Who knew there were so many ways to tie a scarf? Not me. I’m really more of a wrap-it-round-and-round-til-I-run-out-of-scarf girl, but watching LisaB, the stylist, twist a variety of different scarves into ever more complex ties made me realise anew just how far my standards have slipped since I became a parent.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve never been hugely into fashion, so an invitation to a styling and fashion event at the Olivia May boutique in Oxford filled me with equal amounts of excitement (a child free night out!) and hesitation (fashion? me? um….) Mostly I went along because I have made a resolution to push myself this year – try and expand my horizons a little. Where better to do this than at an event that filled me with trepidation?
The shop itself was a boutique in a classic style. Soothing neutral tones, chandeliers, uncrowded rails of clothes in terrifyingly (to a mum of two under-5s) pale shades and tables furnished with flowers and statement jewellery.
The room was filled with clothes, perfume and happy muted chatter from the other Oxfordshire bloggers who’d been invited along. I grabbed a glass and inveigled my way into a small group who were already holding forth with some vigour. Luckily for me I’m not “backwards in coming forwards” (thanks for that summation, Mama) so I was soon gassing with the best of them and desperately trying to pretend I was better dressed than I was.
I had a lovely time networking with some of the other members of the Oxfordshire Bloggers but it’s time to be honest. I’m not stylish. I have no pretensions to be stylish, fashionable or even, most days, well dressed. I struggle to attempt ‘presentable’ at least half of every week (apparently showers are now optional). I have no money to spend on nice clothes and no desire to do so, not least because anything I wear on a daily basis inevitably ends up with unfortunate stains upon it.
I do, however, admire people with passion and Ann, the owner of the shop, is full of passion. She talked with enthusiasm, knowledge and love about clothes, fashion, style, fabrics, designers, and had such a fun, practical style of her own, I would feel very comfortable putting herself in my hands if I ever feel the urge to move away from the high street price bracket.
In fact, to be entirely honest, I was very nearly tempted into parting with a significant amount of money (although, as a sale item, at half its original price) for a full length, 100% wool, muted RAF-blue overcoat with integral belt, notched Mandarin collar, cutaway neckline and full, flared skirt. Unfortunately (or fortunately, if I think about justifiying it to my bank balance) it was rather tight across my shoulders and bust so it didn’t come home with me. It was beautiful though, which goes to show that even the most reluctant fashionista can be persuaded with the right impetus!
So if you are looking at making your day-to-day wardrobe a little more stylish, or need something fabulous for a special event, don’t immediately rule out little boutiques like this. With passionate and knowledgeable help, and a cleverly stocked storeroom I suspect even slightly squishy-round-the-middle, middle-income mums might find one or two must haves.
And if not you can have a jolly good (not-envious-at-all, oh no) laugh at people who do buy expensive clothing like that.
As for me, well, I came away with a new realisation that my niche is definitely more parenting than it is clothing, as the most interesting bit of the evening for me was talking to Ann about her twenty year old identical triplets and how she had no idea she was expecting multiples until her 19 week scan when the sonographer casually mentioned heartbeats 1, 2 and 3 were all strong, assuming Ann already knew she had not one but three babies in there. I also found out that the shop was named after her fourth daughter, Olivia (unsurprisingly more than 9 years younger than her sisters) who was born in May. If there was any way I could have written this entire post on Ann’s family life I probably would have done that. Guess I’ve found my niche and I’m sticking with it – you’re far more likely to see future fashion posts more concerned with children’s clothing than mine!
I was not paid to write this review, unless you count the fact that the shop very kindly laid on some snacks for us hungry bloggers while they did the demo and showed us round the shop. Which, you know, I might. There were some very nice choccies…
Olivia May have also offered a 15% discount off Spring/Summer collection plus free delivery. Just go to their website and enter DCBlog