The Sartorial Survival Guide To Party Season Dresses with Pretty Little Thing

    Disclaimer: This post is in collaboration with Pretty Little Thing

    Mission: Achieve (and maintain) best dressed status all party season long 

    Requirements: Sequins, sheer satin and sass 

    Location: Pretty Little Thing

    The clocks are ticking, the invites are rolling in and there’s not a second to waste in prepping for party season. Logic would have us out shopping for gifts but let’s stick to what’s really important - what to wear. There’s the Christmas girl’s night out, the work do, Boxing Day, 101 family reunions, you name it, there’s a show stopping dress to be found and Pretty Little Thing holds the answers. 

    First and foremost: more is more on this occasion

    No really, I mean it. 

    More feathers. More sequins. More crystals. More jewels. More frills. I could go on…

    These are your party season survival tools. Use them wisely. 

    It’s time to recruit your most flamboyant self to see through the last of 2017. Take your style cues from the autumn/winter’17 runways where chainmail, feathers and pearls stole the show. Not to mention the glorious glitter boots that shot straight to the top of our wish lists. 

    As for the LBD - don’t rule it out just yet. Just please, whatever you do, don’t be a bore about it. Reimagine the classic piece with frills and feathers galore. Play around with shapes (both with your wardrobe choices and on the dance floor). Channel your inner 80s dance diva and embrace the one shoulder dress. Throw in the occasional thigh split and RSVPs are no longer something to sleep on.

    Six weeks of soirees are beckoning. What are you waiting for? I’ll meet you on the dance floor (preferably with a prosecco in hand.)

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    Niamh ♥


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    Need To Know Styling Hacks That Will Take Your Look From Day To Night

    I'm by no means a party girl. I enjoy a night out every so often but I've never been great at the whole 3 nights out in a row thing and don't even get me started on the hangovers - we do not have a great relationship. It's not that I've ruled out nights out all together, I need to let my hair down every so often as much as the next person. But I'd definitely take casual drinks at a bar or a glass of wine by the fire over a wild night out in a club.

    One major consequence of not being a 'party girl' (aside from seeming like a total bore to everyone else) is that my going out wardrobe is severely lacking. SEVERELY. Any other kind of occasion and I'm almost always good to go with the outfit inspiration but night out style? Nah-uh not my thing. 

    For one thing, I like to be comfortable which makes a long night out wearing heels almost totally undesirable although my ever-growing shoe collection would suggest otherwise. Then there's the fact that wearing your fabulous new heels on a night out will inevitably lead to them being ruined. I learned the hard way that rule number one when it comes to day-to-night dressing is to find yourself at least one paid of 'going-out' shoes that are comfortable, easy to clean and won't break your heart if someone spills their entire drink over them. 

    Since nights out take up a much smaller portion of my social life, instead of buying an entirely new wardrobe of clothes I'll very rarely wear, I've adapted clothes and outfits that I already love and feel great in to make them more appropriate for post-work drinks or events. 

    It's alllllllll about the shoes

    The easiest way to liven up an outfit for the evening is to switch up the shoes. Tuck them into your handbag, hide them under your desk, throw them in your passenger seat, whatever your mode of transport for the Friday shoe switcheroo, there's no denying that carrying one pair of shoes with you is a lot easier than lugging an entire change of clothes to the office. 

    When choosing the shoes (as mentioned above) its important to factor in comfort and location. There's nothing worse than spending an evening on your feet in uncomfortable heels except maybe wearing your brand new nude, suede shoes to a crowded bar or club. Then you're just asking for trouble - don't make their debut night their last and only night. 

    Block heels, mules and black - your absolute BFFs in this scenario. 

    Also - make sure the shoes are well broken in and the night is yours. 


    Rummage through your accessories collection

    Admittedly the corset worn in this look isn't something I pulled out of the back of my wardrobe. I had just bought in from ASOS prior to shooting this look BUT it was in the sale and under £15 so you know, a forgivable purchase. Without the subtle glitz and glam of the corset, this look would just be a plain shirt - a staple and a classic in your workwear wardrobe but a little too meh for a night out. Strap yourself in to a little statement corset come 6pm Friday evening and bish, bash, bosh, you've got a look Carrie Bradshaw would be proud of. 

    Another example of corset belting - daytime look: Oversized band tee, leather trousers, converse. Evening look: Add in the corset, swap out the converse for Saturday night heels. Day to night look sorted in one fell swoop. 


    The three outfit rule

    Sometimes it's best to go right back to the basics. That means taking it all the way back to when you're out shopping. Picture this - you've just picked up an item and you're about to buy it. Fight off the impulse shopper inside you and think about the purchase for a second. If you can't think of at least three different ways you're going to wear the item and three different outfits you can create with the item, then it's not for you. By curating your wardrobe as ruthlessly as possible, you're making day to night outfit planning one hundred times easier for yourself.


    Photos by Kellie Scott

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    Why I Will Never Go Blonde Again

    I remember the first time I dyed my hair. I was 16, it was the day I had finished my GCSEs, the first day of summer and boy, did I create a monster. 

    My best friend at the time and I thought now would be the perfect time to embrace the infamous dip dye trend. I went for pink. She went for purple. It was infamous for a reason. 

    We both had naturally very dark hair, my friend’s verging on jet black. Now obviously adding any colour to dark hair isn’t going to work without bleaching it first. Our solution? Cheap, shitty, drug store bleach. Of course. That’s exactly how you should treat your hair…

    It stank. It stung our eyes and it seriously destroyed those 2-4 inches of our hair. 

    I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think I wasn’t the coolest 16 year old at the time. Of course I did. But by the time August came around the cheap pink dye had turned a delightful (read: horrific) shade of peachy, orange with unwanted, unintended hints of green. 

    Off to the hairdressers. Time for chop. 

    After a summer of bedraggled curls with a texture I can only compare to straw and colour that looked like a Halloween costume gone wrong, did I learn anything about looking after my hair? Nope. Big. Fat. Nope. 

    Six months later I was back at the hairdressers. This time I had graduated from dip dye and was buying into the ombre trend all while desperately trying to convince anyone who would listen that this was a great idea. It was not. 

    This continued up until I was about 19 or 20. So really only within the last year or so. I went for ombre then balayage then highlights - all of which are pretty much variations of each other. Every single time I went back, I asked for more. I was stuck in a cycle of constantly getting bored of my hair. At this point it was clear I wouldn’t be happy until I was totally blonde. 

    It was February 2016 when I finally took the plunge. I walked in just about still brunette and walked out a full on blonde. My poor hairdresser dedicated the majority of her day to transforming my mass amount of hair (that was quickly thinning) into Barbie’s twin. 

    The drive home was an interesting one as I kept catching my reflection in the mirror and not recognising myself. The weeks that followed were equally as interesting as I bumped into people and dealt with mixed reactions.

    My mum hated it.

    Some of my friends liked it.

    Others, not so much.

    Backhanded compliments became the norm from those who didn’t know what to say about my new look. 

    I was just so excited by such a big change that i wasn’t able to register whether or not I actually liked this new hair.

    I had to adjust my makeup and wardrobe. Looks that once really complimented my dark features suddenly washed out the new blonde me. Every time I looked in the mirror, it felt like something was missing. I tried for weeks to get used to the new look, telling myself that any day now it wouldn’t feel like such a ‘new look’, it would just feel like me. Finally, I admitted defeat. 

    Four months later I was back in the hot seat. Four months. That’s all I lasted. I was ready to go back to my roots (pun intended) and was practically begging to be accepted back into my beloved brunette club. 

    Confession: I changed hairdressers for my big brunette comeback. (Shout out to Bill Harris Hairdressing.) I just didn’t have the heart to go back to the same place where they had slaved over making my blonde dreams a reality. 

    Once the appointment was made, the day honestly couldn’t come any quicker. The second it was over with I couldn’t have been more relieved to see my old, slightly glossier, brunette self staring back at me. 

    I knew I was in for a long road of hair recovery with regular appointments to touch up the colour and a lot of bad hair days while my poor curls recovered but it was worth every moment but it's been worth every second. 

    Now 18 months later my hair finally feels healthy again. I’ve found that the products that work best for me and I’ve honestly never appreciated my natural curls and colour more.

    Lesson learned. Never will I ever go blonde again. And PLEASE quote me on that. 

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    Niamh ♥

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    Who Knew Hiking Boots Could Be So On Trend?


    For one reason or another I was set on joining the hiking club when I started uni.

    SPOILER: It never materialised further than borrowing a pair of hiking boots from a kind friend and then swiftly forgetting all about them until it was time to pack up my room again at the end of first year.

    Call it a craving for fresh air as a little country bumpkin from County Down headed off to new prospects of city life (kind of) in Manchester - who knows why hiking was the one club that caught my normally non-athletic attention. One thing I do know for sure is it definitely wasn't the fashion that had me heading for the hills (mountains) of England - in fact, it had me heading as far away in the opposite direction as possible. Those clunky, heavy, U.G.L.Y hiking boots complete with thick fluffy socks peaking over the edge? Yeah, not for me.

    Except, fast forward 3 years and they're all I can think about. SOS.

    Ok, so maybe not those exact boots but definitely a more attractive cousin to my previously most hated shoes but still, how, when and why have hiking boots become a trend in 2017? And more importantly, how, when and why am I such a big fan?!

    I've retraced my fashion obsessed steps as best as possible and have concluded that the brainwashing occurred round about the same time that Lydia Millen stomped onto our YouTube screens wearing a pair of Louis Vuitton hiking boot-esque shoes. That's when I lost my mind and started coveting hiking boot inspired shoes as an Autumn wardrobe staple.


    A post shared by Lydia (@lydiaemillen) on


    I wouldn't describe it as the the smoothest of love stories. There was no instant spark or harmonic music as they entered on screen and I've definitely been trying (and failing) to play it cool with them. I even screwed up my face upon first sight of Cupid's latest culprit. An entire 10 seconds later I was scouring Zara to find a designer dupe like a teenager googling how to flirt with their crush.


    A post shared by Lydia (@lydiaemillen) on

    There's no denying that it completely contradicts everything we've been told about feminine trends for the season ahead - florals, velvets and plenty of pinks - and it definitely makes me wish I hadn't just donated a pair to my sister's wardrobe. The beauty in the contrast is that in taking the opposites attract approach, chunky boots perfectly compliment an otherwise feminine look - as Lydia so perfectly demonstrates.

    What can I say people, fashion is fickle and so am I. For that reason I'm already blowing my payday earnings before its had any time to get comfortable in my bank account. Please join me so I don't feel so guilty. Please.



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    Niamh ♥

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    Operation Transformation: I Challenged Myself To Wear Heels Everyday For A Week


    When I was younger I was obsessed with heels. I desperately longed to be old enough to wear them and was even more desperate to be able to walk in them (at 21 I still struggle with this).

    I remember at the ripe old age of 10 going off to a friend's for a play date. Said friend was one of the popular girls. I was not a popular girl but for some reason she fell for my charm (LOL). She was also 6 months older than me which definitely contributed to her status as cool kid. Believe me, those six months mattered in primary school. Her parents were significantly less strict than mine and as the youngest and only girl in the family (the poor girl had three brothers) she got away with murder. She also got to wear heels. Yep, heels at 10. On this particular play date we were participating in an intense game of dress up in her (much more exciting than mine) wardrobe. Like a magpie drawn to shiny things, I spied a pair of brown heeled boots at the bottom of a pile of clothes she was planning on throwing away - a dismissive approach to clothes that I still struggle to get to grips with. In swooped dorky little Niamh. I'd fallen in love instantly and it must have been written all over my face because she then said those magic words - "You can have them if you want. I don't wear them." They didn't fit me. I didn't care. I couldn't walk in them. I didn't care. There was no way in hell my parents were going to let me wear them. I didn't care (I hid them under my bed).

    Fast forward to 14 year old Niamh. Still dorky, still obsessed with heels, still scrounging clothes off her mates. This time I was headed to concert with a friend. We were getting ready when cupid hit me with that sneaky little bow and I spotted the shoes. I begged Clara to let me wear them and unfortunately, proceeded to wear them in public. Could I walk in them? Nope. Did I look ridiculous? 100%. Did I force Clara to swap shoes with me every half an hour because my feet were in such agony? You betcha.

    The embarrassing stories continue right through to the painful experiences of my first nights out in heels - a time in my life I'm not sure I want to revisit. Then somewhere around my first year of uni, I admitted defeat on my love affair with heels and swiftly built myself a flats focused uniform for every occasion. Until very recently I've been living my best life in flats but your first love always comes back to haunt you one way or another.

    Sometimes flats just don't cut it and at 5 ft I could really do with the height boost of heels 95% of the time. I thought I was happy in my life of flat shoes but I was living a (comfortable) lie. I went to an event recently and upon leaving the house, felt pretty pleased with my outfit - denim shirt, leather trousers, backless loafers and camel duster coat. That feeling quickly left me the second I walked through the door and the inner monologue of outfit comparisons began. I was about 3 outfit comparisons in with a shopping wishlist the length of my arm when I clocked that every outfit I had been so busy envying involved heels.

    In the last few years I've found myself in the depths of more "boyish" trends, relied on my boyfriend's wardrobe for outfit inspiration and spent more than I care to admit on the latest trainers trends. Combine this with finding myself directing resentment at everything in my wardrobe recently and I was more than ready for a change. I challenged myself to wear heels every day for a week. I know, I know, I live life on the edge but honestly, I learned a lot during the challenge.

    1. I can drive in heels

    2. Never leave the house without blister plasters

    3. I'm a lot more like Carrie Bradshaw than I give myself credit for (a little far fetched...)


    Disclaimer: Not my most aesthetically pleasing post but it was spontaneous and iPhone photos/photos saved from my instastories were all I had to go off. 




    In an attempt to really give my all to the challenge I decided to treat myself to a new pair of heels. Black, smart, versatile and painful AF. I got overexcited about showing off my new heels, threw myself in the deep end and wore them to an event without any previous breaking in of the shoes. Call myself a fashion blogger and I forget the golden rule of new shoes. Rookie.

    Despite shredded feet, a little blood and some numb toes, I did rake in a fair few compliments on my shoe choice so you know, no pain, no gain.




    Day two and armed with blister plasters and my favourite statement heels, I was back in fighting form and ready to make some fashionable first impressions with new clients at work.




    Thankfully mules still count as heels. This was probably my favourite outfit of the week but since I spent the day working from home, no one but those who happened to watch my instastories got to see it...until I repeated it at the weekend and for an upcoming blog post.




    Time to pull out the closest thing I have to Carrie Bradshaw heels (for now) AND they only cost me £10 in the Topshop sale (similar here).




    I finally braved the day 1 shoes for a second time around - partly because I knew the more I wore them, the faster the painful breaking in process would be and partly because this is the outfit I had been dreaming of when I first bought them. I survived 5 hours wearing them before trading them in for the comfort of my slippers the second I walked through the door.


    All in all, the transformation was a lot easier and a lot less painful than I had expected. I felt a definite boost in my confidence as I strutted around the place in my heels all week and as a result, I now have several online baskets filled with brand new heels that deserve their time to shine in my wardrobe. Here's hoping...

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    Niamh ♥

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