Boohoo X Dress of the Month

Happy Bank Holiday Monday guys! Today's post is yet another double combo of ootd's - a mini lookbook if you will - as I have to showcase this amazing new dress that has fallen into my hands. Recently the brand Boohoo reached out to me with a new idea that they had and I couldn't say no. They're contacting a range of fashion/style bloggers to be part of their new blogging campaign, Dress of the Month. The idea behind Dress of the Month is that Boohoo will send out a mystery dress and they wait to see how you will style it up. It's supposed to be a fun campaign designed to push people out of their comfort zone a little as it may be a dress or style of dress that you would never personally choose to wear. Of course I jumped at the chance to do this as I loved the idea of receiving a surprise dress and didn't know what to expect.

Luckily for me, I absolutely love the dress for the month of May. Gingham has been a big hit over the last couple of months but surprisingly, I haven't bought into this time around despite really liking the print (especially because I feel like gingham goes with blue denims super well). So when I saw the print, I was instantly happy. It is a smock style dress so it's effortless and *so* comfortable to wear, but has a nice drop peplum skirt and ruffle detail that gives it a feminine touch despite the shapeless fit. As the whole idea behind this campaign is to see how different bloggers style the item up, I couldn't help myself but put together a couple of different looks that I would 100% wear (and since have worn!).

So the first way I'd wear this outfit is a bit more out of my comfort zone in the sense that it's proportions I'm not used to. Back when it was London Fashion Week, I saw a lot of people rocking a dress with jeans and styling it as a long tunic and I loved the idea of it. It looked effortlessly cool and chíc but different and I liked that. So I threw the dress on top of my favourite vintage mom jeans to keep it comfy, a waffle knit cropped jumper and my new favourite sandals and I felt ready to go out for a day date of wandering around town.

Vero Moda Jumper (similar) | Boohoo Smock Dress* | Vintage Mom Jeans | Bohemia Design Bag | Matalan Sandals

The second way I'd wear this is a little more my "typical" style. This dress looks so great on its own with bare legs, but I knew it was screaming out for a fedora and some little western-style booties. To break up the black, I of course reached for my favourite faux leather jacket and my tassel box bag helped tie all the shades together. This is something I would typically wear for either a day date or an evening out for good food and drinks because lets face it - it'll hide the food baby no problemo.

Zara Jacket (similar) | Boohoo Smock Dress* | Boohoo Fedora | Matalan Tassel Bag | Primark Boots (similar)

I'm really pleased with the Dress of the Month for May as it's something I'm comfortable in but sometimes struggle to know how to style as being only 5ft 1, I find oversized dresses can often swamp me and make me look like a toddler so this was a good challenge for me and the rest of my wardrobe. The dress itself is a lovely little number and I have to mention that the fabric is really nice. It's thick enough that you won't turn into Marilyn Monroe if the slightest gust of wind blows but it's also light enough to wear now that it's getting pretty hot here in the UK (finally). It's got a little bit of stretch to it too so the sleeves fit slightly more tapered which is flattering and the slight dip hem to the back of the peplum skirt helps show off your legs in the best way. Thanks to Boohoo for the collab on this and I'm excited to see how others style the same item up!

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Book Club No.9

Okay okay, I hold my hands up and I will apologise straight off the bat that this week's lifestyle post is another Book Club post but guys, I've just really been into my books lately. Not only have I really been into reading more and more lately, what I've been picking up to read has been absolutely marvellous so I guess that might be why I'm enjoying it so much. Although I loved some of the books I read back in my last post from the month of March, a couple of things I read in April and May were *so good* that I just don't know where to begin. For climax sake, let's start with the "not as amazing but still pretty good" one, shall we?

Grief is the Thing with Feathers by Max Porter
Initially, I never even noticed this book. Matt was the one who picked it up, read the blurb, and told me I'd probably like it and he wasn't wrong. This is possibly one of the shortest books I've ever read but also one of the most confusing yet sad books too. As the name and the cover might suggest, the overarching theme of the story is grief and it centres around two young boys living in London with their dad, dealing with the aftermath of how it feels to love a loved one - their mum. Their mum suddenly dies and the story follows "the thing with feathers" playing a major part in how the father in particular deals with this grief. And of course, the thing with feathers in your friendly neighbourhood crow. The crow is like a guest in the family home and the novella's writing style takes a little while to get used to because of this. It jumps wildly from making sense to insensible babble and essentially cawing which is the crow. It reads like a long poem at times and then in other instances, it bloats out into a regular novel. I really enjoyed reading this and it's certainly unique in it's style but it's so extremely relatable if you've ever lost a loved one becaue Porter somehow manages to capture so many thoughts and feelings in the wake of grief. If you can stomach the hop skip and jump style writing and have literally a spare hour or two, plough your way through this. You can pick up this novella in various formats here

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Now, this is possibly a book you've definitely all heard of, but believe it or not, I only read it recently. It's a number one best seller and was relatively recently made into a Hollywood Tim Burton movie (which yep, I'm still yet to see - I know, shame on me,) which isn't the least bit surprisingly considering just how good it is. After debating which book to get in the Waterstones Buy One Get One Half Price deal, I finally settled on this and I've not looked back. This is the first book in a trilogy and I'm definitely going to be reading the rest asap but I should probably tell you why before I waffle on too much. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children follows a main character Jacob who, after a horrific family tragedy, decides to travel to a remote island off the coast of Wales to find out the truth about his grandfather. His grandfather lived on the island during World War II and as a young Jewish boy, made some peculiar friends that quite frankly, no one in the family believes to be real.

Turns out the peculiar pals? They're 1OO% real and Jacob 1OO% meets them all. Riggs writing style in this book is so gripping in such a subtle way so I really struggled to put this book down and completed it in a day and a half. For me, the story has the same gripping dynamics the likes of something like Harry Potter had for me when I was younger and when I first read the HP books. Something else that I particularly liked about this book was the use of old vintage photographs throughout the book. Riggs' collects old photographs as a hobby and includes some in the book which have either influenced character designs in the story or are similar to what he had in mind when he was writing. They really help give the true creepy sense to the story and also help the reader to visualise the characters in an even clearer way despite his beautifully detailed yet not too descriptive explanations of various characters and their appearances/personalities. I honestly could not recommend this book enough and I really need to check out the movie ASAP. Pick up a copy of Book 1 of the Miss Peregrine's series, here

HEX by Thomas Olde Heuvelt
In typical Amyleigh fashion, I've saved the best 'til last. I read the first line of the blurb of this book and ran straight to the till with it. Horror fiction isn't usually something I read but the idea of this one was so intriguing I just couldn't say no! HEX is about a town which is home to an old woman who was rumoured to be a witch during the pinnacle of the witch burnings. Although it's the 21st century, "the witch" is still wandering around the town - only her eyes and mouth are sewn shut. Her wrists are shackled and she wanders the city in the same routines as she has always done but something is about to change everything. The residents of the town are used to the old woman popping up here there and everywhere and just accept it as a normal part of life however there is a power in the town that stops them from leaving and living somewhere else. To monitor where the old witch is at any time, HEX (a surveillance organisation) have CCTV cameras operating all over the town because the whole town knows that they need to keep an eye on her because if the stitches on her mouth and eyes were to come loose... All hell would break loose.

The plot is hard to talk about without giving away the whole story, but I assure you it's a brilliant book. The mix of the old world with the modern contemporary society is such a different branch of horror that sucks you in because it's so familiar and relatable despite being completely fictional. The characters in the story are so great - there's characters I absoluted loathed, loved, and found amusing. Despite being a horror book, HEX also managed to tug on my heart strings a few times and I found myself almost crying at various points. You really get sucked into the town life and into particular households and families so you get a great sense of involvement as you read. I should also probably mention that Stephen King rates HEX so if I can't convince you to pick up a copy of it, the king of horror and macabre storytelling should!

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"I Like Natural Looking Girls"

It's no secret that I love makeup. It was a crutch as a teenager with terribly bad acne and it has blossomed into a hobby, a pastime, and an enjoyable routine as an adult. Back in August last year, I shared a wee post all about why I like to wear makeup and it was just a genuine ramble and explanation of my relationship and history with the broad label "makeup" and what it all means to me. I shared how I was feeling towards my change into a foundation-free way of life and how I was becoming comfortable with my imperfections and believe it or not - it's almost a year since I stopped wearing foundation and boy oh boy, I still feel incredibly good for it. However my evolution with makeup and beauty in general got me thinking... I started to think about the opinions people seem to have on makeup, the opinions individuals have had on what I choose to wear and how I choose to wear it and how damaging those opinions can be. All that:

"you look better without all that makeup"
"I like natural girls" *sees picture of woman with body hair, acne, greasy hair etc.* "Girls should make an effort with their appearance and groom themselves"
"take a girl swimming on your first date because those bitches lie"

Yeah... all that bullshit? I want to challenge it and explain why that sort of shit needs to stop. I've spoken before about the damage in shaming bodies of all shapes and sizes and I think shaming those who do or don't wear makeup in varying degrees is just as harmful. In a world when it seems to be becoming more and more prevalent and weirdly accepted to have an opinion on people's appearances, I believe we should be aiming to try and stamp it out not see it as a norm and some odd shift in culture that we just accept. I'm a very firm advocate of makeup being an art form and something people can revel and excel in, so why is it always criticised, questioned and outright blacklisted at times?

Although there has always been a part of me who has worn makeup because I've been insecure, it's also been something I've enjoyed the process of. However I feel from a really young age, it is almost instilled in girls that makeup can "enhance your features" and is something you're expected to wear (I mean come on, I can remember my monthly subscription to Sabrina the Teenage Witch mag when I was little and it was 90% fashion and makeup and 10% Sabrina). But on the other hand, do a lot young girls just have a natural interest in it? I can remember watching my mam do face masks, watching my youngest Aunty getting ready for her weekend nights out with her friends and spending hours perfecting her makeup and hair - is it just something we're so surrounded by it nutures us to take part in it one day?

Who knows but I think it is something that should be seen as an art form that anyone can be involved in if they want to be - no matter their gender and no matter their "talent" or natural flair for it. I wouldn't say I am amazing at it, but it's something I like to think I've perfected - at least to my own standards and talents - over the years and I love to recognise that journey I have made. What I don't like to see is that a lot of people seem to think they have the right to bring down those who do enjoy using and wearing makeup and also those who don't. It will always stick with me the first time my first serious boyfriend saw me without makeup on and he responded with "Oh god, don't you look really different?" with zero attempt to hide his disappointment/horror/disapproval. Because of this, I'm still nervous for people to see me without any makeup on at all - I'm over my teenage fear of "oh no, people will see my gross acne, eye bags, freckles etc." but that fear that he created still lingers in me with a lot of people whether that be strangers, friends or even some family members.

What I hate to see is this seems to be becoming the norm for a lot of young girls in particular. With the growth of social media and more and more of our lives published for the world to scrutinise, we see some celebrities being praised for posting their no makeup selfies yet the young girls those people may influence are bullied and torn down. People make assumptions that if you spend all of your money on makeup or show an interest in it, that somehow reflects a lack of intelligence and depth. Dammit, if I want to spend money on makeup every month, that doesn't mean I'm not also going to spend some money of books, art, and music. People seem to see makeup first and the individual wearing it after and that's just such a shame. But in the same measure, I've seen plenty of people try to "encourage" more natural aficionados to wear makeup to hide imperfections or because they apparently "look prettier" and that's so disappointing to see too.

There's so many reasons individuals choose to wear or not wear makeup and those reasons shouldn't be anyone else's damn business unless the individual voluntarily wishes to share. We need to stop saying negative things about people who choose to express themselves and their individuality through this medium as again - it's art, it's their style, it's them. Everyone wants to be themselves and hopefully, happy and content with that and makeup certainly seems to please a lot of us and give us another outlet for that unique expression. Next time you see someone who's foundation is a little too dark or maybe they're not the best at perfecting the strong bold brow, just step back and think "they're doing them and that's just fine. In fact, that's just great" because negative thoughts and opinions are not needed and surprise surprise they do nothing but harm. Also think about how to tackle others who express this negativity freely - challenge them if you're comfortable with that - if you see someone being vile about a man wearing makeup, speak up! Defend their right to do whatever they want because makeup doesn't have a gender. It doesn't *need* a gender. The more of us who stand up to the bullies, the men who think they have a valid say in what women choose to do with their faces (I mean honestly), and the women who are catty about something so personal and subjective, the nicer the world - especially the worldwide web one we all so know and love - would be.

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