad mouthful with hardly any meat. The bun on mine was overdone as well, so it was rock hard. In the end, the bacon was the only good bit, and there were only 2 rashers. I have had some good meals at the Outlook before, so this was a huge let-down for me. The others did not seem impressed either. I am hoping it is a case of the pub having an off-day, but I wont be getting the same meal from them again.

Sammi and I decided to indulge in some Pimms, which for some reason was bright orange in colour. It tasted different as well. It was still nice, but I suspect that orange juice had been added. It just didn't taste like the Pimms I know and love. At least it came with a cute strawberry stirrer! We also all got the chocolate fudge cake again, which at least lived up to its usual standard.

We had a bit of a walk around the shopping areas again after leaving the pub. As we exited the Oracle from another way, I found a UFO machine with LED ducky keychains for £1. Being the duck obsessive that I am, I naturally had to have one! I got the green one first, then tried my luck again for my desired blue ducky. Alas, I got the pink one, but the pink one is still pretty cute. I think I got a bargain here, although I am glad I walked away from the machine when I did. I could have quite easily wasted a load of money trying to get that coveted blue one! I got undressed and put my pyjamas on right away when I got home. I think the ducks look quite good next to my birdie themed pyjamas.

So we had a day of very mixed fortunes. I still can't quite get my head around the Arabella situation and keep asking myself whether this really needed to of happened. My heart was really racing at one point, as I had no idea what we had let ourselves in for! Even the pub food was terrible. Having a noisy family with about 7 kids sat near us didn't help either. But despite all this, I was so glad I had the chance to see Sammi and Shalisa again. I don't really want to go in to much detail, but I had a terrible June, and just going out and having some fun with my friends was a huge pick-me-up. It felt good to laugh again. And if nothing else, I am grateful I didn't have to deal with the Arabella business on my own!

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