stamptastic

I have Jo Elvin (Editor of Glamour and my old Editor/boss) to thank for this top tip. She tweeted about it a few weeks ago, and I made a note of the name (which I love!). Stamptastic is a genius hassle-free way of labelling your child’s uniform/belongings for school if you don’t fancy the time-consuming sewing or those fiddly iron-on labels. You just order the stamp with your child’s name; they post it to you with the ink block, and that’s it – you’re ready to go. No muss, no fuss.

www.stamptastic.co.uk

mama spree: coats & boots

coats

1. Saint Laurent Hounds Tooth Coat, £2000.00
2. Boden Navy Pea Coat, £159.00
3. Zara Grey Structured Coat, £79.99
4. M&S Collection Pure Wool Duffle Coat, £299.00
5. Topshop Borg Gilet Padded Parka, £78.00
6. Joseph Double Cashmere Coat, £625.00
7. Collection Weekend By John Lewis Check Coat, £165.00
8. Autograph Wool Cocoon Coat, £139.00

What are the first two things you want to buy come Autumn? For us it’s always a coat and and pair of boots. Every time. Once you’ve bought those, you can start to build your Winter wardrobe around them. August may seem a little early, but it’s not about resting on your laurels where these are concerned – the best ones never hang around. So if you do know which one/s you want, don’t think about it for too long. As for us? Well, I just got this Vanessa Bruno coat, but I was lucky enough to have a credit note for the store, so it wasn’t the splurge it should have been. But I’m definitely tempted by the M&S Autograph navy cocoon coat – I tried it on in the store last week, and it looks really great (and expensive – the picture really does it no justice as all). I also saw a great camel crombie in there at the same time, but it doesn’t seem to be available on the website. So if you’re in a store any time soon, check it out. Nicky is tempted by the Joseph and the Zara. And of course, we are both dreaming of the Saint Laurent coat (this is a good high street alternative though)… Anyway these are our favourites out there, and we’ve even paired up the best boots to wear with each one – just match the numbers up. Simple. Here are a few others that may not have made the final cut, but that we still really like… This Mango parka; this M&S Indigo Collection girls navy pea coat (top tip if you’re petite and able to squeeze into the age 13-14 years); this Warehouse ribbon puffa; this ; this Topshop boyfriend coat; this Mango leopard print (I always like a leopard print faux fur); this Jigsaw navy pea; this Mango parka; this Topshop checked pea; this Gap drop shoulder coat; and this Whistles cocoon coat. And keep an eye on future Mama Spree posts – we will be showing you how to style your new coats…

boots

1. Next Low Chelsea Ankle Boots, £45.00
2. Balenciaga Arena Leather Chelsea Boots, £495.00
3. Saint Laurent Patent Leather Boots, £520.00
4. H By Hudson Fradley Leather Chelsea Boots, £160.00
5. Mango Hidden Wedge Suede Ankle Boots, £69.99
6. Topshop Animal Biker Boots, £65.00
7. Topshop Magnum Heeled Boots, £78.00
8. Topshop Annette Western Boots, £65.00

ps: for any of you who follow me (sarahclark_uk) on Instagram, you will probably have seen my Alice by Temperley long Hemmingway dress that I wore to my sister’s wedding last Saturday. There a still a few left if you’re quick. It really is a beautiful dress to wear (and such a bargain in the sale now!). And talking of beautiful dresses, remember the gorgeous Rebecca Taylor lace dress that was a front-runner for my sister’s wedding, but had sold out at Matches? Well I just found it (and ordered it from) here. Result!

jumpers & shorts

A bag

1. Crewcuts Cotton-Cashmere Raglan Sweatshirt (2-16 years), £38.00
2. Gap Striped Denim Shorts (12 months-5 years), £7.99
3. Oliver Bonas Alphabet Shopper, £15.00

For Marlow it’s all about a short and a sweater combo at the moment. It’s still (just about) mild enough for a short (and what is it with little boys not feeling the cold??), but definitely too cold for a tee, so he’s living in long sleeved tees or jumpers. Making Summer last as long as possible basically! Here are some others that we’ve got our eye on at the moment.. This fisherman crew neck from Next; this one from Mini Boden (grey melange); and this one from Gap (in grey and navy).

get them while you still can!

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Mini Boden Short Leather Boots (sizes 22-39)
£40.00-£55.00  SHOP NOW
Some of you may remember the big ‘Boden boots panic’ last Winter? They had a very similar boot to this one that came in navy and grey, but they sold out in weeks, and you couldn’t get your hands on a pair for love nor money. So this year ladies, let us learn from our mistakes, and get in there early. Tabitha’s have been duly ordered (yesterday) and are en route. I would suggest you do the same. Ok, they may not be navy, or even grey for that matter, but they are a very respectable shade of ‘mouse’, and I think Tabs will be wearing hers a lot this Winter… Get them before they’re gone!

ps: a few of you have emailed me to ask which school coat I got for Tabitha in the end. I went for this one from Gap. She hates it (obviously), but for me it ticks most of the boxes. Ok it might not win any style awards, but it’s pretty plain and simple, and does look really warm and cosy (she’ll thank me come November!). Um, and I’ve also ordered this Zara one… I also just ordered these gorgeous macs (as let’s face it, it’s all about a mac at the moment right?) from Zara for both Tabs and Marlow. Thought it was time for a change from their trusty M&S yellow macs…

Nuxe dry oil

I have to admit I’m pretty low-maintence in the beauty department. I think years of working at magazines, surrounded by all the latest beauty products sort of turned me the other way. I’m about as far from a ‘product junkie’ as you can get (I have my other vices as you all know…). But after being recommended this Nuxe dry oil by a friend, I am now a complete addict. It’s not exactly cheap, but you only need the tiniest amount, and it leaves your skin baby soft. I’ve ditched my trusty body moisturisers completely (yes even my Kiehl’s Crème de Corps), and just use this (you can also use it on your hair and face). I literally just bought some online (good old M&S sell it – who knew?), and noticed that all the Nuxe products are currently on offer, so I wanted to share immediately. Oh and it smells amazing!

www.marksandspencer.com

kids at weddings…

wedding girl

1. M&S Autograph Floral Lace Bridesmaid Dress, £35.00-£37.00
2. Woodstock Flower Garland, £26.00
3. ilovegorgeous Satin Ballet Pumps, £15.00

wedding boy

1. Cos Striped Collarless Shirt, £19.00
2. Gap Frayed Denim Shorts, £7.99
3. Birkenstock Rio Sandals, £38.00

wedding baby

1. Tulip & Nettle Sailor Suit, £48.00
2. Robin Pre-Walkers, £27.99

As many of you probably know, my sister Caroline got married on Saturday. Lots of you have been asking me recently about what to dress your little ones in for weddings (your own or friends/relatives). As you also probably know, one of my absolute pet hates is babies and toddlers in any kind of ‘formal’ clothing. And don’t get me started on waistcoats, suits or ties. So how do we navigate this tricky path of wanting to dress them up without the tackiness of the ‘mini adult’ look? So I thought I would share the (pretty much) exact three outfits worn by Tabitha, Marlow and my two year old nephew, ‘Baby James’ on Saturday. Tabitha was an ‘unofficial flower girl’ (it’s a long story…), and I wanted something pretty and whimsical, rather than big and pouffy (no hooped underskirts please). I fell in love with the Woodstock flower garland months ago (I challenge anyone to find one prettier…), so this was my starting point. It is SO gorgeous, and the picture really doesn’t do it justice. I saw the dress in M&S a while ago, and ummed and ahhed for weeks, but once I’d actually bought it and tried it on Tabs, I was pretty smitten. Again, it’s hard to see how nice it is from the picture (one of the downsides to internet shopping I guess). Plus, to be completely honest, I really didn’t want to blow £100 plus on an ‘unofficial flower girl’ dress. This one was perfect, and just ‘pretty enough’. It also comes in pale pink (I didn’t even show Tabs that one, for obvious reasons, though it was pretty I have to admit). And the satin ballet pumps were a cute finishing touch (she changed into her regular ballet shoes with the trusty elastic later on). I wanted Marlow to look smart-ish, but still cool and comfortable (he’s not one for dressing up, and even shirts can be a struggle with him). I liked this soft, collarless one from Cos (he also had another striped one from Cos that he also wore, but it’s not on the website) because it didn’t feel too stiff and formal. The shorts are denim, but the gunmetal grey was just smart enough. And he LOVES his silver sandals! ‘Baby James’ looked adorable in his classic sailor top and matching cropped trousers. He then wore the white version of the top the following day with navy shorts (I like these ones from Next). So if the complete look is a step too far into Victoriana for you, then just replace the matching trousers with shorts or regular trousers. And I love the navy t-bars (James’ were from BbBell). So there you have it. Check out Instagram (littlespree) for some pictures of them. ps: if you’re interested in what I wore, I will give you the details on Friday in my Mama Spree post.

mama spree: curvy mama

Curvy Girl

1. H&M Satin Tunic With Tassels, £24.99 (sizes 8-20)
2. Isabel Marant Buffalo Bone Earrings, £65.00
3. Dorothy Perkins Washed Black ‘Harper’ Jeans, £26.00 (sizes 6-20L)
4. Next Animal Print Thong Sandals, £20.00-£22.00

Curvy Girl pm

1. H&M Satin Tunic With Tassels, £24.99 (sizes 8-20)
2. New Look Zulu Embellished Clutch Bag, £19.99
3. Dorothy Perkins Washed Black ‘Harper’ Jeans, £26.00 (sizes 6-20L)
4. Next Peep Toe Shoe-Boots, £16.00 (were £35.00)

This post is inspired by a gorgeous friend (and talented makeup artist) of mine, Lisa. She is definitely what I would describe as curvy, and in all the right ways. I have worked with her quite a lot recently on various shoots, and was inspired by her cool, but feminine ‘looks’ each day. She (along with many of you) asked me to do a Mama Spree dedicated to curvy mamas, so here it is. I decided to do an outfit that will work just as well for day as for night, with just a quick swap of accessories. I must admit, I did have Lisa in my mind when choosing these pieces, but I think this is a universally cool and flattering outfit (who says you have to wear frumpy clothes just because you’re not a size 8? Not me that’s for sure). You can’t go far wrong with a black jean as far as I’m concerned (I am a huge fan), so that’s what I started with. I’m also a big fan of the skinny rolled-up jean and a slouchy blouse combo (in fact, I would totally wear this outfit). This Gap mens army-style jacket would be great worn over your shoulders with both of these looks (the Gap mens ones are always the best, and I saw this one in the store last week, and it’s now firmly on my Autumn shopping list). These Gap legging jeans (don’t be scared by the name – they bear no resemblance to a scary jegging) are super-flattering. I like the black (the wash is great – a bit faded), but they come in lots of different colours/prints. My sister swears by them , and I lived in my camouflage print ones last Winter. I also like this this Mango suede panel t-shirt; this Isabel Marant Étoile dress; this Mango mohair coat; these Autograph leather leggings (my sister also has these and loves them – I’m tempted too); these Mango faux leather leggings; this Mango wool-blend t-shirt; this Evans navy long sleeved tee; these H&M linen tees; this Warehouse jumpsuit (despite what you might think, jumpsuits can be really flattering for curvier bodies – you just need to get the proportions right); and these Mango sandals.
Next week it’s all about Winter coats (another popular request). It may be only August (not that you’d think it from the weather), but it’s not about waiting until Winter is fully underway to buy yours (if you care which one you buy anyway), You have to act fast before the best ones sell out. So don’t even thinking about investing until after next Friday.

transeasonal

playsuit

1. Next Playsuit Set (3 months-6 years)  £14.00-£15.00
2. Boden Cardigan (0-3 years)  £18.00-£20.00
3. Gap Ballet Flats (sizes US 5-11)  £14.95

The perfect transeasonal outfit to take your little girl seamlessly from Summer to Autumn, and through to Winter… Just add grey or navy knitted tights (and possibly these cute boots in ‘mouse’) as the temperature drops…

CakeyCoo cakes

These cakes have to been seen to be believed. They are like works of art. CakeyCoo creates beautifully designed bespoke cakes (and cookies) for any occasion. Based in Hertfordshire, lovely Linsdey (who I have worked with on and off for over ten years) combines her love of baking (she certainly kept that talent on the down-low that’s for sure!) with her background in art direction and graphic design to create these unbelievable cakes. So if you’re looking for a beautiful, original birthday cake for your little one’s birthday (or indeed, any occassion), this should be your first port of call (for me it used to be Konditor & Cook – not anymore). I have honestly never seen any cakes as beautiful. And the best part is, they taste as incredible as they look (yes that is possible).

www.cakeycoo.co.uk

my favourite cardigan

boden trio

Mini Boden Baby Cardigan (0-3 years)
£18.00-£20.00  SHOP NOW
I love, love, love these gorgeous cardigans. I couldn’t decide which colour I liked best, so I edited it down to my three favourites. I love the hand knitted feel, the velvet ribbon trim, and the sweet little patch pockets (basically everything about them!). Tomorrow I’ll show you how I’m styling Tabitha’s (and which colour I went for in the end)…
Just bought a couple of great long sleeved (it’s that time…) slub tees for Marlow in Gap today (styling tip: they look really cool with the sleeves rolled up a couple of times). This one (in ‘cast iron’) and this one (in ‘raison’). Love them. I also spotted this coat in M&S, and ended up buying it for Marlow’s school coat (apologies that it wasn’t in last week’s coats edit, but I hadn’t seen it then). Trust me, it’s so much nicer in person; plus it’s grey not khaki as it states on the website. And it has a really warm, cosy lining. I was also tempted by this one that I spotted in Next yesterday. Not bad at all.

ps: do you subscribe to the Little Spree daily email updates? If not, why not? You might miss something!!

mama spree: new term, new season, new school-run look…

MS school run

1. Mango Quilted Denim Jacket, £59.99
2. J.Crew Long Sleeved V-neck Tee, £26.50 (was £32.50)
3. Acne Pop Low-Slung Boyfriend Jeans, £260.00
4. Scotch & Soda Cotton Shopper, £19.95
5. Topshop ‘Annette’ Ankle Boots, £65.00

I think we all deserve a little treat after looking at all those scary school shoes (I know I do). We are all over this fab quilted denim jacket from Mango, and will both be putting an order in for one I’m sure. Come September, you may (hopefully anyway) not need a coat, but you will almost certainly need some kind of lightweight jacket, particularly for those early morning school-runs. This is the kind of easy jacket that you can just chuck over pretty much anything and just feel a bit more ‘done’. We like it best with a relaxed grey marl tee and cropped jeans (and don’t rule out a blue jean with it either – that would look great). And these boots (you may remember I have mentioned them before) are the best pseudo Issy Dicker boots we’ve seen (so many others have tried and failed to emulate their coolness). Love these. And if they are anything like the Issy ones, you will be living in them this Autumn. Here are a few other relaxed pieces we found for the school-run… This BDG aviator jacket (I love this – it’s already in my cyber basket!!); this Boden Breton (in ivory/navy); these Iro Lottie coated joggers; these Gap boots (in black); this Boden; this Superdry parka;  striped jumper (in grey and navy), this Zara plaid shirt; and this Topshop sweatshirt. Over and out.

ps: next Friday it’s all about you curvy mamas there…

back to school: it’s all about the (cute) little extras…

back to school G

1. Lily & Lime ‘When I Grow Up’ Notebook, £9.50
2. Gap Kitty Backpack, £19.95
3. Rosie Jo’s Initial Personalised Canvas Bag, £12.50
4. Happy Jackson ‘Yay Lunch’ Lunchbox, £6.00
5. Sarah Catherine Designs ‘First Day Of School’ Personalised Card, £2.95
6. My 1st Years Personalised Pencil Set, £12.00

 

back to school

1. Posh Totty Designs Interiors Retro Wooden Rulers, £6.00 each
2. Gap Nylon Backpack, £19.95
3. Sarah Catherine Designs ‘First Day Of School’ Personalised Card, £2.95
4. Rosie Jo’s Initial Personalised Canvas Bag, £12.50
5. From You To Me ‘Rant And Rave About My School Journal’, £10.00
6. Doodle By Stitch Doodle Pencil Case, £12.50

Here are a few cute things that we loved, to try and refresh your palette after all the un-inspiring dullness of regulation school shoes and coats of the previous posts. One for the girls, and one for the boys. We also liked this school reminder chalkboard; and this Gap owl backpack.

ps: tomorrow it’s all about us again! Phew. New term = new season’s clothes. Yay! We’ve got it covered with a cool, effortless ‘school-run look’ for September that will take seconds to throw together in the morning, featuring our new favourite high street jacket…

school coats (girls & boys)

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La Redoute Hooded Parka (3-8 years)
£27.00  SHOP NOW
Another pretty uninspiring subject is school coats. Sigh. We know they need them, so we know we need to buy them, but are we getting excited about them? Er, no. This La Redoute one is the current favourite (a great unisex option). In fact, most of the ones we found were unisex (well the ones we could stomach anyway), but then who really wants a pink belted puffa coat for school (well, apart from Tabitha given half the chance!) anyway? We just want a non-hideous (there seems to be a trend emerging this week for school wear…) one that will keep them warm and dry (ish) right? So here you go… This one from F&F; John Lewis; this one from Uniqlo (in navy); this one from Gap; this one from Zara; this one from M&S; this one from Zara; this one from Next; this one from M&S; this one from Gap; this one from Joules this one from M&S; this one from John Lewis; this one from John Lewis; this one from Polarn O. Pyret; this one from John Lewis; and this one from Trespass. Is it too early for a drink?

ps: tomorrow it’s all about those little extras…

girls school shoes: the whole story (and a few less warts)

Screen Shot 2014-08-11 at 00.43.29

Papouelli Violetta Mary Janes (sizes 26-34)
£59.00  SHOP NOW
Here we go again, but this time it’s the girls’ turn. And I have to say, compared to the boys they haven’t got it so bad. I mean, don’t get me wrong, it’s slim-pickings out there, but there are definitely some more than ok options. Personally I prefer the more traditional style for girls – the classic Mary Jane is always  a favourite of mine (in or out of school), so I was pleased to see so many around for school. The ‘Violetta’ style from Papouelli (above) is the  girls’ front-runner (and almost certainly going to be Tabitha’s first pair of school shoes), and they come in navy and black (for some reason, most of my favourites only seem to come in navy, annoyingly). They look sweet, but are pretty sturdy too. I also like these options… These from Start-rite; these from Petasil (Blanche): these from Start-rite; these from Clarks (I actually saw these in the window of the Richmond store last week, and they are much nicer in real life); these from Start-rite; these from Geox; these from Lelli Kelly (I never thought I’d see the day when I would be featuring Lelli Kelly on Little Spree!!); these from Start-rite; these from these Menthe et Grenadine (thank you Lucy for the tip-off – they have some gorgeous shoes for girls and boys); and finally these from Next. Amen.

ps: tomorrow it’s onto school coats… Oh joy.

boys school shoes: the whole story (warts & all)

geox

Geox ‘William’ School Shoes (sizes 27jnr-39)
£42.00-£46.00  SHOP NOW
I feel like this post should come with a disclaimer: WARNING! THIS POST CONTAINS IMAGES THAT SOME PEOPLE MAY FIND OFFENSIVE. And if you don’t have kids about to start school/at school, consider yourself very lucky (for now) and go and pour yourself a large glass of wine and skip this post (believe me, it’s strictly on a need-to-know basis only). I have come to the conclusion (it didn’t take long) that a stylish (regulation) boy’s school shoe does not exist. Fact. I am more than happy to take on a challenge (and did), but try as I might, as far as I know, there is simply no such thing. But before you cancel your son’s school place and start googling ‘home schooling’, read on… There are some ok-ish ones that are pretty inoffensive. The ‘William’ style (above) is definitely the front-runner, and the style I will almost certainly be buying for Marlow (Nicky has already bought them for her son, Bailey). They are well-made, totally inoffensive (i.e. didn’t make me want to throw up when I first saw them); are a good price; and tick all the tedious ‘velcro etc.’ boxes. Plus they are even less offensive in person. Done. And seeing as boy’s school shoes is, by far, the most common request in my Little Spree inbox since launching, I felt I should give you a few other options. A lot of the ones I liked were more of a hybrid of a shoe and a trainer, which are not allowed at most schools, but I have included a couple just in case you know something that I don’t… These from Petasil (first spotted at Bubble  and loved them); these from Kickers; these from Ricosta; these from Next; these from Geox; these from Kickers; these from M&S; and these from Dr Martins. Amen. I am certainly glad that is over (until next year anyway). That was, without doubt, the hardest post I have even had to write.

ps: if you happen to live in South-West London, The Shoe Station is fantastic for school shoes (and non-school shoes too).

pps: it’s over to the (slightly less offensive) girls’ options tomorrow…