Endura Luminite

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

I've mouthed off enough about being a super commuter enough, it's pretty cool to have a platform to be enthusiastic about something you love and have a platform for that. But one of the other perks of the job is that I also get to review some commuter kit from Endura. The first up was the Luminite Jacket (I got the girly one).

Endura - Products - E9068 - Wms Luminite II Jacket - Google Chrome 22042014 203158.bmp

It's what you might call a bright commuter jacket- water proof, highly reflective, it even has a flashing tab in it's back- a flashing jacket folks- that's visibility for you! 

Luminite

I got my Endura Luminite back in early March, and I was prompt off the mark to try it out. Luckily living in London means that it was more of a want than a need. But in the interest of giving it a good trial, on it went. 

So my thoughts- firstly, it's MAJORLY reflective, it lights up like a Christmas tree with the slight hint on light on the reflective cuff tabs, the reflective print bits, the reflective trims on the pockets and zips. Which I love. Visibility is a big thing for me, knowing my jacket makes me this visible means that this is one less thing to worry about. 

Some other features- it has vents under the arms which can be unzipped for extra breathability, 2 side pockets, a large back zip pocket and a front pocket, there's the dropped hem at the back to keep it from riding too far up and to keep as much of me dry in the rain, and there's the thoughtfully soft lining in the collar so there's no nasty chaffing. 

So far so good, but there are also a few cons here. Having worn the jacket a few times now, it's definitely winter kit for me. Anything above about 8 degrees and however good my baselayer is, it's time to sweat hard. It's certainly difficult for me to wear my jacket in current warm and sticky climes and it's going to be a goodly while before it's comfortable to be wear. 

The jacket is certainly water and wind proof, so when winter does come, it's going to serve me well, along with that visibility. But the light-up bit I got so excited about? Well it sits exactly where my rucksack does. No Christmas Tree lights for Chloe. Having tried panniers before, I know they're not for me, so the fact that the Luminite's biggest unique feature is pointless when wearing a rucksack as many commuters do, leaves me a tiny bit miffed and the housing for the light can be a tough uncomfortable with all that too. 

Trailing my new @endura luminite jacket presently- dare you to miss me!
Getting my Endura sweat on

Fit-wise, it's not so bad. I chose a medium, which according to the Endura size measurements is a about true to my dress size, and whilst it's a tiny bit snug across the *girls* it's not bad. So long story short.... 

PROS:
Seriously bright
Seriously reflective
Windproof
Waterproof
Lots of pockets

CONS:
Not especially breathable
Light fitting obscured by rucksack
Reasonable but not amazing fit

I'll be reviewing more Endura kit through the year, and if you've ever bought it or trialled it, I'd love to hear about your review. 


Urban Playground

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Sometimes, just occasionally, I find myself in the right place at the right time. And that's exactly how I ended up at the new Mountain Warehouse store in Fulham last week. Mountain Warehouse is a brand I know, living in the Lake District for many years, it's impossible to not know who they are, but I was in for a treat and a surprise with their latest endeavours.

Mountain Warehouse #urbanplayground Womens Activewear

In response to the rising numbers of us in the big bold cities who are getting our sweat on, Mountain Warehouse have released their own brand of active wear. I wasn't sure what I'd find upon hearing this, but I have to admit that this was one of the most enjoyable events I've been to in a very long time and one of the most surprising brands I've ever had the pleasure to explore. 

The picture above is the current season active wear range for women- base layers, sports bras, jackets, tights, yoga tops and pants, and all kind of accessories. All in interesting, fresh, youthful colours, all with a high technical specification, all at a sensible price point. 

New Season Moutntain Warehouse Men & Women #urbanplayground

The above is some of the shiny new season stock due to land in stores (and online) within the next month and ongoing and it was really very impressive. Water resistant hoodies?! One thing that is abundantly clear is that neither style nor substance have been made the prevalent option, nor has either been compromised. 

As a range, there's plenty of colour, some flattering styles and a really good range of sizes for all the items but everything I looked at, touched, was told about has a great technical spec. One thing I have learned the hard way from becoming more active, is that although nobody should be judging you for whatever you're choosing to wear to work out in, properly designed sports kit does actually make a massive difference and it really helps. Fabrics that 'wick' away the sweat and that help you to regulate your temperature can make all the different to your comfort and therefore how much you do or maybe don't enjoy something. 

Oh, did I mention they let us loose on the store?! 


Mountain Warehouse #urbanplayground
That's right. I got try some of these pretty awesome looking pieces. The base layer in the picture is possible the lightest weight I've ever found, which is a joy as I find often they're far too weighty to be comfortable underneath things. But, since I'm a very lucky girl and got to take it away with me, I'll save the reviews for next week. 

The trainers above are designed for the 'barefoot' style running experience- they feature some pretty exclusive parts and I'm loving the purple and grey for a muted and not too girly colour scheme. They run in sizes 4-8 and I'd quite like to see how they compare to my Nike Frees. I like a more flexible trainer for cycling so I can bend my feet, and as awesome as my Frees are, they're starting to look like they would benefit from not being used every single day. Any excuse to buy shoes. 

So- long (if enjoyable) story short- Mountain Warehouse, a place I'd never usually go, have produced some of the nicest and most technical active wear I've seen in a long time that costs well under £50 per item. I also have to commend the staff from the Fulham store, who could have been more engaged, more friendly and more interested in talking with us all. I find sports shops can be super intimidating, but it was well worth a trip to West London to speak with people who were happy to help. 

You can check out the active wear range on the Mountain Warehouse website HERE and they also have a blog full of their news and updates which is well worth a read HERE.

On Lifestyle

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Things I've noticed- many of the changes to me, my life, my circumstances or my choices tend to become apparent quite suddenly. In a single moment. And this week, that thing was lifestyle.

It's been abundantly clear to people who know as much as those who don't particularly that I'm now pretty hooked on cycling. I cycle to work, I cycle to appointments, I cycle after work, and as this post goes live, I'm cycling from London to Cambridge- for fun. But what I hadn't clocked, until this week, was that cycling has become more than exercise, or that thing I to do keep in decent health and fitness or save money, it's a part of my lifestyle, just like opening a bottle of red wine Friday nights and binge-watching Spooks or Grey's Anatomy or my minor obsesson with shoes.

When I was chatting with some *proper* fitness/health bloggers at an event (more on that next week, be patient) and I was explaining why I was there, because I like to cycle, mostly as a commuter, I also had to admit, I couldn't remember the last time I took a train to work. Taking the train to work is quite normal for a good many people, for me it's an imposition, an inconvenience and I hate it. I get to work sleepy, I have to get up earlier, I have to repack my handbag and not forget anything important. It's not routine, and it costs me money, and I hate it. Most importantly, it makes me angry and did I mention, I really hate it.

Had to leave the bike at work last night to bring a television home. Converse on the train. Love converse, hate the train.
Train hatin'

When I get to Sunday evening, and I think about the working week ahead, I think about making sure I have enough space in my rucksack to take 2 dresses, several pairs of tights, a selection of snacks, a week's portions of oats and yoghurt for breakfast and a clean towel as well as my keys, phones and ID cards. When I book an appointment or look up a route, my thought process usually starts- is it on a cycle route, will there be a secure place to leave my bike? And when I see the weather is changeable, my first thought is usually which type of jersey is going to be best or whether my winter weight leggings are in the wash or not.

Womens Cycling Kit American Apparel sports bra, Nike Free Trainers, Nike Dry Fit
Sunday, Sunday

One of the many joys of this lifestyle choice is that on a very personal level, it's helped me to overcome a good many insecurities I've been carrying around. It comes with one or two of it's own, but the ones I've lost far outweigh any that have popped up in their place. I should clarify and say that I'm not professing a miracle cure to mental health problems or suggesting a 'one size fits all' type solution to the worlds problems, but me, Chloe, 24 years old right here right now, I don't care what I weigh any more. The scales have ceased to matter. I have a better relationship with every one of the the food groups than I have ever done- I love them all, and continue to seek to include them all in a balanced fashion. I feel that I can achieve things and that I am a worthwhile  human being with something to contribute because I am a happier and healthier and fitter and stronger human being for getting on my bike.

I still have bad days, and sometimes I could happily pitch my bike of a super convenient rail bridge en route home because there's a relentless head wind, and I've been known to call red lights bad names. I am not a perfect person, I'm not an especially good cyclist, and it still scares me that at 24 I'm fitter than I've ever been and still quite unfit. But however bad the day is, whatever else is happening in the background, there hasn't been an occasion yet where I haven't been able to take a step back, find a solution to the problem, and get back on my bike the following day or week.

Trailing my new @endura luminite jacket presently- dare you to miss me!
A hard day's ride

Lifestyle is often an important buzz word, people talk about having a better one, about the balance of work and life being the deciding factor, about families and jobs and careers and fitting them all in. But maybe the best lifestyles are the ones that we create without intending to overhaul everything. Maybe one small change all of the difference you need.

CycleStar

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

If you haven't worked it out already, I'm a massive fan of cycling kit that's a bit more.... 'out-there' than just black. I have a new found loathing for pink, mostly because so much women's sports kit seems to come in varying shades, but I don't always want to wears blocks of black and grey, especially since my work wear has to be so conservative.

AnaNichoola is a range designed by MTB champ Anna Glowinski who also presents a TV programme on one of the ITV channels. The kits is super cool in that it features some proper considered design for the female form, and it comes in an interesting palette of colours for all sorts of women and all sorts of taste. And since I laid eyes on them, I've been wanting the star tights!

StarTights01

At an RRP of £55, I had high hopes when I did eventually get my hands on a pair of these beauties. Women's cycling kit can be a whole more expensive than this, but for me, £50+ is a lot of money to spend on any one item. The spec on these babes says they should be a whole lot of substance to go with the style- the tights have a pretty special waist band that rises up at the back, no flesh on show for the world at large, and as I'd expect, ankle zips to make getting the off easier. Oh, did I mention that these are made from Italian Thermo-Roubaix backed fabric? That means the inside is a light fleece, whilst the outside is shiny and sporty- cool stuff. Those stars are rubberised, which is good for wet and/or muddy days although how cool would it be if they were glow in the dark or reflective?


Oh yes I did. #fitchicks #fixiegirl #womenscycling pretty glad too since it's Baltic out there again.


Ana Nichoola Star Tights #womenscycling

So far, so good. They're a reasonable fit, although I probably could have sized down rather than up, as per the suggestion of many reviews I'd read. But then disaster struck, Holy mother of HOLE

Holy hole... Gutted my star tights have a  hole in after just one whole ride.

After just one ride, I was super sad. thankfully, the customer service was pretty awesome, and after a couple of tweets, a couple of emails, a shiny new pair landed upon my doorstep, ready to rock and roll. The hole looked very much like a manufacture fault- you know the ones, where the seam isn't quite caught properly? So I'm really pleased I was able to get a prompt replacement without any quibbles. 

So, new pair, new trial. Thoughts:

PRO- they look freakin' awesome. Who needs pink when you have stars?
PRO- they design of the fit is brilliant, I hate it when my kit leaves flesh on show, the high rise back of this means it's a thing of the past
PRO- the fleece back is so cosy. My legs get the coldest when cycling, so I'm a loving these, even if it is starting to warm up a bit.

CON- the rubberised stars started to stretch and peel after the first wash- sad face!
CON- the fit is a bit... not quite right. I could have sized down on my waste, but the XL is a good fit on my legs themselves, which leaves me wondering a. what happens if you're any bigger than my 12ish frame and b. what would happen if I tried the size L?

Conclusion- there's a whole lot of good design work in these tights, and the whole AnaNichoola range. I LOVE the ethos of styling your ride, this is kit for women who love leisure cycling as much as women pushing the times and the tracks, BUT I'd definitely think carefully before buying from AnaNichoola based on materials used. I think there's room for improvement on the overall quality of the garments, which for £55+, I'd expect. 


Lady Grey

Thursday, April 3, 2014

I like grey a lot, especially for work, it often makes a pleasant change from the starkness of black, my regular colour to fit out hyper strict dress code.

I picked this dress and the suit jacket up with a House of Fraser gift card that I won just before Christmas- the dress was an impulse purchase, since what I was really desperate for was anew suit jacket, and preferably one that fit me. Jackets are a nightmare for me, as the often come up super long on me. I totally scored lucky since this jacket was half price in the sale at £60. 

Chloe Likes To Talk James Lakeland dress & Halhuber suit jacket work wear

In many respects, the jacket is a jacket- plain black, single button, nothing too revolutionary, but getting one short enough was a nightmare, and I got lucky on a perfect fit with this one! 


Chloe Likes To Talk James Lakeland grey printed dress


Chloe Likes To Talk James Lakeland grey printed dress & Clarks shoes

The dress have been a bit of a love item- perfect length, perfect half sleeves, perfect details on the waist line, and a damn good fit. Oh, and you can see my go-to-favouritest-ever-Clarks heels in this picture too. I have lived and died in these over the winter months, but since the beautiful cobalt blue version of them isn't available in my size, I'm now on the hunt for new Spring/Summer work appropriate replacements. I reckon that Geox have got it going on at the moment with some gorgeous neutrals and navy blue.

I'm finding 'Spring' such a pain to dress for between shoes and clothes that keep me comfortably warm in the chilly mornings without me overheating by mid-afternoon, especially in some of the less salubrious meeting rooms I've been in lately. It is times like this, I wish it was legit to just remain in my cycling tights and technical tops all day- temperature control at it's very best.

Ana Nichoola Star Tights #womenscycling

Star print tights- I don't think reminding the General Manager that they're black is going to mean I get away with it somehow....