Style Shortcut: 7 Ways To Wear A Ribbon

Everyday ribbon

You’re never too old to rock a ribbon. Ribbons have been one of my favourite accessories since I was a teenager and are still a style staple for me.

You probably won’t guess who inspired me to start incorporating ribbons into my outfits, so I’m just going to tell you. It was one of my favourite WWF wrestlers, the Ultimate Warrior (Always Believe!). I loved the Ultimate Warrior’s colourful armwear so I was inspired to fashion myself some ribbon accessories of my own, only a little less neon glam rock and more cutesy quirky DIY.

Ribbon is inexpensive, I usually pick up a spool or two in discount stores and at craft fairs, they cost about £1-2 each. I have also been known to nick them off cakes and gift boxes for free! They come in all the colours, loads of patterns and cute designs and there are lots of ways to wear a ribbon. You can get super crafty or keep it simple.

All you need to do is cut the length you need, maybe at an angle and then carefully use a lighter to seal each end so they don’t fray. (Just move the end of the ribbon close to the flame to scorch it, rather than setting it alight and watching it go up in flames!)

Then add them to your outfit anyway you like. To get you started, here’s 7 different ways you can do that:

1. Bracelets – this is how it all started for me! I do like wristwear, but beads and bangles just get in the way when I’m writing and can be uncomfortable. With ribbons you can lean on your forearms with making a clatter or getting lots of tiny dents round your wrists (assuming you don’t lean on the knots!). You can knot the ribbons and leave the ends loose (Warrior style!), or get help from a dexterous friend to tie them into bows. The more the better! I’ve also used badges and brooches to secure the looped ribbon, again help from a friend is advised, unless you have a ninja hand or enjoy repeatedly jabbing pins into your skin.  

2. Hair Bows – a ribbon can make your bad hair day look like you’ve made an effort. Keep one in a neutral or favourite colour close to those hair bands, ready for when you just need to scrap your locks back into a pony tail or messy bun. Tie a ribbon around it and people assume you’ve put some thought into it! By using one of your favourite colours, patterns (I have loads of dotty ribbons!) or keeping it neutral, chances are you’ll match your outfit.

Ways to wear a ribbon

3. Laces – lots of super cool boots come with ribbon laces, but you can add your own ribbon to any laced boots, shoes or trainers. The absence of the plastic ends makes threading a little more effort (another reason for cutting your ribbon at a sharp angle!) but I prefer the look of the bow without them. 

4. Belts – maybe it isn’t surprising I love ribbons, one of my favourite childhood dresses came with a ribbon belt. When you buy a cheap top or dress that comes with a dodgy looking belt, ditch it. Use a few different coloured ribbons instead and it’ll look a little classier, quirkier and therefore more expensive than before.

5. Necklaces – as a teen, I used ribbons as chokers (it was the 90s), either tied or secured with a pin. When I was inspired by punk, I had a thick tartan ribbon which I used to wear with a nappy pin. You can also sew or glue a popper or a bit of velcro onto it as a fastening. These days, I prefer to wear necklaces lower with less choke, and using a ribbon means adjusting the length is super easy. You can just pop a pendant onto a ribbon, or thread through a few beads, and then tie into a bow. 

6. Add an edge - I love a ribbon trim! I recently brought a dress that was a little bit shorter than I usually wear, so I picked up some vintage lace ribbon and then got my mum (who is some kind of dressmaking magician and my go-to tailor) to add it to the bottom of the skirt and add a matching collar. You can start more simply by edging a line of a pocket or perhaps along the shoulder seam to add detail to a plain top. 

7. On a hat - whether you are going to a wedding or just want to find a way of making your sun hat match your swimsuit, pop a coloured ribbon round it and sew, tie, glue or pin into place. Everyone can rock a ribbon this way, gals, fellas and even cats… 

Cat in a top hat decorated with Union Jack ribbon

Adventure To… Wise Words Festival Yurt

 A night in the Wise Words Yurt - Cassy Fry

It all began with an email from my friend Vicki. She had noticed the Wise Words Festival Kickstarter campaign, which was raising funds for the festival and gifting donors with unique and wonderful experiences. One of the rewards on offer was a night in the Wise Words Yurt.

Vicki, is one half of Wide Eyed Theatre and is the kind of quirky creative genius that can simultaneously inspire and coordinate a group of performing young people. Obviously she had no trouble in identifying and bringing together like-minded literary lovers – people who would want to stump up some cash to support a fantastic festival and spend a night sleeping in a fairy-light lit yurt located within a secret garden in the city centre. I was firmly in that niche. We wouldn’t have been able to afford such a experience individually, but together we could. More people means more possibilities and more fun. 

Wise Words Book

Wise Words is an amazing festival, a celebration of writing and words, which uses spaces and places across the city of Canterbury in Kent. There have been poems projected in light, words on windows, storytelling in chapels, writing workshops over coffee, pop-up performance poetry, street slams and of course, the exchange of wise words in a rather wonderful and suitably quirky Yurt.

After much anticipation, Saturday arrived and we turned up at the Yurt for An Evening With John Siddique. John read from his collections of poems, which is prolific and varied. He took us across the world, with notable visits including Kabul (Afghanistan), Uttar Pradesh (India) and Hebden Bridge (Yorkshire UK). His work creates landscapes and stories, sometimes confronting difficult or downbeat subjects, but always rooted in human connections. He shared work in progress, love poems, other people’s poems and a couple of his poems for children too. We all loved joining in with his one of the children’s poems, repeating lines back. It was an enjoyable, thought-provoking evening. 

After the performance we went to fill up with food and drink, while the festival team transformed the Yurt from arts venue into our glamping home for the night. We had plenty to discuss, dissect and digest over dinner, but it wasn’t long before the colourful lights beckoned us back through the dark walled garden. We found a row of camp beds waiting for us, they were covered with an assortment of cute patterned bedding and super soft blankets, with cookies on top! It felt like something out of an Enid Blyton adventure. Although there was talk of games and midnight feasts, none of us could wait to get into bed, get cosy, chatter and just be in the Yurt.

Wise Words Yurt Glamping Camp Beds

I laid awake until quite late, mesmerized by the structure and fidgeting about trying to find both the perfect sleeping position and prettiest perspective. The sounds of a Saturday night in the city and the repetitive beat of bass from a nearby bar made it feel like we were at music festival, tucked away from the revellers in a place which felt like being somewhere between an exclusive glamping site and a spiritual healing field. I drifted off and then woke in the night unsure if I had been asleep or had just gone into some weird meditative state. Then I slept some more.

On Sunday morning, circa silly o’clock, I woke to the sound of the Canterbury Cathedral bells. Three of us were roused into consciousness by the call to worship, but we each stayed still and silent, while our remaining companions carried on dreaming. The air was fresh, so although I was warm under a duvet, snuggled in the softest blankets in the world, my nose was cold and my lungs felt alert and alive in a way that I never feel before coffee. My eyes seemed to be wider than usual too, I just couldn’t shut them again once I saw the yurt circling the sky above me. This is what I saw

The bells seemed to last a long while and when the last of their vibrations faded, the soundscape changed, as if some mysterious city DJ brought up the birdsong and mixed in the occasional ripple of the yurt canvas.

It was a wonderful way to wake. Usually the first thing I do in the morning is look at my phone, although sometimes I might grunt or groan first. I’m a slow riser, my body gets stiff and sulky with sleep and my brain muddles up my imagination with my senses. I often think I am getting up and then realise I am still dreaming. Sometimes I rehearse the first rituals of the day several times before the actual performance has to be carried out at twice the desired speed. I am not great at early morning conversation either, but I need some kind of interaction to make my brain leave it’s dream state and engage with reality. These are my excuses for checking social media before stretching and saying good morning and they’re good enough for me.

However on Sunday morning I didn’t check my phone straight away, I just listened to the sounds of the city garden. I was already completely conscious when there was a buzz of a good morning tweet. I took and posted some photos. I couldn’t resist it, I wanted to share it but without disrupting the natural waking of my yurt companions.

Wise Words Yurt Breakfast

A breakfast of croissants, coffee and orange juice was brought to us. Along with towels, toothpaste, flannels, soaps and five buckets of warm water. We ate, washed and sadly prepared to leave the yurt, which now felt a bit like it was ours. We briefing considered claiming squatters rights, but we had to get a move on so we could arrive just late enough to make a suitably disruptive post-Yurt entrance to John Siddique’s writing session.

John is running free journal writing sessions throughout the festival and I’d definitely recommend it. The way he talks about the experience and techniques of writing and about life in general is so interesting and inspiring. I could listen to him all day, but there was writing to be done! We all wrote, some in a quiet and measured manner, some scribbling furiously and at least two of us in a specially-devised self-conscious handwriting script designed to deter any casual over-the-shoulder readers. Then we spoke about writing some more. There were epiphanies, revelations and ideas. 

Unwind walled garden in Canterbury

Not wanting our Wise Words time to end, we then went to see some more poetry and some songs from Paul Henry. I was instantly won over by the fact Paul loves his cat. Mostly because I’m besotted by my own fluffy boy cat, Eddie. Always happy to hear a poem about cats.  

Then I had to rush off as I had already booked to go to London to the Kings Place Festival. It was such a special and magical experience, I left a little reluctantly, but off to see more amazing things, so it was all good.

Huge big thank yous to Beth and Lucy for really looking after us and giving us the ultimate Wise Words experience.

There is still more to come from Wise Words so if you live in or are visiting Kent, check out the programme for this week – I might see you there next weekend! 

15 Cool Creative And Cultural Apps

Bazaart collage - space invasion of giant cat in knitted tank

Don’t panic, it isn’t the outer space attack of the giant fluffy kittehs riding knitted tanks (although I’m sure that fateful day is nigh). No, it is a blog post about cool creative and cultural apps and as I made this delightfully dystopian collage with one of the apps featured, I thought I’d crowbar my cat into this blog post.

I’ve been chatting about this with a few people recently, both on line and in real life and I have been surprised how many people either don’t have any apps that they’d describe as creative or cultural, or just don’t know where to find them. I am pretty much glued to my iphone, so I like discovering fun new apps, and the best way to do that is recommendation. I have to give a huge thank you and shout out to Adam Wood (via the lovely Amy Smith) who pointed me in the right direction.

These are my favourites and a few new ones I’ve been playing with under the guise of “very serious research” for this post. I’ve kept my usual loose definition of creative and cultural as I believe that if you can play with it, use your imagination, create something or discover some cultural gems, then it qualifies as creative enough for my list. I’ve split it into art forms to give some vague sense of order, but there are many cross-overs. This list is by no-means exhaustive, I feel like I have barely brushed the surface of the touchscreen, so please comment if you have any other suggestions for everyone to try!

Art

Artsy (available on IOS) – A super stylish app which you can use to explore the world of visual arts. Browse by subject matter, medium or style. You can favourite the works you love, learn about them, find prices and there are options to contact the gallery too if you’re a serious buyer. Due to my current budget, or lack thereof, I mostly just pretend I’m an art collector and consider what great works I’ll invest in for my imaginary penthouse apartment in the city. This is quite similar to when I was a child and I would peruse the Argos catalogue for furniture I might buy when I grow up, only this fantasy has a bit more class and a lot more art. There is affordable art featured too, so it isn’t all as far-fetched as my daydreams. I like this app as it is easy to use, features commercial art as well as lots of great gallery and museum collections and it has the potential to bring art to a whole new audience (starting with iphone users!). Here’s an interesting article from The Guardian about how the app was made.

Artsy app screenshot

Bazaart (available on IOS) – A super fun collage app, upload your own photos, or select from backgrounds and let your imagination run wild. Really easy to use so you could make some awesome artworks, or you can put a giant kitty on a knitted space tank.  

Paper53 (available on ipad) – A lovely looking app which you can use to sketch, draw, outline and colour and create something beautiful. Thanks to Kaye Sedgwick, the genius illustrator responsible for my blog design, for this suggestion. I don’t have an ipad (yet!) so have not tried this, but the different notepads and sketchbooks and creations I’ve seen are stunning! 

Craft

Snapguide (available on IOS) – This app features some brilliant how-tos, cocktail recipes, craft projects and life-hacks. I’ve put this under crafts as that is what I have mostly used it for, but there are so many categories – photography, music, beauty, food and drink. If you don’t think cocktails can be creative, then you’ve never tasted one of mine! You can browse by section or popularity, follow people or search for specific things. It is great if you have something that you want to repurpose but need ideas, inspiration or detailed instructions. For example, I had an old nightshirt that looked terrible on but had a cutesy vintage graphic that I loved. So I looked for t-shirt projects and found this no-sew cushion guide. If you are already a crafty DIYer, then you can add your own how-to guides and help make the world a prettier and resourceful place. 

Snapguide app screenshot

Film

IMDB (available on IOS, Android, Windows and Kindle Fire) – Let’s just say this app (and website) has ended many circular arguments and inspired me to find new films to watch. I can’t be the only one who gets into endless debates with family and friends about what else that actress has been in, or who sees a quirky film and would like to track down more of that director’s fine work or has fallen hopelessly in love with an actor and needs to see all of their films pronto (and maybe a few pictures and some pertinent biographical details). 

Vine (available on IOS, Android and Windows) – I’m not a huge fan of making videos, aside from the occasional insta-vid of my cat, this is one I need to master. However it is safe to say that Vine has changed the way we capture and promote arts events, I love little loops of performances, snippets of drawings and work in progress, a glimpse of a 3-D artwork. A few seconds of something you can see or hear is more effective than trying to explain an experience. No surprise that everyone I spoke to loves Vine!

Photography

Instagram (available on IOS and Android) – Instagram is my favourite place to share photos. Make it creative by trying one of the many Instagram challenges about. Like all social media, it is only as good as the people you follow. Here are five of my favourite instagrammers, and you can follow me @CassyFry

Snapseed (available on IOS and Android) – This is my favourite tool for editing photos. I mostly just crop and tune the image. I don’t go in for radical editing, just refining and reframing. This app does the job and is quite easy to use.

Diptic (available on IOS, Android and Windows) – Lots of people ask me which app I use to put two, three or four photos into one square frame. This is it!

Impossible Project (available on IOS) – This one is a bit niche, as it is a community of impossible photographers. The Impossible Project refurb vintage Polaroid cameras and make instant film for them (I love Polaroids). The app is a place for Impossible customers, who are pretty much all amazing photographers working with Polaroid film, to share their impossibly beautiiful works. Thanks to Pete Fry, the bestest arts photographer in the biz, for this suggestion. 

Party Party (available on IOS) – Everyone loves a photobooth or a GIF and this fabulous app from A Beautiful Mess combines the two! Super fun. Anything that makes you playful will spark your creativity, although I must admit the most imaginative I’ve got with capturing a Party Party moment so far, was with our Victorious Festival drinkies! There will be many more imaginative Party Party moments to come though.

Music

Soundcloud (available IOS and Android) –  The Soundcloud app is my favourite place to find new music and spoken word and I often listen on the website too. Sign up, follow your favourite artists, search for music by genre hashtag, share your favourite songs, comment on them at a specific time (at 0m22sec you might say “beautiful opening” or at 2m32sec you can add “this solo is totally awesome” or you might just type along with the lyrics). I don’t tend to comment, but I’m usually entertained by those who do. A quick shout out to my current Soundcloud faves – The Thing Invisible, Casual Resident and Dominic Eulberg.

YouTube (availabIe on IOS, Android, Games Consoles, Cable & pretty much everything that has a screen and exists) – I decided to put this under music, not just to be controversial, but because that is where the value of YouTube lies for me personally. I know there are sometimes problems with what music is available and what isn’t, but its use goes beyond the official music video. I love watching/listening to live performances, not the dodgy filmed-on-phone-at-gigs ones, but beautifully produced ones like this from Stuart O’Connor and ones that interact with fans like Kawehi performing covers chosen by Kickstarter supporters and Nikki Loy’s 52 songs in 52 weeks challenge.

Theatre

Digital Theatre (available on IOS and online) – Nevermind Netflix, why not watch some top-notch theatre performances? Cinema screenings of some of the finest dramatic work has brought theatre out of the cities and to the people and now we can watch brilliant British theatre on the small screen too. Choose from a fine selection of classic drama, new writing, musicals like Into the Woods or productions from Shakespeare’s Globe or the Royal Opera House. It’s free and I think it is amazing.

Writing

Evernote (available on IOS, Android and Windows) – I still don’t think an app could replace my notepad and pencil. I love writing on paper and I’ll never stop, mostly as it doesn’t require a battery or wifi, but I have to admit the pile of 16 scribble-full notebooks that contain my creative writing make me shudder. There could be a work of genius in there, but it will take some organising and editing to sort that out. Most of the note apps I have tried just haven’t felt free-flowing enough to capture my creative thoughts and general idea noise, but on Evernote I can type, add voice recordings and photos to the same note. I can also format text so posts can be copied straight over. There is a free version and a premium version, but it’s worth knowing that if you’re an O2 customer then you can have the extras free for a year. 

 

That’s it for now… I have a feeling there could be a follow-up to this post in the future. After all, the app world moves pretty fast. I’m aware a lot of these are IOS apps too, mostly because I am an Apple lover (both the iphone and the fruit). If you know of any other great creative apps available on Android, do let us all know about them! In the meantime, have fun crafting, collage-ing, watching theatre, discovering new music, pretending to be an art dealer and Party Party’ing!

A Want Her Dress Stylist Makeover with C Style Coaching

Cassy Fry Want Her Dress Outfit Full Length

When I saw there was a Bloggers Festival competition to win a style makeover with Want Her Dress and C Style Coaching. I entered immediately and enthusiastically, by posting my #WHDselfie and describing my style as “retro, classic but quirky”. Who wouldn’t want a whole new outfit from such a gorgeous collection and some quality time with a professional stylist? 

I was absolutely thrilled when I found out I was one of the winners. I got very excited and then, a little bit nervous. I love trying out new looks, but I suddenly became hyper-aware of my comfort zone. Just because my kind of comfortable can include sparkly kitty ears, huge frilly petticoats and novelty prints, doesn’t mean I don’t get a little bit intimidated by certain fashions.

Suddenly all my anxieties about my body were impossible to ignore. I realised that the last few years of health problems, hormone treatments and surgery have made me less confident about the way my body looks and feels. Luckily my love of clothes and excitement of getting some new ones won over. 

I felt better once I saw all the beautiful clothes and met Want Her Dress owner Carol and lovely stylist Chelle. We started off by having a chat, I explained that I like to look quirky and creative, but that I can also be quite conservative in my choices. I admitted that I considered the just-above-the-knee-length dress I was wearing when I arrived to be a short skirt. As I usually go for cute and girly, I asked for a more sophisticated look for an evening event I have coming up. This was an amazing opportunity to be brave, break out from behind the fashion fear and try something new.   

Cassy Fry Want Her Dress Makeover Outfit

The first dress I tried on was this gorgeous red pleated maxi dress. The colour looked amazing and once I had heels on, I was astonished at how long my legs looked! I stopped wearing heels a few years ago, because of chronic pelvic pain, which affected my back and legs. Now I’m tempted to try (moderately high) heels again. I’ll have to retrain myself to walk in them though! Chelle gave me some good tips on how to style and accessorise the look. When she showed me this beautiful jacket, it was love at first sight! The fit feels fabulous and I love the lace and zip details. 

The only thing that didn’t work for me with the first dress was the short underskirt; it was fine at the front, but my ample cheeky bottom was determined to pop out at the back! So we agreed we should try something else. Chelle went to cast her expert eye over the racks of clothes and came back with this beauty

Cassy Fry Want Her Dress close up

Cassy Fry Want Her Dress Midi Dress

When Chelle showed me this dress, my first thought was “wow” and my second was “please let it fit me!” I find it hard to find clothes that fit everywhere all at once, but this dress is the perfect fit, snug and shapely. I love the flattering sheer sleeves and the beautiful design, which features a Day of the Dead sugar skull and helps show off my feminine shape.

After shying away from anything this sultry and sophisticated, I had forgotten, or rather stopped believing, that I could actually look like this. I’m not sure I should admit to this, but I’m going to anyway… I had one of those ‘gets all emotional looking at own reflection’ moments usually reserved for makeover shows. I promise I will never roll my eyes at those again! I felt awesome, grown up and super sexy. I kept the outfit on the rest of the day to work on my Marilyn-style wiggle. Then I put it on again the next day to take some photos for this post.

I’d definitely recommend spending some time with a stylist. I have been completely converted! Your style will keep evolving as your life and tastes change. Even if you think you have it sussed, there is always something to learn. I often dress to cover up insecurities, which isn’t bad, but it is much more fun to dress to smash through those insecurities and show off your confidence.  

Cassy Fry Want Her Dress Outfit Details 

Thank you so much to Carol from Want Her Dress and Chelle for this incredible experience.

What I am wearing: Brody Body-con Midi Dress and Bria Black Tailored Jacket both from Want Her Dress, teamed with velvet boots from Deadly is the Female and Vivienne Westwood bag

What To Wear On A Book Bench Hunt

Cassy Fry and Paddington Bear on Book Bench London

Last week I had a lovely long weekend in London. I love the city and I always leave in a wearied wonder with a headful of inspiration, especially when I’ve been hanging out with Paddington Bear.

On this visit I decided that rather than spending time inside a museum or gallery, I’d stay outside and explore! What better way is there for an art-loving bookish babe to scout the city than to go on a book bench hunt? Books About Town have scattered 50 bench sculptures, each painted with artist designs inspired by literature, across 4 trails. They are in situ until 15 September 2014, so be quick if you want to find them, you only have a few days left! 

Cassy Fry on Darwin inspired Book Bench Cassy Fry on Darwin Origin of the Species Book Bench

Deciding what I was going to wear was a bit of a no-brainer. I have been following Betty Le Bon Bon on Instagram for a while now, during which I have been drooling over her custom designs. As I love books, this librarian skirt was on my wishlist, so when I saw she had a limited amount of a book fabric that also featured kitties, this cat lady had to snap it up super quick! 

My new books and kitties swing skirt arrived just a couple of days before my trip. This union was obviously meant to be! I teamed it up with a white cropped t-shirt from Internacionale, jacket from Leather Fashions and Clarks boots laced with black ribbon. My accessories included vintage style sunglasses and a black shoulder bag from Dorothy Perkins adorned with an awesome ‘Be Brave Be Bold’ keyring from Ladybird Likes.  

Cassy Fry on Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy Book Bench

Cassy Fry on Mary Poppins Book Bench

As you can see, I was absolutely delighted by the Mary Poppins bench, although you might have guessed from my grin at the top of the page that the Paddington Bear bench was my favourite. It was so beautiful!

It is hard to pick which ones stood out as they were all amazing! I didn’t even get to the Bloomsbury Trail so I didn’t see the Nineteen Eighty Four bench, which looks wonderful. My other favourites included Fever Pitch, Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary, Darwin’s Origin of the Species (which inspired two silly photographs), The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy and Dr Seuss! 

Books About Town Book Benches

Cassy Fry at Dr Seuss Book Bench near Tower Bridge

You can see all of the book benches online on the Books About Town website and they’ll be auctioned off in October to raise money for the National Literacy Trust.

Photographs featuring me all taken by Peter Fry

Adventure To… Bloggers Festival 2014

Bloggers Festival 2014 brands and bloggers

Yesterday I went to my first big networking event for bloggers, the Bloggers Festival 2014 in London, organised by Scarlett Dixon. It was fabulous! Hanging out with bloggers is my new favourite thing to do. Bloggers are awesome (although I might be biased) so there is something magical that happens when we all get together, share our passions and make networking more like partying. Here are my highlights from the event…

Making new friends, but feeling more like I was finding good friends that I just hadn’t met yet
I started my day on the Southbank to meet up with fellow Blogcademy graduate Miss Sue Flay aka Jo Christy of Stirup Media and the very lovely Lisa of Into The Snuggery. Time flew as we drank ginger beer, took lots of photos, inspired each other with some incredibly exciting blog-related ideas, talked, talked and talked a whole lot more.

Winning a Want Her Dress style makeover from a professional stylist
This was an incredible experience and one that warrants more than a paragraph, so I’m going to write another post all about it. I entered the competition on Twitter ahead of the festival by posting a selfie and describing my style as “retro, classic yet quirky”. I asked for a more sophisticated look that would work for an evening event. Stylist Chelle got me to try on a couple of outfits from the gorgeous Want Her Dress collection and talked me through what worked, what didn’t and what accessories to go for. I am in love with this black and red midi dress and tailored jacket, I felt so fabulous that I kept the outfit on for the rest of the day and I will be wearing it at every opportunity!

Cassy Fry at Bloggers Festival 2014 Scarlett London

Discovering awesome brands
I do a lot of my shopping online and I love finding great places to shop on Twitter, Instagram and of course, from other bloggers. However there is nothing quite like seeing items in real life and talking to people about them! My favourite brands were:
Want Her Dress - I love that owner Carol Hanson provides real fashion for real women, inspring us to feel good and helping young designers launch their careers at the same time. The clothing is fantastic, I’ll definitely be shopping here in future, especially now I feel more confident about picking out new styles.
Minimum Fashion - A beautiful Danish fashion brand that oozes style and simplicity. The A/W collection made me yearn for colder weather (although maybe not too cold!). There are male and female lines so we can all look super stylish. 
Ecco - More gorgeous Scandinavian design using lovely leather to make classic and wonderfully wearable pieces.  Ecco create products that are “relentlessly useful and intrinsically beautiful” and what stylish lady wouldn’t be bowled over by that? I want my next pair of boots to be an Ecco pair. 
Urban Outfitters - I love exploring their stores, always a winner for gift-buying and so much style inspiration to make you and your home look good. 
Lee Stafford - Already a favourite of mine as I’m a sucker for a good hair product, especially one wrapped in bright pink! Cannot wait to try out my new brush, the big fattest silky smoother for extra oomphness!
Cloud Nine - The best sales pitch is seeing something in action. After seeing the Waving Wand in action, I know I *need* Cloud Nine waves! It isn’t too early to drop hints about Christmas presents is it?

Entering a Twitter Raffle
Turns out, rather unsurprisingly, that everyone loves a Twitter Raffle. We all had lots of fun furiously typing creative entries onto our phones, motivated by the possibilities of all the exciting prizes! Shiny things + social media = many happy bloggers. 

Looking out across the amazing view of London
This all happened on the 31st Floor of Centre Point, a Paramount event space – what a wonderful venue and an incredible view. Our ears popped in the lift on the way up, then we were welcomed with drinks and the London skyline. I am not a fan of heights, but I spent some quality time gazing out and was even brave enough to look straight down at the streets far below!

Cassy Fry Bloggers Festival 2014 Scarlett London

Spending time with sparky positive people, lovely PR people and beautiful bloggers
One of the ways I create a stylish and creative life for myself is by surrounding myself and sharing experiences with sparky positive people. Those people were there in abundance! I met so many wonderful people who were passionate about their blogs and businesses, willing to share advice, take photographs or just have a giggle. Of course, you can surround yourself with fabulous folks online too, my favourite place to do that is Twitter, so here are some for you to follow:
@MissSueFlay of @StirupMedia and of course Miss Sue Flay,
@intothesnuggery of Into The Snuggery,
@CatwomanFran of House of Blog,
@The_UK_LD of The Lifestyle Directory,
@CandyOwlGirl of Owl Blog,
@OneLittleVice of One Little Vice,
@MissKaytlyn_
and of course, the blogger that organised the event and brought us all together
@Scarlett_London of Scarlett London. Thanks Scarlett!

What I am wearing… post-makeover I’m in an awesome black and red midi dress and black tailored jacket, both from Want Her Dress, in the picture with those amazing patent Ecco boots I am wearing a floral skater dress from Peacocks which is customised with blue vintage lace, and finally I couldn’t resist trying on the leopard-print kitty hat from Urban Outfitters.

New Favourite Song: The Struts – It Could’ve Been Me

Luke Spiller The Struts Victorious Festival 2014

Sometimes you hear a song just when you need it, or maybe you are ready to hear it so it catches your attention. Perhaps you just see a band give an amazing live performance at a festival, go home, download the album and play on repeat. In this case, I think it’s all of the above. If you missed  my Victorious Festival post, then you need to know that was where I saw and fell a little bit in love with The Struts. They are an incredible live band, definitely check them out if you can.

I did get their debut album ‘Everybody Wants’ immediately after and I have been listening to it a lot. It’s a pretty awesome mix of the best bits of glam rock with skintight and sexy pop sensibilities. It channels Queen, Kiss and the Rolling Stones, rock music made to fill stadiums, but it is packed with youthful energy, gritty glamour and defiant determination. This track is my favourite.

‘It Could’ve Been Me’ has become my new anthem. I’m at a weird, but exciting stage of my life. I have reached the end of a very dark tunnel and my eyes are still adjusting to the light. There is a small part of me that finds it all a bit too dazzling, that wants to close my eyes and hide, but mostly I am just impatient and want to charge towards the bright new future. This track distills most of what I am feeling into a heart-racing rock sound that I can shout along to in my car, with my hair down and air con turned up to work the wind machine effect.

It’s great to have a song to play that can keep up with my mood swings, that shouts down fear on the bad days and that is really good fun for exciting times. It’s a soundtrack for those that dream then dare. Yep, I wanna live better days, preferably with this playing loudly.

#GEEKIT in GEEK style

Cassy Fry GEEK selfie

Last weekend Ideas Test brought GEEK to Swale and Medway and I got to spend my weekend watching people play games, make things and discover some mind-blowingly cool stuff. As well as taking my #GEEKselfie, I spent some time being the keeper of the wristbands and greeting visitors as they arrived. I quickly lost count of how many times I said “that bracelet is amazing”, “I love your t-shirt” and “where did you get those earrings?” This event has now opened a whole new can of Etsy worms for me, so I thought I’d share some of my favourite finds. 

I’ll start with the ultimate book bag – this Sherlock Holmes handbag from Novel Creations is just gorgeous and comes with a choice of straps. Plus there are loads of gothic and classic novels available and they’re all amazing. While we’re talking Sherlock, if you’re a fan of the latest BBC series, check out this Bored! t-shirt from Consulting Fan Geeks. I love it, but even better, there is a beautiful dress version too!

Etsy Geek Style

I cannot resist a quirky accessory, so had to select a few – the Harry Potter inspired Mischief Managed ring is from Family House Stampin, the super cute Robot Cufflinks are from Ladybird Likes and the Periodic Table Brass Cuff is from Jezebel Charms, where you’ll find many lovely literary and scientific bits of wristwear.

There were some steampunks at GEEK too and they looked incredible, with clockwork, corsets, googles and top hats aplenty, so I had to include some awesome steampunk headwear from Jillie Kat Creations.

Getting a bit more colourful, here’s a circuit board heart pendant from Techcycled, a Mondrian style Lego Brooch from Mademoiselle Alma, a 1up headband by Janine Basil and a one of a kind Doctor Who cuff from Fantastic Folds Shop.  

Geek style on Etsy (2)

Surely a pair of converse style sneakers are essential for any geek chic ensemble, so why not get some painted with your favourite sci-fi show. The fabulous Doctor Who shoes are from Satan’s Slippers. Finally I had to include these Mario and Luigi hats from Shanna Rae H as the GEEK organisers rocked the Italian Plumber look

GEEK is also going to Birmingham 19-21 September 2014, before the main event lands back in Margate in February 2015. Keep an eye on the Ideas Test website for news of the next event in Swale and Medway.

Photos of the products featured belong to the Etsy shop owners

Link Love – Doctor Who, A Good Blog Guide & Lessons From Oz

Some stylish and creative links for your reading pleasure… and an excuse to share this old picture of me with a Tardis!

Cassy with Tardis

New Writing South’s Good Blog Guide
I’m feeling super proud that I’ve been featured on New Writing South’s Good Blog Guide and given their stamp of approval for good writing. I’ve also discovered some ace new blogs to read. It’s an eclectic mix of content, but all superbly written, so take a look if you want some interesting new reading material.

The Beginners Guide To Moving Your Blog From Blogger To WordPress
I migrated my blog this month, so I have read this blog post many, many times. It’s the best DIY how-to I’ve found and I don’t think I could have made the move without it! The learning curve has at times felt more like a sheer climb and I’m still getting to grips with the world of WordPress, but I am so pleased I did it. It would be silly to blog about being stylish without a stylish looking blog. I must admit I did have a freak out at step nine as I didn’t get the domain direction right (still no idea what I did wrong), luckily I had an IT savvy friend to call on. If you are planning to go it alone on any task, make sure you have a supportive network to back you up and help ease the stress!

7 Lessons That The Wizard Of Oz Can Teach Us
I adore The Wizard Of Oz, so I loved Daffny’s series of Oz-inspired blog posts on her fabulous blog A Vintage Nerd. This was my favourite post as I think it articulates many of the reasons why I’m so captivated by the story – believing in yourself, making unexpected friends, being whatever you want to be, knowing where you’re heart is. Many of these I’ve considered before, but dropping a house on your problems was a completely new perspective, which made me say YES! Watch out bad things, I am going to squish you!

I Woke Up Like This: On Flawlessness And Admitting The Effort Required
I am someone who makes an effort with her appearance and I don’t care who knows it. In fact, I prefer it to be acknowledged. I loved this Gala Darling post about admitting the effort that goes into appearing flawless – let’s acknowledge the hard work that goes into, not just looking good, but getting fit, landing a dream job, achieving our goals or having a professional success.

Be Active Through Music
This is a great blog post from Rhythmix about music and moving to it. I know certain songs played on my iPod will make me wiggle my hips or march more assertively. Of course, I love a good dance. When I say dance, I really mean randomly throw my body around in time to music (or sometimes just out of time). I actually find it almost impossible to exercise without music. Even when I do Tai Chi or Pilates at home, I’ll put on find some suitably feisty soundtrack. I like swimming, but I can’t help but feel I’d work harder if the Rocky theme ‘Gonna Fly Now’ was playing poolside. This post is part of a series about the Six Ways To Wellbeing initiative, which Ideas Test is also involved with. 

Thoughts On The First Doctor
Doctor Who is back on our screens! Hooray! Two episodes in and I’m liking Peter Capaldi as the Doctor, he is bringing an unpredictable alien edge back to the role. I enjoyed this post by one of my fellow Good Blog Guide Bloggers about the first Doctor, William Hartnell. I’ve not seen any of his episodes, but I loved the ‘An Adventure In Space And Time’ biopic. Something I love about Doctor Who are the scenes filmed in location in the UK, I like seeing weird and wonderful things against an ordinary everyday backdrop.

Kate Bush And The Perks of Genuine Creative Freedom For Female Artists
With her return to the stage this month, Kate Bush has been the topic of articles and documentaries all over the place. This piece about female creative freedom caught my attention and made me nod emphatically. Now I just want to see that Kathleen Hanna and Miley Cyrus collaboration.  

A Definitive Map of New York Street Art
If you’re off to New York any time soon, check out this handy guide to some fantastic street art. If you’re not, then just enjoy the pictures!

Why we love Ashford!
The very lovely Melissa blogged about why she loves Ashford, it started a buzz and we all joined in! This post is all the responses, expect fantastic street art, shopping, live music, crafts and beautiful Kentish countryside.

In the photograph I’m wearing an Audrey Dress from Lindy Bop, Addicted to Cute bag by Harajuku Lovers and Vintage Style Prescription Sunglasses from I Need Spex

Adventure to… Victorious Festival 2014

When I heard about the Victorious Festival in Southsea, I knew I had to go. It was actually my gorgeous cousin that saw the posters and told me about it. We had spent many a happy evening bopping away to indie bands at the Pyramids and the Wedgewood Rooms so Southsea will forever hold a place in my heart. Ocean Colour Scene, Shed Seven and Menswe@r were all on the Sunday bill and are all bands we had gone to see back in the 90s. Seasick Steve and 2 Many DJs were also on the bill. We booked up and started to get very excited.

Victorious Festival 2014 Hollywood Style Sign

I was excited because I love live music and days out at festivals, but mostly because I was going to be spending time with my cousin, who is one of my favourite people in the world. I go to see a lot of amazing stuff, but sharing the experience with someone you adore wins everytime. I had a really wonderful day and Victorious is my new favourite festival, here’s why. 

Victorious is the most organised festival I have ever been to
It may seem a strange one to start with, but as someone who used to manage events (although not on quite this scale), I’m always interested on how things are put together and how it works on the day. The information before the event was great, so it wasn’t a huge surprise that it was so well managed. Good signage, friendly security, a reliable park and ride and an adequate number of toilets might not be the first things you look for in a festival, but they are the first things you’ll moan about if they’re lacking. Victorious got everything right and it was amazingly good value, I was seriously impressed with what I got for my £20 investment.

Victorious Festival 2014 Art Aboard the Rusty Alexander

Victorious is great to explore
The first thing I did on site was buy a halloumi wrap (you can’t do a festival on an empty stomach) and the second was to explore the site. This is pretty much how I start any festival, you need to see where the stages are and guesstimate times to walk between them and to check out all of the food on offer so you can prioritise your meals (yes I love festival food!). I loved wandering around Victorious because there was so much to see – vintage stalls, artwork, street performers, skate demonstrations. I was especially delighted by The Rusty Alexander, a double-decker bus full of amazing contemporary art work.

Victorious is realising you still know all the words
Obviously seeing some of the bands I’ve loved for …let’s just say ‘some’ years, was a highlight for me. I surprised myself by remembering most of the words to many 90s indie songs, and as I love a socially-acceptable sing-along, I had a blast. Shed Seven were still amazing live and really good fun, seeing them again was particularly special as they were the first ‘proper’ band I went to see at the Wedgewood Rooms, the start of my long-term love affair with live music.

Victorious is where I discovered The Struts
Looking at the line up, I suggested we go see The Struts on the main stage as they had a cool name. This was the main criteria I used when I was 17 and picking who to go see in Southsea and even though it sounds dubious, it has always been a winner. This time we hit the jackpot. Their energetic, sequinned frontman won the crowd over very quickly. A couple of songs in I realised they were playing it like a stadium gig and it wasn’t long before I felt like it was one. There was much synchronised clapping and singing. It was already pretty rocking when the lead singer came into the crowd to lead a sing-along. We all LOVED it!

Victorious Festival 2014 Shed Seven, Struts and British Sea Power

Victorious is a place to hear really good live music, dance and maybe be serenaded
The live music programme was great, with some real class acts and some fun ones too… Rolling Stones tribute act anyone? My highlights included… falling in love with The Struts, singing along to Menswe@r’s Daydreamer, every moment Shed Seven were on stage, chilling out watching British Sea Power, remembering just how damn good Ocean Colour Scene are, stamping my feet and slapping my thigh to Seasick Steve and having a boogie to 2 Many DJs surrounded by some seriously crazy dancers.

Shed Seven did a Bruce Springsteen cover and I (only just) managed to stop myself screaming out “I’ll be your Courtney Cox!” Seasick Steve actually did pick a girl from the audience and serenaded her, saying that he picked her, not just because she was beautiful, but because he has noticed her singing along. What a smoothie. It has got to be a pretty intense experience to be serenaded by someone right in front of you, looking you straight in the eye, especially in front of a huge crowd, but how very wonderful.

Victorious is beautiful, with sea views and passing ships 
Ok, so I am a self-confessed seaside girl who loves Pompey, of course I thought the site was beautiful. I loved being able to watch bands on the Seaside Stage, which had a stunning sea view. There is something very wonderful about watching British Sea Power, looking over the crowd and seeing a ferry emerge and pass the stage. Aside from the perks of being on the coast, the site looked great in general, I adored the Hollywood style Victorious sign.

Victorious is selling early bird tickets for 2015
Who is going to come with me?

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