Sunday, 13 April 2014

rogues + brogues | Skinny Malinky's

Earlier this year I had approached local juice & health food superpower Skinny Malinky's for a guest post on body spring-cleaning, to give some advice on detox and general goodness.

Skinny Malinky's was born from the borderline obsession for healthy living and personal passion of Paula Heaney. I have worked with Paula in my day job and her energy and enthusiasm for all thing good is a daily dose of zing.

I was delighted when they went one step further than a guest post and kindly gave me a 3 day juice cleanse plan and provided me with all the delicious juices!

*DISCLAIMER* I am an eater. I'm not going to lie. I pick, I scavenge and generally gorge throughout the day so the thought of switching to a liquid diet for 3 days had me a little apprehensive.

rogues brogues skinny malinky blog post

I started my plan on a Thursday with a wind-down from Tuesday, cutting back on my caffeine intake ahead of eliminating it for the duration of the cleanse.

My morning began with the delicious (and by far my favourite) Carrot Kick Start juice This refreshing mixture is brimming with ginger and makes a fab change to the usual coffee first thing.

Moving on to lunch (I broke the plan down to my usual routine, I'm a creature of habit) I tried the Lean Green Detoxifying Machine. I have to admit this was my least favourite; I have an incredibly sweet tooth and a bitter palette and this juice was a little too "savoury" for me with inclusion of kale, parsley and celery.

The last juice was the Detoxifying Balancing Energiser; this vivid cerise juice was tart & but sweet (such a good combo) and was a great mid afternoon pick-me-up.

At home I had another Lean Green Detoxifying Machine around dinner time and a final Detoxifying Balancing Energiser around an hour before bed.

Throughout the day, regular flushing with water and the odd green tea (caffeine free of course) help to get the cleanse working.

I will come clean, I did begin to feel hungry, but on Skinny Malinky's founder and Juicer extraordinaire's advice; I added a superfood salad to the mix to help fill me up - a leafy green salad with kale, rocket, cucumber, avocado and lime juice in lieu of dressing.

By Saturday (my final day) I was feeling refreshed and I didn't have the usual caffeine hang-over headache. My tummy was feeling flatter too without the bloat from my usual carb-friendly diet & I lost 4lbs over all!

The continued flushing clears away all the heaviness our indulgent diet leaves us with, cleanses the caffeine poisons from our systems helping us sleep better and truthfully, my usual oily t-zone actually cleared up as well!

While the cleanse is not a sustainable on-going diet, I can't recommend introducing this as a regular boost to your lifestyle highly enough.

In addition to the 3 Day Cleanse package, Skinny Malinky's offers complete food plans and are now offering courier delivery across Northern Ireland, mainland UK & Ireland so you can get all the goodness delivered direct to your door! Check them out on facebook & twitter to find out more!

*as with any diet change, check with your doctor prior to beginning.

Monday, 31 March 2014

An Off The Cuff Remark

No man ever has too many cufflinks ABC of Men's Fashion - Hardy Amies

I don't often have a need to wear a double cuff shirt, but when I do, I don't want to let down a sharp look with a poor choice of cuff-links.

Cuff-links could be considered the equivalent to earrings for women; something we want noticed but do not want to worry too much about.

They should make a subtle statement, but this is not an excuse to don novelty or gimmicky cuff-links. Leave them in the pack with the tie they came free with.

I have somehow managed to lose my favourite pair; a simple sterling silver barrel that went with every damn thing. So I treated myself to this pair (a little snazzier than I usually go for) from the Argento clearance store for only £5.00! Stainless steel with a mosaic inlay of abalone shell (sometimes referred to as father of pearl which I think is a great term) they have a subtle shimmer without being gaudy.

I won this fab pair of sycamore seed cuff-links from La Jewellery in a giveaway on Chivalrous. They're about as whimsical as I would venture in a cuff-link. I love the fact they are in brass rather than silver or chrome. Their nature inspired design and antique-effect finish give them a country heritage feel and are perfect set against a tweed jacket. I'm thinking they might be ideal as groomsman gifts too... *hint*

The team over at Flynch kindly sent me this pair of silk knots recently. The classic combination of claret and navy means they are suitable for work without being boring. The double monkey-fist knot is a nice change to the usual lever back and as they are fabric, you won't get that irritating clink while you type. Very reasonably priced at £16.50 for 4 pairs, keep a pair in your desk drawer for a quick change.

A double or French-cuff shirt is really only suitable for a formal or professional occasion. Resist the temptation to wear it with jeans. You owe it to yourself to get it right.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

rogues + brogues | The Bluebeards Revenge

I don't shave. I trim, I tidy but I have not been clean shaven in over 2 years. I look like a boiled monkey afterwards. I also suffer greatly with razor burn along my neckline so I avoid the steel as much as I can.

Bluebeard's Revenge. The company prides themselves on offering the ultimate shaving experience for real men.
I have seen glowing reviews of Bluebeard's Revenge in both print (they won the FHM Grooming Awards 2013) and blogs but truthfully, I was a little indifferent as I deem myself a non-shaver. However, when the team offered a trial I thought I would put them through a real test and see how their products fare against my gingery chin.

left: Before - I haven't trimmed since early february. I kept eating my moustache so it was time to tidy up.

right: My trouble area. It's not like I cut myself, I simply bleed from my pores from the irritation.

left: All trimmed. As I have been growing my beard, my normal trimmer struggles so I actually used barbers clippers.
middle: The remnants. Maybe I could clone myself..?
right: I took of the guard and did a zero crop to the neckline prior to close shaving

After trimming down, I took a hot shower. All beard hair is coarse and needs handled differently to normal hair. It doesn't condition in the same way so softening it is key to prevent itching, pulling and rashes. I used a scrub on my face to strip away grease and helps exfoliate away all the dead skin trapped under my beard hair. I then applied conditioner while I showered, rinsing off the conditioner when I was finished. I have learned from painful experience the cost of not prepping before shaving.
Bluebeard's Revenge Shaving Solution. The product is thick, creamy and glossy and feels more like conditioner than any shaving cream I've ever used. It also smells great.
As I only shave along the neckline,  I don't need a lot of product but the directions said apply liberally and I am a stickler for rules. 

Now comes the scary part; actually shaving.

My beard grows in random directions; from left to right under my chin, upwards towards my Adam's apple and towards my ears on my face so the usual directions of shave in the direction of hair growth is moot. I shaved along my cheek bones to define the shape of my beard. Don't go too low; we're looking for a beard, not a George Michael pencil line.

On to the neckline; my Waterloo - I will never win. I shave to the bottom of my Adam's apple - any higher and it becomes less of a beard and more of a decoration. A high neckline can also draw attention to a double chin.

Ensure your water is really hot and rinse your razor regularly. Resist the temptation to tap your razor to loosen trapped hair; you'll blunt the blade and just make your shaving more uncomfortable.

A little bleeding but nothing in comparison to usual. Bluebeards Revenge has given me the best shave in a LONG time. 

After finishing, I rinsed all the solution off with cold water. This will close up pores and help sooth any irritation and bleeding. 
Finishing off with Bluebeard's Revenge Cooling Moisturiser. While a post-shave balm would probably calm down your skin better, the moisturiser left my skin feeling nourished without being greasy and coated.

All in all I would recommend Bluebeard's Revenge to those of you who shave. I do not possess the patience (or apparently the skin resilience) for regular shaving but when my beard needs a good tidy up, I know what I will be reaching for in my bathroom cabinet.

On a small separate note; I have read on some blogs a rather pious opinion on the perceived sexism Bluebeard's Revenge promote with their products being for real men and that it's not suitable for women. For god's sake get over it; it's a smart, tongue-in-cheek marketing campaign. How else does a product differentiate itself in the male grooming market as it approaches saturation? 

Say what you will about this apparent sexism; I've not seen many brands supporting male cancer awareness as cleverly or passionately; urging their customers, their mates, to look after themselves. Grooming is maintenance and should be a whole body package; it's not just hair care and smelling nice. It's about looking after your body inside & out and they should be commended for their responsible attitude.
Bluebeard's Revenge use the inside of their packaging (a redundant space) as an information pack on their work with Orchid - the UK's only male specific cancer charity.

Monday, 24 March 2014

rogues +brogues | West Coast Cooler Belfast Fashion Week

Belfast doesn't often come up in conversation when people talk fashion. While my adopted home city has its fair share of tracksuit and fleece wearing individuals; try not to tar everyone with the same brush.

West Coast Cooler FASHIONWEEK is brainchild of PR empress Cathy Martin. Twice a year Belfast's best dressed gather to see the consumer highlights of the season. In addition to the high end and high street favourites, the programme embraces local talent with the likes of Nor Lisa, Ruedi Maguire and Una Rodden featuring.

I attended Belfast FASHIONWEEK last Thursday for the high street event (I've said many times how much of a high street fan I am). I was acting both as blogger and in my new role as wholesale manager for Argento. We held an exclusive pop-up installation to show local stylists, bloggers, boutiques and influencers the upcoming spring summer collections. A casual catwalk and an open display allowed attendees to inspect and admire the collections up close and personal.

the argento dream team
clockwise from the top: posing with Ruth from Willow Lane, chatting with Louise of The Real Elle Woods, apparently gesturing with Argento VM Sinead.
I case you're wondering about my outfit:
Shirt: River Island
Waistcoat: Topman
Jeans: New Look
Belt: Zara
As I'm saving for my holidays, my ensemble was made from existing wardrobe favourites.

clockwise from top: new season Dirty Ruby collections, Belfast Fashion Week creator Cathy Martin and correspondent Katie Larmour

While the menswear selection was a little limited, Belfast's fashionable men are becoming more confident and it was inspiring to chat with many local style  influencers such as Lewis Cameron and Jamie Russell of Beyond Man and Jeff of Belfast Times (who sported an enviable camouflage tie and lapel pin combo by my friend and favourite Sam Mercer)
Piaras Smyth in George at Asda and Fat Face (picture courtesy of CMPR)
Thanks to everyone who attended and for making a fledgling blogger such as myself so welcome.

Thursday, 27 February 2014


In the words of the amazing Myrtle Snow...
I'm just mad for tartan!
Frances Conroy in American Horror Story: Coven
Her character is basically Grace Coddington if she practised witchcraft
My obsession with tartan could be attributed to my Ulster-Scots ancestry, but it is probably just as much a result of my mother's love of Rod Stewart and the Bay City Rollers.

This much maligned and stereotyped fabric is experiencing a renaissance, moving away from the cliches of biscuit tins and tourist tat into a revered and respected piece of fashion history.

Both my maternal and paternal families have Scots heritage, each with their own clan tartans:

my family/clan tartans: campbell & foster 
my campbell tartan shirt
(£8.00 from primark & my 50p river island sale bow tie)
Tartan is a woven pattern rather than print and while often referred to as plaid, plaid actually refers to the tartan blanket worn over the shoulder in traditional Highland dress. Don't you feel better for knowing this? Aren't you going to feel smug when you can correct someone? You're welcome.

Tartan has been used in some of the most iconic fashion trends of the 20th century, when it was adopted by the British punk movement as a motif, using what was once the fabric of the gentry as a sign of rebellion. It is here we saw the Stewart tartan (the official tartan of Queen Elizabeth) turned against the perceived upper classes.
malcolm mclaren & vivienne westwood were the pioneers of punk fashion
Tartan was seen in many collections at the recent London Collections:Men, Paris and Milan men's fashion weeks. Using tartan in unusual ways such as bold accents, oversized prints or in modern colours means it can be reinvented season after season while still maintaining its heritage.

tiger of sweden spring 2014

agi & sam spring 2014

Nowadays we can embrace this fabric for whichever reason we want. Whether you want a bit of anarchy or some genteel cool, this versatile and timeless fabric is perfect. A recent sweep of the high street sees tartan in abundance so there is ample opportunity to add some to your wardrobe.
topman spring tartan accessories

A scarf or tie is an easy and understated way to bring tartan into your wardrobe. I advise wearing a tartan tie with a darker shirt or it could end up looking a bit school uniform-y.

I have been on the search for a pair of tartan trousers since before Christmas but to no avail. The closest I can find were these (they are cropped but would probably be a good length on my little legs); but my local Topman didn't have them in stock. Gutted.
topman red/black tartan check trouser £34.00 £17.00
river island spring collection

River Island is leading with red tartan, but one of the best things about this fabric is the vast array of colour combinations. While it is interesting to explore your roots with a family tartan, by no means should this limit your choice! 

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Malentine's Day

With Valentine's Day imminent, men across the country are begrudgingly acknowledging the need to get the finger out and get their other half something.

The shops are awash with coronary-shaped candy, red satin has been applied to things it never should come in contact with and cards are at least 4 times the usual size. True, fellas are uninspired and resort to the cliched tokens of petrol station flowers and chocolates, naff teddy bears and dodgy underwear.

But we are going to make this year different and lead by example!

I've taken the 3 biggest Valentine's themes and adapted them into a (hopefully useful) selection of alternative gift ideas for the man in your life.

Red is not a colour for the faint hearted, but it can be a bold accent. (Please don't do the red boxer thing!)
river island dark red tartan bow tie £6.00
Not just for formal occasions, rock this with a fitted dark denim shirt and chinos for a preppy twist on date night.

converse all star hi tops £48.00
You should know by now of my enduring love of Converse. These red beauties make a cool alternative to black.

Floral patterns are everywhere and not just for women. If in doubt, keep it dark, as an accent or an accessory.
topman washed black floral tapestry bomber £35.00
The bomber jacket trend from 2013 has not gone away. I love the combination of solid black body contrasted with the floral sleeves

river island navy flower lapel pin £3.00
Lapel pins, button holes, brooches, boutonnieres; call them what you like but there's no denying these little wonders are a quick way turning on the dapper.

Don't present a slab of Dairy Milk this Friday. While it will no doubt be appreciated by most, get more creative!

timex easy reader brown strap watch £29.99
The Timex easy reader is a modern classic and every man deserves a casual watch. The sheer simplicity of this watch means it is never going to go out of style.

While Valentine's Day is looked upon with cynicism by some, why should we need an excuse to treat a loved one? I hope my little guide has provided some last minute inspiration if you are still looking for that elusive gift idea.

all images are property of respective companies

Friday, 7 February 2014

Silver Linings

Every cloud has a silver lining and we have had plenty of clouds since the start of 2014 with torrential rain and howling winds almost daily. But this cannot dampen our spirits or prevent us from getting on with getting on.

So last Saturday I braved the elements to venture into Belfast on a few of errands.

  • Hair cut. I've not had my hair sorted since before Christmas. I have thick, straight hair that eats product and rejects styling so I have to remind it who's the boss on a regular basis. My favourite barbers in Belfast is Peter Oliver; I have built up a great relationship with my stylist Olivia who knows how to handle my hair and is always on hand with advice on how to tame my mane. She is going off on maternity leave soon and although I wish her all the best for the imminent arrival, a selfish part of me is worried about who will do my hair (or hurr if you wish to pick up the local lingo)
  • New specs. I've worn glasses since I before primary school - with my blond hair and tortoiseshell NHS frames, I was the spit of the Milkybar Kid! ==>
    I sit in front of a computer for 8 hours in work and then come home and sit glued to at least another 3 screens at home; either my phone, laptop or TV. While I got new glasses just over year ago, I thought I would invest in some new lenses in a pair of rather cool frames I picked up on eBay. I love the geeky-retro vibe to them and the wooden legs make them that little bit more unusual. If you are a glasses wearer, shop around - you don't have to take the frames in the opticians. Find a pair you love and most places with glaze them for you for a little bit extra.
new specs/newhair/same beard

  • A trip to St Georges market. St George's Market is one of my favourite places in Belfast and the weekend market was recently voted the best in the UK, ahead of the likes of Borough and Spitalfields! The Saturday market is a mix of craft and food while Sunday offers more vintage and crafts. I called in on invitation of the lovely Sam Mercer after I commented on her designs on Instagram. I'd seen Sam's work previously in the Fashion Souk and was delighted to find she is turning her hand to producing men's accessories with a new line of boutonniere and pins. I had a great chat with Sam and it was so interesting and refreshing to talk to someone so passionate about their work and their surroundings. After limited success in the Souk and 2 years in Victoria Square's craft market, her creations have found a home in the historic surroundings of St George's market. Her collections of pins, clips and fascinators and fab new head scarves are the product of hours of sewing and crafting and love. The vintage styles are cute and quirky and I know many female friends who would love to rock a piece or 2. 
i love the hustle & bustle of the market with live music every saturday

sam's kind gift
more of sam's work
these peacock buttonholes caught my attention - something different for a groom perhaps? *hint
the lady herself
Sam's enthusiasm and passion is infectious and she very kindly gave me some of her new styles; bow tie button-holes and flower boutonnieres. I'm giving away this striking red flower boutonniere - just enter my Giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Lapel-wear has had a major comeback of late with many high street stores now offering adornment for those other-wise boring jackets. Most lapels have a button hole - don't be afraid to use them!

i wore the red boutonniere to the quirky wedding fair on sunday