Keeping it Personal… {Shopping}

After I left university my first full-time job was in a diamond jewellers. I mean my degree is in music, so it was an obvious choice. I can’t lie and say I loved the job (it’s actually very stressful!) but I would also be lying if I said I didn’t love working with jewellery all day – bracelets, necklaces, earrings, watches and diamond rings… oh, the diamond rings.

(I think I could go back to working with diamonds.)

The job suited me because I’m a total magpie when it comes to jewellery of any sort, so I couldn’t help but notice a bit of a trend for name necklaces lately. Jennifer Hudson (what a gal) was sporting dainty little gold ‘Jennifer’ necklace on The Voice, and if it’s good enough for J-Hud, it’s good enough for me! (If I could have her singing voice too, that would be great.)

It turns out that a name like ‘Gillian’ isn’t that easy to find on necklaces (or coasters, keyrings, pens, etc…) so I love it when a company offers customisation. Ineffabless London offer gorgeous sterling silver pieces (they’re marked 925, I checked) as well as yellow gold and rose gold plated pieces – and they’re completely customisable! Each personalised name necklace is made to order; simply select your favourite design and enter anything up to 13 characters to personalise it. You can see how your name will look in their font with the preview too. I chose the name necklace in silver, linked here.

Of course the magpie in me struck again and I fell for a 2 bar-pendant necklace (again in silver, because I mostly wear silver) and got it engraved with my husband’s name and my own – a great idea if you have kids and want to keep their names close to your heart. You can find this piece here. Both necklaces are dainty and pretty, and both were reasonably priced – that’s my kind of jewellery.

Gillian x

P.S. It pains me to say it, but Valentine’s Day isn’t far away… it might be a good idea, guys 😉

The Savvy Shopper: Clothes

Like most women, my wardrobe is more expansive than I’ll admit, and more varied than it probably should be. It ranges from 8-year-old Hollister hoodies (they’re over-rated, but you can’t dispute their durability) to last week’s Next delivery (I have problems with restraint when it comes to their Autumn/Winter collections), from Primark to Michael Kors.


I love clothes, shoes, handbags, scarves (especially scarves… Paddy has intervened on occasion), jewellery – everything that goes into an outfit – but with so many brands and designers you could easily spend the price of a decent car on one outfit. The obvious way to keep costs down is to get to the sales, but when the sales just aren’t working with me I stick with these tricks:

  1. Ask yourself.

When I’m in a pickle and find something I really like, but wasn’t particularly looking for, I ask myself 4 questions. Generally, if I can answer “yes” to 3 out of 4, it’s a purchase, if not, it goes back on the rail for someone else to love instead.

“Do I need it?”

If yes, could I find something similar for less? If definitely no, it’s on to…

“Do I want it?”

I don’t mean wanting it because it’s on trend, or wanting it enough to buy it, but never wearing it because you changed your mind, I mean actually really wanting it, because you genuinely love it and can see yourself wearing it again and again.

“Can I afford it?”

Hint: If you have to eat Pot Noodle for a month, then the answer is no.

“If I leave here without it, will I regret it?”

This is usually my decider; I put it back, try to walk away and if I just can’t do it, it’s coming home with me.

2. Know your Investments.

Socks are not an investment. A vest is not an investment. A polyester jumper is not an investment.

A winter coat, shoes or a handbag? They’re investments. They’re something that you can wear and use year after year if you take care of them. One of my favourite winter coats is a sheepskin coat my dad bought for my mum 30 years ago. Mum looked after it and wore it for years, and after saying how much I loved the faux sheepskin coats in Marks and Spencer last year, Mum revealed she had it hiding in her wardrobe for years, and it was mine if I wanted it. A solid investment there, Dad!


3. Outlets and Supermarkets.

Back in my ‘Savvy Shopper: Food’ post, one of my tips was ‘don’t be a snob’. It’s the same thing here, really – why wouldn’t you shop where it’s cheaper? Whilst outlet shops often have last season stock or items that just didn’t sell well, they often have lots of hidden gems. Why pay full price for designer jeans when you could get them at an outlet price? No-one will ever know.

There are people who would be embarrassed to say their clothes from Tesco or Asda. If you can get over your brands, supermarkets have some fantastic clothing ranges: Florence and Fred at Tesco, George at Asda and the Esmara range at Lidl have been putting out some seriously heart-eye-worthy clothes in the past few months, at really low prices.

4. Google it.

When all else fails, or I want to see what’s out there, I google it. Their shopping search can bring up some unexpected results. My most recent search for ‘wedge ankle boots’ lead me immediately to a pair reduced from £49.99 to £8.99 on M&M Direct (which I have enjoyed rediscovering lately). I could have spent all evening opening a new tab for every shoe retailer known to man, but all it took was one search… and my boots arrived 3 days later. Of course, you’re not going to magically find exactly what you’re looking for every time, but it’s worth a shot!


As with my last Savvy Shopper post I could go on, but I’ll not. Clearly, I’m very passionate about being a cheapskate.

Happy clothes shopping!

Gillian x

P.S. and If you haven’t heard of them, you can thank me later.
P.P.S. I still have nothing to wear.


The Budget Wedding Guest

Weddings are expensive. No matter what part you play in it, they still cost. I’m always honoured to be invited to anyone’s wedding, but there’s always an expectation there. It may not even be from the bride and groom, but when we are invited to a wedding, we as guests spend money on a new dress, new shoes, a new clutch, new jewellery, a fascinator or hairpiece, an up-do, a tan, a professional makeup job, nails… it goes on.  Simply because we feel we have to. It almost seems rude not to make the effort for the couple on their Big Day. As much as I would love to spend money on all of that, I simply can’t. I can’t justify using what would be on a whole months savings on looking good for one day.

I was invited to my very good friend’s wedding on the 24th of August. I’ve known her since I started secondary school and couldn’t have been more excited to be there to celebrate with her. It was a beautiful wedding, and I’ve never seen a groom with more admiration for his new wife. Tissues were required.

Obviously I wanted to keep up with the crowd and look my best, but I had to keep it within a savings-friendly budget. Here’s how I put myself together for the big day:


I was going to wear something I already had and decided to pick something from either my own wardrobe or my two sisters’ wardrobes closer to the time, but we ended up finding a little floral shift dress in the Marks and Spencer sale for a very extravagant £11. I’m a solid 10 and at a (generous) size 8 it was a bit of a squeeze, but I couldn’t resist buying something new for the sake of a tenner. If it zips, it fits.


Ebay. I reaaaaally struggled to find a fascinator that was the right colour, and, to be frank, didn’t look like something had landed on my head and died. Why is it you can never find something when you’re looking for it? I ended up googling it, which has lead me to some great bargains in the past. I tentatively ordered one from a UK based seller for £16.99, hoping it would arrive looking like the picture. To my surprise, it actually did, and came with both a headband and a clip to accommodate the hairstyle I hadn’t yet thought of.



Pink, satin, peep-toe stilettos, bought in the Karen Millan shop sale in Kildare outlet village about 4 years ago for about 40 euros. I’m pretty sure a light shone on those shoes the moment I walked into the shop. I didn’t need them then, but I wanted them. I can’t lie, they hurt so bad after about 2 hours, but they’re perfect for an event where there’s lots of sitting and where it’s later acceptable to remove them.

I’d show you a close-up, but they’re a little scuffed. 😬

Hair, Nails and Makeup

DIY. As I’ve said before, I’m no ‘MUA’ but I can put my face on fairly well, especially when I’m taking my time with it. I tried my first cut crease using pink and plum tones – nothing like trying something new 2 hours before a wedding- and it wasn’t awful.  My hair had been in benders the night before to curl it so was a little bit out-of-control by the time I got them out, but after a minor meltdown and the help of my sister it submitted into a soft, half-up style with a bit of a vintage vibe to it. Jenny also did my nails with gel polish in fuchsia pink to match my shoes and fascinator – who needs a salon when you have sisters?!

And there you have it – total cost: £27.99 and favours owed. And without wanting to sound narcissistic, I think I looked as well as everyone else.

Gillian x