Saturday, 28 November 2015

THE BLACK SKINNY JEANS // AUTUMN OOTD

From a fourteen year old emo through to a 23 year old girl (with less eyeliner but still probably just as moody), a pair of black skinny jeans have seen me through a lot.

When I got the chance to explore the new boutique store Denham a few weeks ago (read more about it here), I picked up this pair of high rise black skinnies - aptly named 'Needle' - and I've worn them (almost) every day since.




The level of care and amount of consideration per every pair of jeans from Denham is phenomenal. There's exactly 691 stitches that make up their trademark scissors logo on every pair of jeans, no exceptions. The quality of the material is great and one thing I was worried about was whether they would stay black after throwing them in the wash. After a few washes however, my jeans are still as dark as when I bought them.

One thing I was is that I would've tried the super skinny style, as this pair aren't quite as skinny as they once were now that I've worn them in. They have a new range of 'yoga denim' which I'm really intrigued by so I might look to invest in another pair...

We bravely ventured out on a crisp, Autumn morning a few weeks ago. Teamed with a leather jacket and a cosy scarf, I was raring to explore a local ruin, Kirkstall Abbey.



This brown leather bag is one of my favourite things I own and also one of the best bargains. It was a mere £1 at a local car boot sale and I'm already a little upset at the thought of it every breaking. I very rarely go anywhere without my leather jacket and now it's getting colder, a tartan scarf is a must.

A recent purchase was the ring featured above from Empty Casket. Their name has been strewn cross my social media for a while and I had to invest in this beautiful gemstone number in their end of Summer sale. I'm hoping to build up a little collection of pretty, silver rings over the next year!

Black jeans go with most of my wardrobe, at any time of year, however I wanted to buy a new pair of sturdy boots to last me through this season. Having worked for Clarks for six years a while, it's only natural that I'm a little biased towards their ranges. They do some of the best, long lasting A/W boots and this year was no exception. I opted for ones similar to my last pair but in a beautiful, Autumnal burgundy. Chelsea boots are so versatile and the colour makes this pair my favourite so far.


It's nice to get wrapped up and cosy and I'm very much a fan of an A/W wardrobe, no matter how much I like the sun! You can see what David wore on our trip out here, I promise we don't match. Well, maybe a little. Only the scarves. And maybe we're both a fan of a turtle neck jumper. Ssh.

What are your key A/W pieces?

leanne

x

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

MAGISTERIUM // BOOK SERIES REVIEW


Magisterium: The Iron Trial & The Copper Gauntlet
Holly Black, Cassandra Clare // Amazon

This book is written about a young boy who, at the age of 12, learns he can use magic and is welcomed to a school full of it. Here he meets two best friends (one male, one female obviously) gains a new pet and realises he has to fight an evil overlord.

Sound familiar?

This review is surprisingly not about the Harry Potter series but the similarities are uncanny until background of the protagonist - Callum Hunt - is unravelled in Magisterium. That aside, I actually quite enjoyed the plot line of both Magisterium: The Iron Trial and The Copper Gauntlet.

Here's the blurb.

'Most people would do anything to get into the Magisterium and pass the Iron Trial.
Not Callum Hunt.
Call has been told his whole life that he should never trust a magician. And so he tries his best to do his worst – but fails at failing. Now he must enter the Magisterium. 
It's a place that's both sensational and sinister. And Call realizes it has dark ties to his past and a twisty path to his future.
The Iron Trial is just the beginning. Call’s biggest test is still to come . . .'

Now I'm a big fan of the young adult fiction genre but even by my standards, this blurb is pretty mundane and didn't particularly grab my attention. What did persuade me to read it is the fact it's written by Cassandra Clare and Holly BlackAs a collaboration between two well known writers of young adult series' I expected a lot from these books and I wasn't wholly disappointed but I could probably have been more impressed. I did find myself wanting to read on however and I did enjoy the twists in the storyline throughout.

Cassandra Clare previously wrote 'The Mortal Instruments' series of which I did read a couple of the books but unfortunately, quickly lost interest in the characters.
Oh, and the film that followed was terrible.

On the other hand, in Magisterium the writers introduce some likeable (and equally unlikeable) characters whose pasts I wanted to delve deeper into.

We don't get to really understand the background and the twist of Callum's background until The Copper Gauntlet however, the first installation does introduce us to the Magisterium (the school the young mages attend) and the type of magic that this world uses. I love the idea of controlling the elements and the Matilda-esque mind magic they aim to master.

It definitely takes a much more interesting turn in the sequel and Callum's relationship with both his father and his new best friends, Tamara and Aaron, are severely tested. A lot of the supporting characters that feature occasionally are just as intriguing. For example, I sort of fancy Alex Strike through merely a few lines depicting his personality and the more I read, the more I also wanted to own my own possibly dangerous but lovable wolf pup.

Overall, I think the writing style is suited to a much younger audience than myself (and this is coming from an avid reader of YA novels, remember) but the plot seems to be thickening. With three more to go in the series, there's definitely room for a much more sinister turn of events.

The series is worth a read if you're after something easy over Christmas. It's a fairly captivating story, one which would be ideal for teenage readers.

leanne

x

Thursday, 19 November 2015

MOVING HOME //


I have moved three times in the past two years.

From
my parents' house
to
a lovely two bedroom apartment with my best friend
to
a not-so-lovely shared house with 15 other people
to, finally
our very own, cosy flat.

Having a fair bit of experience moving all my things from one place to another (with a lot of help from my ever so helpful boyfriend and family) inspired me to put down a few tips into writing for others who might be thinking about making the move soon!

De-clutter

And be RUTHLESS.

You need to get rid of all the things you're never going to actually need before moving it all into a nice, tidy space. It's a waste of your time and energy, especially if it's going to end up being thrown out at a later date. I am not good at this.

Put money aside for 'a rainy day'

There are always things that you won't have thought about paying for when you move into somewhere new. You might find out that not all your bills are covered like you thought they were in the contract. Did you remember to plan for buying your TV license or do you need to buy all your kitchen essentials because you didn't actually bring any of your own?

IKEA bags are the way forward

Or any huge 'bag for life' as we call them in the UK - is this a global thing?

Basically, these are lifesavers for all those clothes you thought would fit into two suitcases or just the general 'Oh, I almost forgot those' sort of things. You can pile about 20, if not more, into your car and they're easy to manoeuvre into your new place. It also encourages you to unpack ASAP because you won't be able to remember which bag you put which things in.

Book out a friend or family member for the whole weekend

Especially if they have a car. Seriously, it might take a few trips and a lot of bribes but it's much nicer to have some company in the moving of your things. Moving vans can be expensive and although it could be done in one trip, unless you're moving entire districts I'd look to a friend for help first.

If you're moving any time soon, then believe me when I wish you all the luck in the world!

leanne

x

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

CHRISTMAS WISHLIST //



Yes, that's right. It's close enough to December for me to think about what I'd love to receive at Christmas. It's not all about the presents but let's be honest, it's great to get pretty things from friends and family and equally lovely to give some in return. These are a few things I've spotted over the past few months that I'd be super happy to get this year.

Charlotte Tilbury Lipstick, Glastonberry

Of course this had to feature because I am jealous of everyone who owns one (I'm looking at you!)
I am not prepared to spend this much money on a lipstick myself but if someone was generous enough to buy me one? That's another story. Perfect A/W shade and of course, it's named after my favourite place in the world.

Rucksack - Fjallraven

This would be perfect for my Malaysia travels if I weren't going away before Christmas. Fortunately, I'm planning many more trips in 2016 so it would be super useful and I'd certainly make the most of it. There are so many colours available though, I'm not even sure which I'd pick!

Wine Swing Dress - InTheStyle

It's no secret that one of my biggest guilty pleasures is Made In Chelsea. When Binky announced her fashion line with InTheStyle, I was excited. If wearing t-shirts and jeans for 95% of the parties she attends is her thing, this line would be right up my street. I really like this pretty, floaty number although I'm yet to try anything with the lace up front trend that's hit the high street.


Christmas bedding - George @ ASDA 

I absolutely love bedding and any excuse to get some new bedding is fine by me. George at ASDA have so many cute, Christmas themed sets this year and I've managed to refrain from buying any - so far! This one has moose in boots on it, so of course it was my favourite. Moose. In boots. Yep.


I discovered Meadowlark through another blog and have been obsessed ever since. Although the engagement rings are absolutely stunning and I definitely have my eye on one, I'm not ready to adult yet and that's a long way off (I think!) The other rings on this website are stunning however and I'd love a beautiful piece from their collections.

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

This has been popping up all over social media and as a creative (chuckle) myself, I'd love to give it a chance. I'm not a fan of cliched, motivational books full of bullshit but I do believe in positive reading and you can never have too many creative influences.

What will you be putting on your Christmas list?

leanne

x

Sunday, 15 November 2015

BUNDOBUST // LEEDS


The age old question: If you had to choose one type of food to eat for the rest of your life, what would it be? My answer: Indian.

Lots of spices, messy eating and more importantly, the amount of choice. Bundobust, as a hub of craft beer and amazing Indian street food, offers exactly that.

The location is actually pretty easy to miss unless you're stumbling the wrong way out of the train station (I mean Leeds visitors obviously, not just y'know, drunk locals). Tucked away down Mill Hill, Bundobust is a bar with a lively atmosphere and friendly faces. Could you ask for anything more?



My craving for Punjabi food can be traced back to the neighbours I had as a child and the amazing spreads they put on for every occasion. Home cooking is, traditionally, ten times better than a restaurant but Bundobust accepts the challenge and rises above it.

We were kindly invited to try the new menu last week, so we grabbed a drink (Berliner Pilsner for me please, heaven in a keg) and enjoyed the decor which is definitely noteworthy. It's a mismatch of colourful doors and frames, arguably the quirkiest bar setting in the city.

The amount of food followed was immense. My favourite dish was the chole bhatura and honestly, if someone could cook me spicy chickpeas and a beautiful indian flatbread like that for every meal, I'd happily accept. The other dishes were just as good; dhal & rice is always a winner and super filling, although I found it surprisingly spicy in comparison to the rest!

The paneer kebabs weren't my favourite but that's just me (I don't like mushrooms, soz), David seemed to enjoy them wholeheartedly. Bundobust offers a fully vegetarian menu and if you're not sure whether a veggie lifestyle is for you, this place might encourage you to try. Everything was tasty and full of flavour and ultimately, we left feeling like we'd eaten enough for the week.


I couldn't recommend this place enough for a casual evening catch up and a bite to eat. Whilst attempting to demolish a pint of every craft beer on the list - it's a long list - choose a few dishes from the menu and share away. Even better, get a big group together and go wild with the menu, you'll want to try a bit of everything! It does get pretty busy on a Friday and Saturday evening however, so get there early and bag a seat.

Also if you don't happen to be from these Yorkshire parts, they've got plans to open another bar in Manchester next year ;) Check out their food and beer lists here if you need any more persuasion.

Thanks for looking after us so well, Bundobust!

leanne

x

Thursday, 12 November 2015

LEEDS GIRLS CAN // FITNESS GIVEAWAY!


As I'm sure many of you have seen or heard about, whether it be through TV advertisements or on social media, 2015 saw the start of a huge fitness campaign for women: 'This Girl Can.'

WHAT IS THE CAMPAIGN?

'This Girl Can' is a campaign developed by Sport England to encourage women from all walks on life to get more active and be proud of what they can accomplish - despite it meaning you may end up with mascara running down your face and your hair a sweaty mess.

It's sometimes difficult as a female to embrace certain sporting activities, particularly if we're brought up in schools where girls play netball whilst boys play rugby in P.E classes. Let's face it, it's the 21st century and we can bloody well take part in any sport we want to.

You don't have to travel far to find an inspiring way to keep fit and it doesn't have to be expensive. A lot of leisure centres and fitness clubs have joined This Girl Can to provide some fun, free classes to keep you active and help rediscover your inner champion. There's a whole array of ideas from Archery to Zumba, all across the country.


CHOICE OF CLASSES

Leeds Girls Can is a campaign which localises this idea and I've explored the huge list of activities going on in my city that I can get involved with. Last week I took part in an intense fitness class called Sudden Movements and it's safe to say that it made me realise how unfit I really am!

The class was a circuit of varying strength and cardio exercises and my thighs in particular are now feeling the results. Call me dramatic but at one point I actually might have exclaimed to the instructor 'I'm dying'. Although it was super tough, I was really pleased I'd managed to survive take part in the whole class and it's inspired me to work hard to improve my stamina!

I'm venturing to a rocket yoga class soon that's just around the corner from me, too.
Wish me luck!

See some of the activities that you can get involved with here.

TAKE PART & WIN!

Leeds Girls Can are running a competition on The Dress Diaries for one winner to receive a This Girl Can t-shirt (of their choosing!) and a water bottle, to kickstart their fitness journey, celebrate their achievement or even if they just need a new gym outfit!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Everyone can enter, as long as you're UK based and you follow at least one of the competition requirements.

To keep up with my activities through Leeds Girls Can, follow me on Twitter and check the hashtag #ThisGirlCan for a whole lot of general fitspo.

Good luck!


leanne

x

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

MEN'S AUTUMN OOTD //

Following the last Autumn related post featuring men's fashion for this season (read it here), I shot an 'outfit of the day' on behalf of David whilst wandering around the beautiful Kirkstall Abbey in Leeds. We only live a short drive away so one (cold and wet) morning we wrapped up warm and explored the ruins.


A trusty winter coat is a must-have for any wardrobe but one in this colour is particularly scrumptious. This burgundy overcoat is super versatile but more importantly, super cosy. I love smart coats with an air of 'toff' about them for men, something which David manages to pull off pretty well (chuckle).

This one is from Topman bought last Winter, although every year they manage to produce a really lovely range of stylish overcoats so there'll be something similar available this time around.

One thing about A/W is that no matter how much time you spend putting that lovely outfit together on a morning, as long as you're outside no one is going to see it. Therefore, it's well worth investing in a decent coat.



Accessorising is an easy means of showcasing 'I've thought about my appearance today' whilst staying toasty in a big coat. A tartan scarf, in my opinion, will never go out of fashion. This one - and also, my own in a similar style - were picked up from Primark as they're really affordable.

My favourite accessory is the stag brooch. I found a bargain in the form of a stag and jewel brooch from a vintage fair for myself a couple of years ago and David loved it. I finally bought one of his own from, would you believe it, eBay. If you ever have something very specific in mind, eBay or Etsy are brilliant platforms to find the ideal present. Although unfortunately, this fella (the brooch, not David) had a bit of an accident this year and now has half an antler missing. Oops.


David's favourite, unsurprisingly, is the Daniel Wellington watch. The brown leather strap and classic white face go with everything and so many people have complimented him on it!
I featured the brand in a dedicated post here as they kindly sent it to him for a review.

This is the final week you'll be able to receive 15% off using the promo code: thedressdiaries if you want to make a DW purchase of your own!

The shirt was another Primark bargain and I absolutely love it. It's a black and grey dogtooth, flannel shirt which for this time of year is ideal for keeping warm but staying smart. He's worn it to work a lot as it goes really well with any aran jumper.

Finally, the ultimate 'Oxford boy' statement is a pair of tan brogues. As you can tell, these are ridiculously well worn but they arguably get better with age. Not crazily practical for a walk in the rain and Autumn leaves though.



Hope you liked this, it's strange featuring somebody else's OOTD but I'm now lusting after all these things for myself, too. Good thing we share a wardrobe!

leanne

x

Saturday, 7 November 2015

THE MAVEN // BLIND PIG CIDER LAUNCH


Cider is always my drink of choice, so we headed to The Maven bar in Leeds the other week to celebrate the launch of Blind Pig Cider.

We indulged in the various new flavours, my favourite being the whisky, honey and apple blend which is the perfect Winter tipple. So perfect in fact, I might have drunk too many quite a few of them. David opted for the rum and poached pear which I didn't like half as much (boo).

These interesting cider blends are a token drink for this kind of hideaway and absolutely something I'll be ordering again. Particularly as Autumn is upon us and the cold nights have closed in, a bottle of one of Blind Pig is exactly what's needed.



The prohibition style bar is the hot trend in Leeds right now but none do it better than The Maven. With absolutely no signage or directional outside, you're led up a staircase to a simple letter M on the doors. Enter to a cosy, hospitable atmosphere lit with candles and get used to being surrounded by animals in suit jackets staring at you from paintings (which artist is this and where can I get a painting? serious question.)


It's probably one of the best hidden gems in Leeds and the bar staff are always superb. Although drinks are a little more pricey in this part of the city, it's absolutely worth it for the environment.



The third flavour of cider was the winner of the night for me - bourbon & blueberry. Such a refreshing drink, it's the one flavour of all I tried that I felt would be perfect all year round. Although the whisky, honey and apple was beautiful, a belly-warming drink like that is something I can only imagine opting for at this time of year. The blueberry concoction would be a very nice option of cider in the sunshine, come July!


We were also treated to some nibbles by Bears Pantry including the most wonderful marshmallow-y dessert bites which I've not been able to stop craving since. 


Here's a sneaky shot of me taking photos (story of my life) of their spectacular bar set up. We had such a fun night and it was lovely to see some friendly faces. Have a browse through more of the professional photography here.

Huge thanks to Sarah from S L Social for organising such a fab event and also to everyone who was involved, from food to photography!

Have you tried any of the Blind Pig cider flavours?

leanne

x

Thursday, 5 November 2015

DENHAM THE JEAN MAKER // LEEDS


Leeds is constantly evolving in the way of boutique fashion and I'm sure there'll be many more to come, along with the new Victoria Gate shopping centre we're expecting next year. One of the newest additions to the high street is Denham

I've previously heard of the brand name but never known quite to the extent their passion and input in the world of denim. The aptly named director Jason Denham founded the brand in Amsterdam in 2008 and now, they're all over the world. If you want to find out more about them, check out their website - when you've finished reading, of course!

As a Yorkshireman himself, Leeds is now home to the first flagship store in the North and I was lucky enough to get the chance to have a tour of the store and find out more about the meaning behind Denham.



On entrance to the store, one thing that stands out is the crisp, clean layout. Unlike Topshop and other high street retailers which can sometimes resemble a jumble sale (particularly on a Saturday afternoon) Denham showcases it's products in a way that is wonderfully, Instagram worthy. Against white walls, rails of seasonal clothing are arranged into colour and trend - fashion blogger heaven.

Their main collection though, are the denim jeans. Can you think of any person in your life who doesn't own a pair of jeans? No? Exactly. These are available all year round with various additions throughout the seasons.



Many of the jeans are on display using the quirky scissor hooks or in rows to browse freely. They really make shopping a memorable experience and the attention to detail is immense.

I was really excited to try on some of the jeans and opted for a pair of high rise, black skinnies (what else?!) and fell in love. These will be featured in an outfit post coming soon so keep an eye out! I will say however, the fit is spot on (thanks Rachel from the store, a size below normal was necessary!) and they've become my Autumn staple pair.


One of my favourite features of Denham is the personal wardrobe service. Other boutique stores offer a personal shopper service but Denham go above and beyond this to help a customer get the best shopping experience. You can book an appointment in advance to use their personal wardrobe space for yourself or even a group, with added refreshments, music and as much time as you need to shop away from the crowds.

We were treated to our own cupcakes and refreshments during our tour, all with the same care and precision of the brand and their logo adorning everything.  Encompassing the 'scissors' theme throughout everything from their coat hooks to the coffee cups, the Denham slogan 'The truth is in the details' is absolutely apparent.

I loved the idea that each shop around the world is very similar in design, they even serve the same coffee as they do in Amsterdam! The customer service factor continues through each continent too and this is a massive reason why Denham have that magic something that other retailers lack.




Overall, the Denham environment and ethos is fantastic and it's definitely worth a browse. If you want to know more, pop into the store, grab a coffee and have a chat to the staff. They're uber knowledgeable about every product and it's clear they have passion in what they do. You never know, you might find your dream pair of jeans whilst you're at it.

leanne

x


This review features products given to me for review purposes. All opinions are my own and I adore jeans, so what a great place to be invited.

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

BBC 1XTRA LIVE WITH THREE //


I'm no stranger to live music and when I had the opportunity to visit the First Direct Arena in Leeds with the beautiful Kayleigh (from VeryBerryCosmo) I couldn't wait. We were invited to the BBC 1Xtra Live event with Three and not only did we get to experience Lethal Bizzle (such a guilty pleasure) - we got to experience it using a brand new Samsung S6 for the night.

As a Windows Phone user (yes, I'm that person) it was interesting to finally get my hands on an android. Aesthetically, the phone is beautiful and super easy to use. Immediately, I was signed into every social media platform possible in preparation for a night of music and cider.

The event included a huge list of acts all performing live for BBC Radio 1Xtra.

Follow the night's antics using the hashtag:
#ThreeGoes1Xtra


We spent a bit of time figuring out the Samsung special features, a favourite being the manual focus. Instagram and blogger perfection, this feature creates a perfectly out of focus background and you can adjust the exposure in just a second. 

Going into a dark arena, the full capabilities of any smartphone camera are tested but I was pleasantly surprised with this particular one. It's by no means a 'one-shot' success (is there ever?) but it certainly caught the moment from a distance.

Natalie La Rose has become an addition to my playlist after her awesome performance. I'd not heard about her before but immediately recognised a couple of her hits and she rocked the stage with her equally stunning, female dancers. Lethal Bizzle was a highlight too, he absolutely did not disappoint and had everyone on their feet with 'Pow!' That guy is the epitome of cool.




The phone has optical image stabilisation which makes shooting in this kind of environment so much easier, although it still takes a few attempts when the lighting is hopping about to the tune of 'Fester Skank'. Obviously.

Having Snapchat for a change (Windows: sort it out please) I made the most of the video function on the Samsung S6. The audio quality is great and made my friends adequately jealous, which is the point of social media, right?

The handset also has a beauty mode which I 100% regret not taking full advantage of as I was so engrossed in the music. It had the ability to take a selfie that made my face resemble a porcelain doll and who doesn't want that in their lives? Although I will say, it gets a little bit ridiculous if you use the feature at it's highest, so I'd suggest taking it down a few notches. Nobody's teeth are THAT white.




Flo Rida's 'Low' was obviously a hit, with the crowd slut dropping faster than I could drink my pint. 
Various other acts also featured at 1Xtra including a rapper named Big Fekky (I'm not even making this up), Miguel and Stormzy who I'd also never heard of. Regardless, a lot of dancing occurred and it was a brilliant atmosphere overall.

Tinie Tempah finished the night perfectly by introducing Katy B as his surprise guest and they were brilliant! With a catalogue of songs that have utterly catchy lyrics, he eventually had the entire crowd singing 'Written in the Stars'.

Thanks so much to Three and Arena Media for a great night - I wish I'd taken more selfies but the shots of the night were spot on!

Find out more about the handset here and let me know if you're a Samsung owner, I'd love to hear your thoughts!


leanne

x