An Interview With Beat Theory Fitness

Welcome to the first post of 2017!  My first post of the year is usually inspiring and/or motivational in some way and this year is no exception.  When I stepped on the weighing scales yesterday morning to survey the damage that often happens over the Christmas and New Year period,  I was so glad that ex – professional footballer, Riccardo Scala, was being interviewed today.  He is the tonic I need to give me inspiration and motivation to lose those naughty pounds! Riccardo is the man responsible for launching Beat Theory Fitness in the UK – workouts based on the “Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption” theory – which basically means that you keep burning fat well after your workout has finished.  Sound good?  I thought so too. I caught up with Riccardo to find out more… Hi Riccardo…

Hi! My name is Riccardo Scala, and I am the Founder and CEO of Beat Theory Fitness®

Where did you get inspiration from to start Beat Theory Fitness? –

My inspiration has come from seeing the success of other Boutique Fitness companies in America do immensely well in this new market sector, and I wanted to create my version based on all the science and technology that is now available to assist fitness enthusiasts toward their individual goals.

The workouts are based on the “Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption” theory. Can you explain the theory and how it differs from other types of workouts? 

What happens to your car engine after you have completed a journey? Your car engine stays warm as it gradually cools to a resting temperature. The same happens with our bodies after we have exercised. EPOC is the amount of oxygen required to restore your body to its normal, resting level of metabolic function (called homeostasis). The more oxygen you require to do this, the more calories you will burn in the process. So if you increase the amount of oxygen consumed both during and after a workout, you can increase the amount of net calories burned. EPOC is influenced by the intensity of an exercise, not the duration of an exercise. Research has shown that training with High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is the best way to stimulate the EPOC effect, and that training in this manner is far more effective than training for longer durations at a steady pace. Here at Beat Theory, we have structured our whole training philosophy behind the EPOC effect. Shorter workouts, higher intensity, greater calorie burn, and of course, faster results for clients to see and feel. 

So what do enjoy most about being a personal trainer and fitness expert? Have you a favourite exercise?

Every day you get to wake up knowing that you are going to be responsible for helping someone different from hour to hour. Being able to give back and help others achieve the confidence and belief in themselves to not only make their health and lifestyle better, but in turn they will then allow this confidence to rub off on others. Being the guy that helps people and that people turn to for help…

What aspects of Beat Theory Fitness seem to be the most popular with your clients?

I am constantly being told by clients that just knowing that all they need to do is book their spot in a Beat Theory session via our Beat Theory mobile App, and turn up, makes their lives so much easier. Every Beat Theory session has been designed to get the most out of every fitness level in attendance. We do all the hard work and clients simply turn up and allow our coaches to train them. They don’t have to worry about what they are going to have to do that day, or how much time they are going to have to spend on an exercise. We do all the planning. With a combination of running, rowing, lifting, jumping and sweating, they get everything they need in our 40 minute sessions. Then it is back off into the real world to continue their day, satisfied.

What exercise(s) seem to yield most results? What seems to be the least popular – or gets the most groans when you suggest it?

When it comes to High Intensity Training, all exercises are extremely beneficial, you just have to know which ones to combine together and how hard to push yourself to achieve the desired effect. As soon as we announce that their will be a Burpee in the workout, that certainly gets a few groans. Although I wouldn’t say that this means that it is the least popular, they just know that the sessions are being delivered as hard as they want them to be. I think it is worth noting too that we can and do frequently have lots of variations to our daily workouts so as to accommodate clients that have long term injuries from previous exercise before Beat Theory.

Being an ex- professional footballer as well as having lived and worked in California as a personal trainer, you must have come across many famous names. Which famous lady or gent would you love to see doing a Beat Theory Fitness workout?

You mean in addition to Scarlett Johansson, who I have already worked with? Well I’m a huge comic book fan, so in line with staying current, I would love to put Gal Gadot [Batman vs Superman (2016) and Wonder Woman (2017)] through her Beat Theory workout.

How can clients book sessions?

We have our Beat Theory Fitness App on the Apple and Android stores. Clients have our full schedule at their fingertips so that they can plan their training ahead.

Beat Theory Fitness is seeking to be the first franchised chain of aggregated studio concepts in the UK. What would a franchise consist of?

Our franchise model consists of a franchisee owning their own Beat Theory facility, being given all the equipment that is part of our training concept, full ongoing support with setting up each facility and marketing the facility for opening and beyond, full training and templates for delivering our training model, and ongoing monthly support to make the franchisees Beat Theory facility the no.1 boutique training facility in their catchment area.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

As you would assume I am a big trainers fan, but I do like putting on a nice formal suit and shirt every now and then, especially for business meetings.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?

Being as busy as I am, I do all my shopping online. My favourite online store is Zalando.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

Well I really need to increase the number of shirts that I wear. Most of the time I am in t-shirts and polos.

Boots or Shoes?

Definitely shoes. I love the sheer variety of different styles available to me.

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers of the blog can learn more about Beat Theory Fitness.

beattheoryfitness.co.uk 

Facebook.com/beattheoryfitnessglasgow

Twitter: @BeatTheory_GLA

Thank you Riccardo for taking me through my paces and describing the Beat Theory Fitness process …. And I wish your business every success in for 2017.  So, dear readers, have you overindulged over the Christmas season?  What ways have you decided to keep fit and healthy?  I’ve got my Fitbit and I’m determined to up the steps! Do share your fitness goals…

Linda x

Photos:

Photo of Riccardo published with kind permission of Riccardo Scala;

Photo of Dumb Bells from Pixabay;

Photos of trainers and bike  by Linda Hobden

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6 Discoveries I Made In 2016

As 2016 comes to a close, I’ve decided to make the last post of 2016 one which I share with you some discoveries that I have made across  the board – fashion, footwear, beauty, food, etc.  These discoveries might not actually be “new” but they are new experiences for me 🙂 So, in no particular order, here are 6 things I discovered this year….

1. The Jack-it Bag   –  I love it as a jacket but it can easily convert into a bag.  Catch my interview with the brand HERE.  The jacket I’m wearing is made of velour and has a strong satin lining.  I’m looking forward to wearing it more in 2017.

2. Salted Caramel.  Since the end of 2015 when I discovered Tesco Salted Caramel Cream Liqueur and Wilkins Salted Caramel Spread, I have had an indulgent love affair with salted caramel throughout 2016 – cheesecakes, ice creams, chocolate – and then, at the beginning of December, I found this ultimate shower cream from Avon ….. Yes, it’s “salted caramel & almond” …..

3.  Chocolate Red Wine.  This year, courtesy of my darling husband, I discovered chocolate red wine.  It is a combination of 2 of my favourite things – chocolate & wine!  It is pretty sweet, smells divine and tastes heavenly – it is akin to port rather than your standard glass of red.  My new favourite “liqueur” to date.

4.  Contouring.  I was a little late in embracing this make up look and couldn’t quite “get it” until I came across this delightful contouring stick by W7.  It is a 2-ended stick with a highlighter at one end and a bronzer at the other – plus clear and handy instructions on how to apply on the box. 

5.  Slippers.  OK – not quite a “discovery” BUT I used to hate wearing slippers as I always received furry ones or memory foam style slippers which I felt were uncomfortable, made my feet sweat and I couldn’t walk in them! I needed to find a pair that I could wear indoors – and I found these leather Moroccan style ballerina style slippers from NEXT.  They not only look stylish but they fit well, are comfortable and I now wear slippers indoors! No more stubbed toes that used to occur when I walked about barefoot.

6.  Fitbit.  Coming home on a flight from Madeira in August I was listening to a podcast on my phone that was talking about the health benefits of walking 10,000 steps. It motivated me to move more.  A Fitbit was on my Xmas list but my lovely husband treated me to a Fitbit beforehand.  I love it.  I have gone from being a slob to being on the move and although I don’t always hit 10,000 steps every day I am pleased with the 8000 steps + a day I  do currently hit and my twice weekly 10,000 steps +. Love the turquoise colour strap too.

What did you discover in 2016?  Do tell, I’d love to know!

Linda x

All photos by Linda Hobden

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Budget Shoe Hacks To Try

It’s nearing the end of the year and I have had a clear out of my shoe wardrobe.  Some of my shoes and boots have seen the end of their days and as much as I hate to do it, they were ceremoniously dumped as they were getting holes and becoming unglued!  They were mostly my flats that have endured daily school runs over the past year or so…

My favourite heels have remained pretty much perfect – I have stored and mollycoddled them – being worn only when my journey by foot involves minimal walking outside! 

My friends at ShoeZone have come up with this terrific infograph with great hints and tips to keep your footwear looking in pristine condition.  I have personally tried  most of these hacks and give them a big thumbs up! My personal tip to add is to use matching coloured nail polish  to paint over scuff marks on heels – just as well black nail enamel is on trend as I use tons of it on the heels of my work shoes!

Shoe Hacks

Which shoe hacks have you used in the past?  Have you got any shoe hacks of your own? Do share, I’d love to know…

Linda x

Infograph by ShoeZone

Photos by Linda Hobden

 

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An Interview With Jack-It Bag London

Sometimes I come across an item that is so totally different and useful that it is fantastic when I do get to interview the founder/designer concerned.  Today’s blogpost features such an item. Is it a bird or a plane? Is it a jacket or is it a bag? Crazy as it may seem, this item is both a jacket and a fully functional bag.  I caught up with mumpreneur Jo Tribley recently to find out more … Hi Jo and welcome…

Hi, I am Jo, a married mum of two daughters; modern foreign language teacher and now founder and creative director of Jack-it-bag, London. Jack-it-bag , London is a newly launched company, selling unique, stylish jackets that magically convert into neat, compact bags, perfect for busy, style conscious people, who like to live life to the full. The dual-functioning jackets/bags provide a burden free experience, whether at a festival, on a day out, out shopping, at parties, globebetrotting or just out walking the dog!

Your mission is to create stylish outerwear with dual functionality, but what inspired you to create the Jack-It Bag in the first place?

The inspiration for the ‘jack-it-bag’ came from my daughters’ reluctance to wear a jacket or coat when going out to clubs and gigs. They didn’t want to queue for the cloakroom and didn’t want to be burdened with a coat once inside the club, preferring to freeze instead, as winter hit and the temperatures plummeted. After numerous debates/disagreements, I decided I would try and invent a jacket that could be slipped off once inside the club and be quickly converted into a bag. My daughters gave me plenty of criteria that the “jack-it-bag” would have to conform to. It would have to be stylish, so as not to ruin the all important party outfit. It would have to have room to contain all the essentials for a night out, such as their money, phone, keys, lipstick etc; it would have to be easy to convert into a bag, without the need to remove any items; and finally it had to be a neat compact bag, so that they could enjoy a burden free party experience. After much thought and experimentation, I finally designed a prototype, which ticked all these boxes and more besides. The design ensures that possessions are zipped away in secure pockets, some of which are concealed within the bag, thereby ensuring that valuable items are safely tucked away. Some of the fabrics are also wipe clean ,so that if a drink is spilled, your jacket isn’t ruined.

Have you always had a passion for textiles/fashion, or did you have other career aspirations when you were younger?

My background isn’t in fashion or textiles and nor did I have a particular passion for it. As a young child, I always liked making things and liked sewing, but then I really wanted to be a ballerina!

I love both the Velvet Crush and the Rock Chic Jack-It Bags. What items are proving popular amongst your customers?

The Rock Chic has been very popular as has the Olive Longline bomber jacket and the Relaxed fit bomber jacket.

Out of all your Jack-It Bags, do you have any favourites?

The Rock Chic and Olive longline bomber are also my two personal favourites, although I do like the Party Shimmer. It looks great on and is really eye-catching. The Rock Chic is great because it can be wiped clean and the Olive longline bomber is a fantastic fabric and great when I am walking the dog in our very changeable weather.

I read one review on your website that said: ” (The Jack-It Bag is) one of those things you don’t realise how useful it is until you’ve got one”.  As a fellow mum, I can see it’s usefulness – what did you feel the Jack-it Bag’s main attraction?

The Jack-it-bag is so versatile and I am forever discovering situations when it has really proved so useful. Most recently, whilst Christmas shopping at a very packed Christmas gift fair, it was great to be able to slip off my jacket but not be burdened with having to carry a coat and bag around in addition to all that Christmas shopping. Yet that same jacket also was a great addition to my suitcase for a recent trip to Singapore. Its versatility and dual functionality is definitely the main attraction.

Looking towards Spring/Summer 2017, are you planning to add any new ranges or new colours?

I already have my eye on some great fabrics that pick up on the key colour trends for Spring/summer 2017. I also hope to add some additional ranges including a festival jacket and a gym buddy jacket.

Your company is based in London – is the Jack-it Bag available to purchase worldwide?

The Jack-it-bag is manufactured in London but it can be purchased on the world-wide web at www.jack-it-bag.co.uk. I am happy to ship overseas.

When choosing the Jack-It Bag outer look to add to your collection, do you take into account your own tastes, your customer base, current fashion trends, requests, traditional styles or bits of all those?

The Jack-it-bag is designed to be a classic jacket, either collarless, bomber style or parka style with added hints of the seasons key trends. The classic style is updated to reflect current trends, be that in the choice of fabric, e.g velvet/ checks ( a key trend for autumn/winter 16/17), colour ( Olive green), style ( fitted, longline, relaxed) or with features such as eyelets, pom poms , tassels. The current fashion trends are definitely taken note of but they are quite subtly introduced to what is otherwise a classic style, which will not necessarily date. The customer base is really very varied; in fact there is a jack-it-bag for everyone and I try to choose outers that will suit a multitude of different users, be that a school child with no room in their locker for a school coat to a gap year student to a retired globetrotter.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

I am a natural classic. I suit structured, tailored, fitted clothing, which is nevertheless comfortable. That doesn’t mean I go around in tailored suits. I love a classic pair of jeans, ankle grazing trousers, cosy knitwear, stripy t-shirts and tailored dresses. You will never find me in anything floaty or frilly. Regarding shoes, I love boots, classic pumps and kitten heels, which are comfortable to wear but still make your legs look amazing.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

My favourite shops are The White Company, Hobbs, Zara and Pure. For shoes I like the Dutch company, Panara.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wishlist?

I would love a shearling gilet.

Boots or Shoes?

I love my flip-flop sandals. They look good with trousers or dresses and I just love the summer and having the chance to wear them. Maybe it’s because the summer in Britain is so short-lived.

Links you would like to share:

Jack-it-bag, London has its own e-commerce site at www.jack-it-bag.co.uk. You can also follow us on www.instagram.com/jackitbag or on Facebook : Jack-It Bag, London

It has been great talking to you Jo and thank you for introducing us to your fabulous Jack-It Bag.  I think it’s a brilliant idea.  Dear readers, what is on your clothes/shoe/bag wishlist?  Is it a Jack-it Bag?  Do share – as always I love reading your views!

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission of Jo Tribley.  The photography was by Tess Salmon Photography; the model is Olivia.

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The Mystery Of You

Revealing the mystery of you – my guest this week is engineer, entrepreneur, personal trainer and author, John Ferris, who has just written a potentially life-changing book “The Yo(u)niverse Paradox: Revealing The Mystery Of You”.  Written from John’s own life and discoveries, plus merging spirituality and science; John attempts to guide the reader to reveal their uniqueness and to start building the life of their dreams.   John also has a passion for personal training and sport, even using his engineering capabilities to design and manufacture his own home gym equipment.  I caught up with John recently to find out more …. Hi John …

Hi, my name is John and I was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland at the beginning of the troubles. My initial experiences were groomed on a Belfast estate later moving to the suburbs. I left school with little qualifications, but under my mother’s influence I attended college and then university, graduating in mechanical engineering. I initially worked in the aerospace industry, but from the outset I knew for me, fulfilment would always be out of reach; being such a small cog in a big wheel. In conjunction with my full-time job, I set up a small part-time business manufacturing my own unique exercise equipment. Alas it transpired I was probably a decade too early, at least here in the U.K. Either that or my ideas were rubbish! In saying that it acted as a stepping stone, turning my hobby as a fitness enthusiast into my current profession as a Personal Trainer. I opened Northern Ireland’s first personal training studio and was very content with my life through my fortieth year.

Congratulations on publishing your book, “The Yo(u)niverse Paradox: Revealing The Mystery Of You”. What was the catalyst that in effect changed your life?

Thank you. Just prior to my forty-first birthday my mother passed away. Terrible times most of us have to endure, but inevitable in the general sequence of events. What happened next brought me face to face with my worst nightmare. Three weeks after my mother’s passing on my 41st birthday, my wife and I were informed our six-year-old daughter Robyn had an incurable brain tumour (from western medical point of view). That moment changed everything. It was the catalyst for my spiritual awakening. The beginning of seeing the world through new eyes. The gradual removing of the veils that hide the truth. Everything I thought I knew about the world was turned upside down, back to front and inside out.

The book promotes a model of reality using the fundamental principle of nature overlooked by the mainstream view which merges science and spirituality into an all-inclusive model -allowing for everything, omitting nothing. Written from your own life experiences and discoveries – What inspired you to put pen to paper?

A catalyst is easily definable. Inspiration on the other hand can quite often come from numerous experiences. I guess after seven years of reading, researching and most importantly meditating on the question of “when you die is that it or is there anything I can do to in my lifetime to change the past and experience my daughter growing up?” I amassed an incredible amount of information and felt the urge to put pen to paper to create some space in my mind. As I was writing I could see a repeatable pattern that combined the inner self with the outer experience of the world. I applied the latest scientific discoveries with the esoteric wisdom (spirituality) hidden within every religion to show a pattern that connects everything. This pattern is the key to reality. At times I was blown away by the clarity that was evolving. I was writing off the cuff and didn’t follow any writing protocols or techniques especially since I had never written a book before, but to my surprise it all seemed to fall into place. I realised so much throughout the process. It is a very liberating experience!

If you have to pass on one piece of wisdom or advice to a person, what would be that pearl of wisdom?

You are not an insignificant being living on an insignificant speck in an infinite universe. You are imbued with the most powerful gift of the universe – the power of choice! Use it wisely by letting go of being the victim and take full responsibility.

Although you live in the UK, is your book available to purchase overseas?

Yes,  my book is published by Balboa press based in the States so can be purchased through their or my website (revealthemystery.com) and also around the world on Amazon.com.

Are you looking at writing other books in the future? What topics would you like to cover?

Yes,  I would imagine myself writing some more. Probably similar in nature, but also might link into the health and fitness industry from a functional everyday perspective.

What sort of book genre do you like reading? Favourite books or authors?

I don’t think it will come as any surprise that’s its books based on ‘What is reality?’  Conversations with God book 1 by Neale Donald Walsh was a mind blower. Various books by Deepak Chopra, Gregg Braden and Bruce Lipton on the relationship of science and spirituality. Fred Alan Wolf’s Mind into Matter and The Yoga Of Time Travel are very good and of course The Secret by Rhonda Byrne. In the distant past I would have mainly read sporting autobiographies.

You are an engineer and entrepreneur by trade – you have designed and manufactured home gym equipment. Growing up though, did you inspire to go into the engineering field or did you have other ambitions?

Not at all. I ended up in the engineering sector purely as a result of the U.K. educational system and like most teenagers feeling somewhat lost on where my future lay. I, like a lot of kids, liked the idea of being a fireman until I remembered I had a fear of heights. When I was 17 and learning to drive, on one of the few occasions my mother braved a lesson, I do remember she asked me what my ambitions were for making a living. I told her one day I’d like to own a gym. Months earlier I had purchased a home gym barbell set which initially ignited my passion. Ironically the advice I recently gave my son was to ‘find his passion and put it into action’ because you are a long time working.

You are currently involved in an unique global soccer initiative called Circular Soccer. Could you explain a bit about that project?

About 4 years ago a retired client (the father of Mr. Grey himself – Jamie Dornan) told me of the idea he first had 50 years previous, when he was a teenage boy, playing one versus one football around a central goal (hence circular) which removed the need for a goalkeeper. As young kids few want to play as the goalkeeper. He asked me to go away and develop it. I came back with the idea of a pop up three-sided triangular net which we named the tri-goal, a no play zone and cones for restarting game. Rules were drawn up and after years of prototypes and a number of FIFA trials conducted in Japan, Barbados and at the FIFA headquarters in Switzerland we finally got to market. There are five core members of the team who have worked extremely hard to get this far and time will tell how successful Circular Soccer will become. The game itself has expanded and can cater for up to 10 players and is being used at numerous football clubs to develop players skill set, but can also be purchased for kids to play in the street, back garden or park. Our website is circularsoccer.com.

When you’re not working, what hobbies/past times do you enjoy?

I still play football most Sundays and still get the same thrill scoring a goal as I did when I was a kid. We men never grow up! I love the Marvel movies which bring me back to my childhood reading the comics. I also enjoy eating out in nice restaurants and occasionally have been known to partake in the Belfast pub culture. My body is a temple, but only for part of the week and there are those who would say my body reflects that! I firmly believe life is about balance. Did I mention coffee shops?

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

My daywear reflects my job so no interest there. I love Ant and Dec bomber style jackets. I call them that as during each year watching the television programme – “I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here” – I drive my wife crazy pointing out all the bomber jackets that look cool. My “go to” look I guess would be a nice crisp white shirt with black or denim jeans transported on a Ted Baker brogue.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

Not particularly, but thinking about it I do seem to have accumulated a fair amount of Ted Baker/Guess labels and the odd Primark.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

A new white shirt……seriously!

Boots or Shoes?

Back in the day it was definitely boots. They ranged from Dr Martens to Chelsea boots with the Cowboy boots or ‘Cowbs’ as they affectionately became known somewhere in the mix. I still have them in the hope that one day they will come back into fashion. My wife has just informed me they never were in fashion!

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers of the blog can learn more about you and your book.

My book webpage is revealthemystery.com
On Facebook my book page is also revealthemystery
Also check out circularsoccer.com

Great chatting to you John – it has been a pleasure to have you on the blog.  Your book is  certainly interesting and you’re truly an inspiration.  I love the advice you gave your son: find your passion, put it into action.  That’s the kind of advice I offer my children too. Dear readers, what was the best advice you’ve received?  What advice have you given to your offspring? As always, do share  – I’d love to know your thoughts…

Linda x

Photos published with kind permission of John Ferris.

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Five Go Sparkly

Recently I’ve come across on Amazon adult spoof books written by Bruno Vincent based around Enid Blyton’s old children’s books of the adventures of the Famous Five  … such as Five On Brexit Island,  Five Go Gluten Free,  Five Give Up The Booze…. and they do look like fun books, so I decided to base my blog title around Bruno’s idea.  That’s where the similarity ends…. well sort of….

The number 5 is certainly true and my post takes place on Brexit Island (UK) …. But the giving up booze part… Nah, not happening! Here’s the story….

I kindly received some sparkly fashion jewellery from the delightful  Belinda of Belinda’s Handbags & Accessories to review. Belinda sells some really nice handbags and shawls too as well as some fun, sparkly fashion jewellery – ideal for parties, dates, gifts, weddings … and for nights out on the town with the girls.  So with the wine in full flow, my  5 friends and I road tested the fashion jewellery on our recent night out…

Becky favoured these sparkly earrings  – and they were the overall favourite earrings of the evening as voted by all us girls.  Becky liked the way the earrings blended well with her other studs – a bonus if you have more than one piercing on an ear.  Very stylish for a glam event!

Vicky chose the long, long  goldtone necklace and it really did look super with her black dress.  It was one of those necklaces that looked better once on  and was certainly not for the shrinking violet!  A really fun fashion piece.

Ella chose the sparkly flower & teardrop earrings which were very cute and elegant looking.  Ideal for the party season and beyond!

Harriet’s choice of earrings were these large goldtone ones with a  green simulated gemstone.  At first glance, I must admit,  I thought they were rather big and OTT …. but they have now wheedled their way into my affections.  I do love the colour green – and the green/goldtone setting of these earrings make them a good choice especially when worn with black.  Again, maybe not for the shrinking violet!

Tracy has beautiful hands and nails, so I wasn’t surprised that she chose to model the sparkly cluster ring with an adjustable band.  Stunning on, it wasn’t obvious that the ring was a totally affordable fashion jewellery item.

There are still a few days left before Christmas and New Year – if you need a gift for somebody or if you need that sparkly item for that works party or New Year Ball – or you would just like to treat yourself –  have a look at Belinda’s online store and see if something tickles your fancy! You can find Belinda’s full range here:

Website is www.belindashandbagsandaccessories.co.uk

Facebook business page is https://www.facebook.com/belindashandbagsandaccessories/?fref=ts

Facebook group is https://www.facebook.com/groups/75930301624/

Twitter https://twitter.com/BelindasHandbag

Pinterest https://uk.pinterest.com/bagsandjewels

My thanks goes to Belinda for sending me the pieces of jewellery to review (all opinions are my own)  and thanks to my friends who agreed to model the pieces for me … Becky, Vicky, Ella, Harriet & Tracy.

Linda x

All photos were taken by Linda Hobden.

 

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An Interview With Mo Endfield

Being the wife of a celebrated film director (Cy Endfield – who directed Zulu, amongst others) and a model in her own right, I’m so excited to welcome onto my blog Mo Endfield.  I wanted  to know all about her new book about being a film director’s wife, her uber glam life as a model in 1950s, her marriage to Cy and what her fashion tastes are like today …. And I’m sure you’d love to find out too! Hi Mo & welcome!

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Hi!  I’m Mo Endfield.  My interests now are my family, friends, films, theatre (especially musicals) long walks and reading. Also I must start exercising more. A few things that happened in my life I would change – wouldn’t we all?

I was lucky enough to read a preview copy, thank you, of your book, “The Film Director’s Wife” – a tell-all autobiography of your life, how you and Cy met, and your life together.  What attracted you most about Cy?

I met Cy in January 1952 because he was dating my best friend Peggy Priest for several months. Through Cy I met Jack Berry and Chan Canasta. We didn’t “get together” until1954. Cy fascinated me
because he was like a guy from another planet. ( ” The Film Director’s Wife” p46:  ‘I had never met someone like him. I had never met such a sophisticated charmer. He made me feel very, very nervous and tongue-tied. I instructed Priest, “Don’t ever leave me alone in a room with him.” I was bewildered by his sneaky verbal assaults and sly digs. He laughed at my acquired Roedean accent. Cy liked to lounge on my bed with Priest, and goad me, smiling his silly smile.)

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Although your parents refused to attend your wedding to Cy, you had a happy 40 year partnership.  Did your parents decision make your early married years difficult? Did they accept Cy in the end?

My father died just 2 weeks after we returned from our honeymoon in France and Italy – a brain tumour, he was only 54. My mother had lost both her daughter and her husband. I remained close to her, she lived with us for the last 10 years of her life. Her relationship with Cy was always politely cool. Dying aged 87 she said to Cy, “Take care of her for me, Cy” which was the closest she came to acceptance.

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As a child what books did you enjoy reading? What genre of books do you enjoy reading now?

My favourite book was Dombey and Son, everything by Charles Dickens. Also Snow White, when I was 11 I tried to set up a play (with me playing Snow White) but it proved a bit difficult to find 7 dwarfs in Menston. I have belonged to a book club since 2007, we meet once a month for several hours, all contributing hot food
and wine (very lively!) We choose a book in turn, the last two were Little Boy Lost by Marghanita Laski and a memoir of Irene Nemirovsky by her daughter – both great reads.

As a former model you rubbed shoulders with many celebrities including Christian Dior, Terence Stamp, Jean Shrimpton and Michael Caine. Who was your style icon at the time?

My style icon was the American model Suzy Parker (my daughter Suzannah was named after her.) Also meeting the model Barbara Goalen ( foot size 2 ) and Fiona Campbell-Walter.

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Out of all the things you’ve experienced as a wife of a film director – what experience did you enjoy the most and what was a nightmare experience?

My most enjoyable experience – when Cy received the accolades he deserved after ZULU :
“Three times I’ve had to remake my life,” declared Cy Endfield, who’s now on top of the heap as director of Zulu, one of the biggest grossers in British film history.” New York Herald Tribune.
A nightmare experience – Cy struggling to find work in England 1952/62 – as he was unable to make films as America would
not accept any film directed by anyone named on the Blacklist.

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Hypothetically speaking, if “The Film Director’s Wife” was made into a film, what actors would you pick to be the main characters playing yourself and your husband?

Peter Sellers and Anouk Aimee.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

I’m happiest in trousers and loafers, Adidas and Nike. Like to get tarted up occasionally in a posh frock. I love shoes – currently I’m wearing Chanel, Ferragamo, Cardin, Russell and Bromley and Prada. Never heels.

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Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?  Do you have a clothes/shoes wishlist?

Never. I don’t want to be tempted ! When I was a model, I was often given clothes, or at much reduced prices. The result is I cannot pay full price for anything. For years I would trudge around sales, now I tend to buy from catalogues – current favourites WALL, PURE and ARTIGIANO.

Boots Or Shoes?

Boots in winter, shoes all year. I am wearing Emma Hope and Robert Clergerie. My favourite ankle boots I bought a long time ago in the Harrods sale. They cost me £3 ! I don’t like the current fashion for clumpy boots with short skirts, but I guess that’s an age thing.

Links you would like to share:

Copies of The Film Director’s Wife can be purchased from The Book Guild, here: http://www.bookguild.co.uk/bookshop-collection/biography/film-directors-wife/
The book is also available from any good bookshop.

It’s been fabulous chatting to you Mo and like you, I do like a good bargain – ankle boots from Harrods at £3! – one of my favourite bargains was a brand new NEXT dress that was handed in to a local jumble sale, tags intact, for sale for 50p – I was so pleased it was my size.  I had seen the dress in NEXT a week or so prior to the sale priced up at £40 or so!  Dear readers, have you got any bargains you’ve picked up over the years in your wardrobes?  Do share!

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission from Mo Endfield.

 

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An Interview With Afrika Presents

On the blog today is Mara Menzies, Kenyan-Scottish storyteller and founder of Afrika Presents.  Afrika Presents draws inspiration from Africa’s rich stories and vibrant cultures when designing its products.  I was particularly drawn to their “The African Fashion Design Sketchbook”, a book that combines the history and beauty of African fashion textiles to children, with the aim of inspiring children to want to learn more about the amazing continent. I caught up with Mara recently to find out more…. Hi Mara and welcome….

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Hi, I’m Mara, a storyteller, founder of Afrika Presents, mother of 2 incredible children, dreamer, dancer, reader and traveller.

“The African Fashion Design Sketchbook” is a book that brings together the incredible history & beauty of fashion textiles from Africa to children. So what was the inspiration behind writing & compiling this book?

I returned home from Kenya and wanted a gift for my daughter and bought a fashion book where she could design a model and I found myself wishing that there was an African version of that so she could create, imagine and explore the things she loved but learn about her African heritage at the same time. Then I thought I’m going to do that and I did! African fashions and textiles are so beautiful and their histories are so intertwined with other cultures around the world but we never hear about that so I took the approach to make sure it was fun but informative too.

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You are a Kenyan Scottish storyteller – so how come you decided to start up your company, Afrika Presents?

Once the idea of the fashion book was born, there was so much else to explore that it made sense to form the company and think of what direction it could go. Being a storyteller is a real privilege as you share some very personal moments with small groups of people. I felt that there were so many stories to be told, so many other ways to explore such a vast and vibrant continent that it was impossible to do it just by myself. Through Afrika Presents, I have been able to work with a wider range of people – artists, designers, people experienced with the business side of things, and so many more.

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Africa has many rich stories – do you have a particular favourite tale?

There are so many to choose from but I do love an Ethiopian story about a woman who innocently throws a bone out of the window which is fought over by 2 dogs, which results in 2 boys fighting, then 2 women fighting, then 2 men fighting, then 2 villages fighting until suddenly the whole thing has spiralled out of control. Finally they realise that everyone involved could have stopped it before it reached that terrible point. Sacrifices are made and peace does return but the moral is that we must always think before throwing our bones out of the window. Of course the bone is symbolic of so many things in our lives but I love sharing this story because everyone gets caught up in the ruckus without realising where the story is heading and then suddenly BAM, they get it, and it is a wonderful feeling to take people on that rollercoaster.

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You are currently developing an app that will bring the pages of the book alive. That project sounds totally awesome, I must say. What parts of the app do you think will particularly grab a child’s attention in more ways than the book?

Yes, we’re really excited about it. There are videos, games and quizzes and we plan to continually upgrade the content too. I think the children (and adults) will really like the interactive elements as they can then test themselves and we live in a digital age so it is amazing to able to fuse pen, paper and the digital world.

What books did you enjoy reading as a child? What genre of books do you enjoy reading now?

I grew up in Kenya and my diet consisted of Roald Dahl, Enid Blyton, The Famous Five, The Nancy Drew mysteries, a series of books about twins from various cultures, and we always had National Geographic magazines around the house. I also loved the books where you had to choose which page to go to to change the path of the story. Nowadays, we are lucky to have access to authors from all over the world. I love Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Muthoni Garland as well as random books that I stumble upon, often with a traditional folktale structure. I’m currently reading The Book of Lost Things which turns folktales on their heads and is hugely enjoyable and thought provoking and I love books about Scottish mythology and mystical creatures. Scotland tells a great story.

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I have been to Kenya myself and was captivated by the beauty of the country – Mt Kilimanjaro was a particular favourite spot of mine. Have you got a favourite part of Africa? Any part of Africa you haven’t yet visited but is on your bucket list?

One of my favourite memories was at our farm in Kenya which is on the side of a valley. there was a silver river snaking its way at the bottom and quartz in the ground always twinkled at sunset. On one evening, somebody somewhere was playing a reed flute and it was just so beautiful. That is now my favourite place. I’d love to visit Botswana and Namibia and I love Malian music so will hopefully get there too.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

I am seasonal in the sense that winter I close shop and wear boots, jeans and thick chunky jumpers and go for comfort over fashion. But in the summer I adore bright colours and patterns. I like shoes with small  heels. I can’t wear very high heels but I’ve always loved the grandeur of Victorian fashion and so the shorter, curvier heels make me feel part of that!

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

I love raiding the charity shops and then tweaking what I find at home. I also find treasures in vintage shops. I do visit Zanjoo.com every now and again as they have some fantastic skirts and often match colours successfully that really shouldn’t work but always do. As I go to Kenya every year, I always find stunning fabrics and I have a tailor who makes beautiful clothes so I go with a wishlist. Otherwise I buy basics on the high street.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

Now we’re heading for winter, it’s time for my annual boot splurge. I would love to own good quality boots in a vibrant red but they are hard to find! I sometimes find incredible boots for my 9 year old that I want in my size!

Boots or Shoes?

Flat boots for everyday comfort and lovely shoes or high heeled boots when I’m trying to impress:)

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers of the blog can learn more about Afrika Presents.

Visit the website at www.afrikapresents.com and we’re at https://www.facebook.com/Afrikapresents

Thank you Mara for introducing your fab company! I have always been fascinated with the continent of Africa and my youngest son has the continent in the number one slot of his bucket travel list – he loves animals and the vast outdoors.  Like you I grew up with the stories of Raold Dahl and Enid Blyton; I read the National Geographic Magazine from cover to cover – and my children have grown up surrounded by the same … along with modern technology.  One African story I liked was about the baobab tree that I heard whilst in Kenya – it is known as the upside down tree as its branches don’t have leaves and they look like tree roots!  Dear readers, are you fascinated by Africa? Would you like to visit? Or have you travelled there already? Do you have an African story to tell? As always, do share – I’d love to know!

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Mara Menzies.

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An Interview With DBR Bags

Ethically made bags is the topic on the blog today as I meet  Diana Rennie, founder & creative designer of DBR Bags – a brand that combines on-trend designs with ethical beliefs – ideal for the stylish, cosmopolitan and socially conscious woman.  Hi and welcome Diana….

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Hi! My name is Diana Rennie, I am the founder and creative director of DBR Bags, a recently launched independent luxury leather handbag brand. The handbags combine unique designs, expert craftsmanship and are ethically produced and they appeal to a diversity of women who love fashion and appreciate being on trend.

What inspired you to launch DBR Bags?

A few years ago my mum passed away at a relatively young age, following a short illness. My mum, whilst still alive, would have loved for me to pursue what she called my life’s purpose – fashion design… After she passed away, I needed something to let a little light into my life, a different focus. I thought I’d make a handbag – just a couple of hours, a little indulgence to take my mind off things for a little while. So, maybe you can say it started with that one handbag. A handbag, my mum would have loved, no doubt, as she loved fashion as much as I do and handbags held a special place in her heart. That one handbag turned into 20 as everyone I knew loved it and wanted one. That’s when I came up with the idea of the DBR brand – a collection of handbags of the highest quality, unique, head-turning, limited edition designs, ethically produced.

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Have you always had a passion for fashion & bags?

My love for fashion and handbag making began in my teens if not even earlier. Obsessed with the latest trends, I’d spend hours teaching myself pattern cutting and sewing in order to duplicate the latest designer fashions as seen in Vogue or Elle. However, when the time came to apply for a University place, I lacked the confidence to follow my passion in fashion design and instead I chose a degree in French studies. I embarked on my University studies determined to focus on my studies and put behind me any thoughts of fashion and design. But, choosing French as a degree meant spending a year in Paris which in turn meant – you guessed it! – not being able to escape fashion! Hard to escape fashion in Paris! I remember getting to the last 3 months of my stay in Paris, leafing through my study folder and wondering how I’d managed to find my way to every fashion show in town not to mention put together over 100 sketches of clothes and accessories yet not find the time to get to a library and finish my dissertation… So, here I was again saying to myself to focus on my studies and put that fashion thing to one side. And yes, I did finish that dissertation, got my degree and pursued a very enjoyable career in teaching French until very recently.

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When designing bags to add to your collection, do you go by popular styles, customer requests, your own preferences or bits of all those?

I only design when guided by inspiration. And I find inspiration in many places, some unexpected, some predictable. Sometimes, it could an element in nature like the shape of a leaf, or the colour of some striking flower like the bougainvillea. Sometimes it could be a casual remark made by friend or customer. I also love leafing through the Vogue editions of the 50s and 60s as they provide a wealth of ideas and inspiration.

I am personally rather smitten with the DBR Elodie Shoulder Bag. What bags are proving popular amongst your customers so far this season?

Oh, thank you. One of my personal favourites too! The Fleur and Valentina bags were very much in demand in the summer months perhaps for obvious reasons. They’re both light hearted, flirty handbags that go hand in hand with a summer holiday vibe. Over the past couple of months we’ve had a great demand for the Sienna Tote and the Madison Satchel. They are both very versatile in that they can be worn in the daytime with smart clothing but come the weekend they can be worn just as elegantly with a pair of jeans.

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Out of all the bags in your collection, what is your favourite?

It’s such a hard call! I fall in love with each and every handbag as I design it and then I fall in love with them all over again when I see the finished product. I might forget about a certain one which I might have designed a while ago, only to see it again and re-discover its beauty. Sometimes, when I revisit a handbag after a while, it takes me by surprise: ”Can’t believe I designed this one myself! It’s gorgeous!”

As a brand, your company strives to do its best by its customers, workforce and environment. You aim to do that by combining on-trend designs with ethical practices. So, how are your handbags produced ethically?

Firstly, I wanted the women wearing the DBR handbags to do so with pride, knowing that the handbags were created with respect to the workforce and the environment. To that extent I spent months finding the ideal factory which would enhance the lives of the talented and skilled people working there. The factories I work with, not only pay their workforce a fair living wage, but they also invest in the training and skill upgrade of their workforce, too. Besides, they engage in zero-waste sample making, creating minimum material waste and consuming as little energy as possible in production – all of which are key principles of reducing the environmental impact of production.

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Hypothetically speaking, which famous lady (dead or alive) would be your ideal “face” of DBR Bags?

The face of DBR Bags is every woman who finds joy in wearing the handbags! The designs are varied in order to appeal to women of all different ages, from all different cultures and backgrounds, which luckily, indeed they do.

Looking ahead to Spring/Summer 2017 – what styles/ colours do you hope to introduce to your collection?

Without giving too much away, let’s say that the accent will be on pastel colours and miniature shapes.

As you are based in the UK, are your bags available for overseas customers to order too?

The bags are available for sale worldwide and we also offer free shipping and returns worldwide.

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Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

I am quite a girly girl, so I feel most comfortable wearing a well-fitted dress and sky high heels, always accessorized with a DBR handbag, of course! In winter, I also love a nice Ted Baker coat as they are so beautiful and made to last. I know, high heels and comfortable it’s a bit of a contradiction but I can’t even walk in flat shoes, I constantly trip up in them!

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites? (apart from your own!)

I do! I love to shop for pieces that I can wear time and again as I don’t appreciate the fast-fashion concept – too damaging to the environment. I love Ted Baker, Karen Millen and Coast as their designs are quite unique and the finished product is guaranteed to last. I also love Gucci shoes, their designs are jaw-dropping! I started saving for a pair a few years’ ago and I’ll let you know when I’ve managed to save enough!

What’s next on your clothes/shoe/bag wish list?

At the moment I’m focused on the next handbag collection which is not far off from being completed. Then, ideally I would love the opportunity to launch a footwear collection.

Boots or Shoes?

Possibly shoes to start with, because as a designer a shoe collection would stretch your creative abilities more and I always like a challenge!

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more about DBR Bags.

Yes, you can find our online shop at www.DBRbags.co.uk and we would also like to offer your readers an exclusive 30% off website wide by using the code DBRTAKE30 at checkout.
Also, we would love for your readers to say hello to us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/DBRbags/
or twitter: @DBRbags

Thank you so much the discount offer Diana – that’s Christmas sorted or perhaps a New Year’s treat for yourself.  Dear readers, I’ve been wondering – do you buy handbags to match your footwear or do you buy bags that just catch your eye?  I buy a bag because it catches my eye, irrespective if it actually matches my outfit or footwear.  I remember in the 1970/1980s the trend was matching shoes and bag ensemble… So I acquired many bags in all colours to match my shoes…. Do share your thoughts, I’d love to know!

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission from Diana Rennie and DBR Bags.

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An Interview With Bull & Dagger

Launched in September 2016, the London based genderqueer fashion  label Bull & Dagger offers an enticing cocktail of classic British styles with a twist of English eccentricity using the finest wools, silks and cottons. “Bulldagger” was once a derogatory term for women who chose to eschew the confines of socially accepted gender boundaries – now, the founder Meera Amin, hopes that the phrase will now mean the fashion label of choice for those women.  I caught up with Meera to find out more…. Hi Meera….

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Hi! I am Meera Amin, creator of Bull & Dagger – the UK’s first genderqueer fashion label. Bull & Dagger clothing is tailored for gender expression rather than restriction, we have a customer base which includes individuals who identify as queer, androgynous, non-binary, gender fluid, gender neutral, gender non-conforming and trans.

What inspired you to set up your label, Bull & Dagger?

As someone who identifies as a queer woman, not being able to find the masculine clothing that I like in sizes that fit has always been a cause of frustration. I have found that I am certainly not alone in having this frustration, and so I decided to do something about it. I started working on Bull & Dagger approximately a year and a half ago and launched the brand earlier this year.

Have you always had a background in, and a passion for, fashion?

I currently work as a Research Analyst for the legal services oversight regulator for England and Wales. I studied Biochemistry at university and have since worked as an analyst in several different sectors. Prior to creating Bull & Dagger, the closest I’ve come to the fashion industry was when I briefly worked as a fashion photographer after university. Despite my lack of fashion training, I have always had a passion for fashion – particularly formal menswear – and believe that fashion can be an incredibly powerful tool, used to display a personality and image of yourself to the outside world.

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I like the London Underground Shirt. Early days yet but what pieces are proving popular amongst your customers so far this season?

Thank you – I wanted to create a piece that was fun and reflected the fact the we are a brand that produces all of our clothing in London. The two most popular pieces in the current collection have been the ‘Pleated Floral Silk Panel Shirt’ and ‘Faux Leather Panel Kilt’. Both pieces are truly made for everyone regardless of gender presentation. We’ve take the idea of a classic tuxedo shirt and added in luxury fabrics, colour and bold patterns. The kilt is a fabulous piece which combines plain and tartan wools with an eco-friendly faux leather panel with pockets, and is available in two lengths.

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Out of all the outfits in your collection, what is your favourite?

My favourite outfit in the collection is the Blue and Yellow Double Breasted Blazed with Yellow Shorts – this outfit has classic masculine tailoring, a touch of flamboyance and is made from a beautiful Italian wool blended with 3% Lycra to allow the perfect fit for all body types.

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Your outfits are a cocktail of impeccable tailoring, bold colours, clever stitching, and flamboyant patterns. Where did you draw inspiration from for your collection?

For my first collection, I have very much created a range of clothing that I personally would love to wear. I am inspired by classic menswear but didn’t want to simply take current menswear trends and then produce them for a range of body types. I wanted the collection to offer something new and different – which is why we have chosen bold colours, flamboyant patterns and a carefully selected range of fabrics.

Which famous person would you love to see as the “face” of the Bull & Dagger collection?

I would love to see Ruby Rose in Bull & Dagger clothing (and not just because of I have a huge girl crush). I think she has a great look and would look incredible in our clothing – and is someone that many of our customers recognise and love.

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Looking ahead to Spring/Summer – what styles/ colours do you hope will dominate your collection?

As a brand that exists outside of mainstream fashion, and as one of very few brands in the gender queer/ non-conforming space, we have decided not to follow traditional fashion cycles. We will  be adding items to our collection throughout the year and they will be based on a combination of personal inspiration and trends and ideas from the queer community.

As you are based in England, is your clothing range available to purchase overseas too?

Our clothing range is available to purchase online and can be delivered globally at no extra charge.

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Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

I tend to wear a smart shirt, waistcoat, bowtie, slim-fit trousers and brogues at all times (except when sleeping, of course). It seems to be the perfect combination for both my day job and my social life.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites? (Apart from your own!)

I’m a big fan of Topman (as are many of my queer friends). I would love for Bull & Dagger to do a collaborative genderqueer/gender neutral collection with them someday – making the type of clothes that we produce more accessible.

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What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

A new tailor made suit. We offer a bespoke design and tailor service to customers based in London – a perfectly fitted suit designed just for you feels amazing.

Boots or Shoes?

Brogues, brogues, brogues – all of the time (except when I pop to the coffee shop in my Superman high tops). Comfort and style – although not always suitable in the London rain.

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Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more about Bull & Dagger

http://bullanddagger.com/
https://twitter.com/BullAndDagger
https://www.facebook.com/bullanddagger/
https://www.instagram.com/bullanddaggerofficial/

Great talking to you Meera and I hope you do get your dream collaboration with Top Man.  I love the fact that you love brogues, as they are one of my favourite style of shoes – although I am a major boots fan. This season I’ve seen some absolutely fab brogues about in all colours of the rainbow – and also loafers …..and they are so comfortable! So dear readers, do you like the recent trend of brogues and loafers? I think Meera’s fashion label is a breath of fresh air and definitely meets a demand – what’s your view? Do tell!

Linda x

Photo Credits:  All photos have been published with kind permission from Bull & Dagger.

The Photographers:  Images Photography by Thomas-James Fisher; Oli Ashrafi-Tari (last photograph)

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