The importance of staying in your own lane

A conversation with a friend a few week's back inspired me to write a little something on the importance of "staying in your own lane". Obviously, this saying refers to both driving in your designated lane, as well as focusing on yourself (and not other peoples dramas/achievements/goals) and for the record, I am going to talk about the latter in this post!

It is easier said than done...'Just stay focused on yourself, Danie', 'Ignore what so and so is doing, Danie', 'Don't worry unnecessarily over things you can't control, Danie'... all of these things are so hard to do! That cliched quote of "comparison is the thief of joy" really does what it says on the tin. It is EASY to get swept along with the tide of comparison. It sucks you in and then spits you right back out again and before you know it; you're 45 weeks deep on Instagram, on someone's page and feeling like a big bag of shit cos your life ain't so great.

STOP IT! Just stop it.
Do YOU, honey. Do you.

My number one problem when it comes to staying focused on my own journey is when I let the fact I have a chronic illness consume me. In my head, I feel ok... (I mean I have anxiety, and I over worry, and I have Fibro Fog due to my chronic condition) BUT it's my body/pain that lets me down the majority of the time.

I want to achieve SO much, but I physically can't/severely struggle. When I am at my worst, I am home for days on end, lying on my bed/sofa and glued to my phone. I see fellow bloggers posting content, I see friends and family smashing work targets/life goals...and there's little old me, just lying in my four day old PJs and wondering if I'm going to be dropped by my management, forgotten in the blogging world or ever get married/have a baby. That shit eats me alive. I can get so worked up about it at times.

I need to learn to shut it out. Focus on my personal journey, and you need to do the same!

The "joy" of my condition is that I have good days and I have bad days. Even on my good days, I am still in severe pain, but I can put a front on and tackle the day. I need to remember that I do A LOT for someone with chronic pain and I should be really proud of myself and what I manage to/have accomplish/ed.

If you too are struggling with these feelings of self-doubt/jealously then I urge you to join me in attempting to put a lid on it in 2018... (as much as possible)! We need to learn to notice when we are being sucked in by those niggling feelings and we need to step away from the situation. Put the phone down, so you get off Instagram. Write a list of all the good shit you've achieved that week/month/ year. Call or text someone and just tell them straight, tell them "I'm having a confidence wobble and I need some reassurance."

Shop My Look

1. Jumper - lots of similar jumpers here | 2. Skirt - similar here | 3. Boots similar here | 4. Clutch bag similar here

Sadly ALL of the items I am wearing in this post aren't available online anymore but I have tried my best to link similar items.

Photography by JKGPhotography

The friend I was talking to last week gave me some tough love via text. They said:

"I think it's not helpful for you to keep comparing yourself to others."

"I say this with love and adoration."

"Put that energy into being even more amazing."

Bamn! It is just what I NEEDED (I can't say at the time, it was what I WANTED) to hear. It was one of those lightbulb moments. My friend had given me a much-needed boot up the ass, and I am here to do the same for you...

Focus your energy/time spent hating on others/time spent being jealous of others, on YOU!

In 2018 (and beyond) we need to remember that we are all different and that we were all put on this bonkers planet to achieve greatness...in our own special way, at our own special pace.

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5 Looks You Need from M&S Curve

If you follow me on social media you will have seen me discussing my involvement in the recent launch of the M&S Curve range. I was privileged enough to help consult on the range as well as design two LBD's to co-inside with the launch.

When I started my blog, if you would have told me I would move into consultancy work and design work; I wouldn't have believed you. I started my blog as a hobby and now look at me! I am so lucky to be able to say I absolutely love my job! Blogging has enabled me to branch off into so many different creative outlets and long may it continue. In 2018, my two main goals are that I want to do more consultancy work and more design work. I can't wait to see if I manage to achieve either/both of these goals!

M&S Curve launched 33 pieces online on the 9th January and today see's the collection expand to a total of 100 pieces. Ranging from size 18-32, M&S Curve has been designed with the curve customer in mind and the attention to detail across the range is evident. The Curve collection, for instance, is designed on a size 24 block (as a posed to a size 12 for main range) and details like this mean that our plus size bodies are really taken into consideration from start to finish.

This first SS17 drop comprises of casual daywear pieces, basics, evening wear and fantastic fitting denim. You can see below my edit of favourite pieces and let's not forget the two LBD's I designed! I took my ideas to M&S and they allowed me to design a dress from scratch. We designed three styles with the aim of launching one BUT I/they liked two styles so much...they let me take two to production.

My Curve Edit

Here's a selection of my favourite SS17 M&S Curve pieces.

 My Top 5 Curve Looks

Look 1

Take one sleeveless LBD, add THE comfiest faux leather biker jacket and voila, you have a chic look suitable for a day at work or after work drinks with your friends. The hardwear fastening at the waist and fabric mix make this dress a really unique piece for plus size women.

I am wearing the M&S wide fit trainers in this look (as well as some of the below looks) and FYI they are really comfortable. I am so proud of this dress. Designing this one, along with the dress is Look 3 is one of my proudest achievements.

Look 2

This look incorporates some of my fave things. Cool grey denim, a crisp white shirt and a statement jacket. This sleeveless trench is the softest thing you'll ever feel and is so god damn cool. Style with the collar up and tie the waist belt in a chunky knot.

Look 3

My favourite look from the collection! I may be biased, but I LOVE this Little Black Dress that I designed. I especially love the mesh 3/4 sleeves, the gathered fabric at the waist and the free-flowing strip of fabric at the yoke of the dress. Fling a leather jacket over your shoulders and either style down with trainers or up, with chunky heels.

Look 4

A great fitting jumpsuit is a wardrobe essential in my opinion. They are so versatile and suit everyone no matter your age. I kept this look very simple by styling with a chunky high heel to let the jumpsuit do all the talking. This jumpsuit would also look great worn with flats/trainers.

Look 5

The perfect spring dress. I love the back-waist belt and the way this dress really pulls me in. The colour is muted and looks so good styled with monochrome accessories. I have styled this occasion wear dress for a daytime look BUT add some killer heels and this would be perfect for a wedding or fancy dinner.

Photography by JKGPhotography 

                                                       *This post is written in collaboration with M&S but all words and opinions are my own.
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Smart Works X Navabi - Workwear Wardrobe

Sometimes we quite frankly, need to be educated and when I met with the incredible organisation, Smart Works; that's just what they did. They opened my eyes to something I had honestly never thought about and made me realise just how privileged I am (in more ways than one).

Smart Works is a charity that provides out of work, on low-income women, the chance to kit themselves out with amazing quality workwear so that they are able to go to interviews appropriately dressed. The charity doesn't just dress these women though, they go a lot further than that. Smart Works provide every woman with styling advice as well as interview training so that they can face their interviews with confidence and self belief. 

Many of the clothes that Smart Works receive (as donations) are straight-sized. Where does this leave plus size women you must be thinking?! Well, luckily fantastic companies like navabi help by donating clothes as well as going one step further...

No matter who you are/what background you're from, if you're plus size; looking for work wear is extremely hard. I am asked time and time again to do workwear posts and luckily for you guys, navabi has come up trumps. Buy selling this capsule collection of shirts, dresses, bottoms and blazers, navabi not only stocks fab work wear but they also donate a piece everytime one is sold from this 7 piece collection - how fab is that?

Browse the collection here.

Things I love about Smart Works:

- They are open to anyone who identifies as a woman.
- There are over 150 Stylists available within the organisation that help to dress each woman.
- Smart Works listens to each woman and helps to dress them appropriately, taking religious and personal needs into account.
- Each woman gets to keep their interview outfit as well as getting to go back to the charity to pick a - further 5 pieces to wear if they end up securing a job.
- The Smart Works Stylists don't just help to dress the women, if the particular garments they like, don't fit; the stylists will help to alter the items - making them perfect for the big day.
- After the women have found their perfect outfit, volunteers who all have backgrounds in HR, help the women with interview techniques.
- Even if the women don't get the job they are going for, Smart Works offer some more support post interview. 

Photography by JKGPhotography

What I'm Wearing 

1st Photo: 1. Blazer 2. Shirt 3. Trousers
2nd Photo: 1. Dress

*This post was written in collaboration with navabi. 
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2 Outfits, 1 Shop

Ever get stressed trawling allllll the shops online, looking for all the components of an outfit? Sometimes you just need to get everything in one place and be done with it. 

I like a little mission and I've collaborated with my faves at La Redoute and my mission was to build two looks, wearing La Redoute's own brands. If you didn't know, La Redoute also sell tonnes of popular brands like Adidas and Levis and their homeware is also banging - I've got so many items on my wishlist! 

Anyway, back to the task at hand! Who wants to see the two looks I put together?

Look 1 - A Daytime Look 

Need some off-duty inspiration? Look no further! I have taken the cosiest jacket of all time and styled it with some super casual pieces for the perfect daytime look.

Now, it's a little chilly at the moment BUT this puffa jacket is like stepping out in your duvet so even with the bare legs; you're good to go. I picked other casual items that you can style in heaps of different ways meaning you can optimize the amount of wear you get out of your one-shop items.

I never knew I needed a white roll neck top until it arrived and I put it with the pencil skirt and jacket! I live in my standard black one but I feel like a white one is like having a little festive revamp!   No daytime look would be complete without a pair of classic trainers and the colour of these really stood out. They tie in nicely with the burgundy stripe running down the side of the skirt and for a pair trainers, you can't complain about £23.40 - such a bargain!

Shop my Daytime Look

1. Jacket | 2. Roll Neck Jumper | 3. Pencil Skirt | 4. Trainers 

Look 2 - A Nighttime Look 

It's officially party season and if you've got a jam-packed diary - you'll need some party appropriate togs! I've taken one navy velvet dress and given it a 'Danie twist' by adding monochrome accessories. 

I read somewhere on Instagram that navy and black shouldn't be worn together and my eyes rolled so far back in my head; it's a surprise I can still write this! Of course, navy and black can be worn together - just look how great they look together in this look!

This midnight blue, velvet swing dress is very comfortable and flowy and I reckon it'd be a great go-to dress - it's so wearable and fuss-free. Throw on a fluffy white coat and some seriously sexy boots - you're good to go! I love wearing heeled boots in winter instead of strappy heels, it keeps your toes warm and you don't have to worry about getting your unsightly toenails out! Need a cute little party bag, La Redoute have you covered...just look at this adorable circle bag! I've already taken it out with me for a few nights out and I can tell I'm going to reach for it all winter long. 

Shop my Nighttime Look

1. Dress | 2. Coat | 3. Circle Bag | 4. Boots 

Photographs by JKGPhotography
*This post was sponsored by La Redoute 

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