Thursday 26 May 2016

Debenhams Bra Fit Campaign Plus Giveaway! #knowyoursize

I'm really excited about today's post. For one thing, it features a great giveaway for my UK readers, in which one of you could win a lovely Debenhams bra. The one in this box, to be precise!
 Debenhams Bra Fit Campaign Plus Giveaway! #knowyoursize 1
 Debenhams Bra Fit Campaign Plus Giveaway! #knowyoursize 2 24 hour strapless bra

It's their 24 hour strapless bra, which is so comfortable to wear and perfect for this summer's shoulder baring trends, but I'll tell you more about it, and how to win it, at the end of the post.

I'm also excited because a few weeks ago, I was invited to take part in the Debenhams Bra Fit Challenge, along with fellow bloggers Sian, Katie, Hollie, Heather and Jessica. For whatever reason, it seems that many women just aren't getting themselves properly fitted for bras, so in order to raise awareness, Debenhams asked the five of us to pop in to see whether we were wearing the right size, and to blog about our experience afterwards. Wearing the wrong bra size can create an unflattering silhouette and spoil the look of your outfit, and can even cause headaches and backache due to lack of proper support, as well as saggy boobs and the ever so attractive "four boob effect", with breasts spilling out of a too-small bra. It's so important to a woman's confidence to wear the right size bra, and that's why I'm so pleased to have been asked to help spread the word about getting properly measured.

Now, I had actually been for a bra fit before my wedding a few years ago, so I was fairly confident that I would be wearing the right size bra. (Before that, I definitely wasn't!) Nevertheless, my Debenhams fitter - a lovely, friendly lady who set me at my ease right away - still had plenty to teach me. For a start, did you know that if you're wearing a very padded bra, you probably need to go up a cup size, because the padding takes up so much space in the cup? Me neither! I also learned that when you buy a new bra, it should fit you snugly when fastened with the outermost set of hooks on the band. Over time, the fabric will stretch, and you can tighten it by switching to the middle hooks and eventually the innermost hooks. By the time the bra no longer feels snug on the innermost hooks, it's time to buy a new one! Finally, my fitter advised me that not being able to find your exact size doesn't necessarily rule out a particular bra. Once you know what your size is, you can always experiment, for example, by going down a cup size if the back size is too large.

Debenhams Bra Fit Campaign Plus Giveaway! #knowyoursize 3

(Image supplied by Debenhams)

I was astonished to learn that the number of women wearing the wrong bra size is actually increasing. Debenhams bra fitters across the country have noticed that while in 2013, 7 out of 10 women were wearing the wrong size bra, that number has now risen to 8 out of 10. Apparently, the main reason for this is that a growing number of women are turning to online guides to gauge their bra size, while there is quite simply no substitute for getting properly measured by a professional fitter. Debenhams also recommends having a fitting every six months, as any fluctuations in weight, for whatever reason, can have an impact on your bra size.

So are you wearing the right size? Here's how to find out!

  • The centre of your bra should sit flat against your chest
  • Wires should fully encompass your bust and sit around the breast - not on it (i.e. no wires poking at your breast tissue)
  • Bust should be fully contained within the cups (no bulging out of the top of the cup, creating a "four boob effect"
  • Make sure you have enough space to fit two fingers underneath the back strap
  • You shouldn't have shoulder indents - these are caused by over-tightening of straps when you're not getting enough support from the band.
You can also check the Debenhams Bra Fitting Guide to see how your bra... well, measures up!

If you think you might be wearing the wrong size bra, or even if it's just been a while since you were last measured, then it probably makes sense to go for a fitting. If you're in the UK then I can't recommend Debenhams enough for this, as their fitters are thoroughly trained and really do their best to make you feel comfortable. Apparently, many women are under the impression that getting fitted for a bra means going bra-less in the changing room, which simply isn't the case. And while it still might feel a little daunting at first, it's worth remembering that whatever your body hang-ups - and we all have them - the fitters have seen it all before! In my case, once I started to get distracted by all the pretty lingerie there was to try on, I totally got over my initial awkwardness of standing in front of the fitter in my bra! And once you see the difference a well-fitting bra makes to your posture and the way your figure looks, it will definitely be worth it.

Debenhams Bra Fit Campaign Plus Giveaway! #knowyoursize 4 24 Hour Strapless Bra

And now for the giveaway! Debenhams have very kindly offered one of their 24 hour strapless bras for one of you to win. They gave one to me too, and let me tell you, it's a cracker.

Debenhams Bra Fit Campaign Plus Giveaway! #knowyoursize 5 24 Hour Strapless Bra

Every woman should own at least one bra like this. Nude in colour and totally seamless, it can be worn under absolutely anything. It has detachable straps, which is brilliant because you can wear it day to day, say with office wear - it's incredibly useful as a regular bra - and then remove the straps when you want to wear sleeveless or strapless dresses and tops. If you're planning on rocking the off the shoulder trend this summer then this bra will serve you very well indeed!

Debenhams Bra Fit Campaign Plus Giveaway! #knowyoursize 6 24 Hour Strapless Bra

It's comfortable to wear and stays up beautifully without the straps - there's nothing worse than continually having to hoik up a strapless bra! I'm not an expert in bra engineering but I'd say this one works so well because of the sturdy, wide supportive band and the almost foam-like full cups that just seem to keep the bust firmly contained. There's also a sheen to the fabric which adds a certain prettiness. This is a nice touch considering that there's no embellishment on the bra whatsoever. It's not padded, but gives you a lifted, natural look. It's quickly become the most useful bra in my collection and I would imagine many women would feel the same about it.

Debenhams Bra Fit Campaign Plus Giveaway! #knowyoursize 7 24 Hour Strapless Bra

Debenhams Bra Fit Campaign Plus Giveaway! #knowyoursize 8 24 Hour Strapless Bra

Debenhams Bra Fit Campaign Plus Giveaway! #knowyoursize 9 24 Hour Strapless Bra

Want to win it? Then you'll need to know the terms!

  • This giveaway is UK only. Apologies to all my non-UK readers - I will have to do a non-UK giveaway soon!
  • The prize is for the Debenhams 24 Hour Strapless Bra only
  • The bra is available in sizes 32-36 B-DD and 38 B-D and is worth £25 - prize is subject to availability
  • The prize is non-transferable, non-refundable and non-negotiable. No cash alternative is available
  • Debenhams Retail PLC will not be liable for any prizes which are lost, delayed or damaged in the post for reasons beyond their control
So if you're based in the UK, the bra is available in your size and you would like to be in with a chance of winning, here's what you need to do:

  • Follow me on Twitter, Instagram and Bloglovin
  • Leave me a comment below to let me know you've done so and leave your usernames
And that's it! I will pick a winner at random on Friday 24th June and get in touch via Twitter to grab their details, which I will then pass on to Debenhams so they can dispatch the prize. Best of luck everyone!

Kate x

Friday 20 May 2016

Bourjois Rouge Edition Souffle de Velvet Liquid Lipsticks

One of my favourite everday lip products is my Bourjois Rouge Edition Velvet liquid lipstick in Nude-ist, so when I noticed that Bourjois had brought out a new variation of this range earlier in the year, I couldn't help but take a look.

Bourjois Rouge Edition Souffle de Velvet Liquid Lipsticks 1

While the original formula is a liquid lipstick with a matte finish, the new Souffle de Velvet version gives a sheer and hydrating wash of colour. I think I've mentioned in a recent post that I'm not a huge fan of sheer lip products, simply because my lips are quite pigmented naturally and they just don't show up that well on me. Even so, some of the shades looked so pretty that I couldn't resist, and so bright and vibrant that I thought they might just work, even on me. I chose 03 VIPeach, an orange colour, and 06 Cherry leaders, a lovely pinky red.

Bourjois Rouge Edition Souffle de Velvet Liquid Lipsticks 2

Left, 03 VIPeach; Right, 06 Cherry leaders

You can see from the swatches how sheer these are, and also the difficulty in getting an even application, which I must confess annoys me a bit. The original formula applies like a dream, but with these, the sponge applicator seems to push all the product to the edges of your lips. Nevertheless, you can get a decent coverage with a bit of perseverance, and you can build the intensity up a little bit too.

Bourjois Rouge Edition Souffle de Velvet Liquid Lipsticks 3

Here's Cherry leaders on my lips.

Bourjois Rouge Edition Souffle de Velvet Liquid Lipsticks 4 - 06 Cherry leaders

And here's VIPeach.

Bourjois Rouge Edition Souffle de Velvet Liquid Lipsticks 5 - 03 VIPeach

The difference between the two isn't quite as obvious on my lips as it is on my hand, but I think you can still see it - just! These are very pretty, subtle colours with a matte finish, and they're lovely for spring and summer. Longevity isn't the greatest, but on the other hand, they do seem to wear quite nicely.

I can't say I'm overwhelmed by these, but I do like them and I'm sure I will get my wear out of them over the warmer months. If you're a fan of sheer and/or matte lip products then I would still recommend checking them out. There's a total of 8 shades in the range, from a very light orange (Orangelique) to more of a berry tone (Plum Plum Pidou).

Have you tried anything from the Souffle de Velvet range?

Kate x

Tuesday 17 May 2016

Klorane Shampoos

Here I am again with a beauty brand that, up until about a month ago, I'd never heard of. Now, however, Klorane is firmly on my radar. It sometimes happens that exactly the right samples come through the post at just the time you need them, and that's what happened with these. I was almost out of dry shampoo when I was asked if I would like to try Klorane's oat milk version, and since I wasn't particularly happy with my usual brand (Batiste), I said yes straight away. Very generously, I was also sent two regular shampoos to try as well.

Klorane Shampoos 1

As I'd never heard of the brand, I was keen to find out a little bit more about them. It turns out that they have been producing plant based products for more than twenty years and are firmly committed to responsible and ethical practices and the protection of biodiversity. Their dry shampoo with oat milk is an award-winning product beloved by celebrities including Kate Moss, Gwyneth Paltrow and (gasp) Rosie Huntington-Whitely. Every ten seconds, one of these is sold somewhere in the world. I couldn't wait to try it!

Klorane Shampoos 2 - Dry Shampoo with oat milk

Klorane Shampoos 3 - Dry Shampoo with oat milk

You use this just like any other dry shampoo, spraying it liberally about 12 inches away from the roots and lifting up sections of hair to make sure you get a decent amount of it all over. I was sent the tinted version, which leaves a very fine brown residue, but once I've allowed it to settle for a couple of minutes and then brushed it through, no sign of this remains in my hair. It absorbs oil and grease very effectively and lasts, on me at least, all day. With Batiste, I used to find that although it was very impressive on first application, after a few hours my roots started to look greasy again and my hair ended up feeling even dirtier than before. No such issues with Klorane. It's so light that you simply can't feel it in your hair, and its pretty much odourless too. I will definitely be sticking with this brand from now on!

In addition to this product, I also received a mango butter shampoo, designed to provide nutrition and hydration for dry hair, and a pomegranate shampoo to protect colour treated hair.

Klorane Shampoos 4 - Mango Butter Shampoo

The mango shampoo is absolutely lovely. Hypoallergenic, silicone free and paraben free, it has the most delicious, fruity smell and its nourishing, moisturising properties are exactly what my dry, bleached hair needs. It lathers up beautifully and feels rich without being heavy, if that makes any sense at all! (That said, if your hair is fine you probably wouldn't want to overdo it with this, and indeed the instructions on the box specify that "one wash is enough". If, however, your hair resembles straw like mine does, you are probably going to love it!). In addition to nourishing the hair, the mango butter also strengthens the hydrolipidic film which protects the hair shaft, which is good news if you intend to heat style the living daylights out of your hair after washing it, like me.

Klorane Shampoos 5 - Pomegranate Shampoo

The pomegranate shampoo is also very nice to use and has an equally pleasant, fruity smell. The only reason I prefer the mango butter one is because it has properties which are beneficial to my particular hair type, whereas the pomegranate one is slightly wasted on me. My hair is bleached, but not colour treated. (Due to my PPD allergy, which I spoke about here, I can't have any sort of dye on my hair, even a toner). So unfortunately I can't comment on whether or not this shampoo prolongs the life of colour treatments. I can tell you that according to the information provided, the pomegranate peel used to make it contains certain tannins that help to bind the colour pigments to the keratin in your hair. Given that I've been impressed with the performance of the other two products, I'd expect this one to be good as well! Has anyone with coloured hair tried it? I'd love to know your verdict!

I'm really happy to have discovered this ethical, cruelty free brand and will be using their dry shampoo from now on. I might give the mango butter conditioner a try as well!

Have you heard of Klorane?

Kate x

*Products sent to me for review. All opinions, as always, are my own

Tuesday 10 May 2016


When I was packing for my recent trip to North Yorkshire, I decided that I wanted something new to wear for dinner in the evening. (Any excuse!) My initial idea was a really pretty, feminine dress, but for some reason I just couldn't seem to find anything I liked. Then there was the threatening weather forecast, and we all know I hate to feel cold! Luckily, Topshop came up trumps when I spotted this super sweet, ruffled top.

Ruffles 1 - OOTN featuring Topshop cigarette pants and ruffled top

It's high necked, so I knew that paired with some smart black cigarette pants, I would feel covered up enough to be comfortable in the less than clement weather, yet the frilled details and delicate floral print give a nod to spring time that I think we all start to crave around this time of year. I particularly love the frill around the yoke, which is a trend that seems to be really popular right now.

Ruffles 2 - OOTN featuring Topshop cigarette pants and ruffled top

I picked up the cigarette pants from Topshop at the same time. They were a real bargain at £22 as they are such a classic item that can be worn with anything and everything. Some black heels (also Topshop and worn to death) and one of my trusty Zara bags completed the look.

Ruffles 3 - OOTN featuring Topshop cigarette pants and ruffled top

Top, Trousers, Shoes (similar) - Topshop, Bag - Zara

I teamed the outfit with a bright pink lip, which just happened to be Brighton Rock by Topshop. So I guess you could say that Topshop is serving me pretty well right now!

Ruffles 4 - OOTN featuring Topshop cigarette pants and ruffled top

I felt so comfortable and feminine in this outfit and can't wait to wear the top again. I think it would look really pretty tucked into jeans for daytime or with a skirt for a different take on a smarter look.

Are you a fan of ruffles and frills? How do you style them?

Kate x

Friday 6 May 2016

A Trip to North Yorkshire

Recently, Mike and I took a little trip to North Yorkshire. As some of you might know, I occasionally write for a travel website, and we were lucky enough to be gifted this trip away so that I could review The Feversham Arms Hotel and Verbena Spa in Helmsley.

We arrived on Friday afternoon, and were immediately enchanted by the picture perfect little market town and the stone exterior of the hotel. I have a certain affection for stone buildings. In Kent, where I grew up, you just don't see them - everything is red brick - so when I see stone houses like this, I know I'm in the North!

A Trip to North Yorkshire 1 - The Feversham Arms Hotel

A Trip to North Yorkshire 2 - Helmsley

A Trip to North Yorkshire 3 - Helmsley

A Trip to North Yorkshire 4 - The Feversham Arms Hotel

First things first, we checked into our room, and had a quick look around. The style was very "country cottage". There was a bedroom and separate living area with tea and coffee making facilities, a sofa and armchair and a stack of books and magazines to read.

A Trip to North Yorkshire 5 - The Feversham Arms Hotel

A Trip to North Yorkshire 6 - The Feversham Arms Hotel

I fell in love with this little fellow. He was our "do not disturb" sign!

A Trip to North Yorkshire 7 - The Feversham Arms Hotel

The bathroom was lovely and full of natural light due to skylights in the ceiling. Plus, they put a candle by the bath, which was very thoughtful of them!

A Trip to North Yorkshire 8 - The Feversham Arms Hotel

A Trip to North Yorkshire 9 - The Feversham Arms Hotel

A Trip to North Yorkshire 10 - The Feversham Arms Hotel

Both the bedroom and living area had large patio windows, which led out onto a balcony, but exploring that would have to wait till later as I was booked in for a facial at the spa. (I know, I know, it's a tough life!)

A Trip to North Yorkshire 11 - The Feversham Arms Hotel

I will say right from the off that the Verbena spa is the number one attraction at this hotel. My facial was incredible and left my skin looking smooth and clear and feeling amazing. I was so relaxed during the treatment that I very nearly fell asleep! I also loved the delicate, beautifully fragranced Temple Spa toiletries my facialist used, not to mention the list of recommendations she kindly provided for me afterwards. You don't have to be staying at the Feversham Arms to enjoy the spa facilities so if you're ever in the vicinity and feel like being pampered, I can recommend this place!

A Trip to North Yorkshire 12 - The Verbena Spa

A Trip to North Yorkshire 13 - The Verbena Spa

With my facial finished - and my skin glowing - I headed back to the room to meet Mike. It was well into Friday afternoon and after a long week, we were feeling just a little bit sleepy. As the sun was having a bit of a moment in the courtyard, we decided that relaxing on our balcony with a nice cup of tea was all the excitement we needed.

A Trip to North Yorkshire 14 - The Feversham Arms Hotel

A Trip to North Yorkshire 15 - The Feversham Arms Hotel

The sunny courtyard was full of people enjoying the outdoor pool. I have to say, they were a lot braver than me! The pool was heated, but even so, the outdoor temperature didn't even reach double figures the whole time we were there, so I certainly wasn't about to go swimming! The whole pool area looked very pleasant though, and I can imagine during the summer months that the courtyard becomes a little sun trap and it's actually quite nice to take a dip. Not this time though, thank you very much!

A Trip to North Yorkshire 16 - The Feversham Arms Hotel

A Trip to North Yorkshire 17 - The Feversham Arms Hotel

I was quite content to sit tight and enjoy my tea instead.

A Trip to North Yorkshire 18 - The Feversham Arms Hotel

A Trip to North Yorkshire 19 - The Feversham Arms Hotel

A Trip to North Yorkshire 20 - The Feversham Arms Hotel

Jumper, jeans - Topshop, Boots - Zara

We had a quiet night, eating in the Italian restaurant Gepetto's in the centre of Helmsley. I didn't blog this place and it doesn't seem to have a functioning website to link to, but I definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a restaurant in the area. It was very popular and we thoroughly enjoyed our food.

The next morning, we were looking forward to a bit of exploring, so we kicked things off with a good breakfast in the hotel restaurant - eggs and bacon, tomatoes and mushrooms, tea and pastries, toast and fresh grapefruit juice. Yum.

A Trip to North Yorkshire 21 - The Feversham Arms Hotel

A Trip to North Yorkshire 22 - The Feversham Arms Hotel

Suitably fuelled up, we jumped into the car, and set off on our adventure. Our first stop was the North Yorkshire Moors. 

I hadn't really seen them properly before, and they're just breathtaking. Wild expanses as far as the eye can see, rolling fields of coarse heather, and not a soul in sight beyond the occasional sheep.

A Trip to North Yorkshire 23 - North Yorkshire Moors

A Trip to North Yorkshire 24 - North Yorkshire Moors

A Trip to North Yorkshire 25 - North Yorkshire Moors

A Trip to North Yorkshire 26 - North Yorkshire Moors

It was so picturesque in the sunshine, but still wild and rugged. You can just imagine how gloomy and foreboding it must look under stormy skies. A very fitting setting for "Wuthering Heights"!

It was pretty cold and windy up there, so after a little while, we continued on. Not too far away was Whitby, a coastal town I was sure I had visited as a child and really liked. As soon as we arrived at the harbour, I could see that my memory had served me well.

A Trip to North Yorkshire 27 - Whitby

A Trip to North Yorkshire 28 - Whitby

A Trip to North Yorkshire 29 - Whitby

According to my Aunty and Uncle, who are basically experts on every inch of Yorkshire, Whitby is a great place to get traditional English fish and chips. After all, the fish couldn't get much fresher! However, that was one experience we were forced to put off for another time. We were unfortunate enough to arrive in the town in the middle of its bi-annual goth weekend, and as soon as we got further into the centre, we could hardly move for the crowds of people in full goth/steampunk regalia. Typical! It was a real shame, as the town really did look lovely with its narrow winding streets and old-fashioned tea rooms, but as it was we just couldn't wait to get away from the crowds. Why does this sort of thing never happen to Rosie from The Londoner?!

By this point we were starting to feel peckish, so we headed back to the hotel, just in time to get showered and changed and have a few minutes to relax in the bar with a drink before dinner.

A Trip to North Yorkshire 30 - The Feversham Arms Hotel

Set out like a cosy living room, the bar was the perfect spot to sink down into an armchair, sip at a kir royal and chat about the beautiful scenery we had visited that day. And to peruse the menu, of course.

A Trip to North Yorkshire 31 - The Feversham Arms Hotel

A Trip to North Yorkshire 32 - The Feversham Arms Hotel

A Trip to North Yorkshire 33 - The Feversham Arms Hotel

When we had finished our drinks, dinner was served in the hotel's Weathervane restaurant, an interesting room with glass panels in the ceiling and enormous lampshades.

A Trip to North Yorkshire 34 - The Feversham Arms Hotel

We started our meal with fresh, warm bread rolls, lashings of butter and some good red wine. A combination which, if I'm honest, I could quite happily live on for the rest of my life.

A Trip to North Yorkshire 35 - The Feversham Arms Hotel

Mike and I both chose a starter of red mullet with mussel chowder, fennel and chervil. This was absolutely beautiful. I never used to be a fan of mussels, but they've been steadily growing on me! I could eat this all over again right now.

A Trip to North Yorkshire 36 - The Feversham Arms Hotel

For the main course, I went for fillet of Angus beef with a marrow and horseradish crumb, spinach and sprouting broccoli. And yes, those are crisps! I'd never seen anything like that at this kind of restaurant before, but they went surprisingly well with the beef. The dish was rich but very, very good.

A Trip to North Yorkshire 37 - The Feversham Arms Hotel

Mike chose the lighter option of turbot with quinoa risotto, salted carrots and celeriac. It was as good as it looked, although I think he could have eaten a larger portion!

A Trip to North Yorkshire 38 - The Feversham Arms Hotel

With dinner over, we headed upstairs for our second and final night in the hotel. The following morning, after another hearty breakfast, it was time to check out. We debated going straight home, but I had heard that the famous Fountains Abbey wasn't too far away, and had always wanted to see it. So we decided to take a little detour on the way back.

We were both so glad that we did.

A Trip to North Yorkshire 39 - Fountains Abbey

Fountains Abbey is an old monastery which was founded by a small group of monks in the 1100s. Over time, it grew to become one of the largest, wealthiest and most powerful abbeys in the country, but it was abruptly closed down in the 1530s when Henry VIII broke away from the Roman Catholic church and dissolved all the monasteries and nunneries in England. What remains is a glorious ruin, bursting with atmosphere. You can almost hear the footsteps of the monks in the eerie half corridors that still stand, all covered over with grass.

A Trip to North Yorkshire 40 - Fountains Abbey

A Trip to North Yorkshire 41 - Fountains Abbey

A Trip to North Yorkshire 42 - Fountains Abbey

A Trip to North Yorkshire 43 - Fountains Abbey

A Trip to North Yorkshire 44 - Fountains Abbey

A Trip to North Yorkshire 45 - Fountains Abbey

A Trip to North Yorkshire 46 - Fountains Abbey

A Trip to North Yorkshire 47 - Fountains Abbey

A Trip to North Yorkshire 48 - Fountains Abbey

A Trip to North Yorkshire 49 - Fountains Abbey

A Trip to North Yorkshire 50 - Fountains Abbey

Isn't it stunning? You can just imagine how imposing it would have looked back when it was a functioning monastery, with all the buildings intact and the windows full of stained glass. It was so spectacular to see it up close, and we both agreed it had been the highlight of our trip. North Yorkshire is full to the brim of beautiful places to see - most of which I haven't even begun to explore yet - but I cannot recommend Fountains Abbey enough. If you're ever headed to this part of the world and can only see one thing, make it this!

Mike and I both thoroughly enjoyed our trip away, and I'm looking forward to exploring more of this lovely area at the next opportunity I get!

Have you ever been to North Yorkshire?

Kate x
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