Saturday, 28 September 2013

What I Wore: Summer Nights

My last night in Spain was the weekend before my birthday so I got to sneak in another birthday celebration complete with al fresco dining - perfect! We went to gem of a restaurant, hidden away in a tiny village, that gave you a whole loaf of freshly baked bread to start your meal, let you cook your own steak on a hot stone and served up a rather good chocolate "fantasy" dessert. So good we went twice in one week!

Due to my enthusiasm and skill at purchasing summer clothes, I didn't get round to wearing this dress until the last day of my holiday. I really wish I'd got more wear out of it this summer as I love everything about it - nautical stripes just say "summer". Let's keep our fingers crossed for lots of sunshine next year so that I can wear it again!

Dress Banana Republic; Sandals: River Island
Bag: Vintage from Brick Lane; Watch; ASOS; Bracelet; Marrakech souvenir
What was your favourite summer outfit?
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Thursday, 26 September 2013

What I Wore: Summer Days

It seems weird to be blogging about what I wore only last week when in that short space of time I've swapped a summer dress and sandals for tights, boots, a cardigan and a coat. I am a summer girl through and through so I'm not at all happy with this wardrobe change. I have a feeling some retail therapy could help with coming to terms with the change of seasons.

I spent a week on the Costa Del Sol with my parents, spending mornings running along the beach and visiting Spanish towns and spending afternoons doing not much more than lying my the pool with my Kindle. I wore this outfit when we headed out for a much-needed morning coffee (relaxing is so exhausting!) and stroll along the beach in a little fishing village:

Dress: Topshop; Sunglasses: Ray Ban; Sandals: New Look
 Are you missing the summer already or embracing autumn?


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Monday, 23 September 2013

Autumn Feet

So my sandals have been put away (or in the case of my favourite pair have fallen apart) and its time for my feet to start dressing for autumn. When I attended the Duo A/W launch back in the summer, I picked out a pair of the Keaton brogues from the then upcoming collection - they are now in stock and are a perfect way to step into Autumn. I love the super soft tan leather and the subtle twist from the classic brogue with the use of both plain and snakeskin-effect leather. They are so comfortable and will be perfect for long autumn walks along the canal, soya mocha in hand (pretty much my favourite way to spend a Sunday afternoon) while the leaves change from green to brown:




Keaton Brogues: Duo; Ankle socks: Primark
I also love these styles from the A/W collection - the slipper style flats have the same brogue-style design but would be perfect for the office, the lace-up boots would toughen up my floral dresses to take them into autumn (with an oversized snuggly knit too) and I love the monochrome brogues, perfect for a Janelle Monae-esque androgynous evening look:
Quatro Slipper
Gable Ankle Boot
Edinburgh Brogue
What will your feet be wearing this autumn?
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Saturday, 21 September 2013

Stickgram

In the past, photos were taken on a camera containing something known as "film". They were then taken to be developed, picked up a few days later before being poured over and tucked away into a photo album for browsing on rainy days.

These days, Instagram is about the nearest thing I have to a photo album so when I heard about Stickgram I couldn't wait to get some of my finest Instagram masterpieces converted into magnets. The Stickgram ordering process is so quick and easy - just link up your Instagram account, select your finest photos and you're done. I chose some of my favourite summer memories to adorn my fridge and remind me of sunshine during the winter ahead (and a few foodie snaps as that's what most of my Instagram feed is comprised of).



What do you think of my newly decorated fridge?
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Thursday, 19 September 2013

Smart/Casual

For the past few years, my "uniform" rules have looked something like this:

An above-the-knee dress which may be worn with heels, brogues or sandals. In winter, opaque tights, a cardigan and boots may be added to the uniform. Occasional use of accessories is encouraged.

This "uniform" has served me well for work, weekends, parties and holidays. There's something so easy about just pulling on a dress in the mornings. However, this uniform has meant that a lot of pieces remain undiscovered for me - I rarely wear skirts anymore, I frequently admire cute blouses in shops but never buy them and I have not worn or owned jeans since a pair of black Topshop skinnies that saw me through the "emo years" and then were ditched along with the blue-black hair dye in 2006.

The dress-only uniform has also resulted in me all but abandoning casual clothes. Sure, dresses don't have to mean "dressed up" but they'll never have the same laid back nonchalance of the perfect jeans-and-tshirt ensemble. Occasions where people tell me to "just wear jeans!" bring me out in a cold sweat of panic and I'm forever grateful that I don't work in an environment that has "casual Friday" as its gradually become the case that I just don't do casual clothes.

New seasons always bring new style challenges so I've decided that for A/W 2013, my style challenge will be to "go casual". I don't think I'll ever be a jeans-and-tshirt girl but I'm going to try to relax my style a little and enjoy some "non-uniform" days when I don't just reach for a dress.

Top: Zara; Skirt: Stradivarius (both purchased in Spain); Brogues: Office; Ankle Socks: Primark
I couldn't resist this linen tshirt from Zara in Madrid. The fabric makes it slightly more dressy than a regular cotton tshirt and I love the vintage print and text that reads "Question: What if we never met?". The cotton pencil skirt is a good way to ease into casual if you're not used to it - the shape is smart and traditional but in a softer, stretchier fabric it definitely feels "non-uniform". I love brogues and despite the end of summer I didn't feel too sad about re-introducing these to my wardrobe. The lacy socks add a boy-meets-girl finish and are a good compromise when its not quite cold enough for tights. 

What are your favourite casual pieces?
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Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Call Me Maybe

Like any good blogger, I am addicted to my iPhone. Whether its reading my blog comments on the go, checking Facebook sneakily while at work (shh!), Instagramming my Starbucks order or mapping my runs around London my iPhone is with me every step of the way (apart from when the battery dies but that's another story). Like me, my iPhone likes to keep up with the latest trends and look stylish. Unlike me, my phone is now dressed in Lanvin for A/W 2013. Isn't it the lucky one?

iPhone case - Lanvin
I love the secret logo inside and design which avoids obvious branding but instead depicts fabric swatches and design sketches - the building blocks for beautiful clothes.

What is your phone wearing this season?
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Saturday, 14 September 2013

#FITFORFESTIVEFASHION

It may feel as if we have only just packed our summer clothes away (well, I haven't yet but I have thought about it) but the Christmas party season will soon be upon us.

I've don't have any party invites yet but its never too early to start planning the perfect party outfit. Filling my online basket thanks to an imaginary £500 budget, these are my picks:




These Duo shoes (coming soon in the black pair pictured) make a nod to 90s style with the pointed toe and stiletto heel. They'd be perfect for any festive outing and the heel height would mean that they wouldn't end up discarded in favour of bare feet by the end of the night! Continuing the 90s theme with this Topshop dress - I love the back detail and it'd also work with boots and a chunky knit. Thinking about coats right now seems a little odd but come December, they'll be essential - I love this teddy bear coat, coats are often a bit dull and functional but this one would be great for special occasions so that I'm not covering up my party outfit but adding to it.           

A plain dress just needs to be accessorised and this Stella & Dot necklace is perfect - it can be worn long or short so a definite must for when you need pieces to work hard during a (hopefully) busy period of the social calendar. Finally a bag, sadly even my imaginary budget doesn't stretch to a Chanel but this DKNY offering is definitely inspired by the interlinked C's and fits with the simple 90s aesthetic of the outfit.

Total: £497. With £3 left over for a Starbucks after my online shopping exertions!

What's your perfect party outfit?

Small print: this is a competition entry with Duo to win the chance to style the windows of their London flagship store. Winner will be announced on 3/10/13.
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Thursday, 12 September 2013

Madrid - What I Wore

Dressing for a city break can be a challenge. I resent carrying heavy bags which makes it quite easy for me to pack light but when it comes to what to actually pack, taking fewer items means that everything needs to really fight for its place in my tiny suitcase. Summer city breaks present a further challenge - temperatures in Madrid were around 35 degrees but in a city where everyone else is going about their normal daily lives, my "beach holiday" pieces definitely had no place in my suitcase. Brits seem to find it difficult to dress for hot weather in a city and this summer has shown me all sorts of examples of "what not to wear" in London. FYI, a bra and a skirt is not acceptable for lunchbreak sunbathing with colleagues, a bikini is not suitable attire for walking down Fleet Street (the beach is about 20 miles away) and pallid beer bellies have no place on Oxford Street. 

My city break packing tips:

1. Roll, don't fold. Rolling clothes means they take up less space in your suitcase and don't end up creased. Pack an outfit for each day plus a couple of extra options for if you want to get changed for an evening out. Getting ready in the morning is so much quicker when you have fewer options to choose from which means more time exploring a new city.

2. Leave the heels at home. City breaks for me involve walking miles to absorb the atmosphere of a new city. Comfortable shoes are a must and heels take up more bag space then they are worth. A pair of sandals, flip-flops and a pair of Converse-style plimsoles should cover all city break eventualities.

3. A hat will protect your hair and skin from the sun and hide messy hair when the heat turns it into a frizzy mess. SPF is an essential as the sun's rays are just as strong in a city.

4.  If you're planning on visiting churches, take a light cardigan or pashmina to cover your shoulders (its respectful and some places won't let you in if you're not appropriately dressed). Likewise for cities like NYC that go crazy with the air conditioning, it might be boiling hot outside but shops and restaurants may be freezing!
Dress: Miss Selfridge, Sunglasses: ASOS.
Where: The summit of the Casa de Campo cable car.
Dress: Joy, Hat: bought in Australia a few years ago.
Where: Boating in the Retiro Park.

Dress: Forever 21.
Where: Posing in the stands of Real Madrid's football stadium.

If all else fails - just dress as a giant milkshake and enjoy your holiday!
What are your city break packing tips?
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Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Insta-Outfits #2

Because life is happening out there and the tripod is somewhere in the back of my wardrobe. Previously, on Insta-Outfits here.

Worn for: We Are Scientists gig @ Club NME Koko
Top: Australian outlet mall, Skirt H&M
Worn for: a wander along Regent's Canal
Dress: Primark kids' section
Worn for: a day in the office
Dress: Primark, Belt: River Island
Worn for: a day at the office
Dress: Whistles
Worn for: shopping for a wedding outfit at Stratfield (Westfield Stratford, innit)
Top: Topshop, Skirt: American Apparel via Beacon's Closet

Worn for: Mean Girls open air cinema
Top: Primark kids' section, Skirt: as before
What have you been wearing recently?
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Sunday, 8 September 2013

Oh, London Town!

I've had the last week off work - perfectly timed to coincide with what hopefully isn't (but probably is) the last week of amazing summer weather. I thought I'd share a few snippets of what I've been up to - it's so easy to just let life get in the way and to ignore all the weird and wonderful things going on in a big city. I've been making the most of being outside in the sunshine and storing up some summer memories to look back on during the dark, cold days that are coming all too soon.

Up At The 02.
I visited the 02 a few months ago and saw some tiny figures walking across the dome and just knew I had to give it a go one day. I added it to my "birthday list" and was thrilled when my friend wanted to do it too and bought it for me for my birthday. This probably isn't one for those of you with a fear of heights! I love heights but did have to conquer my fear of wearing trousers for this by digging out a pair of leggings from the depths of my wardrobe. A wise move as you are required to wear a safety harness and there can be strong winds at the top...

The ascent and descent up the sides of the dome are quite steep and the walkway is made of a springy fabric, the same as the white material the dome is comprised of. A guide accompanies you on your "climb" and tells you facts about the building and the views from the "summit". At the top you can see Canary Wharf, the Olympic Park and the planes landing at London City Airport which appear scarily close to the yellow spokes of the dome. It was so hot that a haze covered most of London so the views were not as good as they might have been but its more about the experience and feeling like an intrepid climber for an hour. An exhilarating experience with just the right amount of adventurousness for someone like me who finds cycling on the road scary, definitely worth wearing "sensible" clothing for.

Walkie Talkie Scorchie.
When I heard on the news that a London skyscraper was melting cars, it made complete sense to head to the site of the "death ray" on the hottest day of the week. I am not a science expert but the curved shape of the "Walkie Talkie" building in the City of London is concentrating the sun's rays on a small area of the street on Eastcheap and has been melting cars and frying eggs in its glare.

I was not the only one with the idea of checking this out - a huge crowd of City workers on their lunchbreaks, news reporters, photographers and a man with a giant thermometer had assembled to see what all the fuss was about. I managed to stand in the reflected glow for about 3 seconds to take a photo before I am certain that I could feel my hair burning in the heat. The thermometer showed 50 degrees so it could have been a quick way to tan. The best part: Londoners from all walks of life were chatting away to one another, brought together by an accident of building design and sunlight - a brief but welcome interlude in the London way of making absolutely no eye contact with anyone whatsoever.

What have you been discovering in your city lately?
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Friday, 6 September 2013

Travel Journal: Madrid

I've just got back from a trip to Madrid. I went to Barcelona back in 2010 but had never been to, or heard much about, the Spanish capital. With my iPhone weather forecast showing temperatures in the 40s for most of the summer all I expected was for it to be extremely hot! By the time late August arrived, the temperatures had dropped to a more bearable 36 degrees and Madrid turned out to be a gem of a city - great food, not too many tourists and lots to do.

For art lovers, the Museo Del Prado is a must-visit - its huge (and mercifully air-conditioned). Walk along the tree-lined boulevard to the beautiful botanical gardens and then onto the Parque Del Buen Retiro - a beautiful place to escape from the city. Hiring a rowing boat on the lake was really fun, even if my rowing skills and spacial awareness were not up to much. I had wanted to go to the Reina Sofia to see Picasso's Guernica but unfortunately this was the only place that we encountered a huge queue so we skipped it in favour of making the most of the sunshine and checking out some impressive street art. The centre of the city is great for people-watching and markets - we visited the El Rastro flea market which was full of bargains, the San Miguel food market which was a great way to try some local foods and the Shoreditch-esque Malasana neighbourhood. For another escape from the city the cable car over the Casa de Campo park was great fun and the views were amazing. Football fans should check out the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu - the tour was fun and provided some great photo opportunities. Shopping is a holiday activity wherever I go - Zara, Mango and Berksha are in abundance in the city and are Spanish brands so its practically your tourist duty to help the Spanish economy recover, right?

There are loads of hotels to pick from - we stayed in the H10 on the Gran Via for the first night which was a great central base for exploring the city. We then re-located to a hotel a short metro ride out of town which had the added bonus of a pool to relax by in the afternoons, much appreciated in the heat and nice to have some chill out time - I often come back from city breaks more tired than when I leave for them. A four night break was plenty of time to see all the sites in my guidebook at a relaxed pace.

My favourite Spanish food - churros and chocolate! Its a well known fact that food eaten in another city has no calories.
The Palacio Real. "Real" means Royal in Spanish.
The beautiful Plaza De Oriente.
 I've stayed in a couple of other H10 hotels so blagged us free cocktails on our first evening in the city.
Had to do a double take at these ridiculous mannequins.
The botanical gardens. This may or may not be a pineapple tree. #bloggerswearpineapples
Have you visited Madrid?
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Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Insta-Updates: The Golden Hour

So, I'm totally stealing the title of the current issue of Aesthetic but this part of the summer really does feel like the golden hour - the last chance to wear those summer sale purchases and eat al fresco before the leaves start turning, well, golden.


1. A pub sign that speaks the truth (always drink responsibly, kids). 

2. Sweets in Sugar Sin in Covent Garden.

3. Thai calamari in Bubasa Eathai. Go just for this, its so good.

4. Japanese rice burger picnic in Regent's Park from Yaki Bakery on Goodge Street.

5. The longest my nails have ever been, the sunshine must have made them grow.

6. Takeout from Kimchee for dinner.

7. The Olympic park, one year on. Nostalgic memories and a reminder of how fast time goes by.

8. Wearing my impulse buy Ray Bans. I only popped into Selfridges for a Pinkberry, sorry credit card.

9. Dinner at Bangalore Express. The best restaurant seating, the hardest place to be a waitress.

10. An eBay bargain (here).

11. Last city lunch with Aisling at Salvation Jane - halloumi on sour dough.

12. Angry Bird biscuits from Spain.

13. Forever 21 purchases. Fast fashion is a hard addiction to quit.

14. Sushi burger take 2 at Yo Sushi with Hannah.

15. Street art near Hoxton Square.

16. Froyo at Samba Swirl.

17. Outdoor cinema  - watching Mean Girls while the sun set.

18. My city looking pretty much perfect.

How are you spending the last days of summer?
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Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Party Dress

As a child, parties were pretty exciting events in my limited social calendar; pass-the-parcel, musical chairs, copious amounts of usually banned e-number containing foods (I was partial to Party Ring biscuits - can you even still buy them or do the kids of  today demand something more exciting and additive-laden?) made for a hyperactive few hours, usually followed by being taken home in tears due to someone else winning the My Little Pony in the pass-the-parcel. One particularly traumatic party involved everyone turning up in the Clarks keyhole shoes of the day and then mass panic when it was feared that we might have gone home wearing someone else's pair. If I ever get around to wearing my Louboutins out, I'll be keeping them glued to my feet all night.

Childhood parties required a pretty party dress, of course. Having a family member with Selfridges staff discount meant that I was probably definitely the best dressed child at parties. And is the possible root of my obsession with pretty dresses, but that's for another time...

These days parties are a little different. I consume less e-numbers and don't end up crying but I do still like to wear a party dress. My birthday isn't until the middle of the month but I celebrated this weekend with friends over cocktails, pizza and ping pong at Bounce.

Having topped up my pink ends, my planned pink dress would have made everyone's eyes hurt too much. Luckily, I went to the Darling sample sale on Saturday and picked up this lace dress for only £15. I'm not usually a pastels person but the blue-grey lace complimented the pink hair and didn't make me look washed-out as I fear pastels usually do. The dress didn't need any accessories aside from my vintage shell earrings and a pair of New Look wedges - perfectly suitable footwear for playing ping pong!
Twirlin' my skirt.
Favourite childhood party memories?
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Sunday, 1 September 2013

Pretty In Pink

During my teenage years, I had a fortnightly date which took place in the bathroom at my parents' house. The date was with a box of drugstore hairdye. My ever-changing hair colour was not too popular with my parents (the bathroom fittings never recovered from a particular application of permanent blue-black dye), probably stood in the way of my being made a prefect at school due to a multi-coloured look the week that selection was taking place but did make a good talking point among friends who would rarely see me with the same hair colour between meet-ups and relatives who were shocked that I would want to swap my naturally blonde hair for anything out of a bottle.

Having had my natural dark blonde hair for the past six years (I gave up the hair dye on my gap year once my hair started snapping off in protest) I thought that my relationship with hairdye was long over, only to be rekindled in the capable hands of a salon colourist once my hair starts going grey (so hopefully not for many, many years). However, hair dye and I had a brief dalliance last week - a few weeks off work between jobs with a birthday party and two holidays (so plenty of hair washing) in between resulted in me covering my hair with pink goo in my bathroom one Friday evening and realising how much I had missed being able to change my look for under £5 while fearing permanent damage to my bathroom fittings (only joking, landlord!).
 
Hair dye: Schwarzkopf Colour XXL in 93 - Shocking Pink. I clipped up the top sections and applied the dye to the underneath of my dry hair. After 20 minutes I mixed some dye with conditioner and applied it to the ends only of the top layer of my hair and left it for 10 minutes more before rinsing out.
Dress: Laura Ashley (vintage via my mum).
Pink hair really is the summer fling of hair colours, three washes in and its already faded a lot but like all good summer romances, its there to be enjoyed while it lasts and then promptly forgotten about once the last traces of it are washed down the plug hole and I return to being a natural dark-ish blonde (and to being able to wear by red clothes again). Pink hair makes me feel a little bit like '90s Courtney Love and a little bit like a My Little Pony. A little bit grunge and a little bit girly. As my 26th birthday approaches its sometimes all too easy to get swept up into adult life panic but a few weeks of pink locks are the perfect antidote and a reminder that I'm still young(ish) and that I shouldn't take myself or my hair colour too seriously.
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