cable knits & mary janes

Girl cable jumper

1. Mini Boden Cosy Cable Throw-On, £31.00-£36.00 (was £35.00-£40.00, SHOP NOW
2. M&S Cotton Embroidered Skater Skirt, £16.00-£20.00, SHOP NOW
3. Zara Ribbed Tights, £5.99, SHOP NOW
4. Start-Rite Gold Leather Mary Janes, £48.00 (were £60.00), SHOP NOW

We love this chunky cable knit sweater (it has the cutest pom pom on the hood, which you can’t see in this pic). And I bought this gorgeous skater skirt for Tabitha back in the Summer. Perfect with or without tights. It really reminds me of the Miller ones that I bought her last year in that amazing Elias & Grace sale.

softly softly

normal_children-s-hand-made-wool-slippers

Rain Starts Play Handmade Wool Slippers (3-12 months & sizes 2-12), £24.99
SHOP NOW
Nicky’s son Bailey has these, and she loves them. I also still love these Gap bear slippers (Marlow is currently on his fourth pair – he’s had every size over the years) , which some of you may remember, were the first thing I ever posted, back in January 2012. We also love these from M&S, these from Minnetonka; and these slipper socks from Falke.

mama spree: what lies beneath…

SC
photo: sofia coppola by mario testino for french vogue, 2004

This is most definitely not a post for husbands/boyfriends’ eyes, so position your laptop/ipad/phone carefully if you plan to click on any on any of these links. This post contains classified information that must stay just between us. Men do not need to know our secrets – it’s in their best interests. This is all about foundations, or ‘scaffolding’ if you will. What goes on under your clothes is every bit as important as your actual clothes. Personally I have a very schizophrenic underwear drawer – one half is crammed full of pretty, frilly whisps of lace, tulle and ribbons; the other looks like it could belong to Mrs Doubtfire. Horses for courses, that’s what I say. There is a time and a place (and indeed, an outfit) for everything. And a good outfit must always start with good underpinnings – without question, ill-fitting lingerie can ruin a look in seconds. Nicky and I have decided to share the less glamorous side of our wardrobes/drawers (no pun intended) this week – some of this lingerie is definitely not the kind you want to prance around the bedroom in (unless you never want to have sex again, in which case, prance away). My theory is, the less attractive the underwear, generally the better the effect once you’re dressed. Here are our favourite go-to undergarments that we can’t live without (and that our boyfriends/husbands remain blissfully unaware of)…
Top of our list is this Wacoal minimiser bra (available in black, nude and ivory) – in our opinion the best minimiser out there for sure. Unlike most others we’ve tried, this one won’t squash your boobs or give you the dreaded matronly ‘mono bosom’. It simply keeps them up where they should be and under control; this Wonderbra Ultimate strapless bra looks terrifying (it almost needs a drawer to itself, it’s so huge!), but Nicky claims it’s the only strapless bra worth owning if you’re anything bigger than an A cup. My theory on strapless bras is that they are about as useful as a chocolate teapot, and usually wind up somewhere around your waist. This design is literally like two hands supporting your boobs. Needs to be seen to be believed; Nicky and I are not the only fans of these sheer Glossies bras from Gossard (and matching Gossard shorts style knickers) – apparently French Vogue Editor, Emmanuelle Alt is too (we love that even in the larger cup sizes, the straps and back are still quite thin); Wolford nature forming dress (Nicky swears by these). And for all those annoying ‘what am I going to wear under it’ sheer dresses these M&S reversible slips (they come in four different lengths and colours) are great (I like that they aren’t clingy); Urban Outfitters Vintage Remnants slip and this Calvin Klein slip are also good options. We haven’t tried these M&S knickers yet, but I love the leopard print, and they also have ‘light control’ and promise no dreaded VPL. I’m in! For a slightly more ‘hardcore’ pant, I have heard these work wonders, and I actually really like a large ‘Carrie Bradshaw-eque’ fifties style knicker sometimes (not to be confused with the Bridget Jones style industrial pant). For the smaller boobs Myla half cup cleavage enhancer/bra inserts, more commonly known as ‘chicken fillets’ are brilliant. I always have a set of these in my kit bag (aka: my bag of tricks) on shoots. I have the larger ones too. They are the most natural looking ones I have seen if you need/want an extra boost. Think of them as ‘maximisers’; Fashion Forms strap solutions are great for when you’re wearing something sleeveless, and the last thing you want is an pesky visible bra strap peaking out (one of my pet hates, both professionally and personally). And finally, when you need to call in the big guns, you need to bring out the Spanx. Uncomfortable, impossible to get on and off without falling over/winding yourself/looking stupid, but they do do the job. This particular is style is the best in my opinion. And sometimes only the Spanx will do. And if it makes you feel better, plenty of celebs swear by them for red carpet events.
If you have any lingerie secrets of your own, please share! Email us at the usual address. Apologies that the bras are more geared to larger boobs, but weirdly Nicky and I share the exact same (largish) bra size, so our first-hand knowledge is at that end of the sizing spectrum (plus we would argue, the trickier end of the sizing spectrum).

ps: Figleaves currently has 20% off and free delivery, so it’s definitely worth giving your lingerie drawer a Mrs Doubtfire makeover sooner rather than later…

more peas please

Peas

1. Cos Wool Coat (1-8 years), £55.00
2. Feraud Navy Coat (5-10 years), £29.99
3. Mothercare Navy Coat (18 months-8 years), £28.00-£30.00
4. M&S Indigo Coat (3-14 years), £28.00-£32.00

Remember last year’s obsession with finding the perfect navy pea? Well it seems that you can’t move for them on the High Street this year! Here are four of our favourites (this M&S one is even machine washable!!). We also like this one from Gap; and for a non navy one, this grey herringbone one from La Redoute is pretty great.

the best hat ever…

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Cos Cashmere Hat (1-8 years), £17.00
This has been my favourite go-to beanie hat for the past three years, and I still love it. Marlow has had the charcoal version every year, but this Winter I went for navy (so chic). It’s the softest cashmere, and the ear flaps are a godsend for keeping those little ears extra cosy. And such a bargain at just £17.00.

ps: and the winners of the Monsoon coat competition are…

Sophie coat: Grace Elliffe
Anna coat: Clare Scott
Baby bear coat: Rosi Richmond

Congratulations ladies! Monsoon will send sending your coats out to you directly. Woohoo!  And for everyone else who entered and weren’t lucky this time, worry not – there is another (really exciting!) competition just around the corner. And it involves one of my all-time favourite design duos.

mangotastic

Mango girl

1. Elastic Edge Dress, £22.99
2. Faux Fur Gilet, £24.99
3. Suede Ankle Boots, £54.99

Mango boy

1. Mid-Wash Denim Shirt, £19.99
2. College Sweatshirt, £14.99
3. Slim-Fit Corduroy Trousers, £19.99
4. Stitched High Top Sneakers, £29.99

If you’re looking for a little inspiration before getting that hefty 30% off at Mango (it ends at midnight tonight – just enter this code at checkout: 5WEEKEND), here’s one for the girls and one for the boys…
And for us? We’re loving this jacket; this cardigan (perfect for those chilly morning school runs that we know are coming – just chuck it on and run out the door); these scarves; and we’re still loving this jacket and these boots.

ps: love this girls dress too (I always love a white dress in the Winter with tights and boots).

mama spree: petite mama

Petite 1

1. Boden ‘Barcelona’ Cardigan, £89.00
2. Topshop Embroidered Blouse, £38.00
3. ASOS Leather Clutch Bag, £35.00
4. Isabel Marant Leather Ankle Boots, £565.00
5. Current Elliot Distressed Jeans, £96.75

As you may already know, I’m no longer the one woman operation I once was at Little Spree. For the past few months I have had a (super-stylish) partner in crime, Nicky. We met at nursery pick-up last  Sumer, and instantly bonded over our mutual love of Isabel Marant (and subsequently discovered that around half our wardrobes were/are identical). Our career backgrounds couldn’t be more polar opposite – Nicky’s in law, mine in fashion; but we share the same taste in almost everything (ok, she hated the ASOS cat bag and I’m bemused by her obsession with plain cotton tote bags), but 99% of the time we agree on what we like when it comes to clothes (for us and our kids). She has a gorgeous (impeccably dressed, naturally) four year old son called Bailley (one of Tabitha and Marlow’s best friends), and he and Marlow are very often unintentionally dressed in identical outfits (which we find hilarious, and they both love!), even before we started working together! Anyway, if you like my taste in clothes, you will like Nicky’s too (in fact, you already do), and the best bit is, two of us can find even more gorgeous, stylish, affordable clothes for your little ones (and not to mention us). So, now ‘one’ has officially become ‘two’ (is that a Spice Girls song?). Two pairs of eyes = twice as many gorgeous finds. And Nicky also happens to be a ‘petite mama’, so I asked her to write her first post on exactly that…

If asked, Bailey would tell you that he’s four and a quarter years old. At 5ft 2″ and three quarters I get it: every quarter counts. So I’m all for dressing in a way that makes me look taller (or at least not shorter) and for me this outfit ticks all the boxes. First, it requires no tailoring, although my absolute top tip is to befriend your local tailor as soon as possible – without exception, well fitting clothes always look more expensive. Second, it  includes my favourite Current Elliott jeans, which fit well around the waist and have the perfect (ankle skimming) length. For me this justifies the usually steep price tag and makes this pair from the Outnet a great buy (you can often find them on their site so it’s worth signing up for their drop alerts). On the high street you can’t beat Gap and Topshop for their Petite ranges (M&S, ASOS and Boden are pretty good too), especially their jeans – I  like these ripped washed out black Moto jeans and these Gap boyfriend jeans. Next up shoes: for winter I always buy a boot with a heel, but it has to be one that can be worn day and night (so no skyscrapers or ‘stilts’ as Bailey calls my heels). I love these Isabel Marant ones; I feel taller and slightly ‘cooler’ just looking at them, and for those with petite feet they start at size 35. These Isabel-esque Mango ones are a good alternative as they have her hidden wedge but a Mango price. Personally I don’t find top halves to be too much of a challenge, with the exception of coat sleeves which I almost always have tailored (does anyone have arms that long?). Not something you will have to worry about with this great pea coat nor these chambray and plaid shirts that I’m also coveting. Finally, accessories: there’s nothing petite about this clutch bag, I just love it and think it’s the sort of statement item that would make you stand out from the crowd, even at 5ft 2″ and three quarters!

ps: if you haven’t done so already, you still have time to enter the Monsoon coat competition. Get your entry in by midnight tonight, and we will be announcing the three winners next week. Good luck!

pps: Boden currently has 20% off EVERYTHING, ending Monday. Nice.

let it snow (just not yet)

pramsuits

1. Petit Bateau Unisex Plain Baby Snowsuit (3-24 months), £65.00
2. John Lewis Baby Woodland Print Snowsuit (0-3 years), £28.00-£30.00
3. Boden Cosy Floral Print All-In-One (0-3 years), £38.00-£40.00
4. Zara Padded Snowsuit (1-12 months), £32.99

A snowsuit is probably the last thing on your mind at the moment if you have a little one under three, but believe us when we tell you, good ones are not easy to find (I can actually just about remember that far back, and Tabarlow’s were from Boden and I loved them, but it was slim pickings for sure). But we have scoured the High Street to find cosiest, cutest ones out there (and trust us, we have left no stone unturned). Here are a few more that we liked too… This one from John Lewis; this one from Gap; this one from La Redoute; and this one from La Redoute (in grey).

mama spree: laid back layering

6394249505_2_1_1 photo: zara

This is what we aspire to look like on those days when you’re running errands, doing the school/nursery run, pushing the pram, chasing after toddlers… This look works for all of the above, and is super-easy to put together and wear. We’re in! This whole look is from Zara (what don’t we like in Zara at the moment??), but here are some alternatives for pulling this (seemingly) effortless look together… Uniqlo mens cashmere crew neck (brown); Gap shirt; Next shirt; Zara cardigan;  Topshop joggers; Current Elliot trousers (we love these, and they’re reduced from £200.00 to £90.00); Gap trousers; Topshop trainers; Gap slip-ons; Jerome Dreyfuss bag (I was drooling over this in Liberty last week…); and Gap tote.

ps: the coat edit continues on Sunday with the boys…

 

coat edit part lll: girls

Girls coats 2

1. Next Grey Faux Fur Front Coat (3-16 years), £38.00-£44.00
2. Zara Double Breasted Mohair Coat (3-14 years), £49.99
3. Jigsaw Junior Faux Fur Trim Tweed Coat (4-13 years), £74.00-£79.00
4. Gap Wool Zip Coat (12 months-5 years), £34.95
5. Monsoon ‘Ana’ Coat (3-13 years), £45.00

Here are our our favourite Winter coats for girls. Fancy winning number 5? Monsoon is kindly going to give one away to a lucky Little Spree reader, as well as the two baby girl coats featured in our edit on Monday (numbers 1 and 4). All you need to do is tell us which Winter coat I bought for myself (as mentioned in a recent Mama Spree post); subscribe (just go to the right hand side of the website and enter your email address) to the daily Little Spree email update (if you don’t already), then send your answer to the usual email address (find it here). Don’t forget to state which coat you would like, and in which size. You have until Friday 26th September to enter, and we will announce the winner the following week. Good luck!

little coats for little ladies

Baby coats

1. Monsoon Baby Bear Coat (3 months-3 years), £40.00
2. John Lewis Tweedy Hooded Coat (3 months-3 years), £30.00-£32.00
3. Zara Coat With Shearling Lined Collar (9 months-3 years), £32.99
4. Monsoon ‘Sophie’ Coat (3 months-3 years), £38.00
5. La Redoute Double Breasted Coat (1 month-3 years), £35.00

It’s all about coats this week on Little Spree. We’re starting with our edit for baby girls (although all of them go up to three years, so not strictly just for babies). Could they be any cuter? I almost cried when I saw this pistachio green one in Zara and realised that Tabitha was too big for it (I’m not even joking). I have since consoled myself with another Zara one, which is coming up in our girls coats post later in the week. See you tomorrow for the baby boys…

oh how I love my smalls…

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Smalls Tanks & Long Sleeved Tops (2-12 years)
From £27.00  SHOP NOW
I am now a complete convert to these gorgeous merino wool pieces. Marlow and Tabitha now have a tank and a long sleeve top each (Marlow’s in navy, Tabitha’s in the (perfect) ‘misty rose’ shade of pink (I can’t wait to layer it under her dungarees). I was lucky enough to be sent one each for them to try, but I was instantly smitten, and have since ordered one more each. When I first dressed Marlow in his, he actually commented on “how lovely and smooth” it felt as it went on (that’s my boy!), and he is very picky about fabrics and the feel of things he wears. Actually he’s pretty picky about everything he wears, but that’s another story. These tops are the perfect combination of comfort and cool (trust me, they look as great as they feel, and I’m a lot pickier than Marlow), but don’t take my word for it, here’s why…
They are machine washable (in fact they get better with every wash); breathable like a second skin (cleverly drawing moisture away from the body); warm in Winter and cool in Summer; you honestly won’t believe it’s wool – super-soft. made from superfine wool trimmed from happy sheep that roam the mountains of New Zealand and Australia (love that!); naturally stretchy for maximum movement; longer in the body to keep out pesky draughts (nothing worse than a ‘too short’ top); cool curved hem to keep little bottoms warm and won’t ride up when your little one climbs a tree or runs around the playground; contrast coloured stitching for a cool pop of colour, so stylish enough to wear on their own or layer under things in the same way as a regular vest; and no need for lots of bulky excess layers thanks to the amazing weight-to-warmth ratio of merino (not sure exactly what that means, but it sounds impressive). Oh and last but not least, no need to fill a (much needed) drawer with a different vest for every day (as I used to) that invariably shrink and have to be chucked anyway. No they aren’t exactly ‘cheap’ but the you only need one or two. So once you’ve bought them, you’re done for quite a while. Amen.

ps: while we’re on the subject of the wonders of Merino, I was a huge fan of the Merino Bambino sleeping bags when Tabarlow were babies. They were the best thing ever. No more buying loads of different ones for the various seasons in varying tog sizes (so confusing and not to mention bulky to store) – just one each for the whole year round. For any mamas of little ones under the age of two, I cannot recommend these enough. And after a quick look on the website, it seems that they are also now available for toddlers too. Genius.

mama spree: london fashion week mama

Topshop U

1. Uniqlo Mens Cashmere Crew Neck Sweater, £79.90
2. Topshop Unique Lace Hem Midi Pencil Skirt, £155.00
3. Aquazurro + Olivia Palermo Cut-Out Leather Sandals, £495.00
4. ASOS Sleeping Cat Cross Body Bag, £18.00

To celebrate London Fashion Week, which started on Friday, here is a look that I LOVE. Take a super-chic midi skirt (with a gorgeous lace panel), add a sexy cutaway sandal (these are definitely on my wish list), a slouchy boyfriend cashmere sweater and a cute/quirky bag (mine is on its way), and you have a Fashion Week worthy look. I am not at the shows today, but if I was, I would probably be wearing something like this (yes, even on a Sunday). And seeing as I’m not, I’ll probably be buying  a version of it anyway, and wearing it for meetings/cocktails.

mama spree: coat style

Boden Coat

1. Whistles Cashmere Dress, £175.00
2. ASOS Faux Animal Print & Leather Bag, £18.00
3. Boden ‘Ledbury’ Pea Coat, £159.00
4. Boden Brogue Chelsea Boots, £129.00

Camel wrap 2

1. Mango Cable Knit Cotton Sweater, £29.99
2. Joseph Double Cashmere Coat, £625.00
3. Mango Leather Biker Boots, £99.99
4. Topshop Baxter Jeans, £40.00

patch jean 2

1. Isabel Marant Étoile Sweatshirt, £155.00
2. Topshop Unique Oversized Blanket Coat, £350.00
3. Gap 1969 ‘Sexy Boyfriend’ Jeans, £49.95
4. Boden Pointed T-Bars, £69.00-£79.00

Thank you everyone who emailed us with your favourite coats from the coats & boots post two weeks ago. The most popular one by far was the Boden pea coat. So here is one way to wear it if you want a stylish look for running around in, but don’t necessarily feel like wearing jeans. I love a jumper-dress (as long as it’s not tight, it’s such an easy thing to wear), and have a similar one from Cos that I bought last Winter that I live in (currently with a bare leg and my Valentino Rockstud flats). The second most popular coat was the Joseph one, so here’s a cool every day way to style it. And as we were compiling these two posts, we found this gorgeous Topshop Unique oversized blanket style belted coat (above), which we both fell in love with, so here’s how to wear that one too…

ps: we have an extra Mama Spree this week, on Sunday – a look that I love and want in equal measures! And it has nothing to do with the school-run…