Category Archives: Product Reviews

Where I squeeze my butt into boy fit jeans for women

And it is a squeeze… What on earth possessed me to agree to a jeans review during the FATTEST MONTH OF THE YEAR? But, with the aid of some strategic photos, here I am, reviewing a pair of women’s jeans from Next.

I chose Belted ‘Boy Fit’ Jeans in a ‘Mid Wash’ and I have to give Next a big thumbs up for offering Petite length on so many of their items. I’m not a tall girlie (only 5’3″), nor am I one to wear heels, so to shlep around in my Converse All-Stars I typically have to cuff up my jeans. Not so with these. They are perfect. (See the shot of me in my clown socks.) It’s nice to not carry around the crumbs, dead leaves, and other nonsense that gets trapped in the bucket-like turn-ups of my other jeans.

I almost never get cheap jeans- it’s a false economy. These, however, are affordable and fit in a way that leads you to believe they actually pay attention to anatomy. The belt is not particularly functional (the braid slips through the D-rings too easily) but it’s attractive enough for a free accessory.

There’s nice detail stitching on the pockets, and the rise is quite low- a dead giveaway that these jeans aren’t borrowed from any boy. Perhaps I’m alone in thinking this, but why have back pockets slipped down towards the thigh? I use my back pockets, and I don’t think the downward drift is particularly flattering. (But no one asks me these things, clearly.)

I recommend you order one size larger than you would normally if you want these to fit more like they do on the model. I ordered the size I wear in Next shorts but should’ve factored in all the bloody cheese I eat in winter. They’re tight, but I do so love the cheese. Give me a few months and these will be one of my favourite pairs of jeans, but for now they’re going to live in the wardrobe, mingling with stored shorts. I’ll be in the kitchen…

Next Boy Fit Jeans provided for the purpose of review by Next. I have not been paid otherwise.

Icebreaker – Merino wool is amazing.

I was contacted a couple of months ago by the lovely folks at Nature Shop, asked if I’d like to do a couple of reviews, and sent two products of my choice. The first item was reviewed back in August, but the Icebreaker jacket got minimal use due to some crazy warm weather here. I wore it as much as I could, but I really couldn’t put it through its paces. Now? Yes, I can give some input on it.

First of all, I gotta tell you that this is the finest, sexiest, most flattering jacket I’ve ever owned. It’s cut like a timeless fashion piece rather than a highly capable performance item. The wool is thin, sturdy, and smooth and pleasing to touch. You do not feel like you’re wearing a wool coat, and yet all the tech (straight from nature kind of tech) is in there. The stitching is lovely, the hardware (a zipper, some snaps, and a tension cord around the hood) are all top quality. Nothing feels or looks skimpy here- this is a jacket to impress.

And impress it does. More than just looks, this sucker will keep you from overheating, keep you warm, and take the bite off some of the nastiest wind. This was put to the test in Wales a couple of weeks ago; we took a friend to the Brecon Beacons for a couple of Welsh castles. The weather was not particularly pleasant, and especially up at Carreg Cennan, the wind was cold and very strong. The Icebreaker Coastal Paramount Hood jacket did not let me down. We experienced rain, drizzle, harsh winds, and the temperature shifts of being in and out of the car, as well as the odd blast of sunshine between clouds. My Icebreaker coped with everything just like its user manual said it would. I was comfortable and protected.

I will say that an item like this doesn’t come cheap. This is performance clothing with style. Icebreaker is the kind of stuff you’ll buy and rely on over and over again. I read in the manual booklet a quote from Sir Peter Blake (World Circumnavigation Record, 1994) that he “wore it for 40 days and 40 nights and it didn’t itch or get whiffy,” and I believe it. I’m looking forward to expanding my wardrobe with Icebreaker items (they do base layers as well as outerwear) and I think I’ve finally found the stuff to make my rugged North Cornwall coastal life comfortable as well as stylish.

Thank you Nature Shop. Good stuff and good people.

(You can also join Nature Shop on Facebook and Twitter.)

Icebreaker Coastal Paramount Hood jacket provided for the purpose of review by I have not been paid otherwise.

Walking in Whispers

When asked by Nature Shop if I’d like to review a couple of items for them, I popped over to their site, had a rummage, and nearly squealed a ‘yes’ in my response email. (You’ll see why when you look at their gorgeous selection of beautifully designed shoes and Merino wool performance clothing.) Their slogan says, “Works with nature” and I believe it. They also work with wildlife, charity, and children. A certified carbon neutral company, Nature Shop is spreading its joy around the world through bases in New Zealand and England.

OK, OK, you’re impressed already, but what about the review? I was given some options and my choices were based on my local environment here on the North Cornwall coast. It’s sunny, rainy, warm, cold, dry, wet, windy, calm… you name it. I chose Keen Whisper Sandals specifically for my love of clambering around on the beach rock formations. I needed a shoe that could get wet, stay grippy, and handle any terrain comfortably. My favourite rock-hopping shoe so far has been the oddly capable Converse All-Stars, but they’re terribly uncomfortable when soaked with water. Enter the Keen Whisper Sandals. They’re built to get wet and to tackle every surface I’ve encountered in them so far.

I first took them on a 5k hike/walk from home, to the Coastal Path, up rocky trails, onto public footpaths through woods and fields. We encountered light rain along the way and not once did they get slippy on wet grass. They were most comfortable walking level or downhill, as uphill seems to make my heels slip back a bit. I blame that on the heel strap, which could be improved in design by making it separate from the elastic adjustment that acts as laces in the front; I just couldn’t keep the heel tight enough to keep my foot in place for uphill walking.

The evening was shaping up to make beautiful beach sunset, so I threw on the Whispers to watch that orange ball sink into the sea.

They feel great in the water. Just like on land, they feel like a shoe made just for you in the way they hug around your foot. They don’t get heavy when waterlogged, and I found them as grippy as my All-Stars on the rocks. The bottoms are flexible and keep me feeling in control, but they’re also sturdy enough to leave me feeling protected.

Would I get them again? Yes… but… I’d love for Keen to redesign that heel strap so I can avoid kicking the toes of the shoes to get my foot back into place after some uphill trekking. It is a problem. I really like these shoes, and they’re going to get a lot more wear, but I may still be on the lookout for ‘the’ shoes for my coastal life. The Keen Whisper Sandals are close, and you should definitely try them, but until I can walk as comfortably uphill as down, I need to encourage you to try them around the house before taking them on the trails or beach. Perhaps your heels will fit perfectly, and if they do, you will no doubt have the best pair of wet-dry sandals out there. Get in touch with Nature Shop for a whole line of Keen sandals and shoes. It’s good stuff.

(You can also join Nature Shop on Facebook and Twitter.)

Keen Whisper Sandals provided for the purpose of review by I have not been paid otherwise.