Friday 30 September 2011

See them running around, changing the rain.

Well, today's post really didn't want to happen. First of all, it got to Wednesday and I had no clue what dress to do - and I had plans Thursday and Friday evening. Then, I left work late, so had to rush to get my photographs done in dusk. I took about five photos, half of which were blurry and then... my battery ran out. Ahhhh.

Luckily, zapping my battery for five minutes was enough and I ran back outside to take them in near darkness, hence the graininess of a couple of these.


I do adore this dress. I found it in Debenhams a few weeks ago, nestling in one of the sale rails. It's just perfect. The colours are so vibrant and pretty, and it fits like a dream. The waist is super tight, but in a good way - it really pulls me in and, coupled with the full skirt, makes me feel much skinnier than I am. I'm dying for some summer weddings to wear it to - or christenings! My sister is due any day now. She could be giving birth RIGHT NOW. It seemed apt to wear it now - this week is our last taste of summer for the year, I think. Bearing in mind that just earlier this week I was blogging about hats and scarves - this sunshine can't last!

This isn't actually a REAL outfit though. It's a reconstruction of an outfit. I really struggled for inspiration of what to feature this week, and all I could think about is how much I wished I'd photographed the dress I wore on the Friday of LFW. Plus, my hair looked really good that day. Tragedy. So in the end, I recreated the outfit for this post, because it is a nice outfit. And I added a hat. Because it's a very nice hat (I went into the River Island sale a while back, all prepared to buy this, but instead came out with the perfect boater. It fits so well.

I've got the first of many 30th birthday parties this weekend, so I'm sure I'll have a sore head on Sunday! But I'll be back next Friday with a super duper, extra special Friday Frocks. It's a big 'un.

Thursday 29 September 2011

30 Before 30

In exactly 10 months, I will turn 30 years old.

(Which is odd, really, as I both do and don't feel nearly 30. It's awesome when people say I look like I'm in my early 20s, but I'd hate to still be as uncertain and insecure as I was back then. To be honest, I think 30 SEEMS old, but when you're actually staring it in the face, you're really not as changed as you'd expect to be.)

Anyway, I intended to do this just after my birthday and didn't get round to it, but I didn't want the year to pass without putting together a list of things I'd like to achieve before this landmark age!

I did some googling when I was putting this list together, and came across some great lists - like this one from the awesome A Thrifty Mrs, and this 'sow your wild oats' one from the Evening Standard. Oh - and this ridiculously offensive one by the Daily Mail. Yes, I will be quitting texting, wearing trainers and skirts above the knee as of July 29th, I wouldn't want to appear unseemly (oh, Daily Mail. Do go fuck yourself.).

1. Read 50 books.
Honestly, I'd rather say 100, but lately I'm struggling to read at ALL. So. Fifty.

2. Buy a Filofax.
Filofaxes seem responsible and grown-up. Therefore, it is time to buy one and attempt to be an organised adult. Yep. Also, they're pretty.

3. Pay off my overdraft.
Even as I write this I'm thinking it won't happen. But it's really not that hard, right? (Apart from how it is. I like buying THINGS.)

4. Go somewhere amazing that I've never been before.
One thing that has changed in the last 10 years is that 'hot weather' is no longer my number one requirement for a holiday destination. I'd love to go to Japan, or Thailand, or Australia... just somewhere INCREDIBLE.

5. Reach my goal weight.
Even if I don't STAY there, I'd like to be back here again at least one more time before I'm old.

6. Move out.
Living back with my parents has always been a temporary measure to save some money before the next big step - but it's ever so comfortable here (and CHEAP). I just need to make sure I don't get TOO comfortable.

7. Get my dream hair colour / get hair professionally dyed.
Because I've moaned about it for long enough. It's time to take ACTION.

8. Empty my 'eBay' box.
Well. It's more of a giant stack. It must be GONE.

9. Learn to use my camera properly.
Taking a photography class would be a start.

10. Complete Couch to 5k.
Because my ability to run is shocking.

11. Try 10 cocktails I've never tried before.
I am up to this challenge. Who wants to help?

12. Watch 5 classic films I've never seen before.
List TBC but will include The Godfather and Stand By Me. I KNOW.

13. Successfully make meringue / macarons
The key word here is SUCCESSFUL.

14. Own a pair of designer sunglasses.
Any volunteers? *starts drawing up 30th birthday list*

15. Visit The Fat Duck.
I’ve been DESPERATE to go for the longest time.

16. Do Race For Life.
I've always meant to, it's totally time.

17. Read Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre.
I KNOW. I promised my friend Anne I’d add them to this list. (Note: these do not count as part of item 1)

18. Cook a roast dinner without help.
I can’t believe I’ve never done this!

19. Buy a party dress made entirely of sequins. (And, y'know, lining.)
Totally inspired by Susie's LFW outfit - I can just PICTURE it! But I want a PROM dress. And I want to wear it on my birthday.

20. Learn to make 30 different cakes.
This sounds both challenging and delicious.

21. Watch the sun rise.
I’m genuinely not sure if I’ve ever done this before or not. But I SHOULD.

22. Have a facial.
I can’t believe I’ve never had one. SHOCKING.

23. Go abroad for a long weekend.
Oh, EasyJet. This is why you exist. (My heart is crying out for Barcelona or Amsterdam.)

24. Buy a Chanel lipstick & nail polish.
Maybe this would inspire me to actually WEAR lipstick! I’m so curious to see if Chanel nail polish is much better than OPI.

25. Sing 'Wuthering Heights' by Kate Bush at karaoke.
I didn't say I'd sing it WELL.

26. Watch 5 TV series I've never watched/completed.
List TBC but will definitely include Battlestar Galactica, Six Feet Under & Twin Peaks.

27. Brew my own alcohol.
This sounds DANGEROUS. But kind of awesome?

28. Finish my website.
Which I’ve been trying to do for freaking years, even before I changed the domain!

29. Print at least some of the photos I have on my computer and put them in frames and albums.
I can’t believe how terrible I am at this. I have so many beautiful empty photoframes, too!

30. Implement a proper skincare routine
Which means something more complex than just using the cheapest makeup removing wipes that Boots sell.

I've started a page on my blog to update this - I'll let you all know how I'm getting on over the next almost-year! If you fancy helping me with any of these, I am open to it. I have quite a few assistants already for 11 and 20 though. :)

I also need to come up with an AMAZING theme for my 30th. I know, I know, it's not until July but still, no shame in preparing early. Currently '50s' is my back-up theme but I don't think it's quite right. Help me come up with something incredible, awesome and intrinsically ME, please?

Tuesday 27 September 2011

Cold wind blowing in the middle of the night.

As soon as the weather starts to turn brisk, I always add to my bag essentials. A hat, of course (not just for warmth – it keeps the fringe flat on windy days and keeps the hair dry and frizz-free in the rain – I quite often have one on hand in the summer too!) and gloves, but the most important addition is a scarf.

Ever since pashmina-style scarves became so readily available, I’ve pretty much abandoned the humble knitted scarf – apart from when it snows! They’re so much more versatile for our changeable weather, ideal to wear with a light jacket during the annoying in-between summer and autumn period – I quite often put mine on at work when the air conditioning is particularly overpowering. Plus, they’re pretty, stylish and come in so many different colours, I can’t stop buying them.

I was just about ready to start raiding my winter storage suitcase for a scarf when Moodys got in touch and offered to send me this fashion scarf. It was perfect - I’ve hardly taken it off since. It’s super soft and light, but long enough to wrap around twice for extra warmth. And it’s pretty. 

Every year, I go mad buying hats as soon as Autumn starts – this year, I think I might transfer my hat addiction to scarves. There are tons of lovely ones on the Moodys website, I'm utterly spoilt for choice. Friday Frocks has been going for a while... maybe it's time for Scarves on Sunday. Anyone? :)

Scarf - Moody's
Jacket & Boots - Primark
Hat - New Look

Friday 23 September 2011

It's in the photograph of love, 'cause everybody wants a dream.

It's so hard to know what to wear for something so ~fashiony~ as LFW. There are so many beautiful, stylish people milling around the courtyard of Somerset House that it's difficult not to feel intimidated. If your outfit is good, people will photograph it - so the pressure is on.

Well, sort of. I'm under no allusions - I'm not very modelly, so I didn't really expect to get papped - although I did get my photo taken on the way in, I think by some students, which was flattering! I spent a lot of the day with Susie and Jazmine though, both of whom looked gorgeous - everyone else seemed to agree and they were constantly being approached by photographers. Jazmine even got featured on the Vogue website!

I love the light/dark contrast of their outfits, isn't it cool?

I went for black in the end - simple, reliable, stylish black. I bought this New Look dress about a week ago and really like it - it's super comfortable and I think I'll absolutely live in it. So versatile!

I added some turquoise tights (I know they look blue in the photos, but I swear they were the same colour as my belt!), my favourite shoeboots, layered on some quirky charm necklaces and semi-successfully beehive-ponytailed my hair. Why does no one ever talk about 'beehive burn'? My arms were killing me after all that backcombing! I felt quite nice though - not very 'high fashion' but I didn't feel like I stuck out like a sore thumb as a total fashion n00b!

Dress - New Look
Boots & Tights - Dorothy Perkins
Belt & Jacket - Primark
Necklaces - Accessorize, Topshop, Ebay
Bracelet - Handmade
Nails - Vintage Pink by Models Own with nail pen

Also, you know what? I really love this jacket. I wanted a jacket exactly like it, and I found it in Primark last year. But no one ever comments on it. And it's such a nice jacket! (Show of hands for the jacket?)

The lovely Jazmine took some photos for me - it was hilarious, there were four of us all taking outfit photos of each other in a quiet part of Somerset House. I love bloggers. They get it.

After I'd had my fill of fashion, I took a stroll over the River Thames (stopping to take some pics of that awesome view) to meet my friends for a yummy dinner at Polpo. Mmmm. Meatballs.


Thursday 22 September 2011

I'm so fierce that it's so nuts, I live to be model thin.

Saturday was my second time at London Fashion Week - the first was last year, with Mariana, to take some pictures for the Sketchbook blog. Which was lovely, but this year I was going as 'me' - which was a totally different experience. I got my own pass! WITH MY NAME ON IT AND EVERYTHING.

Yep, the little things excite me. I really didn't know how it all worked this year, so I applied for tickets REALLY late, but the lovely people at Jasper Conran sent me an invite to their show anyway, because they're nice like that. It was standing, but I managed to get a seat in the end. I brought the wrong lens, so my photos are TERRIBLE. Here are some.

The show was good, but if I'm honest, not really my thing. The designs were beautifully structured, appearing simple with neat little details you wouldn't expect like cool back straps and hip-high splits. But I couldn't shake the feeling that if you weren't a size 6 and 5'10, you wouldn't be able to pull them off. However, I did see Kirstie Allsopp on the front row! And Curtis from Misfits! And these other two attractive ladies who are probably very famous - and if not, thoroughly gorgeous (any clues?).

The best part, though, was hanging out with bloggers. I popped into London after work for a lovely Friday dinner with some awesome bloggers. It was awesome to FINALLY meet Michelle - we've been talking to each other pretty much since we started blogging! Plus, Hayley, Carrie, Jazmine, Kristabel, Jen, Winnie, Lily, Gem and Vicki were there too - and the evening ended with most of us in Jen & Vicki's hotel room, ten of us piled upon the double bed, gossiping away (and my girl Amy came along, too!). But when I came back in on Saturday, it was a little scary going along without any set plans, and only one definite invite! I quickly met up with Jazmine, Vicki, Kristabel, Reena, Susie and Dina and so didn't feel lonely at all.

From top to bottom: Jazmine, Vicki, Jazmine again, some people I don't know, Vicki again, Kristabel

I couldn't get over how exhausting just one day of LFW was - and I only went to one show! But it was a great experience, and I hope I can come back next year.

BUT. I wasn't impressed with the way bloggers were treated - we had our own tiny area (about four seats!), away from the rest of the press (I made it into one press area, and it was really just an indoor seating area - it's not like there were some amazing facilities they were saving for the big shots!) and we weren't allowed the tote bags. I know it's not all about the freebies, but I was looking forward to having my own 'Look where I went!' memento, so was a bit gutted about that, but bloggers were strictly not allowed them (which was especially irritating when you a) saw the giant piles behind the check-in desk; b) see how many went up on eBay after the weekend - 'real' press abuse freebies too; c) know how much tote bags cost to produce, especially in bulk (clue: not a lot). It just seemed rather elitist, if I'm honest, and unnecessary.

I just think that if the LFW organisers have a problem with bloggers coming along, they should be more selective about who they accept - I'm far from a 'big name blogger' and my blog is more high street than high fashion - but it seemed like anyone who pre-registered correctly for a press pass got one. And if the designers - the lifeblood of LFW - don't have a problem sending tickets out to bloggers, then it doesn't really seem like it's the place of LFW to decide who is and who isn't allowed 'special treatment', you know? Bloggers didn't even get lists of exhibitors. And the staff working were often downright rude. I would like to see more shows, but yeah, it does make me think twice about going back.

I hope that rant doesn't come across as massively self-important - like I said, I don't consider myself very important at all! But a bit of consistent treatment would be nice. (And a tote bag, so I could put my uncomfortable heels somewhere at the end of the day.)

PS - Sorry for the radio silence this week - time has just vanished! I'll be back tomorrow with my LFW dress.

PPS - I'm SO excited - the diet & fitness blog I write for, Where Are My Knees has been shortlisted for a Cosmopolitan Blog Award! Ahhhh! Vote for us, would you?

Friday 16 September 2011

It's not right, but it's okay.

I wanted this dress so much when I saw it in Topshop at the beginning of summer, but it was £45 and I didn't love it that much. Then it popped up in the sale for a much more reasonable £15, and I couldn't resist.

However... it doesn't really fit. It's too big on top - I had to add makeshift darts to the sleeves secured with safety pins, just so it wouldn't gape. It's a bit too short to be flattering. And honestly, I think it makes me look a bit chubs. Plus the skinny red belt just doesn't go. And yet there's so much I love about it that I refuse to accept any of the previous points. It's. Just. So. CUTE. I love the little polka dots, the buttons, the sweet collar. It's so summery and comfortable.

Plus, I figured it may be my last chance to wear it this year, with all the rain and wind we've had lately. If Saturday was our last day of sunshine, at least I know I made the most of it. :)

Dress & Necklace - Topshop
Belt & Shoes - Primark
Nails - Essie "Lilacism"

The necklace was a birthday present from my bestie Sha, and the super comfortable stripy pumps - well, I've had them maybe five years! I used to have them in black and white too, but I absolutely destroyed them, wearing them pretty much nonstop for a year. They were black all over by the time I threw them out!

Oh, and the nails. I've only just changed the colour, with sadness. I got some nail art pens from eBay and was trying them out - the polka dots got so many comments! I can't wait to have a proper play and get really creative.

I hope everyone has a good weekend! I'm off to London Fashion Week for a bit tonight and tomorrow. I'm looking forward to taking in a few shows and catching up with some gorgeous blogging ladies - will let you know how I get on next week!


Wednesday 14 September 2011

You're the queen of the superficial.

We’re barely out of August, but I’m already back in opaque tights and thinking about my Autumn/Winter wardrobe. Well, to be more specific, I’m thinking about COATS. I didn’t buy a new coat last year, instead recycling the ones I wore from the previous three years (which, usefully, are of varying thickness levels so they keep me going from Autumn to Spring). I know I’ll wear them again this year (I love this one and this one far too much to stop wearing them) but they’re looking a little bit shabby now and, well, I WANT a new one, damnit!

The main reason I didn’t buy a new one last year was because I couldn’t find the ONE. I am such a fussy madam when it comes to clothes – especially the bigger, more expensive items. A good winter coat is so important because you’ll wear it every day for weeks and weeks – there’s a lot of pressure on that one item of clothing to be just right.

So here it is. The perfect coat. The coat to end all coats. The coat I have been hunting for, for god knows how long. The coat I once saw on a random stranger and chased her down the street to ask her where it was from (she got away... curses.). Surely this coat must exist. And if not, why not? Someone make it for me. Please?

I really don't want to spend more than £100 on a coat. Maybe JUST over. But not by much.

Just above the knees, please! Elongating short legs, plus slimming – cutting you off at the second narrowest point of your legs (the narrowest being the ankles, and I am far too short and, er, curvaceous to pull off an ankle length coat. Plus I have no desire to look like I’m a flasher.)

Single Breasted (NOT double breasted)
There are some items that ladies of the larger-chest persuasion should not wear. Double breasted coats are amongst them (as are polonecks). If you’re looking indignantly at your computer screen saying 'Nuh-UH!' er, TRUST ME. They make you look two sizes larger than you are.

Classic. I like funnel necks but I don’t find them flattering (poloneck effect) and they get hot, too. A classic, lapelled collar will look just as good hanging open as it does closed. And v-necks flatter everyone. Especially me. This is MY perfect coat, you know. Not yours.

Classic. Neat. Timeless. Warm. My style's pretty established by now, so you might not be surprised to know that I want a defined, nipped in waist and an a-line skirt. Maybe pleated. Not a tulip skirt. A proper skirt. I will not compromise.

RED. Red red red red red red. Not cranberry. Not orange. Not blood red. RED. Fire engine red. True red. RED. Please. (Red.)

Matching Hat
Look, Topshop already sell it! I need it.

Come on, everyone. This coat must exist. Help me find it. If you can... I'm bloomin' fussy and the only thing I'll compromise on is price!

Monday 12 September 2011

It's your eyes that make me smile.

Posting my Florence photos last week made me SO wistful for my holiday - if I could go back to Italy tomorrow, I would! But possibly worse are the photos from the rest of my trip. After Florence, and after Jo's wedding, we spent the rest of our Italian holiday in Greve, Chianti - set in the Tuscan hills at Le Cetinelle. I've already posted some photos of this place, but it was so gorgeous, I just have to share more...

Cutest three-legged kitty ever.

Le Cetinelle is situated in a vineyard, at the top of a steep, rocky hill. It’s surrounded by breathtaking views and so peaceful – we could have been the only people there. It’s a B&B with only 6 rooms - and my friends and I were in half of them - so we basically had our run of the place.

I can’t recommend it enough. You need to drive to get there – luckily Russ volunteered – but it’s beautiful. The landlady is super friendly too, and outside of breakfast time, the kitchen facilities were all ours. So, aside from one EPIC lunch in the local town (I had a souffle and a risotto to DIE for) we ate most of our meals there. They were the best. We bought loads of cheese and ham and part baked baguettes, and made tomato and mozzarella salad, and just all dug into this huge smorgasbord of the best food you’ve ever tasted, accompanied by lots of (incredibly cheap) red wine.

I loved it as a holiday location to spend with friends, but it would also be amazing for a romantic break or even a honeymoon. We had the pool to ourselves (so the girls and I sunbathed while passing around a bottle of fizz) and I could run around and take photos to my heart’s content, without feeling self conscious. It was actually so nice to be away from it all - we spent the evenings chatting, drinking and playing cards, rather than watching TV and playing on our smartphones. So nice, in fact, that when I found out there was free wi-fi, I felt quite reluctant to activate it... I did, though (I admit it - I missed Twitter!).

If you’re thinking about a quiet break – or even somewhere to spend a couple of days at the end of a busy break – GO. (It's really not expensive, either!)

More photos can be found on my Facebook page!
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