The history of the #mystylephotochallenge

One of the things that has changed my life immensely over the last three years is the #mystylephotochallenge It is a daily photo challenge that I created back in November 2014. It has had a massive impact on my life and definitely led to me being brave enough to take more risks in my life, personal and career and along the way I have made many friends and met some lovely ladies in the flesh.
For those of you not familiar with this monthly challenge I pop over to the Instagram account @mystylephotochallenge and join in. You will not regret it. I can guarantee that you will meet a wonderful group of lovely ladies sharing daily pictures of our individual interpretations for each day’s prompt. And having a few laughs along the way.
When I joined Instagram in September 2014 I was very shy and apprehensive about posting my photos or talking to anyone. I did not have many female friends (more about that another time – it has a lot to do with growing up with a mum who suffered from mental illness) and was not used to communicating on social media with anyone I didn’t actually know.
I decided the best way to dip my toe into this whole new world was to join a photo challenge. I found one that I liked the look of and started posting my photos each day. There were only about half a dozen of us posting and to begin with I was too scared to comment on anyone else’s posts. Then this wonderful lady came into my life and starting “chatting” to me. And even though, at that time I had never met her in person, we became friends. This lady (who is sadly no longer on social media) gave me the confidence to put myself out there to interact with more people.
So back to the beginning of #mystylephotochallenge. The photo challenge I had joined was nearing an end and I had enjoyed it so much that I wanted to continue. However, the only ones I could find were very ‘American’. There was only one thing I could do. Create my own.
This was the very first challenge back in November 2014.
We started as a small group and I need to give a special thank you to those original ladies who have continued to come back month after month. They probably don’t realise how much of an impact they have had on my life and how grateful I am to them to have stuck with this each month. The #mystylephotochallenge has become a very personal thing for me. It made the transition from being a busy mum to living on my own with Mr A a lot easier and filled the gaps left by not running around after my two children. It has  helped me overcome some insecurities and allowed me to grow as a person and build my confidence.
The month of the first anniversary a group of the original ladies met for the very first time in London. This was before it became common for people who met on Instagram to meet up in real life. I know that we were all a little apprehensive. But we had a fantastic time.
This meet-up was also where a friendship started between three of us that has led to many more drinks and even a weekend away. I would never have imagined that I would end up sharing a tent with these two ladies who I met on the internet @lizbotr_style and @alex_bettertogether
We following year we had another meet up with a couple more ladies joining in. This was a great afternoon tea with free flowing Prosecco and far to many Porn Star Martini’s than I care to remember. It was quite a sight in Henry’s Bar in Convent Garden…. 24 cocktails all lined up along the bar (it was two for one!!).
So I am sure you can see what a fabulous group of ladies take part in the photo challenge. I am continually overwhelmed each month when more and more ladies join. Yesterday we had over 60 posts and a number of stories. I could never have imagined that something that I created to hide behind has become this wonderful daily interaction between a fabulous group of ladies who share a snippet of their lives and are so supportive of one another. Something I have not always experienced in my own life.
This year we will be trying something new and I will be handing over the reins to a few other ladies to design the monthly challenge. Our first “guest challenge” is March and will be created by the lovely Lynne @tryingforstylish. One of our original ladies is going to step in and take over June. I know Tracey @ellisneviesmum will do a wonderful job.
We are not too far away from 100,000 posts on the hashtag, which is amazing. Thank you to all all of the fabulous ladies who take part, It wouldn’t be the success it is if it wasn’t for you.
Melanie xxxx

Shopping My Wardrobe – Week 4 


I started the week with the worst cold ever. Unfortunately I didn’t have the option of taking any time off work to recover as I had a couple of members of my team off work. Plus the week leading up to half term is always extra busy and this week was no exception.

This week was all about the black ankle boot. Throughout the week I wore four different pairs. All two or three years old.


Monday – I made no effort at all this morning. I felt so ill I only just made it out of bed. They always say when in doubt wear black. So that’s what I did. Black shift dress, black tights, black blazer and black ankle boots. All from Next. I did add a couple of pearl beaded necklaces, so it didn’t look too much like I was going to a funeral.

Tuesday – Getting dressed was a real effort again this morning. I felt so tired and really didn’t have any enthusiasm for anything including chosing my outfit. I grabbed the first thing I saw when I opened my wardrobe, which happened to be a Red Pencil Skirt (Warehouse) which I teamed with a simple breton top and black blazer (both La Redoute) and black ankle boots from Next.


Wednesday – I felt a little better and picked an old favourite stripe linen shirt to wear (Next). I haven’t worn this shirt to work before as I normally wear it with jeans but today I teamed it with a Navy wrap skirt (Next) and Tan suede ankle boots (Joe Browns).

Thursday – Slowly feeling normal again and decided to wear something a little snazzy to work. This Wallis palm print pencil skirt has a split up the front. Not altogether appropriate for wearing in a Primary School so I turned it around so that it was much less revealing with the split up the back. I added a simple cream tee with lace trim (HM), a black blazer (Next) and Clarks black suede ankle boots.


Friday – I made it to the last day of term in one piece. It has been a tough seven weeks. Most of which I spent recovering from a serious ankle injury which I incurred on the first day of term. The weather is on the turn and it has definitely turned cooler. I decided I wanted to wear something bright today so I teamed my Grey trousers (LA Redoute) with an old 3/4 sleeve hot pink jumper (Next) and Black studded ankle boots (River Island). I did take a grey tweed blazer (Next) to work today although I didn’t end up wearing it. I always try to have one in the office as I never know when I might get called into a meeting with other school leaders or parents.


Initial plans for the weekend were to stay indoors, taking a well earned rest and hiding away from Storm Brian. I ended up venturing out of the house twice.  First an early morning walk to our local Co-op to stock up on beer, wine and chocolate. I ventured out without make-up and threw on the first pair of jeans that came to hand (old Primark), a simple black tee (Next) and blush chunky cardigan (Primark). Later in the day the husband and I decided we fancied a drink in our local pub. So I threw on a pair of skinny jeans (Next), a bright pink jumper (La Redoute) biker boots (Next) and Parka from La Redoute (my last purchase in September before starting this challenge). We battled against the wind for the ten minute walk and found the pub unusually empty. We didn’t expect to stay long but an hour after we arrived a couple of friends walked through the door so we ended up staying until closing time and grabbing a chicken kebab on the walk home. Not exactly the healthiest of days but it doesn’t hurt once in a while!


Due to the late night possibly one too many Saturday night I did not feel my best when I got up Sunday morning. It took a couple of hours to get moving. But after a shower, a couple of cups of coffee and a good breakfast I felt better. With no plans to go anywhere I spent the day in loungewear, which actually consisted of an old jersey jumpsuit that was very nearly sent to the charity shop. I bought it online from Littlewoods a couple of years ago to wear on my honeymoon. But now that I am two dress sizes smaller it is a little big. I rescued it from the charity bag back in August when I decided to take it to Summer Camp to sleep in. It is so comfortable that I am now wearing it around the house either with a vest top underneath or like today a tee thrown over the top (long sleeve stripe tee from HM). The only downside is the fact that you have to practically strip to go to the toilet. Probably best not to drink too many cups of tea when wearing !!

So that was the run down of my week. One of the most tiring I have had for a long time. I am looking forward to half term next week. I am working three days but I still get plenty of extra time at home. I really don’t mind popping into school to work in the holidays as I can get so much done with no teachers and children around. I can also wear casual clothes to so expect to see plenty of denim in next weeks outfit posts.

I hope you all have a good week.

Thank you for reading.

Melanie xxx

Shopping My Wardrobe – Week 3

I started the working week sore and bruised and wearing the ankle brace once again after my little slip in the rain on Saturday night. And before you ask it was before the party so I can’t even blame alcohol !!

Just when I had started enjoying working my way through my collection on ankle boots I was back in trainers for the first three days of the week.


Monday – Floral is not something I find easy to wear. I can get away with it if it onkly makes up a small part of my outfit and is a bold colour. This dress from HM is perfect for me. A short shift dress, with pockets with bold pink and purple flowers on a black background.  I had to wear it today with black trainers but normally I would wear with black ankle boots.

Tuesday – One of my favourite outfits of the week. The whole outfit is Next and all a couple of years old. The trousers are so flattering. The trainers I wore today complimented the colour of the shirt and I received a number of compliments on my outfit today.


Wednesday – A day out of the office today at another School Business Manager conference in London. I opted for smart casual and rediscovered my love for these dark denim, high waisted straight leg jeans from Next. They are just so flattering. Mine are a couple of years old but you can still buy them from Next here.  The navy star print pussy bow blouse received lots of compliments on my Instagram post. I bought it from La Redoute earlier in the year. It is one of those items that just looks so much more expensive than it was. I wore trainers again but to stop the outfit looking too casual I added a navy blazer (Next) and nude shawl (Matalan). It also made for the perfect day to night outfit as after my conference I met up with my little sister for drinks in the City.

Thursday – Not much thought went into this outfit, tired and a little hungover meant that I just wanted something simple and comfortable to wear. Grey Trousers and Navy Tee (La Redoute) and Navy blazer from the day before. I added a blue snake skin pattern belt to just add a little pizazz to the outfit. I bought two of these belts in the Next Summer Sale. The other is yellow and they are a cheap way to add a little interest to plain outfits.


Friday – The end of a long tiring week and Friday the 13th called for the colour Red. This Blazer from La Redoute was one of my best buys in recent months. It is the statement colour of this season so I know I will get plenty of wear out of it.  The pussy bow blouse is a couple of years old from Next. The black slim tuxedo trousers (La Redoute) have a satin stripe down the side.  They are my “go to” work trousers and the ankle grazer length means they are perfect to wear with ankle boots such as my favourite “Chloe” dupes from Next.

I was so happy to get to the end of this week. I felt a cold coming on but that didn’t stop the husband and I popping to the local pub for our weekly catch up. A quick change after work into old favourite distressed girlfriend jeans. In fact the first pair of ripped jeans I bought four years ago from River Island. Recent La Redoute Burgundy Trainers and an old sparkly ombre jumper from Next. I added a quilted jacket with faux fur trim (Next) which I bought when we moved out to the countryside as we now walk everywhere and a heavy wool coat or leather biker doesn’t quite work.


For most of the weekend I didn’t even bother to get dressed. I was floored by a rotten cold so spent most of the time snuggled up on the sofa in my pjs. Both bought from Primark years ago. I don’t spend alot of money on nightwear or lounge clothes because I am slightly clumsy and inevitably I end up either spilling food down myself or covering myself in biro when I am working or studying. But I do like a good pair of socks and have two pairs of cashmere socks in pink and grey which were a Christmas present last year.

So this week I rediscovered my love for a straight leg. I found them to be really flattering. So maybe skinnies are on their way out. What do you think? Although maybe my preference is driven by the fact that I have added a few lbs since injuring my ankle last month. But whatever the reason I know I will definitely be wearing them again.

Thank you for reading.

 

Melanie xxxx

 

 

 

Shopping My Wardrobe – Week 2

I was pleased to finally be free from my ankle brace for the most part of this week. Which meant no more trainers. I could finally get my boots out their boxes.

I had a very busy week at school this week and several parental events which meant I needed to be looking my best. So it was all about the blazer this week. It doesn’t matter what you wear. If you pop a blazer on it can make any outfit look smart.


Monday – Black Cullottes (Next) and a cheap and cheerful shirt from Matalan. I bought the shirt earlier this year and have only worn it once. I don’t know why because it looks really lovely on and I received a few comments when I wore it this week.

Tuesday – Trying to squeeze a little more wear out of my Summer wardrobe. The Khaki 3/4 length trousers and pink tee were both purchased earlier in the year in the Zara sale. The trousers look great on but the quality is poor and the zip has broken for the third and final time. I added a Tan check blazer (HM) and Nubuck ankle boots (Next) to smarten up what would ordinarily be a casual outfit. The blush cape (Matalan) is a few years old and was perfect to throw on rather than a coat as the weather was still relatively mild.

Wednesday – Head to toe in Next. Their black workwear trousers are some of the best I have come across. Mine are about three years old and still look as good as new.

Thursday – Today I wore the prettiest of blouses. Found hidden away at the back of my wardrobe. I bought it from Next over two years ago. It has lace detailing along the hem, cuffs and neckline. Small pleats down the front and buttons all the way up the back. It used to be a little tight on the arms which is why it has been packed away at the back of the wardrobe. But I must have lost a little weight as it now fits perfectly.

Friday – My last work outfit of the week saw me wearing another very old shirt (Primark) that I found at the back of the wardrobe. Another one that looks more expensive than it was and prompted a few compliments from work colleagues.

I seem to spend the majority of my time in either work clothes or loungewear. Which this week consisted of leopard print joggers and a black sweatshirt (both Primark) So it’s nice to have the opportunity to either get dressed up or dressed down in jeans.


On Wednesday night I popped out for a few hours to the school’s PTA AGM, which just happened to be held in a lovely local pub. I only had an hour to eat and get changed after work so I just threw on a pair of Relaxed Skinny Jeans (Next) and a fluted sleeve fleece top that I bought from Primark earlier this year. It only cost £6 and to be honest I didn’t expect it to last more than six months. At that price you don’t expect it to wash well but surprisingly it still looks great, so I am pleased to get another few months wear out of it. I popped on my current favourite burgundy trainers (La Redoute) which look great teamed with pink. The weather was quite mild so I dug out an old Wallis Coatigan instead of wearing a coat.

Thursday night I was back in the pub again with my husband. We usually go to our local pub once a week, on a Thursday or Friday, to get the stresses of the week out of the way and have a catch up. This week I wore another pair of Next Jeans (Boyfriend fit) , Black Stripe Sweatshirt (HM) and Black & White canvas trainers (La Redoute) which you can see on @smalltownthreads #fridayfeet on Instagram.

On Saturday night we travelled back to where I used to live in London for a party to celebrate the 50th Birthday of my oldest friends sister. Usually I would play it safe and throw on smart skinny jeans and a dressy top but this time I wanted to try and make the most of the clothes I have hanging in my wardrobe. I have so many things that are not being worn. I popped a couple of outfit ideas onto Instagram and asked my followers for their opinions. I followed their advice and decided to glam it up in a sequin skirt (very.co.uk) which I teamed with a plain black top (HM) an old leather biker jacket from (Bay Trading Co – who remembers them) and Clarks suede ankle boots aptly named Melanie. The bag is old HM and as we were going to be travelling back late by train I threw on an black poncho (Next) that I completely forgot I owned.


We had a great night catching up with old friends, many of which I have known fro over 30 years. The only downside to the night was that I had a slight slip in the rain travelling to the venue and aggrevated my ankle injury.

I spent Sunday with my feet up on the sofa in leggings and sweatshirt (Next) catching up on Strictly and Cold Feet while hubby cooked a roast dinner in the afternoon. It was a lovely end to what had been a very busy week.


I am pleased to say I have not been tempted to buy any new clothes at all. And I am enjoying finding old clothes that I had forgotten about, which let’s face it is as good as buying something new.

So are you participating in the wearing my wardrobe challenge or the No spending in October challenge. If so, I would love to hear how you are getting on?

Thank you for reading.

 

Melanie xxxx