Monthly Archives: January 2014

And… Relax

As well and good as my intentions had been regarding staying fit and healthy over Christmas – and they really had been good – life still managed to get in the way, as it has a tendency to do. Fast forward to last week, and over a month had gone by without any real training.  Then, on Monday last week, I started a new job.  This gave me the push I needed to get down to the gym and sign up for membership.

A gym induction with a member of staff was compulsory but, after a quick scoot around the machines to confirm that I knew how they all worked, I was left to my own devices.  If I’m in the gym I tend to do a bodyweight workout.  However, after doing a few different exercises it was clear that I had some serious work to do in order to get back to my previous fitness.

Image 1

I was glad when I finally moved on to my favourite part of any gym session – the post workout stretch.  Now, I love stretching but I’ve have been at war with the flat front splits for years – always close, but no cigar.  Before Christmas I was contending with various hamstring aches and pains, getting treatment to no avail. On top of this I’d done no flexy training over the festive season.  So, when it came to the end of my stretch session and I decided to give the front splits a go no-one was more surprised than me to find myself in completely flat splits!

What, then, can I credit for my miraculous improvement?  Well, I put it down to REST.

Following an injury or strain it is really important to rest and let your muscles recover.  For anyone training regularly, whether for your own self-improvement or for an upcoming event, rest days can be as important to your progress as the days of exercise. This downtime is when your body works to strengthen itself, repairing any tiny damage to your muscles and replenishing your energy stores.

 Image 2

Continuing to exercise without a break can seriously increase your risk of injury, as well as leading to other problems such as burnout, depression, trouble sleeping and weight plateau or gain. This is why it’s also vital to mix up your workouts, varying the types of activity you undergo, as well as the intensity and length of them. If you look at any marathon workout plan it will include regular rest periods, as well as varied workouts.

It’s easy for the rush of endorphins you get when working out to get addictive and, if you have a big competition coming up, you can feel guilty for taking a day off. However, it is important not to let your training pattern take over your life.  Time out is just as important for your mind as your body. This isn’t to say your rest day is an excuse to slob out but do go easy on yourself – do a lighter workout, a gentle swim, or a light jog and remember to eat well. Listen to your body and you never know what improvements you might make from doing nothing!

Make a Statement with Jewellery from Benna!

When it comes to jewellery, as much as I love the thought of someone presenting me with beautiful fine diamonds, I must admit, I am much more of a Big Chunky Statement Jewellery Girl! That’s not to say that I will settle for a £10 piece of Jewellery, I still like my Statement Jewellery to be well made and actually do what its name suggests and MAKE A STATEMENT!

Benna.co.uk Statement Jewellery

One of my favourite websites for Statement Jewellery, is Benna.co.uk. They stock such a variety of statement jewellery so you are guaranteed a diverse selection to keep you on your toes. The only problem is actually choosing what you want!

Some of my most coveted pieces are the Statement Necklaces by Mawi London – The brand is known for its luxurious statement necklaces that seem to transcend seasonal trends, appealing to all ages and tastes. The collection is stunning laced with pearls, sapphires and more. Have a look at this gorgeous statement necklace!

statement necklaces by Mawi

The grey pearl and sapphire skull necklace is from the heirloom collection by Mawi London. One of their classic necklaces and worn by Alexa Chung this little number is great for daytime or party wear. Smoked crystals and chain encircle grey pearls finished with a huge crystal and skull. Rock and roll baubles with a vintage feel.

Sapphire, Pearl, Mawi London, statement necklaces by Mawi

Another favourite designer I have from Benna is Monica Vinader. Her pieces are the total opposite from the Mawi collection, but stunning and eye-catching none the less.  Spanish designer –  Monica Vinader works from a converted barn in the Norfolk countryside. Inspired by her travels, nature and colour, she works with hand cut semi-precious stones to produce beautiful pieces in an array of colour.

I think you will agree that, even in its simplicity the Gold Monica Vinader Jewellery oozes beauty and sophistication.

My favourite from the Vinader collection at the moment has to be this range of diamond rings and although I am usually a lover of all things Silver or White Gold, I am definitely more drawn to the Rose Gold in this, it is undeniably gorgeous!  This Ring is available in Silver, Rose Gold and Yellow Gold. 

Monica Vinader Ring diamond, gold, silver, gold Monica Vinader jewellery

This diamond ring is a diamond centre studded with micro pave set diamonds. The band and setting is sterling silver with 18 ct rose gold vermeil, which helps with the affordability of owning your own Diamond Ring.

monica_vinader_silver_diamond_ring_side

There are so many wonderful quirky, creative and eye-catching designers featured on Benna.co.uk – So you are sure to find some favourites of your own. 

Why not pop over and have a browse, they even have a SALE on at the moment with up to 70% off! What’s not to love about that!

Dress of the Month ~ January 2014

This month my favourite dress has to be the lovely Kerry.  It may be that it’s the soft satin in this style that has captured my attention over all the tulle and lace styles that are filling our rails, but there is just something gorgeous about Kerry!

Dress of the Month, Bridal
We have her in size 20 and I feel that she does all kinds of favours for us curvier girls. The way the pleats hang along the body curve will emphasise an hourglass silhouette. For those of us with more of a thick waist, the deep sweetheart neckline and criss-cross effect through the waist will create a nipped in effect.

Image 2

This dress features a lace up corset back and superior interior corsetry which also contributes to that perfect silhouette.

Image 1

I love that the beaded detailing on this gown is concentrated to one small area – enough to add that mandatory bridal Swarovski sparkle but minimal enough not to be overwhelming.

I pair this dress with a headpiece featuring the same beading, worn on the opposite side of the head for balance, and a ribbon edged veil cascading the full length of the train.

For more information about this dress or to try it for yourself, please contact Catherine at Cathedral Gowns (Tel: 028 4461 2532)

Why does it take so long to buy a Wedding Dress?

I’ve noticed a huge trend recently for girls to leave bridal gown shopping until it’s almost too late! I hear lots of different reasons; some girls simply have only just gotten engaged, some girls have been dreading and putting off shopping, some haven’t had the money until now and others have been enjoying shopping too much and don’t want it to end!

The unfortunate reality of the wedding dress process is that they take quite a long time to be made and delivered to the bridal boutique. So when you leave it too late you really do limit your dress choices and options, and choosing a dress is hard enough!

Wedding Dress, Shopping, Order, Make time, Delivery Time, Cathedral Gowns

A wedding dress is typically made for the specific bride who buys it and orders it through a bridal boutique. The dress doesn’t exist until you order it, which is why it takes so long to be delivered. Bridal designers don’t operate like Marks and Spencers with epic warehouses filled to the rafters of spare stock, they might have twenty or so of their bestselling dresses available but the vast majority of dresses are made to order.

The time it takes to manufacture and deliver a wedding dress can vary. It will depend on how elaborate it is, whether the fabric is readily available, if appliqué and beading needs to be sourced etc. Contrary to popular fantasy, bridal gowns are not created by magical fairies! They are made by very talented seamstresses either in ateliers (high end designers) or factories (mainstream designers). The delivery time will obviously depend on where the dress is being manufactured, and how much the designer is willing to spend on shipping.  The whole chain of manufacture and distribution is longer, more complicated and long winded than you’d ever imagine!

Wedding Dress, Shopping, Order, Make time, Delivery Time, Cathedral Gowns

Most bridal gowns can be delivered to us within five and a half months of placing the order with the designer, but certain gowns and certain designers take much longer. I prefer a minimum of 7 months as it means that even if the dress takes six and half months to arrive we still have two weeks to organise fittings and the final prep and steaming of your dress. I do always encourage girls to order sooner though, just to make sure that the process is as stress free as possible.

Since a lot of girls don’t have the luxury of so much time, standard delivery isn’t an option, so what do you do when you are faced with this predicament? The most common option is the ‘rush cut’, where the designer can prioritise your order over all the other brides who have already ordered their dresses. Obviously since this equates to you bumping the queue and will require extra work behind the scenes for both the designer and the boutique, you will incur extra costs. Most rush cuts will be at least an additional £100 on top of the dress price, but can easily be more especially if you are really short on time. If the designer has to organise expedited shipping to get the dress to the shop as quick as possible, this can easily cost more than £100 alone. If you opt for the rush cut option be aware that any delivery dates will be approximate and the dress might only arrive with the shop days before your wedding.

Since a lot of bridal designers have noticed the trend for more and more ‘last minute brides’, they are trying to keep a lot of their most popular styles and sizes in stock, ready for immediate dispatch. But like I said before, they don’t have vast warehouses full of dresses, more like a few racks in a room next to their accounts office, so they may only have 20 or so dresses available. We are lucky that some of our designers will email us every few weeks with a list of what they have available, so you might be lucky and find that the dream dress you want is already made and ready to be posted!

Wedding Dress, Shopping, Order, Make time, Delivery Time, Cathedral Gowns

If the designer doesn’t have a dress in stock, and a rush cut is not an option or sounds like way too much stress, you will find that buying a dress ‘off the rack’ is your best option. Lots of bridal boutiques keep a clearance rail of dresses that they are willing to sell from stock, but your choices will obviously be very limited. On occasion the boutique might be willing to sell off the rail from their full price stock, but be aware that since these dresses are current the shop might not want to sell you their stock dress. Popular dresses are very valuable to a bridal boutique and to be without their best dress for several months could cost a bridal boutique a lot of customers, especially in peak busy season. If you are lucky enough to be allowed to buy the stock dress, don’t expect a discount. Be aware that the shop are doing you a favour by letting you have their dress. I know of shops that actually charge you more since it’s such an inconvenience for them to lose a top dress. So if you must have it, be nice to the girls in the shop and they’ll be more inclined to help you out.

So now that you know the options, I encourage you to book your appointments and to make sure to tell the girls how soon your wedding is. If I know my next appointment has a very close wedding date, I’ll call our suppliers to find out which dresses I can get in time for you, since there’s no point in me letting you fall in love with a dress that you cannot have. I’m not that mean!

10% OFF Professional Makeup Brushes!

c436_1At The Beauty Cloud we are dedicated to bringing you the best deals out there for some great products available.

Crown Brush have a great range of brushes available, like this great Mini Duo Fibre Blending Brush

Today Crown Brush are offering our readers 10% off everything on their website. It couldn’t be any easier, simply click on the link below and enter our unique discount code FINAJ2014 during the checkout.

clickhere

Dress of the Month ~ December 2013 (A little late, we know, but gorgeous none-the-less!)

This month my favourite dress is the beautiful ‘Betty’, who we’ve had in store at Cathedral Gowns for quite a while! It’s funny how a dress can hang on our rails with little attention for a year and then all of a sudden everyone loves her! I guess some bridal looks just hit the boutiques before brides are ready for them.

DOTM, Cathedral Gowns, allure bridal, wedding dress, gown

This dress features a gorgeous fifties inspired silhouette with a dramatic nipped in waist and full skirt. The shape of this dress will flatter a lot of body types but tends to work best on broader shouldered girls since the width of the skirt will really flatter their proportions.

The neckline is a deep curved sweetheart which can be super flattering on more petite girls since the dip helps create extra length between the chin and chest which can definitely make you look taller. The pleated bodice also works well as a figure flattering tool since the way the pleats are formed draws the eye towards your waist. There are all kinds of optical illusions in this dress!

DOTM, Cathedral Gowns, allure bridal, wedding dress, gown

The fabric is a gorgeous lustrous satin which holds a really nice full shape in the skirt, but the addition of a two hooped petticoat works fantastically to really exaggerate the soft fullness of the skirt. Another benefit of a petticoat is that it can help distribute the weight of the dress and make it a lot easier to walk in.

This dress features a beautiful button detail which goes right down the train, after every third button there is a gorgeous little beaded design.

DOTM, Cathedral Gowns, allure bridal, wedding dress, gown

But what makes the biggest statement about this dress is the elaborate Swarovski beaded waistband! It is stunning both from a distance and up close.

I love ‘Betty’ so much I’ve made her our feature dress in our Christmas window display! Pairing her with a faux fur cape and muff definitely transforms this dress into the perfect snow queen wedding gown!

For more information about this dress or to try it for yourself, please contact Catherine at Cathedral Gowns (Tel: 028 4461 2532)