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Shopping: American Apparel Sale Finds

Skipping down Oxford Street recently (it had been a particularly good day), I found myself being drawn into American Apparel - a store that I normally avoid due to everything being a bit hipster for my liking, and I'm just not cool enough (or thin enough) to pass most of it off. The big SALE signs probably helped my decision.

As someone who shops on a budget, the chain has never really welcomed my purse but I was very pleasantly surprised by the quality of their sale. Almost the entire store was taken over by it and there was such a choice! I normally get my basics from H&M, but AA's always fit so much better, and they have such a good range of plain tees, belts and leggings to use as a base for your next outfit.

I was so excited to find this skirt reduced to £22:

My quest for a plain black pleated skirt has been a tiresome one. I have scoured high street shops, second hand stores and all over the internet for a skirt without embellishment, without leather panelling, that didn't feel cheap, goes with everything and cover my arse (at 5ft 10" I often struggle to find skirts and dresses that preserve my modesty). You wouldn't think it would be so hard but my goodness! And here it was, it was fate. I had to buy it. 

My second find was this top reduced to just £8!:

I think it looks like it could be vintage, with the material and the candy stripes. I'm not really one for purple, I never really feel comfortable in it. But this small accent makes me very happy, and the top looks ace tucked into my faithful high waisted skinnies.

I didn't really need these finds to make me an AA convert, it's just been my bank balance that's stopped me shopping there before. But next time they have a sale, just you try and hold me back!

All photos from

Shopping: Popping my ASOS Marketplace cherry

As you probably know by now I'm a one for rummaging in charity shops and vintage stores, trying to find the next big bargain. I'm pretty partial to eBay too, but aside from that I very rarely buy second hand clothes online. I just feel they can be a bit hit and miss, often arriving with sweat stains or smelling dusty.

But the other week I finally bought my first item on ASOS Marketplace. A sister site of the retail giants ASOS, the site allows people to sell on their stuff while posing in them in a garden or by a disused rail road (no, really, I've actually seen that). That's the reason I stick to selling things on eBay - I can't bring myself to vogue on a beach or attempt to model H2T Tyra-style in a botanical garden for these photos, but I can buy from there.

I decided it was time to embrace polka dots, my softly-softly way of getting into prints for spring, and found this very cute top. Polka dots - check, cobalt blue - check, removable shoulder pads - check!

Paired with my berry tweed shorts from Topshop
The best thing about this site is you can 'make an offer' on products. So rather than paying £20 for this, I got it for £15 (not including p&p from the US), which I was very happy with.

The transaction was so easy and simple and the seller was really communicative and lovely - wins all round!

(I'm off on holiday to the Lake District so won't be posting for a while, but I'll be back in April!) 

All photos property of Shopped and Dropped, do not re-use without permission.

Geek: Douglas Adams: The Party - Hammersmith Apollo, 10/03/12

One of my favourite books of all time is 'The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy' by Douglas Adams. A book that's loved worldwide wasn't Adams' only accomplishment, a lot of people don't know that there were another 4 books in the series, that he was a passionate representative for a number of charities and that he was involved in both Dr Who and Monty Python's Flying Circus, and numerous other achievements. He sadly died in 2001 at the tragically young age of 49 and he would have turned 60 this year.

In memory of Douglas and to raise money for his favourite charity, Save the Rhino, the Douglas Adams Virtual 60th Birthday event was held at Hammersmith Apollo where fans clad in towels gathered to celebrate and remember the author.

The event was presented by Clive Anderson and he was joined throughout the evening by other famous comedians, scientists and musicians to perform sketches, songs and talk about the life, the universe and everything.

There were informative but hilarious presentations by scientists Simon Singh and Helen Keen as well as a section by comedian and presenter of Radio 4's Infinite Monkey Cage Robin Ince.

The producer of such programmes as QI and Blackadder, John Lloyd, read his favourite sections from the Meaning of Liff - a book he co-wrote with Douglas Adams. It is basically a dictionary of words that don't exist, such as:
'WOKING (participial vb.) Standing in the kitchen wondering what you came in here for.'

John Lloyd - co-author of The Meaning of Liff
Comedians and actors Rory McGrath, Angus Deayton, Michael Fenton Stevens, Philip Pope, Helen Atkinson Wood, Sue Sheridan performed sketches written by Douglas from when he was in Footlights and once he was actually famous too. It was stripped down, no fancy stuff, no complicated props or settings - just basic and really really funny. It's so good to hear a venue full of people all laughing so geniunely and still loving material that was written decades ago (and in my case, before I was born!).

The main reason I bought a ticket though was because of the 'in conversation' section which was a live conversation with Python Terry Jones. He was billed as being joined by Michael Palin who sadly wasn't there, but he was sat with Sanjeev Bhaskar which was great anyway.

Sadly there were other big name dropouts too in Professor Brian Cox and Stephen Mangan and I'll be honest, the line-up lost some of its excitement for me because of their no-shows.

To finish off the evening, musician friends of Douglas performed (I have to admit I didn't know who most of them were), but they were joined by some musical heavyweights too in the form of Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour and Procol Harum singer Gary Brooker, finishing with a rendition of Whiter Shade of Pale.

Gary Brooker of Procol Harum (photo from Evening Standard)

Overall verdict: An all round family friendly entertainment package which was good fun and raised money for a great cause while celebrating the life of an all-time great.

Shopping: S/S12 at George for Asda

I love my vintage finds and premium labels (more to look at than buy though!), but I have my fair share of high street and yes, even supermarket bargains when it comes to clothes. The Asda store in Milton Keynes is absolutely huge and has a massive George clothing section which I've happily browsed when I'm back visiting my parents, but I've never been so impressed with their range as I have this season! 

I could have easily spent £100 in there, but managed to limit myself to these few pieces (and thanks to my mum for putting up with me being in the changing room for a good 20 minutes!).

This gorgeous floral top could have been found in
a vintage store, but instead was just £9 in Asda!

I absolutely adore this embellished print, it's so hard to believe
it was only £8!

This top reminds me of the art deco staging at
the Florence & Machine gig I went to last week!

I love cobalt blue for this season, and these
ankle grazing trousers are going to be perfect
for spring with some brogues.
In total I only spent £40! There were numerous other things I wanted to get including this amazing pastel blouse, but they didn't have it in my size. I tried to get it online but annoyingly it's so great that Grazia have featured it so I doubt I'll ever get it now!

I will definitely be going back to Asda to check out more of their Spring Summer collection soon, and can't wait to start wearing my new pieces!

Last photo from George. All other photos property of Shopped and Dropped, do not re-use without permission.

Music: Florence & the Machine - Alexandra Palace, 08/03/12

Florence Welch has a voice that is impossible to sing along to. It's just too pitch perfect, hitting notes that are so far out of my range I fear I'd damage myself if I even attempted them. I worried that forking out nearly £40 on a ticket to see her first show at Alexandra Palace would be a waste if she copped out of the high notes and left it to the backing singers. You may scoff, but it's happened to me before with Emily Haines from Metric - she dropped an octave or two each time she met a challenge, and it totally ruined the gig for me. I'm happy to say that Florence didn't disappoint. Her voice was beautiful and crisp, just like on CD. It was incredibly impressive. 

The art deco staging
The stage set up was fabulous, with a classic (and very on trend!) art deco backdrop, joined by a gospel choir and full string section including harpist. Along with Florence's skin tight velvet catsuit and extravagant cape, we were very clearly watching a performance, not just a gig. Things had been thought through, the presentation fitted the magical vocals and the haunting songs. 

Florence herself was completely enigmatic, which surprised me as she normally comes across as very reserved, verging on shy, in any interviews I've seen. That night she was clearly absolutely thrilled to be on stage, sometimes running around like an excited child, imploring the audience to jump up and down with her. It was adorable and it was heartwarming as she waved to her family in the audience. I couldn't help but think how proud her mum must have been watching thousands of people cheering for her daughter, it actually made me feel proud for her!

The set list was mainly songs from Ceremonials (which I've only listened to once), but there were the main hits from Lungs too which I happily sang along to. The song with the most heart was 'You've Got the Love'. Although a cover version, Florence has really made this her own, and the crowd sang along with vigour and adoration which raised the roof - it gave me goosebumps. 

Far from disappointed, Florence put on one hell of a show and I'm very pleased that I got to see her now, because let's face it, her next tour won't be Alexandra Palace - it'll be the big time arenas.

Explore: Kew Gardens

I live in West London and one of the reasons I love it is because it's a little green paradise in a concrete jungle. I moved to London in August and went head first into a new job so I didn't really get to embrace Summer in London, meaning I haven't seen many of the outdoor places a stones throw from my house. The main one of these green spaces is Kew Gardens which I finally visited at the weekend.

One of the beautiful greenhouses at Kew
You may think that going to botanical gardens is the pastime of OAPs and desperate parents at half term, but we had a great day wandering around the HUGE gardens as they are both beautiful and fascinating. There are some bizarre plants there but a lot of recognisable ones too that we use everyday. As we normally seen them already wrapped up and ready to sell on the shelves I found seeing them growing naturally really amazing.

Top left: Henna plant; Top right: Unripe lemons
Bottom left: Cocoa beans; Bottom right: Jojoba plant
And there are some amazing flowers with stunning colours that made the really girly side of me come out and coo over how gorgeous they were! The purple backed leaves and blue tinted orchids were particularly incredible:

There's also a small marine life exhibit which is where the majority of people were hiding with their hyperactive kids. There were some really pretty fish and some really disgusting sea slugs. Bleurgh. My favourite was the little eel that popped his head out of the sand and stared right at me for the pic below (top right)! 

One of the main attractions at Kew is the tree top walkway (as featured on an episode from the last series of Britain and Ireland's Next Top Model!). 

Suspended goodness knows how many feet in the air, not only can you see for miles around in every direction at the top (I spotted Wembley Stadium and the BT Tower), but you can see right beneath your feet as well, something that made my friend feel pretty dizzy! But here we are at the top anyway!

Kew Gardens is at the far end of the District Line but it's really worth the trip if you're further afield. And don't be a wimp, go up the tree top walk!

Explore: Spitalfields Market

I'm due to start a new job this week and I'm very excited about it. But there are two downsides: 1) The obligatory 'I'm going to miss my old colleagues' lament. 2) I will no longer be within kicking distance of Spitalfields Market.

London is full of amazing markets: Borough for food, Portobello Road for bric-a-brac, Camden for alternative bizarreness, Colombia Road for flowers. But Spitalfields is my favourite. Depending on the day you visit you could be treated to some amazing antiques, fascinating photos or amazing vintage or independent clothing stalls. I've recently bought some beautiful jewellery from there (which I'll blog about separately on a later date), and if you're looking for something new, something specialist, or just something that nobody else has, then Spitalfields is the place. 

Knowing that I wasn't going to be as much of a frequent visitor anymore I zipped around and took some snaps of some of the curios I found on a lunchtime wander. I hope they persuade you to pay a visit to the market soon! And don't forget, the market is around the corner from the amazing vintage shops of Brick Lane and Redchurch Street! East London really is a haven for some amazing shopping.

Technical hitches!

A few of the posts aren't showing their photos at the moment due to Google trying to steal all my info for Google+. I'm trying to sort them out a few posts at a time! Thanks for being patient!

Shopping: Laura Ashley for Uniqlo Shopping Event

Forget Topshop and Mary Katrantzou or H&M and David Beckham, my favourite high street collaboration at the moment is Uniqlo and Laura Ashley. I was mega excited when I heard about it 1) because I love floral and Laura Ashley do it better than anyone else and 2) because Uniqlo is affordable and reliable. Tick and tick!

Along with goodness knows how many others I queued outside Uniqlo's flagship store on Oxford Street with my print out invite from Stylist Magazine to shop the new collection with a fab 20% off. Even though I'd already indulged in one of the t-shirts already I couldn't pass up the opportunity to buy more at a cheaper price!

The event had a vintage theme to it and was adorable in its set-up. Free cocktails were being circulated in unique vintage cups and saucers, served by girls in 1950s housewife get-up. So quaint and cute!

And keeping with the theme, TV chef and vintage darling Gizzi Erskine was DJing songs from back in the day to keep the atmosphere afloat. 

But back to the clothes! The collection is a selection of t-shirts, tunics and scarves all in a variety of Laura Ashley floral patterns. So many beautiful patterns it was hard to keep myself to a limit!

I actually ended up buying a tunic dress that is the same pattern to the tshirt I already bought the other week but in a different colour palette because my style isn't really delicate enough to pass off the ditsy, teensy flowers on some of the tops. And because it was 20% throughout the store for the night I also bought a bright blue polo shirt (which I can't seem to find a picture of online) which I envisage wearing done all the way up and tucked into a pleated skirt. But we'll see how that pans out once I try it on altogether! Here's what I bought from the Laura Ashley range anyway (pics from the Uniqlo website):

Let me know if you've bought anything from the range, I'd like to know what everyone else is pairing their florals with!
As of 20th November 2014, any products marked with an asterisk (*) have been provided as a sample for unbiased review