Shape Up with Skechers

I was recently asked to review a pair of Skechers Shape Up trainers. Now, y’all know I’m not a trainers kinda gal. Y’all know I’m not even a trousers kinda gal, which really precludes any need for trainers of any description unless you’re Lily Allen. What y’all may not know is that for a while I was a bit of a gym bunny – I used to go every single day, without fail – to the point where the receptionist actually had to tell me to go home when I tried to work out whilst the air con was broken mid heatwave – it was far too dangerous to work-out safely, but I really didn’t want to miss that high…

Since then I have become… somewhat lazier. Being unfit affects my self-esteem in ways I don’t like – I am self-conscious if I get out of breath while walking and talking at the same time (the fact I could SHUT UP occasionally never crosses my mind 🙂 ) and although I’m never exactly slim – even on a daily routine of an hour and a half cardio, steamed veg and fish for dinner and a lunchtime salad without dressing – I hate the difference in how my clothes fit (or don’t!) when I’m not working out. I also hate the lethargy – after a few days of training the pure energy that starts pumping through my veins can’t be beaten.

All of which seemed a good reason to take the trainers for a test-drive. Well, that and the fact that these trainers? Are pretty funky. They remind me of the shoes the cool lads used to wear on their skateboards that I coveted, with their chunky soles and clean design. They almost made me regret throwing away my hand-inserted super-wide flares a couple of years back! (Man, I loved those tatty old things.)

Skechers

So, I chose the least trainer-y design, the Skechers Shape Ups black and white style. They were delivered to my office, and my first bout of excitement came when I realised they came with TWO sets of laces – black AND white so you can choose which you prefer! (I liked the white, FYI!) Then I tried them on and Wow. I’m not saying that most trainers wouldn’t be more comfy than my daywear of choice (i.e. heels!) but these were especially comfy. Being Shape Ups, like the Fit Flops I reviewed previously, I think it was to do with the support in the arch and the bouncy soles.

The trainers come with an explanatory DVD with full directions on getting the most from them, and although I was skeptical about needing to be told how to walk, I soon realised I actually don’t always do it… right! So I recommend sparing the time to watch!

Overall the trainers come with my highest recommendation. Again, I’m not sure yet just how well they work, but they did get me off my sofa and out of the door – which is no mean feat of late!

Skechers2

Skechers Shape Up trainers, available from Fitness Footwear £89.95 £80.95

Fit Flops

Do you Fit Flop? I had heard of these shoes from a friend who swore by them for toning her calves with minimal effort, so I was eager to try them! I opted for the Fit Flop Electra in gold, which I figured would be a perfect summery shade to add sparkle to maxi dresses and skirts…

Ok, to begin with, I’m up for anything that claims to help firm and tone without too much effort. I walk everywhere anyway, so a bit of additional oomph in my step isn’t gonna hurt, right?! My only pause over these shoes was the flip-flop aspect. See, ever since I was a child I have struggled with the thong aspect of flip flops. When my parents and brothers would be running about the beach in £1 plastic numbers I’d be barefoot, limping over shingle. I just couldn’t stand the rubbing!

Fit Flops

Fit Flop Electra Gold: £43.95 from Fitness Footwear

When I first put these on I was wary. They felt just a little sharp. I decided my best bet would be to wear them around the flat for a while to wear them in. The soles are incredibly comfortable – they feel like they’re made for my feet! And after a few evenings’ wear the toe post did soften up some… so I ventured out in them.

These are perfect summer Sunday afternoon park footwear. They’re comfy to wear for a stroll, and I must confess, my muscles were twinging a bit the next day, as if I’d done a bit of a workout the day before. I don’t know what the long term effects of these will be like, but if you notice my legs getting shaplier as spring progresses, you’ll know why!

No togas!

Ok, so once I started looking around the Roman Originals website I found there were quite a few interesting bargains to be had. My evening gowns post last week got me thinking about the wide variety available on the high street, but also the likelihood that a Dorothy Perkins dress, for example, might be the top choice for more than one prom attendee. When buying prom gowns in the past I have applied three tactics.

1) Trawl the charity shops
2) Make my own
3) Check out the shops none of my peers would consider

And the third is where these evening dresses come into their own! Check out this gorgeous polka dot prom dress, for example:

spot contrast dress

Spot contrast dress with scarf: £59.99 £30

The £30 you’ve saved on this one could go towards a full crinoline petticoat and some real 50s styled shoes. It’s a great look for grungy beauties, especially with plum lippy and smokey eyes!

Moving on to their more ball-appropriate gowns, if you’re looking for all-out glamour how about this monochrome number:

Contrast ball gown

Contrast ball gown: £75

There’s something very Julia Roberts Oscar 2001 about this dress, pairing the black with draped white stripes. It is incredibly flattering: fitted at the waist, and the diagonal stripe draws attention upwards, while the waterfall effect creates a column of colour that adds an illusion of height. Wear with pearls for a classic look, or silver sandals, jewelery and clutch.

This next dress is a dream for busty girls as the wide straps will cover some serious scaffolding, while the plunging v-neck flatters a large cleavage.

Satin dress

Satin dress with sequin and bead detail: £75 £30

It falls from under the bust, drawing attention to your narrowest point, but being bias cut is better for top-heavy ladies. The colour is perfect for paler skintones and will make redheads really shine! To me, there’s something distinctly mermaid-like about this one!

And finally for the maxis:

Animal print dressAnimal printed full-length dress: £69.99 £30

I have love-hate feelings about this dress. It’s so easy to look tacky in animal print, yet season after season it comes back to the catwalks. I tend to think it looks common if paired with red, but amazing with bright jade green or cobalt blue. Add a bright satin sash to this with a big bow in front (hot tip: check out ebay for satin martial arts sashes that come in under £5 inc p&p and will create a perfect wide sash and bow effect) and brightly coloured heels for instant wow-factor. Or, if your hair has rich caramel tones go simple with glossy curls or a timeless up-do and clean black accessories.

My final evening dress pick is this fabulous red flapper dress:

red flapper dress

Sleeveless ribbon detail embroidered dress: £45 £29

There’s something about this one that makes me think of Sugar Kane as played by Marilyn Monroe in Some Like It Hot. Pair with 20s styled Mary Janes and lengths of faux pearls to celebrate this summer’s Coco Chanel obsession!

Beautiful blouses

This time of year it can be difficult to dress for the weather. On your way into the office you may well need a jacket to ward off the chill, but by lunchtime even the air conditioning unit can’t beat the heat of a dozen colleagues combined with their dozen-plus computers! Layering really is the only way to go.

Watching Gok’s Fashion Fix last night it occurred to me that the blouse is finally ready for it’s close-up. For those who didn’t see it, he paired a sumptuous red blouse (open at the neck with a turned up collar) with silver peg-leg trousers, a metallic blazer and a fedora. It looked amazingly slick! And set me on the trail of some evening blouses to recreate the look.

While trawling the charity shops for bargains I often stumble across the label “Roman Originals”, but never know where it comes from. A quick google answered my question: Roman Originals are a clothing company selling in sizes 12-22. A trawl around their site found me a couple of evening blouses perfect for recreating Gok’s look. First up, this beautiful jade blue striped number:

stripe puff sleeve blouseStripe puff sleeve blouse: £25 £12

This would be perfect for a literal recreation of the look, with silver trousers and a metallic blazer. The puff sleeves would be ideal for balancing out slightly wider hips, and the stripes would be flattering over the bust. And at £12 – come on!

Then there’s this little beaut, nodding to the metallic trend, oh so very secretarial, and easy to style in the 40s fashion with a black satin pencil skirt and peep-toe shoes.

printed tie blousePrinted tie-front blouse: £24.99 £10

For the office add one of this spring’s slouchy blazers and maybe a straw fedora (the browns in the blouse allow straw to work). For a hot date or dinner with the girls, simply add seamed stockings and a clutch for a really sexy silhouette. A belted waist would really bring the look together.

Not only are these blouses designed for the curvier form, they’re great for both the working wardrobe and an evening out. Which, at such low prices, makes them the ultimate capsule wardrobe bargain! Gok would most definitely approve.

Evening Gowns

Here it is, two days later than promised, the second of my high street prom dress round-ups. This time, full length dresses for more formal dos.

So, starting once again at Warehouse, this blue Grecian number is just divine!

grecian

Gathered Grecian Halter Dress: £90

For a formal do and bright-colour-lover, this dress is perfect. With heels, chandelier earrings, a sparkly bracelet (check out Accessorize) and a classic up-do it will look very Marchesa red carpet. The shape is all about drawing attention to the bust and draping elegantly over the rest of the body. The cut-out under the bust stops it being too covered-up.
NOTE: you’ll have to check that you can wear a bra with this beforehand if you’re loath to go bra-less.

That’s all from Warehouse, but there are a plethora of beautiful evening dresses available at Coast:

first-night

First Night Duchess Satin Maxi Dress: £220

This dress is show-stopping and timeless. Black, strapless, fitted and with that incredible, on-trend fishtail – this is a dress for the bold and the beautiful. Keep it classic with simple jewelery and clutch, or go for all-out glamour with a sparkling collar of a costume jewelery necklace.

pap-maxi

Paparazzi Maxi Dress: £250

This sleek number is sure to get light bulbs flashing! (And I think I just cheesied myself out with that line!) The colour of this dress is fresh, modern and spring appropriate, and the shoulder detail will keep attention on your top half – great if you’re worried about any of the lumps and bumps this narrow silhouette won’t hide!

showtime-maxiShowtime Maxi Duchess Satin Dress: £195

Marilyn Monroe fans everywhere take note. This dress is SO VERY Gentlemen Prefer Blondes – all you need to do is add a pair of elbow-length gloves and remember that diamonds really are a girl’s best friend!

Ok, onwards and upwards. Next stop is Monsoon:

attie-maxi

Attie Maxi Dress: £160

This dress is more than a teeny bit Marchesa – and my personal favourite. It’s a perfect Spring colour, strapless yet still supportive, glamorous with the jewel-encrusted empire line, not too full but still with some movement through the chiffon, and while it’s cinched in at the waist, the draped fabric will cover any lumps and bumps. For me, this is the killer dress.

petrovia

Petrovia Maxi Dress: £200

That said, this dress comes a very close second – for all the same reasons! Which you choose really depends on your colouring, and how high your waist sits!

Ok, next stop on my spree is Marks and Spencer, where I found one utterly divine Spring to Summer transition piece:

violet-bloom

Per Una Violet Bloom Maxi Dress: £49.50

This dress features so many amazing colours, is a fabulously simple shape yet very up-to-date with it’s asymmetry, and can be worn with a delicate bra. It’s also a dress that needs shape to really look amazing – the skirt is just full enough to balance hips and/or a bust, and as you can see, it makes the model look almost skeletal!

Finally, on to Debenhams. This store offers an abundance of divine evening gowns. The following are just my personal favourites:

applique-dressBlue Floral Applique One Shoulder Dress: £140

This dress would look equally gorgous on Keira Knightly or Kate Winslet – I can imagine each rocking it up the red carpet! The blue is universally flattering and seasonless too. But if you’d prefer a more spring-specific colour it’s also available in turquoise.

red-bandeau

Red bandeau waterfall evening dress: £90

Stylish, vibrant, trasitional yet sexy, with flattering draping to emphasise a tiny waist and a waterfall skirt to lengthen the body. This is a siren dress for turning heads. Nuff said!

fishtail

Ivory and black embroidered fishtail dress: £160

Finally, a real beaut of an embellished dress with embroidery and a bow to really up the wow factor. The sleek shape keeps this one from being too OTT – pair with clean and classic black and let it speak for itself! Just be aware that there is a lot of white here – and not everyone can pull this crisp, stark shade off.


As I said on my prom dress round-up, there really is a lot of choice out there at the moment (particularly at Debenhams and Coast), so if nothing here takes your fancy just get down your local high street and start browsing!

Prom Gowns: Cocktail length

So, as promised, here’s the first of my two round-ups of what’s hot on the high street right now. And can I just say, once I got started down this trail it became apparent just how much choice there was available! This is the tiniest peep into the hundred plus beautiful dresses I found – so if none of these float your boat get browsing, there’s something for everyone.

To start with, I would always advise trying anything on. I rarely buy online (except via ebay) and when I do I check measurements carefully and only usually buy brands I know fit me. For something like this, good fitting is imperative. Also, try LOTS on!

My top shops for the best range of dresses are:

  • If money is no object, go to Coast. No matter what shape you are, what colours you like or what event you’re shopping for, they’ll have a dress you fall in love with.
  • If you’re on an in-between butdget check out Monsoon – they’ve got some fabulous brights and a huge array of styles to suit all shapes.
  • If you’re on a high street budget go to Dotty P‘s. They too have a fantastic range, and usually fall into the £30-£60 category.

Ok, so let’s get started! First stop, Warehouse.

one-shoulder-twist-dress

One Shoulder Twist Dress: £45

This dress is a real high fashion shape. It’s ideal for a pear – the fitted waist shows off a healthy figure, the flared skirt covers wider hips and the shoulder detail would not work on a larger bust, but adds interest to a smaller chest. The material is not especially glamorous, but could be dressed up with some fabulous satin heels or strappy sandals and a sparkly bag. The colour is great for darker haired girls, fabulous for “snow white” complexions (dark hair, fair skin) but would likely drain a red head.

stripe-dress

Cut About Graphic Stripe Dress: £75

This one’s a bit Gwen Stefani, and could be fantsatic with red lipstick and green shoes, for example. It’s perfect for toned girls – though the bow and the draping will still hide a bit of a tummy. If you’re very self-conscious about your hips and bum, though, steer clear. Black and white (unlike plain white) work on most colourings, though ice blonds with a slight tan really shine in it.

ruffle-mini-prom

Ruffle and Peplum Mini Prom Dress: £65 £45

Marge and Granddaughter, I know you said no black, but I LOVE the shape of this dress! It’s flattering, fitted at the waist and the perfect LBD. While it’s classic but young with black peep toes, add a red patent leather skinny belt, red shoes and lippy, and it’s suddenly very Dita Von Teese!

drape-corsage

Corsage and Drape One Shoulder Dress: £75 £65

This one comes in red or purple, 100% silk and is currently on sale. It’s a great shape for skinny minnies, but beware if you have any kind of a bottom – it’ll just look wide and shapeless from behind.

Ok, now on to Dorothy Perkins, old favourite of mine:

green-bow-prom

Green Bow Prom Dress: £45

This is one of my favourite dresses – I LOVE the colour, LOVE the cut and LOVE the price! It’s extraordinarily flattering to a small, fitted waist, and again good for a pear shape as it adds weight at the bust. However, it’s also substantial enough to conceal some serious scaffolding underneath! And the bow is so cute! Not only that, but it comes in floral print too – equally adorable, and with an added 50s edge:

blue-floral-prom

Blue Floral Prom Dress: £45

This one would do any summer weddings too with a cute bolero or cropped jacket, AND would take you into Autumn with white tights and blue patent shoes! In fact, I might have to splash out on this one myself!

Ok, moving onto the costlier side of our virtual mall, let’s step into Coast:

There are too many dresses I love at Coast, I can’t even begin to list them all. Some faves are:

annelli

Annelli Dress: £125

I love the fresh shape of this one – very modern and a fabulous year-round colour that won’t go out of fashion. The beautiful pleats at the waist will create a smooth silhouette but the narrow hem will give the impression that what’s underneath is rather slim and lovely! No cellulite here!

truffle-ruffle

Truffle Ruffle Dress: £160

I can see where the name truffle ruffle came from with this frock – the overall effect could be a raspberry ripple cream! But keep the accessories simple, clean and black and the dress will make just enough of an impact – not to mention skimming over any unwanted lumps and bumps and drawing attention to that tiny waist you’ve been sculpting!

mancini

Mancini Tulle Dress: £160

Ok, this one is a little bridal. But if you happen to have that rakish tanned leggy hippy chick look down pat, replace the belt and pair it with gladiator sandals and a drawstring bag – maybe even a straw fedora? – this dress could create a real trend-setting stir. No? Ok, just indulge me and move on…

party-piece

Party Piece Dress: £135

Here’s a piece to hit the metallic look bang on the head. In at your narrowest point, with an on-trend sweetheart neckline and that darling bubble hem… Pair it with brassy gold jewelery to warm it up a bit. But don’t expect it to stand the test of time – this one will go out of fashion faster than you can say “pewter tones”.

Our next high street hit is Monsoon. If you’re looking for a prom dress that will take you to a summer wedding, Ascot or Henley, maybe even a few garden parties, you can’t go wrong here:

lela-rose

Lela Rose Prom Dress: £200

This is the ultimate in girly dresses – floral, pink-toned and utterly delightful. Wear with curled or wavy hair and an alice band, and cutesy Mary Jane shoes.

olinaOlina: £160

There were so many dresses I loved on the Monsoon website (see three more below) but this bright jewel-green one with detailed waist band had to win for an evening do. Steer clear of boring black and pair this with silver heels and bag to draw further attention to the embroidery.

monsoon-dresses

Rose Prom Dress: £135; Annie Dress: £95; Trixie Dress: £15

And finally, for their Debut range, every Mum’s favourite, Debenhams:

oriental-prom

Black Oriental All-Over Embroidery Prom Dress: £110

For a bit of colour but a black base this embroidered dress with bright satin sash is ideal. Accessories can be matched to any one of the shades depending on what best suits your colouring, and the shape is uber-flattering!

Those are my personal high street picks, but there’s so much more out there – so if there’s nothing here takes your fancy my command to you is…

Go Forth And Shop!

(Tomorrow, evening gowns!)