Is there anything more iconic of Jane Birkin (apart from that toothy grin) than the wicker baskets she would carry around day and night, dressed up, dressed down… and the little wicker basket has had a huge sartorial resurgence that everyone from the highstreet to vintage restorers are enjoying. The most simple of bags – you can pick one up from your local charity shop for a few pounds or go high end with a Prada version for over £1000. Basket shaped eliminates the panic search for your keys and is actually a pretty practical mum-bag you can throw the contents of your life into and dip in and out of. And following in the footsteps of Ms Birkin – don’t be afraid to dress it up. Back to my old rule of opposites – pairing the casual wicker bag with a smartly tailored suit of Friday-night-lights party dress looks effortlessly cool.

I’ve linked some great vintage finds, highstreet bags and designer pieces below. And take your inspiration from these stylish ladies who do it oh so well….

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Margot is one month old now, it has gone so quickly, and in a complete sleepy blur. After what was quite a traumatic birth, loosing a large amount of blood (nearly three litres) and opting to not have a transfusion – I have been quite weak and just walking up the stairs at home had me having to sit down and catch my breath. With the help of a lot of tablets and my amazing husband helping with the night feeds I am feeling so much better now. A walk with the Bugaboo Donkey no longer leaves me feeling like I have raced a marathon and instead makes me feel energised and healthier. So after a rather indulgent Easter weekend it’s time to start looking after myself – eating healthily and moving more again.

I know a lot of people on Instagram have commented I have ‘sprung’ back into shape, and weight has dropped off etc. It’s not the case at all. One posed for shot doesn’t portray the reality. But neither does that mean I am unhappy with my body. I know its a cliche but after having a baby you have to be kind to yourself, emotionally and physically. It’s a rough time, magical sure but it’s a rollercoaster of hormones, sleep deprivation and the pressures of the outside world we all put on ourselves. So putting myself in that outside world even more with the blog I am extra cautious to take it easy.

Ok so starting from the beginning here are my stats…

First midwife appointment – 11.9 stone (size 12 dress size)

Last weight taken before I had the baby – 13.2 stone

Current weight – 11.12 stone

I am almost back to the weight at my first appointment which was around two months pregnant, and I don’t normally tend to weigh myself so I am not sure what I was before I became pregnant but would estimate around 11.5 stone. My jeans now do up around my waist – but are not comfortable for any length of time. There is a lot of post-baby jiggle and I’ll be working on toning that area.

So the plan of action…

I think it’s really important that I state I have no expertise in health, fitness or nutrition. I am only sharing what I like to do for myself. I love to exercise (when I am in a routine) and so to make sure I keep it up I have to do what works for me and what I enjoy doing. I have tried intense programs and crazy diets and they just don’t work for me. I cave and end up eating all the chocolate or stop going to the gym for months on end. 

Exercise

One month post-partum

  • Walking – if possible one hour three to four times a week. I am hoping to do this after I drop Vivienne at nursery three times a week and if not then – at the weekend. I prefer to do it in the morning as the later in the day it gets the more excuses I make. It also puts me in a good frame of mind diet-wise.
  • Bicep curls with overhead press. Grab bottles of water (milk even) and go for it. Two to three sets of ten to twelve. If you’re unsure what the exercises are I google them or a quick look on youtube.
  • Lateral arm raises – the same sets and reps.
  • Overhead tricep extensions – the same again.
  • Skull crushers – my favourite as I get to be on the floor! Same reps and sets.
  • Squats – two to three sets of ten to twelve again.
  • Don’t forget the pelvic floor muscles either!
  • As for the tummy – this can be a tricky one so I am going to follow this light exercise plan on Youtube until I feel stronger.

The Gear

And of course you want to look good when you’re doing all this bettering of yourself. Enter the brand new Biba Activewear range from House of Fraser. Cut to make you feel good not only look good the leggings have flattering mesh inserts and leg lengthening panels. The waists are high and figure hugging and the seamless bra tops are not only stylish but supportive. I love the Zebra and tiger print on these but they also have a brighter blue print covered in jaguars that is stunning. (And the Biba holdall would double up as a great baby bag!). I have linked my favourite pieces below.

Biba logo bra £30 

Jungle Jaguar leggings £35

Zebra legging £35

Zebra bra top £30

Biba Holdall £59



www.HouseofFraser.co.uk

 

I’ll be covering the healthier diet swaps I am making in the next post of the fitness series. Any questions in the meantime please don’t hesitate to ask.

Ax

 

This post was written in collaboration with House of Fraser but all photos and opinions are my own. 

 

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After spending nine months looking forward to being able to wear ‘normal’ clothes again along comes breastfeeding and all the sartorial complications it brings with it… but it doesn’t have to be hard. With a few simple rules to take with you to the shops and key styles to look out for you can still wear your favourite looks and confidently breastfeed.

  1. Buy a handful of tight, stretchy vest tops – H&M are perfect – make sure they’re long and can be popped under the boob when you feed. I wore these when I was pregnant too – the longer length is great over a bump.
  2. If you’re wearing a ‘normal’ top I just like to choose something looser I can easily pull up. I’ve linked the Stradivarius breton I have been wearing a lot so far just below. The fabric is great on the post birth tummy too. And this where the vest comes into play so you don’t get an eyeful of belly whilst feeding. Top up, vest down.
  3. Wrap dresses and shirt dresses are everywhere right now and so easy for feeding in.
  4. Test the top in the changing room – literally whip a boob out and check you’re comfortable. If you feel too exposed you’ll end up never wearing it out.
  5. I like to have a really lightweight scarf with me that I can just drape over my shoulder if I feel exposed out and about. Zara scarves are great for this – really big but light fabric.

 

I have rounded up some of my favourite breastfeeding friendly pieces here, from wrap dresses, shirt dresses, button dresses and jumpsuits – to loose tops perfect with a vest underneath, stylish shirts and silk blouses.

Ashley x

Dresses

Jumpsuits

Tops

 

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When I am struggling to pull together an outfit for an occasion I will always turn to a shirt – day or evening – paired with a skirt or trousers, flats or heels. A shirt can be as masculine as it is feminine. This is not a blouse. It is a sharp tailored shirt. You can wear it open and showing a flash of underwear or buttoned up to your neck. It’s elegant yet androgynous.

And for the ultimate in luxury – I will pull a silk shirt.

Sexy without trying it glides across your chest as you move and looks as beautiful in sunlight as it does the dim lights of a bar.

It can be an expensive luxury though with prices starting at around £200.

Enter the satin shirt – the cheaper alternative. It won’t look as luxurious granted but perhaps if you wear it enough it could warrant a splurge on a silk version? Plus when prices start around £10 you won’t worry too much when you spill your drink down it in the aforementioned dim lights of a bar.

Styling Tips

  1. Wear as a masculine piece. Don’t be afraid of oversized – just ensure you tuck it in.
  2. Look to style icons like Caroline de Maigret and her Parisian chic styling. Keep it modern and simple.
  3. Buy the best you can afford (once you know you will wear it) and make sure the fit flatters your chest size.
  4. Roll up the sleeves for casual chic.
  5. Pair with ripped denim to play with your opposites.
  6. Wear makeup simple and hair rough-dried. The perfectly polished look is best left for cotton.
Shop my edit below – from 100% silk to my pick of bargain satin buys.

 




 

 

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I’m not sure there’s a more special relationship than that with your mother. And being a mother is far more than biology. Working mums, foster mums, grand-ma-mums, gym mums, coffee-shop mums, stay-at-homes mums…. this Mothers Day notonthehighstreet.com is celebrating mums from all walks of life by championing their differences.

#ForMumsWho is about recognising our uniqueness, our diversity and our individuality – celebrating it with gifts that are just as unique and special.

Not a single week goes by where I don’t think about how lucky I am to have my mum. She is incredible, having had three daughters herself (I am the eldest of three sisters) she’s now the proud grandmother of three grandchildren. My mum is that mum who just does… and does everything. She still works but when she has free time she gives it up to look after Vivienne for me, to allow me to work. My mum’s the mum who makes sacrifices to allow her own daughter to succeed. And not just since I had Vivienne – since forever. My mum is the mum who is constantly giving, completely unselfishly giving herself, her time, her energy, her love, her knowledge and her wisdom. Whenever I am lost, upset, confused I call on my mum. Whenever I am happy, excited, desperate to tell – I call on my mum. She is my best friend in the whole world.

I hope that one day Vivienne and Margot will feel the same about me. If I can be even a small part of the mother my mum is I will be proud of myself. She is my inspiration every single day.

When notonthehighstreet.com got in touch with me and invited me to work with them on their #ForMumsWho Mother’s Day campaign and choose a gift from their site for my mum I knew instantly it had to be something that involved her grandchildren. Something she could wear close to her heart and something that was as stylish as she is. So this Mothers Day I treated my own mum to a beautiful personalised necklace from Rachel Jackson. This stunning amulet contains crushed pearls and aquamarine the birthstones of the months her three grandchildren were born in. It also has their names beautifully engraved around the front and the ‘Nana’ on the back. I know already she’ll love it.

Rachel Jackson necklace

Thank you NOTHS – for always providing the best ideas and most special gifts.

Ashley

xx

Visit www.notonthehighstreet.com to discover unique gifts for every mum this Mother’s Day, 26th March.

This post is in collaboration with NOTHS but all opinions and photographs are my own. 

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