Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Look! Even MORE blog-on-blog loving!

Oh. My goodness. Remember yesterday how I was telling anyone who'd listen that the beautiful ladies at Domestic Sluttery had chosen a dress from humble little Aspire Style to be part of their amazing 12 days of Christmas competition bonanza? Those of you who entered the competition to win our lovely Fever Escala dress may have read in that particular Domestic Sluttery post that:

"Don't worry if you don't win, as take it from us, we have the MOTHER of all competitions coming up tomorrow!"

And were they ever right. The competition bonanza has officially turned into an EXTRAVAGANZA with the announcement today that you now have the opportunity to win ALL of the 12 days of Christmas prizes, including the Escala dress! Clearly someone's cracked open the sherry a bit early, but who am I to judge? Have a peek at the lovely array of goodies on offer:

This time to enter, get yourselves over to the competition and inform the Domestic Sluts how you intend to spend the forthcoming festive period. I would attempt to enter myself, but I am slightly grinchy and wouldn't want to ruin the chances of those who do genuinely love Christmas (although I am a particular fan of that pink Paris print from Bodie and Fou and the so-cute-it-makes-me-make-strange-baby-noises Bunny Vase from Hannah Zakari).

I don't know why you're still reading this when you could be winning prizes! Go! Be gone! Make sure you enter by midday tomorrow (the 17th) and don't be spammy - you can only enter once (plus one retweet and one entry for blogging about it).

Until next time,


Tuesday, 15 December 2009

A quick bit of blog-on-blog loving

Hello all!

Just a quick note to say...

WE LOVE DOMESTIC SLUTTERY! And it seems the feeling is mutual. As part of their 12 Days of Christmas competition bonanza, the lovely Domestic Sluts are giving away our beautiful Fever Escala dress, which retails at £79 and is sure to turn heads at Christmas parties/New Years' Parties/when you're in Tescos (delete as applicable). Just look at it!

Sigh... so beautiful... I would like to enter myself, but I imagine it's a bit like all that jargon you get on the back of Hula Hoops packets about no employees or relations of employees being allowed to participate. Oh well, the dress is currently in my office waiting to be sent to the lucky winner, so at least I get to look at it for a while!

To enter, simply get your lovely self over to the Domestic Sluttery website (this link will take you directly to the competition) and tell those lovely ladies where you'd wear the dress. Just two rules: you have to enter by midnight tonight (the 15th) and you can only enter once, otherwise it's just greedy. No one will believe you if you enter several times then say you have some kind of short-term memory loss condition which made you forget you entered.

I can't wait to blog about the lucky winner!

Until next time,


Sunday, 29 November 2009

Christmassy windows

The eagle-eyed amongst you may have noticed a certain festive theme running through recent posts, and this one is no exception! Our merchandising masterminds Sass and Jane have pulled out all the stops in our Stratford store to create the two most beautiful Christmas windows Warwickshire, nay, the entire country, has ever seen.

Here's a pic of our smaller window in the evening, with the traditional Christmas dinner table adorned with treats from Aspire amongst the post-dinner debris. That's real Christmas cake! There was also a full box of After Eights towards the rear of the table, but unsurprisingly, it's empty now.

This is the same window in daylight hours, looking out onto Wood Street. I love the cosy feel that Sass and Jane have given this window, with the Elena Rose coat and Dot Rose cardign casually thrown over the back of the chairs.

The larger Stratford window is a veritable winter wonderland, featuring the newest Aspire girl (and by girl, I mean mannequin), the lovely Simone. She's sporting the Traffic People Sequin Fan dress, which is ideal Christmas party wear. Sometimes when I look at this window I come over all Nordic and long for an evening stroll along a mountainside crunching through the fresh snow. No one else?

Stratford council have kindly allowed local businesses to take over the windows of empty shops for the festive period, sort of like large 3D advertisements. Laura and Libby really went to town on our window in Bards Walk, where we have on display some of our bestselling items and beautiful gift ideas to inspire people to pay us a visit.

Here's the very stylish Fever Kensington coat, and you can also see the Irregular Choice Flick Flack shoes and incredibly popular Vintage Parcel wash bag at the bottom:

The Monica dress and Escala dress, both by Fever, are amazing for the party season:

So many gifts! Treat your friends! Your family! Yourself! I am particularly a fan of the Dandy wash bag and matching make up bag at the right of the picture (just in case, dear reader, you were thinking of treating your favourite blogger. Have I told you how pretty you look today?).

We're in the running for the best window in Stratford - it's a competition where shoppers vote for the shop window they like the most. So if you're local, or really really dedicated to helping Aspire, please pop into our Stratford shop and give us your support!

On that note, I shall leave you. I'm still suffering the impact of Cyber Monday - the busiest online shopping day in history - the Aspire Style site was no exception to this. Back to the packing and posting!

Until next time,


Gift inspiration

The Christmas rush has well and truly begun here at Aspire, with people stocking up on gifts and treats for the forthcoming festivities. So many of our customers are asking for gift wrapping that we're getting through our trademark pink tissue paper like nobody's business! Fortunately, we Aspire girls are highly trained wrapping machines who work at the speed of light and never even get paper cuts, so we are more than happy to oblige. If you're on the lookout for gift ideas for the ladies in your life, here are some of my favourites:

There's loads more online and in the shops, so please pay us a visit!

Until next time,


Friday, 20 November 2009

Christmas is coming!

Hello all! Very sorry for the deadly silence surrounding the Aspire Style blog of late, but we've had a bit of a shift around and we're pleased to announce that blogging will now be a very regular (hopefully weekly) feature! So, let's get you up to date with recent developments...

We've been shouting this from the rooftops, but in case you haven't heard, Aspire Style is OFFICIALLY the best shop in Coventry and Warwickshire. Ten of the girls headed to the Warwick Arts Centre in October to attend the Godiva awards ceremony where it was announced that we had won the best shop award. Co-owner Emma and Stratford manager Abbey went up to accept the award, which is now proudly on display in the Stratford shop.

Following the excitement of the Godiva awards, we had to begin seriously thinking about Christmas. In all three shops, we're often complimented on our beautiful displays, and our Christmas displays have been no exception. In fact, one visitor to our Stratford shop even said that our displays were better than Harrods! Credit for this goes to Sassi, Jane and Laura, who worked together to create this beautiful centre table:

Oxford and Warwick are also getting into the spirit of things, with this beautifully coloured table of jewellery in Oxford (notice the cheeky little reindeer!)...

...And this gorgeous ivy-topped bookcase in Warwick - yet another of Sassi's creations:

We've also been having fun helping our customers prepare for the impending party season, and items like the gorgeous Fever Ivy dress and the ever-popular Yumi Bobble dress have been flying off the rails. Incidentally, this weekend (20th - 22nd November) is our 15% off Party Dresses promotion, so get yourself down to one of our shops or visit our website and grab yourself a bargain!

And don't forget, if you're on the hunt for Christmas gifts, you can do so from the comfort of your own home by visiting our fabulous gift range, where you'll find the best-selling Vintage Envelope purse as featured in Look magazine, and the first two pieces from our new Dandy range: a beautiful make up bag and matching toiletries bag. If you're having trouble deciding what to get people, we also do gift vouchers, and with free postage when you spend more than £50, you might have to treat yourself too!

If you want to keep up to date with the latest Aspire happenings, as well as receiving notifications of new blog posts, you can now follow us on Twitter, as well as our fabulous Facebook group. We love to hear from our customers, so feel free to get in touch!

Until next time,


Sunday, 5 July 2009

Aspire Style news...and in the magazines!

Well it's been a while - mainly because I've been away on a two week holiday and therefore the previous weeks leading up to it were frantic activity to get everything 'sorted'. As a result I thought I wound do a round up of what's been happening lately at Aspire Style.

Our customer evening (I know it was AGES ago) was a real success with Stratford pulling out all the stops and getting some fabulous fairy cakes which went down very well with our customers!

Not to be outdone, Oxford went for multi-coloured balloons to match their tropical window and a bubble machine to entice customers down the road.

All the shops have been busy having training events so that we can ensure we try and give the best customer service. This included in Stratford a good excuse to dress up... there was a reason behind it.

Alex wearing the Yumi Jamika dress (£55) and Ellyn wearing the Yumi Rita dress (£60)

The girls have used the photos to create a pinboard showing them modelling the clothes to encourage our customers to do the same.

Due to the scorching weather we had in June (although where has it gone now?), we bit the bullet and got a fab traditional awning installed in Oxford. Catherine, the manager practically begged us to have one as Oxford has a south facing window and let alone the window stock fading she was certain she could cook eggs in the heat! So no more fainting ladies now...

Last but not least is the fact that has been in the press this week! Grazia Magazine featured our Yumi Pansy dress (£45) in their '10 hot tea dresses'.

And Look magazine featured our gorgeous vintage parcel washbag (22.95) and vintage envelope coin purse (£12.95) in their 'Click & shop' page.

The response has been fantastic - with the girls run off their feet packing and posting!

Well that's it for this update. I promise I won't leave it so long next time,

Irresistible fashion, jewellery & gift

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Holiday time - inspired by travel

Well my weekly blog is very late due to the fact that I woke up last Saturday morning to the glorious weather and demanded to be taken away. Diva-esque behaviour but tempered by the fact that we credit-crunched it by going camping. Camping is great when the weather's on your side - even my glamorous partner in crime at Aspire Emma admitted feelings of jealousy.

We went to Lyme Regis which is a beautifully preserved seaside town on the Dorset/Devon border with a lovely promenade and these picture perfect beach huts!

This inspired me to share with you our new vintage inspired Paper Planes range of gifts which are all based around the travel theme and are just lovely!

From top left, the range includes the 'Parcel' toiletries bag, complete with string (£22.95), big enough to put all your essentials in and with the address as 'Wash your hands and your feet, now it's time to fall asleep'. To the right is the 'Vintage postcard' make-up bag (£14.95) with 'Let's kiss and make up', in the middle is a lovely 'stamp' design compact mirror, which is perfect for a gift as it comes in it's own cardboard airmail envelope. Bottom right is a vintage style satchel (£45) with buckled straps, embroidered 'return to sender'. Finally bottom left is our new best seller, the 'airmail envelope' purse (£12.95). Where the address would be written are the words ' save your pennies 4a rainy day', with stitched airmail, stamp and S.W.A.L.K detailing.

Our merchandiser Sass was so taken with the range, that she's developed her Parisian themed window in Stratford by using the range and including a gorgeous Pashley 'Poppy' bike in pretty pink. These Pashely bikes are handmade in Stratford-upon-Avon and are renowned around the world.

Here is a close-up of the items pictured above in the shop.

And here is another pic of that gorgeous bike - At £395, it's not the cheapest - but wouldn't you feel fabulous taking your exercise on this? You can add accessories, such as a classic front basket, but you'd be a bit worried about leaving it anywhere I think!

Picture source:

Anyway, hope this installment has cheered you as much as it has me on this rainy day!

Irresistible fashion, jewellery & gift

Sunday, 24 May 2009

It's Darling! - Styling ideas with our new brand.

We're very excited here at Aspire to get our first delivery of new brand Darling clothes. We've just dipped our toe in this season, picking out a handful of vintage inspired summer pieces and I've come up with a couple of ideas on how to wear them mostly for my own enjoyment!

Inspired by Audrey...

Inspired by Audrey

Some images not my own - source and links in text

I've created this classic look, inspired by Audrey Hepburn around the gorgeous Darling Scarlet dress (£75), a shift made from a material with a slight stretch which hangs beautifully. It has pretty pearl beads sewn all around the neckline, which I have then matched with Aspire's new favourite bow pearl cuff (£12.95). The bow theme is continued with our Stone Bow clutch (£25) and as the dress is demure, although finishes above the knee, I thought some killer heels like our Poetic Licence ruffle heels (£59) would give the outfit some extra va-va voom and of course as it's summer, these retro round sunglasses (£10), from Dorothy Perkins are perfect. In your bag, you might want to have one of these handy novelty lipstick pens (£2.95) to write down your number for all your adoring male fans!

Casual Summertime...


Some images not my own - source and links in text

Inspired by the gorgeous weather we're having I've featured two of Darling's gorgeous floaty tops, both made of silk to keep you cool on hot days. The first is the lovely yellow 'Lili' top (£49) with inbuilt cotton lining and vintagey lace detailing particularly round the neckline. The second is the Darling Zara top (£62) which is quite long (but sadly not quite to be a dress!) and comes with a seperate basic white vest. Both of these would look great with this light denim mini skirt (£35) from Oasis, our gorgeous Poetic Licence flower flip flops (£40) and our new coral beaded bracelet (£16.95). Topped off with these great sunglasses (£15) from Topshop.

Simply Pretty...

Simply pretty
Some images not my own - source and links in text

This look is based around the lovely Darling polka dot Poppy dress (£69), which again is made of a floaty silk chiffon with in-built slip. It would look great with our bow flip-flops (£49) and a cute denim jacket (£30) from Dorothy Perkins, pinned with our Flower brooches (£9.95) and those topshop sunglasses again. Also, what about one of our cute compact mirrors (£7.50) for your handbag?

Well, I've had fun with our new Darling Clothes. If you're local to our Aspire Style shops in Warwick, Stratford-upon-Avon and Oxford, we've got a special customer eve on Thurs 28th May with 20% off ALL clothes! (5:30-8:30pm)

Until next time,

Irresistible fashion, jewellery & gift

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Inspirational shop windows at Aspire Style

At Aspire Style in the real world of our bricks and mortar stores, our window dressing is of course extremely important. It is our only opportunity to entice would be customers into our shops with the delights of what's in store. With that in mind, we have the creative talent of Sassi our merchandiser in Stratford & Warwick and Catherine in Oxford. We try and theme our windows and change them on a bi-weekly basis to keep things fresh and this week Sass has created Paris themed the windows with inspiration from Sofia Coppola's advert for Miss Dior Cherie advert:
Image Source: Youtube - to watch advert click here

The advert is beautifully shot with gorgeous scenes of a Parisian patisserie, balloons and bicycles. Here is Sassi's interpretation in our Warwick window:

She has used a vintage stepladder painted a pretty turquise colour and placed our shoes and gifts on it and strewn the window with gorgeous pastel-coloured balloons which gives the window a real impact!

Sassi's Stratford window:

For Stratford, Sass has kept with the Paris theme, photocopying black and white images of the Eiffel tower as a backdrop. In the photo above you can see our Yumi Tandy dress (£55), pretty red Poetic Licence shoes (£79), our retro overnight bag (£45) (just seen) and the utterly gorgeous red patent Orla Kiely bag

On the dresser, Sass has used books, gifts and jewellery to carry on the theme, including our Eiffel tower charm necklace (£14.95) of course!

Well, hope you like this week's look into the real world of Aspire Style... if you're in Stratford, Oxford or Warwick and haven't been to see us - please pop in, addresses at

I'll keep you posted on future inspirational windows as they are created.

Au Revoir!

Irresistible fashion, jewellery & gift

Saturday, 9 May 2009

New ways to wear ditsy florals

Inspired by a recent 'Ditsy Florals' fashion article in Grazia magazine, I thought I'd have a go at putting together some looks with some of our super cute floral dresses. Starting with the dress as the key piece, I've come up with looks which range from a casual summer work look, a good weekend outfit and one that would be great for standing out in the crowds at this summers' festivals!

A pretty summer work look:

Some images used are not my own - source and links in text

The work look is all centered around our Yumi Rita dress (£60) which falls just above the knee and is a floaty, cool chiffon material, smartened up with a topshop jacket (£60) with enamel stud detailing, smart and comfy gladiator sandals (£22) by Dorothy Perkins and accessorized with one of our colourful plastic flower necklaces (£8.95) and a pink suede belt from Topshop (£25).

A good weekend outfit:
Ditsy florals and pearls
Some images used are not my own - source and links in text

Another Yumi dress is at the centre of this weekend look. Our Yumi Pansy dress (£45) is a pretty tea dress with a pale blue and green flower print, which would work perfectly with a classic denim jacket - this one from Dorothy Perkins (£30). Our bobble pearl necklace (£17.95) and matching pearl bracelet (£14.95) work really well with the colour scheme and add a touch of vintage style. The outfit is completed with the Nica Rain tote bag (£60), our Poetic Licence bow sandals (£49) and some topshop shades (£15).

Pretty for a festival:
Mix and match

Some images used are not my own - source and links in text

This is my favourite look - a bit eccentric English rose. The dress is our bestselling Fever Strawberry Dress (£45) which has a lovely Cath Kidston-esque rose and dot print on and a real vintage feel. These green polka dot wellies from Cath Kitston (£38) go perfectly with the dress in a cute fashionable clashing sort of way and the outfit is finished with a stripey cardi - essential for our changeable English summer weather. This one's from Topshop (£32). Accesorize with a couple of our super-cute plastic flower brooches (£7.95) and our sweetie necklace (£8.95).

Until next time!

Irresistible fashion, jewellery & gift

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Aspire Style - best friends in business and on TV!

On the TV - Emma's wearing the Maisy Sundress and I'm wearing the Fever Poppy Dress

Well it's been an exciting week here at Aspire Style with an appearance on BBC2's Working Lunch last Weds (29th April).

It all came about by Emma putting together a press release about our business 'with an interesting angle' and emailing it to their general contact email a few months ago. Our angle was 'Best Friends in Business' as Emma and I have been friends since we were 10. At 32, and after 4 years in business our friendship is still going strong!

(tragically we weren't too stylish in our younger days... although Emma has made valiant efforts with that crimper!)
We were at the same school but different classes and met due to an unfortunate netballing accident where, due to our competitive nature (has served us well!), we both went for the ball and one of us (me) came out of it with a fractured arm! The arm healed and we discovered we had lots in common including a passion for art and all things creative.

(Eermm... What are those things on our heads?! - At the clothes show when we were 15)
As time passed we often talked about what we would do when we grew up including running a night club! But as A-Levels turned into degrees and graduate jobs, we were busy on the treadmill of life. A few years into our careers, with Emma a marketing brand manager and me stuck with lots of men doing design engineering (that's where being good at drawing can take you!), we started yearning to do something more creative again and so the idea of Aspire Style was born.
(looking very pleased with ourselves at 18 (honest!), off to a 70s event)

From our first shop in a sleepy street in Warwick, selling vases and cushions, we've grown and changed into 3 shops and online selling delectable dresses, fashion jewellery & girly gifts!

Mmmm.... I wonder where we'll be in 4 years from now?

Irresistible fashion, jewellery & gift

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Aspire loves...anything with a bow on it

Dorothy gingham bow hairband available from LouLou Loves you £14.99
Image source: LouLouloves you website

We've been mad about bows for a few seasons, but our buying strategy of 'if it's got a bow on it, we must have it' has come to full fruition this season with the shop bursting with bows. Bows on handbags, dresses, shoes - you name it, I can show you it with a bow.

Not since the late eighties, when, with long hair I was able to wear my velvet bow hair slide atop my pony tail have I coveted bows so much. It's funny that - even if you were there the first time around and, the f ashion fever still gets you.

Here are some of our finest bow-adorned items:
Stone slouchy bow handbag (£55), also available in chocolate, purple & turquoise.
Poetic Licence sparkle bow flip flops (£49)
Yumi Jamika dress (£55) wit h diamante bow elasticate d belt

They are so pretty, so sweet, so girly. We hope bows stick around in fashion for a while!

Irresistible fashion, jewellery & gift

Monday, 20 April 2009

Springtime layers - getting creative with one dress

The weather her is gorgeous at the moment but as you bound out the door in your summer garb - you suddenly realise it's a bit chilly out there.... Fear not as this gives you an excellent excuse to indulge in some layering!

I love layering - why wear one item of clothing when you can wear at least 5? This is partly to do with the fact that I'm a sensitive soul and feel the cold and you need to be prepared in spring but also because with layering, you get to create even more variations of outfits with the same clothes...
For examply our Asturius dress (pictured above£69) is a perfect day dress for any season and would look great right now with a this M&S striped t-shirt (£7). Or it could work with a long sleeved white t-shirt (M&S £7) and a 3/4 sleeve cardi over the top (Oasis £35). It would really work with some gladiator style sandals like these from topshop. If your legs are feeling cold, leggings or our Pamela Mann footless tights (£4.95)would work well.

I not only layer with clothes - I've become fond of wearing multiple necklaces, a short pendant, along with a long bead necklace. This plastic flower necklace (£8.95) in pink would look great with the sweetie necklace (£8.95) - good enough to eat!

Anyway - enjoy your springtime layering!

Irresistible fashion, jewellery & gif
Some pictures used are not my own. They are from the M&S and Oasis websites.