Here are some gift ideas for women for Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day from expert blogger Heather Nixon, originally published on of beautyandnothingness.com and reproduced here with her permission.
Here are some gift ideas for women for Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day from expert blogger Heather Nixon, originally published on of beautyandnothingness.com and reproduced here with her permission.
Q: What do astrology, alzheimer’s, Doctor Who, scarves, and palm prints have in common?
So it’s the first of January. Maybe we’re all a bit too hungover to put our new year’s resolutions into effect right now, but we definitely will tomorrow (or maybe start thinking about it tomorrow…).
However, according to the study of astrology, 2019 is the best year to start your new year’s resolution on 1 January. Mars, the power and motivation planet, enters its home sign of Aries today, meaning you have more chance of sticking to your resolution. This is the first time this alignment has happened on 1 January since records began.
There are many helpful tips online about how to set (and keep) your new year’s resolutions. Keep them specific, keep them small, and set timelines. Small lifestyle changes are easier to stick to, such as only taking on dry January for one week, doing a few minutes of stretching and movement when you get out of bed each morning, or eating one vegetable-only meal a day to help you get your five a day.
Blue Flamingo is making a New Year’s resolution, and that starts today. We’re joining Stephen Fry, Simon Pegg, David Walliams and others in supporting Alzheimer’s Research UK. Alzheimer’s Research UK is the UK’s leading dementia research charity, dedicated to causes, diagnosis, prevention, treatment and cure. Their mission is to bring about the first life-changing dementia treatment by 2025.
Supporting those affected by Alzheimer’s, whether directly or indirectly (see the great work undertaken by the Alzheimer’s Society) is a cause dear to my heart. I lost my Dad to Alzheimer’s. The diagnosis was a terrible blow to all the family, but I felt particularly close to him. He had always been there when I needed him, and now the rock in my life was fading away. I poured the ghastliness of his illness and the grief I was feeling into the final project for my art degree. My Dad sadly passed away shortly before I finished my degree.
When I heard about the work of Alzheimer’s Research UK, I knew I wanted to help them prevent or find a cure for dementia. So for every scarf or pocket square I sell in 2019, I will give 3% of the price to the charity.
On a lighter note, apart from making changes through resolutions, each year brings us new looks through fresh fashion trends. Many trends from the past few years have arisen from new takes on old classics, and 2019 looks set to be no different, starting today with the unlikely fashion icon, Doctor Who.
The thirteenth Doctor Who is wearing a scarf for today’s seasonal special, fittingly called “Resolution”. The scarf, with its brightly coloured stripes, is very reminiscent of the scarf worn by Tom Baker’s Doctor. As with many great fashion innovations, this one wasn’t a deliberate design on the part of Doctor Who’s costume designer, but accidental innovation. The show’s production designer was wearing it on production and the costume designer saw it and thought it would be great for Doctor Who actor Jodie Whittaker who loved it.
Who doesn’t love a scarf, Jodie?!
Other trends going into 2019 have been around for a couple of years now but are still going strong. One of these is for palm leaf prints, and another is for feathers, and I’m delighted to announce that one of my new Spring/Summer collection is the palm leaf and peacock scarf and pocket square designs.
If you fancy a new look for 2019, take a look at the other items in my new collection below.
Last of all, may you have every joy and success in 2019!
Wondering what are the best selling gifts this Christmas to get inspiration for what to buy your loved ones? At Blue Flamingo we’ve done the hard work for you. Read on to find out what the top sellers for Christmas 2018 are in books, films, music, video games, toys and games, and those traditional chestnuts: socks, pants, hats, scarves and novelty jumpers.
Perennial Christmas favourite, the Guinness Book of World Records is selling well, as are autobiographies by Michelle Obama, the Supervet, Michael Caine, Billy Connolly and Tina Turner.
If your loved ones are up for some intellectual stimulation whilst digesting their Christmas pud, Stephen Hawking’s last book is in the best sellers, as is the companion book to the BBC’s “Dynasties” animal series, and a collection of QI facts.
For humour, Stephen Fry re-tells classic myths, Penguin has a book of Brexit cartoons out, and the Viz annual continues to be a best seller at this time of year.
With the popularity of Game of Thrones never waning, George R R Martin has a new series set 300 years earlier. The first of the two volumes, Fire and Blood is out now. Speaking of action series, there’s a new Jack Reacher out too.
And the world can’t get enough of JK Rowling either. The Crimes of Grindelwald script is a must-get Christmas gift, tying in with the much-anticipated Christmas release of the film.
Many of these Christmas books are half-price with Waterstone’s at the time of writing.
The Greatest Showman has brought a million dreams to millions of hearts all year. Unbelievably, people still don’t have the CD or DVD as they are still in the top best sellers on Amazon. If your loved one does already have them, what about the tribute album by artists such as P!nk, Jess Glynne and James Arthur?
Other musical favourites are the perennial best sellers Now That’s What I Call Music, and crooner Michael Buble. New albums from current artists such as George Ezra and Jess Glynne are up there, as well as re-packaged or re-released classics like the Beatles, Fleetwood Mac, and of course Queen. Various Queen’s greatest hits collections are selling like hotcakes on the back of this viral video of a three year old singing Bohemian Rhapsody. Okay, maybe it was on the back of the hit film by the same name, the soundtrack to which is also a popular gift this Christmas.
Amazon Kindle readers, fire tablets and TV sticks and Alexa smart speakers make Amazon’s own best seller list.
Fitbits are also topping sales lists – however, Apple fans have the new Apple Watch Series 4 at the top of their wishlist.
Mobile phone camera lens kits are also popular, and are available from several high street retailers such as Urban Outfitters and Oliver Bonas. I guess I was ahead of the curve this year – my other half got a set of the fish eye, macro and wide angle clip-on lenses for his birthday back in the Spring!
If your man or kids are into gaming, Red Dead Redemption II (a sort of Grand Theft Auto set in the Wild West) is the top seller. New console Nintendo Switch is also popular – it can operate as a handheld device, or connect to your TV for all the family – or even online gamers – to join in. There’s also a mini version of the retro 1990s original system preloaded with games in Amazon’s top 10 most gifted videogames. If you know someone who’d love to game down memory lane with Super Mario or Zelda, this is a great gift idea. Another hot seller this Christmas is the new Spider-Man game for the PS4 which has become Sony’s fastest selling game of all time – selling 3.3 million copies in the first three days of its release.
For adults, competing alongside classic game, Articulate, you can get rudely creative with Cards Against Humanity. Newcomer on the family game stakes, Exploding Kittens card game is popular for getting disgustingly destructive (don’t worry, no kittens are harmed!). Twists on classics are selling well such as Harry Potter Trivial Pursuit and Monopoly Cheaters Edition or Fortnite, as well as the classics themselves – Twister, Cluedo, Guess Who?, Pop up Pirate, and Jenga.
For younger children the popular combination of Harry Potter and Lego in the form of the Hogwarts Express Train toy is popular, as is a Wizard Training wand.
Amongst the items topping the clothing sellers on Amazon are novelty socks and jumpers, and the more serious Calvin Klein trunks.
Accessories such as hats, gloves and scarves are always popular gifts since “the weather outside is frightful” during the festive season.
Amazon has some trendy hat and glove options topping its lists:
Rather than just giving a standard knitted or furry scarf this Christmas, why not make your scarf gift a really special one? The Blue Flamingo scarf collection is made of pure silk so will keep the special women in your life warm whilst being comfortable and stylish. Three gifts in one!
And for the special men in you life, change up the accessories-giving with the gift of a stylish, British-made, silk pocket square.
Buy a his and hers scarf and pocket square set and save 10% – a unique, luxury gift for parents for just £90.
There’s lots more inspiration on Pinterest, both from the shopblueflamingo Pinterest boards, and others. Check them out!
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this blog, and all my others. Many thanks for supporting my new business throughout 2018 – every like, comment, or share really helps – more than you might think!
I wish you a very Merry Christmas and may 2019 bring you health, wealth, and happiness.
Festive gift shopping season is upon us.
In Britain, only 24% of people save their Christmas Day shopping until December. And with Diwali, Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Chanuka all taking place in November and the start of December, many more people will have completed their gift shopping by the end of November.
Chocolate is the most popular gift for adults in the U.K. It’s easy to see why because it’s easy to buy. Almost everyone loves chocolate, and manufacturers put it in such attractive Christmas packages. I don’t know about you but I start to panic when I see chocolate mounting up in my presents pile. The festive season is already a time of indulgence, I don’t need any more! It brings Money Savings Expert, Martin Lewis’s 9-year campaign to mind – to not throw away money on things people don’t need or want, and to think about the pressure you put on recipients with your own gift-giving, and on the rest of your community if you’re extravagant with your children.
Nearly half of shoppers plan on buying their gifts in the supermarket. As a recipient of a paltry selection of fitness and drinking accessories from my other half one year, I don’t recommend this for domestic harmony.
Or maybe that’s why shoppers will spend an average of over $100 dollars on themselves during Christmas shopping!
All together we will also spend more than $5 million on our pets for Christmas.
That’s a lot of money. But how can you resist?
Here’s Princess Phoebe in her Christmas jumper last year!
Let’s not forget those less fortunate than ourselves during the festive season. There are many initiatives to buy a homeless person Christmas dinner, or buy essential items for those in need at home and abroad.
Two thirds of you intend to spend less on Christmas this year compared to last year according to Bobatoo Insurance’s 2018 Christmas Spending survey. You will spend most of your gift budget on family members rather than your children (or, of course, your ever-neglected partner or spouse – or friends!). The majority of you will spend less than £150 on gifts for your partners.
This means that we’re all under increasing pressure to find a special gifts for loved ones that are great value for money.
Do you know what you’re buying for your family or partner this year?
Here are some lovely ideas for women for around £65. And yes, there’s chocolate in there, but it redeems itself with fizz and body butter as well.
And here are some ideas for men for around £35.
The most popular gift category is clothing and accessories which nearly two thirds of adults will purchase. And two thirds of people will do their shopping online. So what are you waiting for? Click here and find unique luxury accessories online for the best gifts for loved ones this festive season.
Forget autumn oranges, blue is the new black.
How many celebs are wearing various shades of blue in Glamour Magazine’s gallery of winter outfits? Bradley Cooper’s hat. the stylish coats sported by Liv Tyler, Taylor Swift, Christina Ricci, Dakota Fanning, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, and Gigi Hadid. Dakota’s scarf… sadly not a Blue Flamingo scarf.
It’s not just clothing either. Women’s nails were hot on this autumn’s catwalks, with The Every Girl picking out a lovely midnight nail varnish. I’m glad to see my own nails are bang on trend!
With its subtle jades and hints of pastel blue, my Sloane Square pocket square and scarf accessorises beautifully with whichever shade you’re wearing for this autumn/fall.
Or if you’re getting on the blue fashion train by using your accessories, you’ll love Marine, Blue Flamingo, or Treetops designs.
My forthcoming collection includes a beautiful peacock option. I hope the flamingos don’t think I’ve forgotten them.
I recently ran a survey on my suggested new designs, pictured above. The results were very insightful, and sometimes surprising. Thanks to everyone for taking part!
I’m putting three of the pocket square designs into production. One of them was like Marmite – half of you loved it and half of you ‘hated’ it. But it ranked highest of all in for if you’d actually wear it.
And I’m putting five of the scarf designs into production. I’m hoping they’ll be ready in time for Christmas but as they’re hand-sewn, they do take time to produce, so it might be a case of New Year, New Collection.
So, apart from Peacock, which other designs made the grade? You’ll have to wait and see!
If you’ve any comments on them, please leave them here, I love to hear from you.
After the exceptional heat of the summer, the time to don warmer clothing is upon us, and fashion commentators have identified silk scarves as ‘the’ autumn fashion accessory. In an autumn nutshell, they are a great way of keeping warm whilst looking cool. For men, now is the time to add a versatile day-to-night pocket square to your wardrobe for the darkening evenings.
There are two autumns! A meterological one which is based on average temperatures. It also aligns neatly with the Gregorian calendar, and runs from 1 September to 30th November. This is to enable consisent year-on-year weather data comparisons.
The autumnal equinox is the more traditional date for the start of autumn. It can vary by a few days each year as it relates to the earth’s orbit around the sun which takes a little bit longer than 365 days (hence our leap year to catch up).
Sunday 23 September 2018 is the date this year when the earth’s axis doesn’t tilt away from or towards the sun. This means that the sun shines directly on the equator.
The official term for this is “equinox”. It also happens in Spring – the Vernal Equinox. And for my readers in the Southern Hemisphere, the two seasons are reversed.
The term “equinox” comes from the Latin meaning ‘equal night’, as the length of day and night is nearly equal around this time. (At the equator it’s always equal). However, the actual date when you experience almost 12 hours of day and 12 hours of night varies depending on your latitude. People living only a few degrees north experience the date several weeks after the rest of the hemisphere.
A recent article on stylecaster says everything about why silk scarves are the best of autumn fashion accessories:
“I used to swear by chunky knit scarves … but my silky go-to has done more in the way of temperature regulation than any of my bulky knits have… all that fabric does a lot for insulation—plus, since it’s wrapped around your neck (one of your body’s quickest-cooling points), it’s pretty efficient, too.
And the best part is:
Silk scarves are cute. You can stay warm while looking pretty damn trendy
—and you don’t have to weigh yourself down with outfit-obscuring layer after outfit-obscuring layer. Silk scarves are the perfect solution to particularly breezy fall days…”
Blue Flamingo scarves aren’t flimsy chiffon as with many high street options. They are quality medium weight silk to keep you warm, are made in the UK and are hand-finished. They are large enough to style in a variety of ways to create many different looks to complement your autumn fashion. And at just £65 including P&P, they don’t come with the price tags of the designer labels in the Stylecaster slideshow.
Autumn is a season of such variety: gloriously turning leaves, Keats’ “season of mists and mellow fruitfulness”, and shining lights in dark evenings. Here are three scarf designs that encapsulate each of these aspects.
“The great thing about about the City Life pocket square is its versatility.
By simply folding the square in an alternative manner, you can achieve a completely different look. It’s almost like having two pocket squares in one, which is highly useful especially in the city. Leave this one in your desk drawer to class-up your suit for important meetings, or switch from green to gold as you leave work and head to the bar.”
The Downtown design was added to the collection after The Debonair’s review, but it also oozes sexy city styling with its golds and bronzes of downtown office lights streaking by. Definitely one for a dynamic go-getter.
Star also reminds me of bright lights, and fireworks.
As with the ladies scarf, the Sloane Square pocket square with its bare tree design in muted greens, blues and ochres captures that misty, smoky feel to the season.
The summer may be slipping away in the UK, but it’s a great time to get away now the schools are back and holiday prices have dropped. My previous blog looked at how female fashionistas can keep cool in Blue Flamingo silk scarves in a heatwave or on holiday, but what about men’s holiday fashion?
Hot weather can be challenging in terms of style. Here are some men’s holiday fashion tips from Jake Cawthorne, adapted from his editorial about Blue Flamingo pocket squares originally published on The Debonair.
For me, the keyword for men’s holiday fashion is ‘casual’. When the heat rises, in my book it’s ok to style shorts! As long as they’re well-fitted and possibly have a pleat down the front. As a rule, go for chino or linen fabrics. Recently I’ve been balancing my summer suits with block colours; particularly with lightly-coloured jackets. If you don’t want to go full Costa Brava then I recommend using blues over whites and beige. However, personally I’m a fan of both!
In my last blog on Shop Blue Flamingo, I wrote about the ‘City Life‘ pocket square with dark Autumnal colours and geometric tower block patterns; perfect for city nights in rooftop bars.
In comparison, the bold ‘Stripe‘ square is likened to a rich sunset over the ocean; the intriguing mix of horizontal turquoise stripes with magenta, cherry and cerise gives off an ‘evening cocktails by the beach feel’. Perfect for men’s holiday fashion! Depending on how fancy you’re feeling, I’ve recommended two folds that I believe show the colours off best.
The pocket square is very important when wearing a casual suit. All of the Shop Blue Flamingo pocket squares are made from luxury silk. So, just like an elegant wristwatch; the squares add to your sophistication levels and take attention away from the casual t-shirt and shorts you’ve chosen for your men’s holiday fashion. I recommend using neutral, block colours to keep things clean cut. Then layer with a light jacket and a pop of colour in the breast pocket to achieve true balance. Allowing you to stay cool and look sharp, even at the most sophisticated summer events.
On the subject of UK lidos (in my blog last week), as I lay in the grounds of Ilkley Lido, surrounded by the modern day ringing in my ears or tried to swim whilst dodging the unsupervised dive-bombing children, I couldn’t help but hark back to how it must have been when it opened in the 1930s. Society was certainly very different back then, as was swimwear fashion – it was only just starting to look like the costumes and bikinis we’re familiar with today.
Nude swimming, whilst still practised by men in rivers and lakes, first gave way to bathing wear in the 17th century, with gentrified male and female spa bathers wearing canvas outfits which billowed in the water to conceal the body’s outline.
With the development of the railway permitting travel to spas and beaches, bathing became more popular. Nude male swimming was made illegal in 1860 and men wore drawers and waistcoats, which developed into the iconic all-in-one. Female Victorian bathing outfits were neck-to-ankle billowy dresses or tunics and bloomers to conform with ideas of decency. Bathers were wheeled right into the sea in bathing machines to further preserve their modesty.
Edwardian female costumes became a bit lighter, consisting of a tunic and shorter length bloomers.
But swimming as a sport, rather than merely bathing in the waters, was becoming increasingly popular in the new century – and female swimmers in particular were hindered with their yards of fabric in tow.
In 1907 Australian Annette Kellerman borrowed the form-fitting style of a British male’s bathing suit and was arrested in the US for public indecency. She changed her one-piece to cover more skin, but the form-fitting style remained and became standard.
As freedoms for women increased, costumes shrank to a short suit, or occasionally a two-piece as long as it covered the navel. In 1928 an Australian company invented a racerback costume which allowed greater arm movement and faster swimming speeds. An employee dubbed them “Speedos”, and the company changed its name to the same.
Suitable fabrics were still a problem as rayon didn’t fare well when wet. Silk and cotton were used until the invention of nylon and latex in the 1930s. Many people continued to knit their own suit though.
By the 1930s it became acceptable for men to bathe bare-chested (again) and due to fabric shortages during the second world war, swimsuits needed to use less material. In 1946 “the world’s smallest bathing suit” was invented by a French engineer – the bikini. It was so risqué models wouldn’t wear it at the unveiling so the job was given to an exotic dancer.
After the war, the practice of sunbathing, rather than water bathing, became more common, and so swimwear continued to become more visually arresting both in design and adornment. A more famous image than the 1946 bikini launch photos is that of Ursula Andress in the 1960s James Bond film.
Now we’re fortunate enough to be able to choose a swimming costume or bikini that says something about us (okay, and maybe one with stomach control technology and back-to-the-past skirts to cover up our wobbly bits).
But we can still all channel Ursula Andress and stand out from the crowd not only with our choice of swimwear but by accessorising it with a statement piece silk scarf from Blue Flamingo. See my blog for tips on how to wear your scarf as a cover up, and there are some examples below.
If you were ever to have a staycation or come on holiday in the UK from abroad, this is the year to do it. The UK has everything you could possibly want to see or do, and this year we even have the weather. And before you say “But I like lounging by a pool – you can’t do that in Britain”, there are 127 UK lidos (outdoor pools).
UK lidos have featured in plenty of travel articles this year – as optimistically early on as April in The Independent. Putting in a regular appearance in UK “top lido” lists is Ilkley Lido in Yorkshire (pictured below), where my house is. It’s a gorgeous lido with acres of lawns to lie on whilst you gaze up at Ilkley Moor and the famous Cow and Calf rocks before having a dip to cool off. It was built in the 1930s and, whilst not as beautiful as some of the art deco UK lidos, the cafe is a testament to the era, remaining largely unchanged, and it should stay that way, as the lido, cafe and changing rooms are all Grade II listed. The Friends of Ilkley Lido say up to 4000 people pass through its doors on a sunny day.
Most UK lidos were built in the 1930s when people first saw the health benefits of outdoor pursuits, eagerly taking to activities such as hiking. The 1920s had seen the first women swim across the Channel (fifty years after the first man) and changing attitudes allowed women to wear suits that “changed bathing into swimming” (the advertising slogan of Jantzen swimsuits), and so swimming as a sport had taken off.
Bizarrely, many UK lidos were built by the sea and filled with salt water. The reason was that although bathing machines had ceased to be used (wheeled cabins that allowed bathers to get straight into the sea without publicly displaying their bathing attire), it was still considered indecent to be in bathing wear beyond the beach and councils insisted bathers used, and paid for, their changing cubicles or paid to erect their own tents. Bathing was also forbidden on occasions when the councils deemed the sea was too rough.
Since sea swimmers had to pay anyway, lidos became very popular as they were often cheaper and guaranteed to be open once you got to the seaside. They usually had the added attractions of fountains, slides and diving boards, and the water was constantly pumped out, cleaned, and pumped back in.
UK lidos were, of course, closed during the Second World War, and some didn’t reopen. Attendance dropped in the 1960s due to the accessibility of foreign shores and cheap package holidays, triggering a series of closures into the 1990s, including the lido in one of my nearby towns of Otley in 1993 (pictured above).
Otley is a lovely Yorkshire market town, famed for being home to furniture designer Chippendale, and the inventor of the Wharfedale Press which revolutionised printing. The lido is situated amongst the formal gardens and amenity space of Wharfemeadows Park along the picturesque banks of the River Wharfe. It’s now looking very sorry for itself, but the Friends of Otley Lido have plans not just to restore it, but to make it better than before with added facilities for the community. They held an Open Day last weekend to show their vision to the public, hear people’s memories of the old facilities, and obtain feedback on the new plans.
Fortunately many other historic UK lidos have already been saved or restored. Tinside Lido in Plymouth has been listed and restored, as has Saltdean Lido (pictured below) which was going to make way for a block of flats. Cornwall’s Jubilee Pool in Penzance, built in an unusual triangular shape to withstand the wind and waves, was also restored, saved from making way for a fun park.
Other UK lidos have been saved from closure by being maintained and run by volunteers such as Portishead, Hilsea and Stonehaven pools.
Why not support your nearest community’s effort and enjoy our Great British heritage and try one of the UK’s outdoor pools this summer?
How about the UK lido which is farthest North in Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire? Or the UK’s highest heated outdoor pool in Shap, Cumbria at over 1,000ft above sea level? Or the UK’s deepest pool, Hilsea Pool in Portsmouth, Hampshire where Britain’s swimming team trained for the 1936 Berlin Olympics?
And don’t forget to take your Blue Flamingo scarf to protect you from the sun or sea breezes. My last blog looked at some inventive ways you can use my pure silk scarves as a cover-up. Here are some of my designs that remind me of a pool’s beautiful blue waters and the gold ribbons of the sun’s reflection.