Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Balmain X for H&M

French Fashion House Balmain has teamed up with global high street retailer H&M to launch an eagerly anticipated collection which hits stores on 4th November.  

The collaboration incorporates the distinctive signature elements of Balmain design including craftsmanship and quality.  Creative Director of Balmain, Olivier Rousteing, who dresses celebrities including Kim Kardashian West, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Rihanna, chose supermodels of the moment Jourdan Dunn and Kendall Jenner to unveil the key pieces of the Balmain X for H&M collection at the Billboard Music Awards.

Rousteing is one of the most followed French designers on Instagram with a growing network of over one million followers.  It is therefore no surprise that for the launch of the Balmain X collaboration with H&M he is harnessing the power of social media by encouraging shoppers to take selfies of themselves wearing the Balmain X for H&M pieces that they have purchased from the collection and post it on Instagram using the hashtag #HMBalmaination. Rousteing clearly respects the role of social media in shaping fashion, claiming that he personally checks out the hashtag and can't wait to see what people have bought from the collection.  

Above: Model Gigi Hadid has already joined the Balmain Army, instagramming herself recently wearing one of the statement dresses from the Balmain X for H&M collection at a New York Fashion week party.

Below: My most coveted pieces from the Balmain X for H&M Collaboration.
The collection clearly reflects the true Balmain culture of statement pieces that are bold and luxe.  Peppered with Black and gold, fierce stripes, regal prints and masculine silhouettes, Balmain X for H&M is clearly going to be fast to sell and will feature in the wardrobes of only those quick enough off the mark to snap up these beauties!

What are your favourite pieces from the Balmain X for H&M Collection?

Don't forget to post your selfie with the hashtag #HMBalmaination if you are lucky enough to be able to purchase anything from the collaboration.

Love Laurashopaholic xx

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

The Marks and Spencer Suede Skirt

The Marks and Spencer Suede Skirt is the must-have investment piece as seen on celebrities including Alexa Chung and Olivia Palermo.  The Suede Skirt priced at £199, which previously sold out, is now back in stock in Marks and Spencer in selected stores and online and is a key piece to purchase to take you into Autumn Winter.  The Skirt is also now available in Olive Suede as Marks and Spencer launches its eagerly anticipated new collection for Autograph which features in Vogue.

Marks and Spencer Suede Skirt As Seen on Olivia Palermo £199

The Suede Skirt is a versatile addition to any wardrobe and can be worn for work or weekends.  Although the skirt is perfect for Autumn layered with a knitted roll neck as seen on Olivia Palermo, it can equally be easily worn in the Summer months with sandals and loose tees, cami tops or blouses for a relaxed, boho look.

Marks and Spencer Suede Skirt As Seen on Alexa Chung £199

Ways to Wear...
The Marks and Spencer Suede Skirt is easy to style, simply use it as a base for any outfit.  Its classic a-line cut and camel colour mean that it can be worn effortlessly with many different tones and prints.

Click to Buy

How would you style the Suede Skirt?

Love Laurashopaholic xx

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Three Ways to Wear - The White Pinafore Dress

Three ways to wear the White Pinafore Dress this Summer.  The button-through pinafore dress is big news this Summer and can be easily worn from the beach to the bar.  So if you are jetting off on holiday or simply staying at home, this White Pinafore Dress is a great investment piece.

Simply Chic
Layer the White Pinafore Dress with a simple Stripe top or any of your fave tee's. Team it with heeled sandals for the perfect effortless chic summer look. If its a little chilly simply swap a t-shirt for a thin knitted jumper and voila! you have a great transitional outfit.  Another reason to snap up this beauty!

Click to Buy Now
Stripe Top £22.50

Festival Boho Casual
Accessorize the White Pinafore Dress with this seasons Lace up sandals and a chunky Statement Necklace to create an instant festival-ready vibe.  This Grey Ribbed Top is a great casual basic to layer underneath.

Click to Buy Now
Grey Top £15
Sandals £39.50

Beach Cover-up
The White Pinafore Dress is a great beach cover-up to throw on over your bikini of choice.  Opt for a bold, bright colour like this opulent midnight blue for maximum poolside glam.  These Blue Pool Sliders are a must-have for any holiday suitcase, but be sure you have a pedicure to match by using this Lola Nail Polish in Midnight Blue on your toes.

Click to Buy Now
Lola Nail Polish in 010 'Midnight Blue' £8

How would you wear this White Pinafore Dress?
Which is your favourite of the Three Ways to Wear this Pinafore Dress?

Love Laurashopaholic xx

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Paris in the Springtime

I am still on a high from our weekend in Paris for the Paris Marathon, not just from completing the marathon but I was so inspired by being in Paris in the Springtime. Myself. Gavin and eight of our family and friends spent a long weekend staying in Bastille in the centre of Paris.

We were typical tourists, wanting to see as much as possible during our short getaway.On the Friday we visited the Salon du Running at Porte de Versailles so that I could hand in my medical certificate and collect my bib to run the marathon. We then went out for a burger in the evening in a TGI's style restaurant close to where we were staying.

On the Saturday I did not want to do a lot of walking as needed to rest my legs ready for the race so Gavin and I got on one of the Big Red Buses outside the Notre Dame and we literally sat on it for about 3 hours just relaxing and admiring the sites around Paris.  This was my outfit of the day.  I wore a really casual, comfortable ensemble consisting of my Mom Jeans, Converse and this warm, cozy long cardigan from Topshop which is just perfect to throw on over everything.

The Notre Dame

In my opinion the Notre Dame is one of the most beautiful buildings in Paris and it looked absolutely stunning during our city break.  We did not get a chance to queue up to go inside the monumental building but we did get to admire it from the banks of the Seine and we stopped for a spot of lunch in a little cafe called the Esmeralda.  It is a cute little cafe literally in one of the streets surrounding the Notre Dame.  We also sailed past the Notre Dame on the Monday as we took the Bateaux Bus boat trip along the River.

Views of Paris from the Seine

On the Monday we took a trip on the Bateaux Bus boat along the Seine. If you visit Paris this is must-do tourist activity to see views of Paris from the River. You get to experience Paris from a different perspective and see the Seine's stunning bridges featuring sumptuous sculptures.  You can pop on and off of the Bateaux Bus at many different landmarks along the Seine.  The full trip takes around 2 hours and is definitely worth doing.

Beautiful Architecture

I absolutely love the architecture in Paris.  It seems that every street you turn the buildings are breathtaking and I am always inspired by the design and detail.  The tall front doors, street cafes on the ground level and glorious windows with balconies overlooking views of the city of Paris are the signature of Parisienne architecture.

I fell in love with Paris during our trip this April  I found the City so relaxing and inspiring and we will certainly be returning next year.

Have you ever been to Paris in the Springtime?
Are you planning a trip to Paris?

Love Laura xx

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Paris Marathon 2015 Review

This time last week I had completed one of the proudest achievements of my life so far - the Paris Marathon.  To beat the post-marathon blues I thought I would share a Paris Marathon review and a few of my memories with you that I will cherish forever.

The Paris Marathon 2015 was my very first marathon.  I set off for Paris on the Friday travelling on the Eurostar from Ebbsfleet with my support crew of friends and family. We arrived in Paris at lunchtime and took our luggage to our accommodation which was in Bastille, only a short metro journey from the Gare du Nord train station in central Paris.

Salon du Running - Porte de Versailles

After a quick pit stop, I was really keen to head over to Porte de Versailles for the Salon du Running to hand in my medical certificate, collect my race number and Paris Marathon race goodies.  Before any major city marathon there is usually an expo like this lasting a few days prior to the race which is basically where all the runners can start to absorb the atmosphere, pick up a few freebies and take a look at all the latest gadgets and running essentials.

Going into the Salon du Running and picking up my race number was when it suddenly hit me that I would be running a marathon that weekend!  The names of all 54,000 runners were printed on a wall and you could find your name which was a great idea.There were lots of photo opportunities and loads of exhibitors to peruse.  

Outside the Salon du Running

Cheesy photo background

My name amongst 54k other runners

Race Day

On the day of the Paris Marathon I woke up feeling fresh, if a little nervous.  The previous evening we had all stayed in our accommodation and my brother cooked a delicious spaghetti bolognese (the perfect pre-race carb loading meal) for us all to enjoy together and so that I could have an early night.  

For my Paris Marathon breakfast I had my usual pre-run Ready Brek, cup of tea and fruit smoothie. Before a race it is really important that you do not change your usual routine. Throughout your training you will find what nutrition works best for you and that is the time to experiment, certainly not on race day as you want to be as focused as possible and not having to worry about having an upset tummy or feeling too full/ not full enough.

We set off to the start line which is on the famous Avenue des Champs-Élysées and I made my way to my starting pen to prepare for the race.  The atmosphere was fantastic, with so many nervous and excited runners all getting ready to make their way to the start line.  One thing to be aware of at the Paris Marathon is that there are not many porta-loos in the pens before the start line, so there were really long queues. There are lots of toilets along the course but many runners just did a Paula Radcliffe and used the sides of the roads or behind trees!

Runners preparing to make their way to the start line
A surreal experience making my way down the Champs-Élysées to the start line of the Paris Marathon after queuing for the toilet with many others and missing our pen being released - you can see all the kit the runners have left that was keeping them warm before the start

The weather on the day of the Paris Marathon 2015 was really warm and sunny which was great for the spectators but was a little challenging for the competitors. The Paris Marathon race organisers were really well prepared, there were fuel stations every 5km throughout the race with water, bananas and even sugar cubes.  Following these there were also cool-down zones with sponges and water as well as hoses spraying water over the runners to stop everyone from overheating.

Still in good spirits Between Mile 14 and 15

The finishing stretch of the Paris Marathon

Great banners made by my support crew

With my medal at The Arc de Triomphe

My Finisher Tee and Medal

The Paris Marathon 2015 was a fantastic event and the support throughout the race was brilliant.  There were so many bands playing and there was even a DJ and laser lights in one of the tunnels!  The atmosphere was amazing and kept everyone's spirits high. 

The day was one that I will never forget and I am so lucky to have had such superb support from my family and friends who cheered me on at various points around the beautiful city of Paris and also to those who sent thoughtful messages of love and support.  Thank you - you all helped me to make it to the finish line and complete the Paris Marathon!

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Paris Marathon Training

In just two weeks time I will be in Paris embarking on running my very first marathon.  My feelings are a mixture of primarily excitement but also nervousness and determination.  I have been training hard so now I feel both mentally and physically prepared to tackle this challenge. 

My training over the last 5 weeks since my last Paris Marathon Training post has been as follows:

7 weeks to go:
Sunday – 10 Miles
Monday – 5km with SRC
Tuesday – Rest
Wednesday – 5km Treadmill intervals
Thursday – SRC Hill Training 3.5 Miles
Friday  - 5km Treadmill Intervals
Saturday - Rest
Total Weekly Mileage – 22.5 Miles

6 weeks to go:
Sunday – 20.5 Miles
Monday – 5km with SRC
Tuesday – Rest
Wednesday – Rest
Thursday – 5km Treadmill Intervals
Friday 10km
Saturday – Rest
Total Weekly Mileage – 32.5 Miles

5 weeks to go:
Sunday – RACE Salisbury 10 Miler
Monday – 5km with SRC
Tuesday – Rest
Wednesday – Rest
Thursday –SRC Interval Training (approx. 2miles)
Friday – 10km Treadmill Red Nose Day Challenge with SRC
Saturday - Rest
Total Weekly Mileage -21 Miles

4 weeks to go:
Sunday – 20.5 Miles
Monday – Rest
Tuesday – Rest
Wednesday – 5km Treadmill Intervals
Thursday – Interval Training with SRC followed by run totalling 7.5 Miles
Friday – Rest
Saturday - Rest
Total Weekly Mileage – 31 Miles

3 weeks to go:
Sunday – RACE Eastleigh 10km
Monday – 5km with SRC
Tuesday – Rest
Wednesday – Rest
Thursday – 5km Treadmill intervals
Friday –Rest
Saturday – 14 Miles
Total Weekly Mileage – 26 Miles

With 2 weeks to go until the Paris Marathon, it is now time for me to taper and give my body sufficient time to rest and recover so that I am ready for race day.  I am planning on reducing my weekly mileage by not including long runs, but instead will be focusing on bursts of shorter training sessions to keep my muscles active and in shape.  The aim of marathon tapering is to ensure that your body is able to fully fill up your tank of glycogen stores which are essential for race day.

When preparing for a marathon, whilst the race is the crescendo – the real marathon has been the training leading up to it.  I can safely say that I have loved the training – yes you read correctly, I have loved every single mile of long runs and every interval of speed training.  I have embraced it as a journey that has made me stronger in mind and body.  Hopefully this journey will have prepared me sufficiently to achieve success in the Paris Marathon.

Are you preparing for a race or marathon?
Are you running the Paris Marathon?
Do you have any tips on preparing for the Paris Marathon?

Happy running!

Laura xx

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Sunday, 22 February 2015

Paris Marathon 2015 Training

It is now 7 weeks to go until the Paris Marathon 2015 and so I thought that I would share with you my training from the past 3 weeks.  I have really enjoyed training over the last couple of weeks as I have pushed myself by running longer distances and met lots of inspiring new runners in Salisbury Trail Running Club and Sweatshop Running Club in Southampton (SRC).  I have never joined a Running Club before and by meeting new runners it has had a really positive influence on me personally.  By running and chatting with like-minded individuals of all ages and abilities it has given me a new perspective on my training and improved my confidence.  It has also helped to add diversity to my training by finding new routes (and some beautiful scenery) and also by not just running solo for all of my sessions like I have been used to.

Above: With the Salisbury Trail Runners - 16 Miles Tisbury to Salisbury
10 weeks to go:
Sunday - Long Slow Run 13 Miles
Monday - Treadmill Workout 2km followed by Strength Training and then 2km to finish
Tuesday - Rest
Wednesday - Treadmill Workout 5km followed by Strength Training
Thursday - Rest
Friday - 10km Run
Total Weekly Mileage - 24 Miles

9 Weeks to go:
Sunday - Long Slow Trail Run with Salisbury Trail Runners 16 Miles
Monday - Rest
Tuesday - Treadmill Workout 5km
Total Weekly Mileage - 19 Miles

8 Weeks to go:
Sunday - Long Slow Run 15.5 Miles
Monday - 5km Run with SRC
Tuesday - Rest
Wednesday - Treadmill Workout 5km
Thursday - Rest
Friday - Treadmill Workout 10km
Total Weekly Mileage - 27.5 Miles

You can follow my training on Strava using the link below:

You will see that I have also added Strength Training to my program to improve the conditioning of my muscles and to minimise the risk of injury, particularly with the increase in mileage.  I had a personal training session at the gym just to get some professional advice about what to include for the best results.  So I am now doing a mixture of lunges with added weight and goblet squats also with added weight.

When training for a race and increasing your weekly mileage it is really important that you do so in a controlled manner to avoid the risk of injury.  Therefore, only increase your weekly mileage incrementally so that you can give your body time to build up to spending more time on your feet.  It is not always the amount of miles you complete, but the quality of the workouts that will give you the best gains in your running.

Happy Training!

Laura xx

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Paris Marathon 2015 Training

With 10 weeks to go until the Paris Marathon 2015, as well as sharing with you my Paris Marathon Training VLOG I thought that I would give an update with my training from the past week.  Paris will be my first marathon and I know that it is not going to be an easy challenge.

The most difficult part of training for me is finding time and so it is important that I organise myself so that I make the most of the time that I do have.  I work long hours leaving early in the morning and am not usually home until 8pm.  I then rush out to the gym before getting home to eat late, then to bed, sleep and repeat.  I found this week particularly difficult as I have been working in different locations with an even longer commute, so I have had to be really committed and resist the temptation to avoid the gym in favor of just getting home and laying in a nice hot bath.

My training this week:

Monday - Rest following 9 mile long run on Sunday
Tuesday - 5km Treadmill run with mixed intervals
Wednesday - 1 mile treadmill warm up, strength training, 1 mile cool down
Thursday - Rest
Friday - 60 minutes steady Treadmill run 10.7km/hr (9 min/mile) average pace
Saturday - Rest
Sunday - Long Slow Run 13 miles (see Strava details below)
Total Weekly Mileage - 24 miles

I feel great after this weeks training and confident going forward.  I have started to add strength training into my program to build muscle power in my legs which is something that I have been lacking.  It adds variety to training and I am hoping that it will minimise my risk of injury.

I have also been trying to consume more calories during the day as I tend to have a big breakfast, then not much during the day and then a huge dinner at around 9pm after the gym.  I definitely need to drink more water as I am seriously lacking at this currently!

Thank you for reading and please get in touch just to say 'Hi' or if you have any questions I would love to hear from you.  Good luck to those of you also training for a marathon or event this year!  It would be great to hear from you.

To keep updated with my Paris Marathon 2015  Training VLOGs then don't forget to subscribe to My Youtube Channel https://www.youtube.com/user/Laurashopaholic
You can also follow me on Strava https://www.strava.com/athletes/mountford_laura

Have a great week

Laura x

Friday, 2 January 2015

Clinique 3 Step Review

Last year I made the decision to start to take better care of my skin on a daily basis and I posted a review of the Clinique 3 Step Skin Care System that I had purchased in an attempt to do so.  I have had many requests to make a follow up review and so I have uploaded a follow up of the Clinique 3 Step Review to the Laurashopaholic YouTube Channel.

My Skin Type

I have always had very fair, sensitive skin and during my teens it was very prone to acne and redness.  Ever since then my skin has been quite unruly; prone to breakouts, oiliness and dry patches so I would describe it as being a combination skin type.   I wear foundation every day as I am quite conscious of my complexion and therefore at night I need a deep cleaning facial wash that removes all of my make-up, yet is gentle enough on my sensitive skin.  Prior to using the Clinique 3 Step Skin Care System I had used many different cleansers and facial washes, but never found anything that left my skin feeling clean without leaving my pores feeling tight.  I never used a toner (I did not know their purpose) and I rarely used a moisturiser as every type I tried left my skin feeling far too oily.

Results after using the Clinique 3 Step Skin Care System

You can watch my review of the Clinique 3 Step products for my thoughts on this skin care system, but ultimately I am delighted with the results.  I will definitely be continuing to use the products as I am finally happy with a skin care routine that is quick and easy to follow, delivering a noticeable difference to the way my skin looks and feels.  I now feel much more confident with my skin and tend not to wear such a thick layer of foundation and concealer like I used to prior to using the Clinique Skin Care products.

Would I recommend the Clinique 3 Step Skin Care System?

If you are tired of having skin that is acne prone, red and sore with dryness patches and you are in search of having skin that feels hydrated and has a healthy glow rather than an oily shine, then the Clinique 3 Step System is definitely worth giving a go.  It may seem expensive initially, but it is without doubt a worthwhile investment to look after your skin.  You do not need to use a huge amount of the products everyday so they actually work out as being quite economical as they last for months!  I would recommend taking the time to speak to a professional at one of the Clinique counters so that they can select the best products to match your own personal skin type and help to solve your skin care problems.

What Clinique products do I use?

The products that I purchased and feature in my Clinique 3 Step Review are:
Step 1: Clinique Liquid Facial Soap 200ml £15.50
Step 2: Clinique Clarifying Lotion 400ml £25
Step 3: Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturising Gel 125ml £29.50
Then: Sun-protector and Primer Clinique City Block Sheer SPF25 £17

If you have any questions about the Clinique 3 Step Skin Care System then please do not hesitate to comment below and I will be sure to get back to you.

Love Laurashopaholic xx

Click to Watch my Initial Clinique 3 Step Review