Happy Nolan Day!

Happy Nolan Day folks!

It’s a short one today, as surprisingly there wasn’t anything that stood out in this week’s episode…but I did like this smart cazj outfit he wore towards the end (apologies for the blurry pictures):

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I like the stripey top (and we know Nolan Ross likes his stripes) matched with the brown jacket. I think it makes a perfect date outfit – and with the dreaded Valentine’s Day coming up, there’s a style tip there for the fellas!

‘Control’ is on Monday 3rd February at 9pm on E4.

P.S. That kiss was, like, super hot. That is all.

Hannah

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Happy Nolan Day!

Ha-harrrgh me hearties!

In Monday’s episode of Revenge Nolan Ross held a nautical themed house-warming party, and seeing as he’s the king of all things nautical, it was no surprise that he really showed out with his outfit:

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We’re only 3 episodes in, but already this is one of my favourites. I just love everything about it, the tailored trousers, the gold cummerbund and buttons, the little embellishments on the jacket, his fantastically coiffed hair…it’s absolutely genius. I would love love love to own a jacket like that, I’d wear it all the time…not just to the club, but even while I’m out shopping – you’ll catch me stuntin’ in Tesco in that jacket! And I’m not really keen on men in turtlenecks, but he just pulls it off flawlessly. 10/10.

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‘Mercy’ airs on Monday 27th January at 9pm on E4.

Hannah

Dressing a Priest: The Costumes of ‘Father Brown’

Father Brown

I’m a sucker for a good murder mystery. And a period one? More of a sucker. Father Brown is a show based on the stories written by G.K. Chesterton from 1911 – 1936. In much the same way that Poirot and Marple have been set in specific time periods (between 1936 and 1938 and the 1950s respectively), Father Brown has been set in the 1950s – don’t ask me why. But this time period allows for certain leeway with specific stories – such as divorce, affairs, even madness. I haven’t read any of Chesterton’s short stories but it does appear that most of the characters have been invented for the show and work in much the same way as detective “assistants” do. They are the audience’s way into the story and act as information retrievers. The characters have all been drawn very well and their costumes (designed by Giles Gale) emphasise this.

Father Brown (played by Mark Williams)

A slightly crumpled, shambolic and mild-mannered priest, Father Brown is, on the surface, easily forgotten. But his apparent innocence belies a playful wit and a razor-sharp intellect. His greatest strength – both as a priest and as a detective of crime – is his love and understanding of other people. The insights he’s been given mean he’s better placed than the police to decipher the criminal mind. However unlike the police, he’s not there to judge. When Father Brown solves crime, he isn’t meting out justice. He’s trying to save souls. [Taken from the BBC Father Brown site.]

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Father Brown spends nearly all of his time dressed in his black cassock. Changes to this occur at funerals (most common), weddings and when he is seen at a church service. He mostly wears a long white robe (an alb) with appropriate vestments. The show has a priest advisor and I assume that, along with historical research into priests in the 1950s, he was helpful with the proper vestment colours. There have been a few occasions where Father Brown was shown in his pyjamas but I can’t recall any other costumes… Although it has been a year since I saw series one.

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Inspector Valentine (played by Hugo Speer)

Head of the local police force and thoroughly decent human being, Inspector Valentine finds himself constantly torn between admiration for Father Brown and deep frustration with him. For Valentine, crime is wrong, full stop; he can’t fathom the Father’s subtle morality. He wishes he had the Father’s insights, and in an ideal world would like them to work together, but has been burnt once too often by Father Brown’s curious moral code… [Taken from the BBC Father Brown site.]

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Inspector Valentine definitely dresses to impress. Or at least that’s how he views it. He tries. Whenever he is on the scene of a crime his suit always seems to be rumpled. His top shirt button is undone, his tie is slightly loosened and his jacket unbuttoned to show his waistcoat. He mostly sticks to grey and blue tones with his ties being used to brighten up the colours. Nothing is ostentatious about Valentine. And he is always shown wearing his trilby. As he should.

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Mrs McCarthy (played by Sorcha Cusack)

The Irish parish secretary at St Mary’s is also Father Brown’s no-nonsense second-in-command. Full of opinions about the shocking state of the nation, she’s his ear to the ground on parish events (though rest assured, ‘she’s not one to gossip’) and his confidante on official Church business and everything else. Chief defender of Father Brown, Mrs. McCarthy lives to check facts for him, to protect him from the wrath of the diocese, to make sure he eats… [Taken from the BBC Father Brown site.]

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Mrs M is the most old-fashioned character in the show. She reminds me of those older women who found a way of dressing and have stuck with that, fashion be damned. This is fairly authentic. That’s what my Nan did and my Mum sort of does the same thing. Mrs McCarthy is always well “turned out” but none of it would necessarily be on anyone’s vintage ‘to buy’ list. Everything is accessorised with a hat, gloves (usually), pearls (or similar) and a brooch. The fifties silhouette is still in evidence but is hidden much more under cardigans and jackets.

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Lady Felicia Montague (played by Nancy Carroll)

A glamorous woman with a lively dress sense and manner to match. Wealthy, but bored, Lady Felicia is a socialite, constantly throwing charity functions, not so much because she believes in the cause, but because she loves a party. But despite filling her life with every distraction imaginable, underneath it all, the Countess is lonely. To fill the void, her behaviour is often hedonistic and impulsive as she seeks out drama and affairs. [Taken from the BBC Father Brown site.]

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Lady F is the glamour of the show. Above she is described as “wealthy, but bored” and this shows through her clothes. She can afford the very best, the newest and the most daring and everything will be worn perfectly. Her only apparent concerns are how she looks but once you get to know her you realise that this isn’t quite true but it doesn’t make her love of fashion any less visible.

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While Mrs M sticks to a similar overall shape for her costumes, Lady F has much more freedom. She has ballgowns with huge skirts and petticoats or a pencil skirt. She has been seen wearing sharply tailored jackets, fur stoles, cardigans, pretty much anything from the 1950s is fair game. But everything is fitted perfectly to her and the key area of the ’50s, the waist, is always highlighted. Always.

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Lady F is wearing a fitted dress here and I love it. The lapels, the buttons, that hat and the hair. Perfect.

Sid Carter (played by Alex Price)

A mostly former small-time crook with contacts in the criminal underworld, Sid’s a bit of a grown-up Artful Dodger. Father Brown gives him some handyman work at the church to try to keep him on the straight and narrow – and out of the clutches of Inspector Valentine. He’s Father Brown’s go-to person when he needs help and information on criminal activities, and Sid is only too happy to snitch as long as he feels he’s getting something out of it. [Taken from the BBC Father Brown site.]

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Unfortunately I couldn’t find too many photos of Sid, my favourite character (Lady F’s a close second). As he spends most of his time as Lady F’s chauffeur we tend to see him in his uniform much of the time. A uniform that looks very familiar to Branson’s from Downton Abbey

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If not wearing his uniform he tends to be seen wearing half of his uniform – so we have vest, shirt and breeches with braces. There have been a few occasions where he’s been seen dressed in his “civvies” and these are seen to be very simple clothes. Just as you would expect. High-waisted trousers, wide collared shirts (usually quite bright but not patterned), single-breasted jacket (usually contrasting the trousers) and a pork pie hat. He fits the ’50s but HIS ’50s. You could never confuse him with an older man or a teenager.

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Susie Jasinski (played by Kasia Koleczek)

Father Brown’s Polish housekeeper and church cleaner, Susie works part time allowing her to work in other houses around the village. A war orphan who lost both parents, Father Brown plays a paternal role in her life, spying the heart of gold behind the spiky exterior. Susie doesn’t like authority and clashes with Mrs McCarthy but is tremendously loyal to Father Brown. Susie and Sid are sparring partners and there’s a flirty dynamic between them – though both would deny it to their last breath. [Taken from the BBC Father Brown site.]

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Susie was only in the first series of Father Brown and, as I only watched it once a year ago I amy not be quite on the ball with her costumes… As you can see from this image she has embraced the silhouette of the 1950s but her dresses are much simpler than those of Lady F. She wears more basic cotton day dresses and doesn’t have much call for elegant evening dresses. The increase of patterned fabric was very evident in the ’50s and this is definitely true of costumes used for most of the female characters in Father Brown.

Inspector Sullivan (played by Tom Chambers)

Chambers: “To Sullivan, Father Brown is like an itch that won’t go away. He finds him annoying, especially as he frequently outwits him. Sullivan bases his investigation on science and reason. He’s very into the forensics of his day. But he’s too busy looking at that to notice the human behaviour that Father Brown picks up on.” [Taken from Birmingham Mail.]

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Inspector Sullivan took over from Valentine when Hugo Speer couldn’t film the series due to commitments to The Musketeers and we have a very different detective here. Once again we have three-piece suits in dark colours and a trilby but that’s where the similarities end. The slightly scruffy look of Valentine worked for his gruff demeanour but Sullivan is much more ‘by the book’ and his sleek, well-structured suits show that. He has patterns to his ties but they are in no way as “showy” (if they could be called that) as Valentine’s. His accessories include a perfectly positioned pocket square and a tie bar. This is where I have issues. Not only  does the tie bar look odd because it is so high up (necessary for it to be seen above the high-necked waistcoat) but it is superfluous. A tie bar is intended to hold the tie to the shirt but a waistcoat does that anyway. [How to Wear a Tie Bar by He Spoke Style] Tie bars have come back into fashion recently and this means that people are more aware of them…

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The current series of Father Brown ends lunchtime today but should remain on iPlayer for a week or so. The first series is on DVD but nothing has been announced about the second series or whether there’ll be a third. I heartily recommend it if you, like me, have a fondness for this cosy English murder genre.

S x

Some images from http://sweetsundaymornings.blogspot.co.uk

Happy Nolan Day!

Yes, that time has come around again already, it’s time to look back on last night’s episode and find out what Nolan Ross has been rocking lately.

Well, first and foremost, we have to discuss *that* dressing gown:

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Unlike the one he had on in Season 1, this one was a lot shorter (sorry I couldn’t grab a full length shot) and a lot sexier (just like his bedfellow there). But similar to the one he wore last time, it has a unique pattern, almost vintage, and we know Nolan likes to wear patterns!

But this was only half as cool as what he wore later:

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BOOM. Red trousers. I would love to own a pair of red trousers, as I love to wear colour (red being my favourite) and it makes a change from the usual black or brown when going to work. This has only increased my desire to get some!

And finally, I’d like to give a mention to this hat that Victoria was wearing at the start. It’s nothing short of glamourous. She’s definitely the Queen of the Hamptons wearing this kind of crown!

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‘Confession’ airs on Monday 20th January at 9pm on E4.

Hannah

Red Carpet Watch: 10 of the Best from the Golden Globe Awards 2014

I know last year we had a RCW dedicated to the Golden Globes but… well it’s all been done already hasn’t it? I was stuck at work so decided instead on my favourite best dressed men and women. This list has moved and changed and I’m already starting to change my mind again… This doesn’t bode well but let’s just get started:

5. Evan Peters

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The lines of this tux are perfect for Peters’ slight frame but my main reason for including it has to be the colour. As you’ll see from a number in this list I like when tuxs move away from the traditional – not that there’s anything wrong with that though. This suit works great when contrasted with Emma Robert’s elegant black dress. The colour keeps the youth factor.

5. Michelle Dockery (Oscar de la Renta)

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The shape of this dress is just perfection and helps to work against any lingering ‘Lady Mary’ thoughts Everything has been paired down to let the lace with gold detailing shine through. Maybe she could’ve gone a bit wilder with the shoes but it’s a very elegant and understated look.

4. Michael Fassbender

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I love the cuffs. And there’s a pocket square. That’s all I have to say really.

4. Allison Williams (Alexander McQueen)

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This is another elegant and understated dress and yet very different from Dockery’s. Another example of letting the dress speak for itself. This highly covered up yet very sexy dress.

3. Chris Hemsworth (Dolce & Gabbana)

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Hello 1970s. Midnight blue velvet tuxedo jacket? Nice. Three-piece suit? Good job. Pocket square? Tick. Pocket watch chain? You’re just all kinds of cool Hems.

3. Olivia Wilde (Gucci)

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This dress would look amazing with or without pregnancy bump. You don’t have to wear a “sack” when pregnant but you also don’t have to do a Kate Hudson. Obviously this won’t always work (not everyone has Gucci to custom make a dress for them) but it’s just a thought/reminder?

2. Jared Leto (Saint Laurent)

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This one keeps alternating with top place but it’s too late now. This is all about the smooth, slim lines, the trouser braid and the evening scarf. Just like with Hems flashing some old-school glamour, we have Leto. Who I wouldn’t have expected that from. Bravo.

2. Amy Adams (Valentino)

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The bodice of this dress looks super revealing until you flash back on the costumes Adams wears in American Hustle and then it feels like she’s covered up. The dress does a nice job of combining that ’70s flowing vibe with contemporary fabrics, and the contrast of barely there bodice with long and full skirt. And it’s red. This dress was definitely a grower and its still growing.

1. Matthew McConaughey (Dolce & Gabbana)

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Green velvet waistcoat AND green velvet tuxedo jacket? Brave McConaughey. Brave. But I think it works. It helps that Camilla Alves isn’t wearing a brightly coloured dress to compete with his colour. It was his night after all.

1. Taylor Schilling (Thakoon)

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I just love this so much. I can barely explain why. The colour, the lace detailing, the flow, the fact that it reminds me of THAT green dress in Atonement? It was my favourite of the night. (And I just realised that my two favourites are both green. I’m not usually such a fan of green. My mother will be so proud.)

Because there were so many great choices I’ve had to include some honorable mentions:

Idris Elba

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He only missed out due to the lack of tie. Formalities can’t hold Elba back.

Lizzy Caplan (Emilio Pucci)

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It’s Deco, it’s modern, it’s sleek, it’s sexy, I want it.

Chris Pine (Ermenegildo Zegna Couture)

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If you’d have accessorised just a bit more… But you can’t deny it’s a perfectly tailored suit.

Laura Dern (Roberto Cavalli)

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Just appreciate the cut, flow and overall elegance and drama of this dress.

And, obviously, Diane Keaton.

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Because it’s Diane Keaton. And she’s wearing a suit. I love her.

Those were my personal favs (yes, I missed out lots of good ‘uns) – what were yours?

S x

52 Books in 2013 Challenge – December/FINAL Update

Sorry for the lateness of this final update for my 52 Books in 2013 Challenge.  I’ve been caught up with job applications and writing – perhaps 2014 might be the year for a writing challenge, now there’s a thought! – so I had to prioritise my workload and this was fairly low down unfortunately.  But here it is, my final update for the book challenge.

Book 48: The Ruins by Scott Smith

The-Ruins_0Okay, I’ve mentioned the Flavorwire list of scary books before in these posts, and 4 out of the 52 books in this challenge were taken from that list – I’m a sucker for a genuinely scary book, and ‘The Ruins’ is no exception.  Here’s how that list captions this book:

“Right now you worry about ticks when you walk through the tall grass. After reading this novel, you’ll never walk through the tall grass again. Smith makes a convincing argument that nature is trying to kill you.” 

I didn’t know what to expect from the book with that paragraph to go on, but I gave it a shot anyway.  ‘The Ruins’ follows a group of friends travelling in Mexico who hook up with some other travellers, and embark on a mission to find Heinrich, the missing brother of Mathias, a German tourist. Despite a language barrier between the American and Greek members of the group, they manage well enough with a crudely drawn map left by Heinrich and after a few setbacks – an argumentative driver trying to convince them not to follow the map, and a village of unhelpful and unresponsive Mayans who provide no answers when the group ask for directions – they come across the clearing that they set out to find.  That’s when everything starts to go wrong, and I won’t go further than that with my explanation of the plot.  You need to read it, as it is so masterfully paced;  you’re rarely more informed as a reader than the characters are, which means that the unnerving things that happen to them are just as mysterious and unnerving to you too.  And the source of the fear in this book is unusual and original, and Smith really thinks of everything.  I saw the film adaptation of Smith’s other novel, A Simple Plan, many years ago and was struck by the sense of meaningless tragedy and how good people can be overcome by a selfishness in desperate times, which is something that is also present in this book.  There are a few quite horrific and graphically bloody bits, which I initially struggled through and then glossed over, but even if you’re squeamish like me it’s worth giving this book a shot, because it is bleak, desperate, and hopeless.  Merry Christmas!

Book 49: Unbearable Lightness by Portia de Rossi

portiaI never thought I’d read this book, as I knew Portia de Rossi only from Arrested Development and as Ellen Degeneres’ other half. I found it in the folder of Kindle books I downloaded ages ago, and figured what the hell, I’ll read it.

I’m so, so glad I did.  The book chronicles Portia’s battle with anorexia, from her early days as a teenage model through to her career breakthrough in Ally McBeal and, thankfully, her eventual recovery.  It opens with a frank description of a typical low-calorie day, where Portia is spurred on by her anorexia (a voice that she hears, like a drill sergeant) to live on 300 calories and run for an hour to maintain her tiny physique.  I noticed a lot of the compulsive tendencies that Portia describes were things that I could relate to in some way, and I will just say that for anyone who has ever had a ‘complicated relationship’ with food, diets or general self-image and self-esteem, you must read this book.  At times the imagery and metaphors are a little annoying, but they’re not too frequent and they don’t detract from the point of the book – exploring the cause and effect of anorexia, and how throw-away comments and looming celebrity exposure made the problem worse.  It’s not an obvious choice, but this is a really brilliant book.

Book 50: Hell House by Richard Matheson

hell houseThe last scary book of the year, and it’s the last one from the Flavorwire list too.  Hell House is about four people who go to spend time in an infamous haunted house, in the hope to establish some facts about the afterlife and get some evidence of paranormal activity.  There’s a scientist and his wife, an actress-turned-spiritualist and a man who had been a teenage prodigy as a medium and was the only survivor from a previous attempt to contact spirits at ‘Hell House’ thirty years prior.  Sponsored by an eccentric millionaire, the four enter the house with different agendas, but soon find themselves at the mercy of the spirits inside; typical haunted house scares such as flying furniture, locked doors trapping people in rooms, and electricity cutting out to leave rooms in darkness – they’re all here. In the book, part of the explanation for the haunting is that disgusting, depraved acts took place in the house, most of which are described in one indulgent sitting.  The mix of fear and sexuality and cynicism plays out fairly well, and although I wasn’t exactly terrified as I read it, I did find myself turning on all the lights in the house when I was alone… hey, it’s a haunted house story, what was I supposed to do?!  Old school horror, give it a shot if that’s your thing.

Book 51: A Cool Head by Ian Rankin

5528144Okay so I also this as an e-book, and didn’t realise until I was halfway through (in about 20 minutes) that this was in the ‘QuickReads’ series.  It’s about 120 pages or something, and in that time Rankin tries to pack in a whole crime mystery that isn’t terrible but doesn’t quite live up to the previous stuff I’ve read by him.  There’s not much to the actual plot, which is sort of rushed through and doesn’t allow time for the switches and twists that a detective novel normally has, although Rankin’s skill as a writer is in no doubt – he flits between third person and a first person narrative from the perspective of a slow-witted and oblivious accomplice, and in the short space of the book I really warmed to ‘Gravy’, the character in question.  I guess it’s palatable enough, and it helped me to reach my target ultimately but it’s not really a book I’d recommend as it is inconsequential and somewhat forgettable.  Sorry Mr Rankin!

Book 52: Stoner by John Williams

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What a book to finish the year on. Stoner has been at the top of the bestsellers list in Waterstones for a while now, due to word-of-mouth and a number of favourable reviews, and despite being first published in 1965, it holds up today.

I loved it.  I don’t know how to write a review about a book like this, it made me sad, angry, triumphant – all these things because of one unassuming, fictional man.  The story is about William Stoner, son of a humble farming couple who is sent to university to study on a new agricultural course that could be of some help to his parents.  During a compulsory literature review course, he is enchanted and bewildered by Shakespeare’s poetry and changes his major to English, thus starting a lifelong career in academia.  His life is in no way spectacular, but the little battles that Stoner fights – his wife Edith’s instability and selfishness, his colleague Lomax’s underhanded bullying spiralling from a single event – made me actually angry, I found myself balling up my fist as I read certain parts where Stoner is mistreated by the people around him. And behaviour that would normally make me disappointed in someone, namely embarking on an extramarital affair, actually made me happy for Stoner, because it was like seeing a downtrodden friend finally get something that he wants and deserves, to be loved and appreciated. Charting a man’s life from birth to the inevitable could be a boring thing to read in some cases, but this book is so well-written and heartbreaking that you should absolutely read it.  This has been one of the best books from my entire year of reading, and it deserves to be read by anyone smart enough to appreciate the life and tragedy within it.

Well that’s 52. I’m so pleased that I managed it – with a kind of stressy start to 2013 I did have moments where reading was the last thing on my mind.  But the purpose of this challenge was to rediscover the love I’ve always had for reading, and to spur myself on to finally start on the books I’ve always wanted to read, as well as challenge myself to try new genres and novels.  I did plan on doing a new reading challenge this year, to cover a certain number epic novels in 12 months, but to be honest I’m far too content with the books I received for Christmas and am happy to pursue a year of reading with no limits or goals other than to just enjoy some well-written literature.  You can follow/add me on Goodreads, I’d love to hear if you’ve got any upcoming reading challenges or if you have completed one yourself this year.

Happy Nolan Day!

Revenge made an explosive return last night with ‘Fear’, which of course means the return of Happy Nolan Day! And I’m very pleased to say that Nolan Ross still holds the crown for Best Dressed.

But before I go into that, I just want to mention something…

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The moment when Nolan SHUT DOWN da party with a spectacular parachute jump right in the middle of the lawn. Awesome.

Anyhoo, back to business. I really really loved the yellow jacket that he wore. Yellow is a beautiful colour but can be tricky to wear, but if done right it looks amazing, and Nolan got it spot on by teaming it with neutral clothes. The jacket has become the ‘centrepiece’ of the outfit.

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I also really loved the checked jacket he wore towards the end. We don’t see him in that many patterned jackets but I just loved it on him, the size of the ‘checks’, the colour, everything.

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I would also like to give a special mention to the dresses that Emily and Ashley were wearing at the garden party. Absolutely stunning.

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Can’t wait to see what else Nolan has in store!

Episode 2 (‘Trust’) is on Monday 13th January at 9pm.

Hannah