The Effortless Summer Top That Goes With Everything

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The Effortless Summer Top That Goes With Everything - 1

The Effortless Summer Top That Goes With Everything - 2

Sometimes an item of clothing just ticks all the boxes. For instance, this pretty summery top, which is a recent addition to my wardrobe. The vibrant pillar box red colour seems to be very fashionable right now, while the ruffle and cold shoulder details are still definitely in vogue - something I'm very pleased about as I'm a big fan of both!

The Effortless Summer Top That Goes With Everything - 3

The Effortless Summer Top That Goes With Everything - 4

This top is more than just fashionable though. For a start, it's incredibly easy to wear. The way it's cut at the top means you can show off your shoulders without having to worry about a strapless bra, as there's enough fabric there to feel confident that you aren't going to get any pesky straps peeking out. Speaking of the fabric, it's cool and cottony, and best of all, this top goes with absolutely everything. I've tucked it into a floaty skirt here, but it hangs really nicely when left loose too, and looks great worn this way with jeans for a more casual look. I also think it would work really well on the beach with denim shorts and flip flops, yet equally, I can see it tucked into tailored trousers and teamed with sky high heels for a formal event. It really is a great little multi-tasker.

Did I also mention that it's super affordable? At just £10.98 you'd recoup your cost per wear in no time!

The Effortless Summer Top That Goes With Everything - 5

Top* - Shein, Skirt, Espadrilles, Sunglasses - H&M, Bag - TK Maxx

It was a sunny day when we took these pictures, so I decided to pair the top with this H&M skirt. The detail on it is really beautiful - it has a very fine blue stripe with gorgeous broderie anglaise at the bottom, not to mention a concealed zip with button fastening - It definitely feels a lot fancier than your average H&M skirt. To complete the look, I opted for espadrille wedges (just for a change!) and my TK Maxx basket bag. Then we went down to the lake, and as you'll probably be able to tell from these photos, there was a gale force wind blowing. Ah, the good old British summer, eh?!

How would you style this top?

Kate x

*Gifted item. All opinions, as always, are my own.
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How To Dress For The UK Summer

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How To Dress For The UK Summer - 1

How To Dress For The UK Summer - 2

Summer fashion is so much fun, isn't it? Pretty, feminine prints, delicate fabrics and the chance to show off a little (fake) tanned skin... but if you're anything like me, things can start to feel decidedly chilly when the UK weather disappoints. Which is often.

When you live in a country where you just can't guarantee warm weather in the summer, you have to get a little bit creative, because no one wants to a.) freeze to death or b.) cover up our pretty summer clothes with last winter's ratty old cardigan. So, if I want to wear a flimsy summer dress and the weather isn't cooperating, I'll opt for a midi or maxi length. Just having that little bit of extra fabric between my bare legs and the elements can make a big difference, and when you add a jacket into the mix, you should be well protected against all but the most miserable of British summer days. I've always loved the contrast of a biker jacket over a feminine dress, but if I really want to stick with the summery vibes, I'll go for a bleached denim one. In fact, even when I'm on holiday somewhere hot, I'll still throw a denim jacket over a floral maxi if a breeze picks up after the sun goes down. I have one a lot like this which has served me well over many years. I nearly always opt for a cropped style because I'm petite and I like that it shows my waist, but the oversized ones are pretty cool too.

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How To Dress For The UK Summer - 4

Another staple you can always fall back on no matter what the time of year is a good old pair of jeans, and the ones you wear in summer don't have to be the same as your favourite winter pairs. White denim will always look summery and fresh, but this season I've really been enjoying this mid blue pair from H&M. Turned up at the ankle, they're perfect for showing off pretty summer sandals and shoes - I've opted for espadrilles again here - I'm obsessed! As well as being an absolute steal at £19.99, they're also made of really soft, comfortable denim and aren't too thick, so you won't suddenly start boiling to death if the sun does decide to make an appearance. Jeans go with everything like nothing else, so they're brilliant for pairing with just about every style of summer top you can think of. And, because you're covered up on your bottom half, you're not going to freeze. Pairing this lovely Shein blouse with jeans made me feel more comfortable in it even when the weather wasn't so great. (It looks bright in these pictures, but there was a cool breeze blowing that day!) By adding the red clutch to accentuate the detail on the blouse, as well as my new gold-toned sunglasses, I still felt summer appropriate.

How To Dress For The UK Summer - 5

Blouse* - Shein, Jeans, Espadrilles, Sunglasses - H&M, Bag - Zara

Conversely, if it's a pretty skirt you're desperate to show off, you can easily flip things around by adding some extra warmth on your top half. A-line skirts with beautiful prints or detail can look stunning teamed with a plain blouse and tailored blazer. I personally love white blazers in the summer, and have one a lot like this which I will wear over just about everything from evening dresses to jeans and a t-shirt. It's a great way to look smart and keep warm without looking as though you're ready for Christmas.

How do you like to cover up on chilly summer days? 

Kate x

*Gifted item. All opinions, as always, are my own.
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My Highlighter Collection

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My Highlighter Collection - 1

As you might remember if you saw my last post, I recently acquired a new highlighter from 3ina. This inspired me to put together a little highlighter collection post. I have six, so it is a pretty small stash (at least by beauty blogger standards!) and I've featured most of them on the blog before, but it's been a while since some of them had their chance to shine (pun intended). Also, I always think it's interesting to see highlighters all lined up together, because it's only then that you realise how different they actually are, and that maybe you really do need six (or possibly more) after all.

Shall we get started?

My Highlighter Collection - 2

1. Mac Soft and Gentle - My oldest powder highlighter and still my favourite. It's one of Mac's Mineralize Skinfinish powders and looks so beautiful in the pan, even now after many months of regular use. It's a beautiful, warm copper/rose gold shade and gives you a subtle, candlelit glow. I can imagine that it would suit just about every skintone, except maybe those that are super, super fair. This is one of those products that I still get excited about using, even though I've had it for ages, and I'm sure I will for a long time to come as it is just so beautiful and flattering.

My Highlighter Collection - 3

2. Benefit Watt's Up - This is the first highlighter I ever bought. I really don't have a preference when it comes to powder or cream highlighters as I find them both easy to apply, and both seem to last just as well on me if I'm wearing a good, long lasting foundation. Watt's Up has a little sponge attached to it, so you can swipe the product across your cheekbones and then use the sponge to soften the edges, although I tend to just use my fingers for this. It's similar in tone to Soft and Gentle and gives you a natural dewy glow. Sometimes I'll wear it with Soft and Gentle dusted over the top if I want to intensify the effect.

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3. 3ina 201* - The newest addition to my collection, which you can see on my face here. It doesn't have a name, but I like to think of it as Golden Sand, because that is exactly what it looks like in the pan. It's another warm gold shade, not a million miles away from the previous two but slightly less copper toned. The finish is more sheen than shimmer and it's perfect for when you just want a hint of highlight. That said, it's also buildable and you can definitely see it when you catch the light.

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4. theBalm Mary Lou-Manizer - Ah, Mary Lou. Remember a couple of years ago when she was the most desirable highlighter, like, EVER? This is also gold toned but a lot lighter than the first three, so it translates as more of a champagne on the skin. Although it's no more shimmery than the others, I find that this is the one that "pops" most on me, perhaps because of the way it contrasts with my skintone. For that reason, it's the one I go for if I want that "see it from space" look.

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5. E.L.F. Baked Highlighter and Blush in Rose Gold*  - I didn't love this when I first acquired it, and I talked about it in this post. As pretty as it looked on my fingertip when I swirled the two colours together, I just couldn't seem to get it to do much on my face. However, I've been experimenting a bit since then, and have found that when I apply it liberally pretty much everywhere, it leaves me with a healthy, dewy looking glow, which I love. It's not how I tend to think of using highlighters - I am used to lightly dusting them over the high points of my face - so it took me a while to get used to this. However, I'm so pleased I have found a way to use it, because it really is pretty.

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6. Collection Speedy Highlighter - Another cream highlighter and the cheapest of the lot, yet the quality is just as good as the Benefit one, which is around five times the price. It's the coolest toned of all the highlighters I have, but still seems to work on me. Like Mary Lou, it's a flattering champagne shade, but this one offers a more subtle gleam. If you're in the market for an affordable highlighter, I just don't think you can go wrong with this one for the price.

My Highlighter Collection - 8

From left: Benefit Watt's Up, Mac Soft and Gentle, 3ina 201, theBalm Mary Lou-Manizer, Collection Speedy Highligher, E.l.f. Baked Highlighter and Blush in Rose Gold

Are any of your favourite highlighters on the list? And which ones would you recommend I add to my collection? Enable away! 

Kate x

*Gifted item. All opinions, as always, are my own.
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3ina - The Makeup Brand You Need On Your Radar

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3ina bestselling makeup products

You might remember a little while back I wrote a post about 3ina's super fun UV Makeup Range. Since then, they've been kind enough to send me a few more products, this time from their regular line. All three items I've received are among the brand's bestsellers, and now I've had a chance to play with them, I can see exactly why! So I thought I would put together a little post to show you what the products look like, both on and off my face.


3ina bestselling makeup products - The highlighter 201

3ina bestselling makeup products

(I don't know what I'm doing with my hand either.)

This is a beautiful, warm toned golden sand colour with a silky feel and sheeny finish - no sparkly glitter particles here. It's subtle with one swipe, but you can build it up if you want more of a glow. It's similar to Mac Soft and Gentle (one of my all time favourite highlights) but is more of a true gold when directly compared to it - Soft and Gentle has more pink tones.


3ina bestselling makeup products - The Cream Eyeshadow 313

3ina bestselling makeup products

Probably my favourite of the three, this is an absolutely stunning bronze shade that looks positively jewel like on the eyes - really beautiful for nights out. The formula is very soft and it applies like a dream. It does make your eyelids start to feel slightly dry after a few hours of wear, but on the plus side, it doesn't budge - yes, you need to be persistent when removing this at the end of the night, but on the other hand, at least you know it will stay on for as long as you want it to! The slight drying effect doesn't really bother me because I would only usually wear something this sparkly in the evenings anyway, and it really is very beautiful.


3ina bestselling makeup products - The Longwear Lipstick 503

This is a very wearable pink/brown neutral shade. The formula is creamy, easy to apply and dries to a very smooth, matte finish. Wear is impressive, but not infallible - it lasts well for a good few hours but I do need to reapply after eating a meal. That said, when it does wear off, it does so pretty evenly. It's a really nice everyday lipstick and one I'm sure I'll get plenty of use out of.

3ina bestselling makeup products

(From left - Highlight, Cream Eyeshadow, Longwear Lipstick.)

The more I see of this brand, the more I like it. All the bestselling products are paraben free and cruelty free, and a lot of them are vegan too. The price point is very reasonable, the quality is excellent and I like the neat, modern packaging. I really only have one gripe, and that is that 3ina's products don't have names, just numbers. I personally prefer it when products have names, partly because I find them easier to remember and partly because applying a lipstick called "silk rose" makes me feel more like a princess than applying a lipstick called "503", and I am all about feeling more like a princess at every possible opportunity. But, as gripes go, this is quite a small one. 

As much as I love the UV makeup, it's not exactly something I'll be able to wear too often, whereas these bestselling products are sure to become staples in my makeup collection, so I'm really grateful to 3ina for allowing me to sample a little more from the brand. It wasn't one I'd heard of before, but they are well and truly on my radar now!

Have you tried anything from 3ina? 

Kate x

*Gifted item. All opinions, as always, are my own.
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July Favourites

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I'm sitting down to write my July favourites with a blanket tucked over my knees and the rain pounding down outside my window - I keep reminding myself that there's still a month of summer left, even though it doesn't really feel that way right now! I've picked out my usual top five items of the month, though you could be forgiven for thinking there's only three. What can I say - when I find something I like, I tend to roll with it!


1&2. Backless loafers from River Island and TK Maxx* - I talked about the plain pair of blush pink loafers in my TK Maxx post and have been loving pairing them with jeans and pretty tops this month. I definitely didn't need another pair, but I've been lusting after the embroidered kind for a while now (damn you Instagram!) and just couldn't resist when I saw these beauties in River Island the other day. To my surprise I've actually been getting loads of wear out of both pairs - it turns out that you can't have too many pink loafers. Who knew?!
 

3. Mark Hill MiracOILous Nourishing Heat Protection - The name of this product doesn't exactly trip off the tongue, but it's such a lovely heat protectant. Not only does it protect hair against heated appliances up to 220 degrees celsius, it's also infused with Moroccan Argan Oil to help condition and nourish every time you style your hair. I use both a hairdryer and straighteners on a regular basis so this is a life changing product for me - my hair definitely feels softer since using it. It's also a lovely lightweight spray with no grease to it whatsoever, so I can spritz it quite liberally without worrying about it weighing down my fine hair. Top marks for this one.

 

4&5. Rosie For Autograph Cream Eyeshadow Sticks in Almond Eyes and Movie Star Crush - These are my first ever eyeshadow sticks and they definitely won't be my last. I love how quick and easy they are to swipe on and these in particular have a beautiful creamy formula and shimmery finish. Almond Eyes is the pale gold colour and Movie Star Crush a beautiful mauve. Both are very wearable for day to day. There are two other colours in the range, one a deep copper and the other a cooler toned silvery shade. All four are equally beautiful and I am really tempted to buy the other two, although at £12.50 each I am holding out a little longer!

What's your favourite item from my list, and what have you been loving throughout July?

Kate x

*Gifted item. All opinions, as always, are my own.
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Balance Active Formula Skincare Review

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Balance Active Formula Skincare Review - 1

We all know it's the ingredients that count when it comes to skincare, yet at the same time, the feeling that "you get what you pay for" can be hard to shake off. As much as I enjoy a bargain, there's a point at which I start to wonder if something is too cheap to be any good. And that's before I take into account my weakness for beautiful (and expensive looking) packaging. So when I was asked if I would like to review some skincare products from budget brand Balance Active Formula, I hesitated. With many of their products on offer in discount stores like B&M and Savers for under £5, I must confess it's a brand I probably wouldn't have looked at if I hadn't been asked. But there was something in their ethos that I liked - their dedication to offering skincare formulated from the highest quality ingredients at an affordable price point. In order to do this, they spend less on advertising and packaging. And having won several national Beauty Awards, it's clear that there are plenty of people out there who like what they are doing. The whole concept intrigued me, and I was curious to see whether or not this very reasonably priced skincare would work as well as the more expensive brands I normally use.

Balance Active Formula Skincare Review - 2

I was sent three products: the Hyaluronic 554 Youth Serum, the Hyaluronic Moisturiser and the Vitamin C Power Serum. As soon as I received them, I could immediately see that Balance Active Formula mean what they say about saving money on packaging. It's definitely not the most beautiful, nor does it feel expensive. On the other hand, it has its good points. It's very lightweight, making it perfect for travel, and it's practical too. The serums have handy dropper applicators while the moisturiser comes in a tube, which I know a lot of people prefer to jars as they're quicker to use and more hygienic. So although I might not necessarily want to display these on my dressing table, they get top marks when it comes to practicality of use, which, let's face it, is more important really!

Balance Active Formula Skincare Review - 3 - Hyaluronic 554 Youth Serum  Balance Active Formula Skincare Review - 4 - Hyaluronic 554 Youth Serum

Hyaluronic 554 Youth Serum

This serum can be used morning and night before moisturiser. It contains active levels of Hylasome EG10, an aqueous gel of cross linked Hyaluronic Acid which offers longer lasting moisturisation as well as higher levels of water binding and antioxidant capacity than regular Hyaluronic Acid. It also contains Syn-Ake, a peptide that mimics the muscle freezing abilities of snake venom, which helps to smooth wrinkles and blur fine lines. All three of the products I received are completely fragrance free, and the Youth Serum, while having a nourishing feel to it, absorbs quickly, leaving no greasy residue on the skin. I have been using it both day and evening and can definitely see the plumping, smoothing effect on my complexion. It blurs fine lines as well as any other Hyaluronic Acid based product I have used - which is to say, they are still there, but the appearance is reduced. I can also feel a tautness to my skin after using this, which I guess must be the effects of the Syn-Ake. All in all it's an impressively effective serum, and combined with the moisturiser from the same range, forms a great base for makeup in the mornings.

Balance Active Formula Skincare Review - 5 - Hyaluronic Moisturiser

Balance Active Formula Skincare Review - 6 - Hyaluronic Moisturiser

Hyaluronic Moisturiser

Containing the same Hylasome EG10 as the Youth Serum, the Hyaluronic Moisturiser is its perfect partner. In addition to locking in moisture and adding to the plumping effects of the serum, this product also contains Algisium C2 which helps to even out skin tone and texture. It's very lightweight, sinking into the skin completely after just a minute or so, and together with the serum it's perfect as a morning product to prep skin for makeup application and the day ahead. Although the moisturiser can be used in the evenings too, I personally prefer to use a richer night cream after the serum at that time of day.

Balance Active Formula Skincare Review - 7 - Vitamin C Power Serum

Balance Active Formula Skincare Review - 8 - Vitamin C Power Serum

Vitamin C Power Serum

Containing stabilised Vitamin C, Zinc PCA and Oleuropein (the olive tree's most powerful plant active), this serum is deisgned to brighten the complexion, fade age spots, protect against free radicals and boost collagen production. Like the other two products, the formula is very lightweight, in fact, this is probably the lightest of the three. One word of caution though - be careful with it if you have dry and/or sensitive skin. Mine is slightly sensitive, and can be dry outside of my T-zone, and I found that it became irritated after using this serum every day for a while. I scaled back to every other day, and it was fine after that, but it's just something worth bearing in mind. As far as the results go, it definitely brightens and smooths my skin, and having researched it a little bit, it seems that a lot of people have found it helpful in reducing hyperpigmentation and acne scarring. I don't have any, so can't really comment on that, but I can certainly attest to the brightening effects.

I've tried a lot of skincare brands, especially since I started my blog, and this one is certainly the cheapest of the lot. Yet it holds its own against many pricier ranges, with all three products producing real results on my skin. Balance Active Formula is well worth checking out, whether you are on a budget or just fancy forking out a little less for skincare. If you're interested you can check it out at Fragrance Direct.

Have you tried anything from Balance Active Formula? And how do you feel about super affordable skincare in general?

Kate x

*This post was sponsored by Balance Active Formula. All opinions, as always, are my own.
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Spruce Up Your Summer Outfits With TK Maxx

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Spruce Up Your Summer Outfits With TK Maxx - 1

As much as I'm enjoying the beautiful weather we've been having lately, we all know that summers in the UK tend to be pretty short-lived. As a result, I find that I don't spend as much on summer clothes as I do on winter wear, and often, I'll pull out the same dresses and tops year after year. But even if the clothes are still good, a girl likes to change things up a little every now and again, wouldn't you agree? I certainly do, and I always find that the easiest way to update an outfit is by throwing some shiny new accessories into the mix.

When it comes to shopping for accessories, nothing makes me happier than finding a great quality piece at a steal of a price, which is why TK Maxx is the ideal place to look, both in-store and online. They have such a vast selection of designer shoes, bags and jewellery that you're sure to find something you like, and with up to 60% off the recommended retail price, well, you'd be crazy not to give it a try, no?!

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Now I'm the first to acknowledge that not everybody "gets" TK Maxx. I didn't get it myself for years. Their stores don't necessarily have the polish that other stores have - if you're looking for minimalistic, colour coordinated displays, you're going to be disappointed - but if you're prepared to embrace the treasure hunt experience, there are some real gems waiting to be uncovered. The presentation might not be the prettiest, but there are some genuinely good deals to be had if you just look a little closer. In fact, scratch that. There are some amazing deals to be had, and one thing I've discovered is that the more you look, the more you find.

Spruce Up Your Summer Outfits With TK Maxx - 3

Still feeling sceptical? Well, as part of their #RidiculousPossibilities campaign, TK Maxx challenged me to update a couple of my summer looks by selecting my five top accessories picks. And with the total price of all five coming in at £100 on the nose, I think it's fair to say that I've managed to do that without breaking the bank. That's got to be worth bragging about, right?! Well, call it bragging or call it sharing, I'm going to tell you what I got!

Look 1 - The Jeans And Blouse Combo 

Spruce Up Your Summer Outfits With TK Maxx - 4 
My daily uniform throughout most of the British summer consists of skinny jeans and some sort of pretty blouse or top. From working at home to running errands to popping out for lunch or a coffee, this is the look that sees me through pretty much all of it. And truth be told, it can get a bit "samey" after a while, but I've definitely been able to inject a little bit of interest with a couple of pretty new accessories from TK Maxx.

Accessory pick 1 - Backless Loafers - Super on-trend, super comfortable and made from the softest blush pink suede, the quality of these backless loafers is amazing and I can totally see why the recommended retail price is £95. TK Maxx's price? £24.99. It's hard to beat the feeling of glee you get when you land yourself a saving like that! Plus, I love the way the pink adds a little "something something" to my standard blue jeans and white top. Possibly my favourite accessory of the five, I can see these getting plenty of wear throughout the summer.

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Accessory pick 2 -  Stud Earrings - Delicate jewellery always makes the perfect finishing touch to an outfit, and these cute little stud earrings are perfect. I love the mix of silver and gold tones and the fact that they're slightly bigger than my usual everyday earrings. I also love the unusual shape, as you can vary which way up you wear them. These were an absolute steal at £14.99 - they look and feel a lot more expensive than that.

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Look 2 - The Summer Day Dress 

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When things get a little bit warmer, you just can't beat a pretty, summery day dress. This one was bought recently, but the classic cut and timeless broderie anglaise fabric mean I'll be able to wear it for many summers to come. By changing up my accessories, I'll also be able to keep it looking fresh and up to date.

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Accessory pick 3 - Espadrilles - Speaking of up to date, espadrilles are incredibly popular right now, and this dainty neutral pair from TK Maxx cost just under £30. They look great with jeans and shorts as well as dresses and have an effortless vibe about them while still being feminine and pretty. They're super comfortable too.

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Accessory pick 4 - Basket Bag - I've spotted so many bags like this on my Instagram feed lately. I love everything about this one - the pom pom detailing, the rustic wicker look and the fact that it's large enough for everything but the kitchen sink, which makes it perfect to use as a beach or picnic bag. It cost just £19.99 which is a real snatch, especially considering the detail on it and the fact that it's handmade. I also think it compliments my white dress perfectly and brings it right into 2017!

Accessory pick 5 - Pendant Necklace - To complete my second look, I went for this dainty hamsa hand necklace on a delicate gold chain. Just like the earrings, it feels reassuringly solid and the quality definitely belies the £9.99 price tag. I just don't think you can have too many dainty necklaces, and I love the way this one looks peeping out from the collar of the dress.

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Are you a TK Maxx shopper? And do you have any plans to upgrade existing outfits with some of their amazing accessories this summer? If you do, make sure you come back and brag about it! It's all part of the fun, and I'd love to see what bargains you manage to get your hands on!

Kate x

*This post was sponsored by TK Maxx. All opinions, as always, are my own.
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