Thursday, 26 May 2016

PACKING: Your step by step guide

From bottom left: Top: £69, Monsoon. Jeans: £255, Paige Denim. Lipstick in 'Luna', £24, Nars. Headphones: Frends at TK Maxx (old). Top: £29.99, Zara.  Bag: £108, J Crew. Suitcase: £129, Muji.  Sandals: £175.42, Eileen Fisher
Packing is without doubt something I know a little about. I pretty much did it for a living for 11 years working in fashion - I'd usually travel with at least 5 suitcases for a shoot and then one tiny hand luggage for myself. I rarely overpack and have learnt from many experiences (i.e forgetting to take a jacket or closed toe shoes and then it rained all week) - so I thought I would share a few pearls of wisdom:

PICK A COLOUR PALETTE


Sandals: £175.42, Eileen Fisher. Lipstick in 'Luna', £24, Nars. Dress: £65, And Other Stories (bought instore but the blue one is available here)
You don't have to be a monochrome lover, it could be brights - but try and stick to 2-3 core colours and then jazz them up with accessories. My favourites are denim, white and leopard print. Or black, white with a pop of colour. That way, everything matches - so if the weather isn't quite what you expected or the dress code is not as 'glam' as you thought, you can always throw your jacket over something or change into flats knowing all your pieces still go together. Obviously, this is great for minibreak packing but I used it for longhaul in LA and it was so helpful - takes less time packing, too - as you're narrowing your choice.


Bikini top: £17, Cos. Bikini bottoms: £17, Cos. Bracelets: Astley Clarke. Book: £15, Kikki K. After sun: £5.99, Hawaiian Tropic 
PACK COLOUR-POP ACCESSORIES 

If you keep your clothing palette minimal, then you can go crazy with the accessories, and that's what we all really care about, right?! Try Pomme Pomme London for some fab pom pom earrings, or these Topshop  lace-ups.

Bag: £108, J Crew. Sunglasses: £118, J Crew. Earrings: £69, Gas Bijoux at Cadenzza.  Nail polish in 'Beach Please', £7, Cheeky

ALWAYS PACK A JACKET


Denim jacket: £59, Topshop. Headphones: Frends at TK Maxx (old) 
You can always wear it to the airport or on the train if it doesn't fit in your luggage. I've been left bewildered (and cold) too many times in a supposedly hot destination without one - make sure it's quite lightweight and will go over something a little dressy if needs be -a khaki shirt, a denim jacket or a silk bomber are good.

PRIORITISE FLATS

I may take one pair of heels, but let's face it - especially on a citybreak - flats are king (and take up less room!). Look for versatile styles like a chic black sandal which you can dress up or down: I love these Eileen Fisher versions but equally Mango have a fab pair here.

Sandals: £175.42, Eileen Fisher. Trainers: £115, Hush
SWEAR BY MINIS

If you're going shorthaul (or even longhaul with most things), then take as many small products as possible. I actually have a box under my bed dedicated to mini travel bottles (I told you I travelled a LOT). That way, I can pack (nearly) all the travel products I need a night or two before without needing them. Most brands do travel versions around 30ml and clever brands like DHC actually do a powdered face wash. 


Face wipes: £1.20, Simple. Wash bag: £20, Elizabeth Scarlett.  Suncream: £8.99, Hawaiian Tropic. Surf infusion oil spray: £22, Bumble & Bumble. Fragrance 'Terre D'Iris': £32.99, Miller Harris. Micellar water: £1.99, Garnier. Day cream: £10, Pure at Marks & Spencer. Face wash powder: £9.50, DHC  
USE ECO BAGS

If going hand luggage only (especially on those budget airlines that only let you take one carry-on), always pack an eco back on the top - once you go through security, whip out your bag and carry all your inflight essentials. More legroom and you only have what you need!

Monogram tote: £75, Rae Feather.  Travel wallet: £65, Aurora. Clear cosmetic case: £5.95, Muji. 
RAID MUJI

I swear by Muji's inflight clear packaging - they're airport approved so you can separate all your liquids before the airport. I take one on the plane with a few inflight 'musts' - Lano rose hand cream, healthy snacks (these from Kind - they stop me eating dodgy paninis mid-flight), Caudalie beauty elixir (makes me feel sane and somehow chic on Ryanair!), Bagsy lipbalm and a new obsession - eye masks. These are good for longhaul flights (I became addicted to Eyeko ones but they were discontinued, and have been promised the Shiseido ones are just as good, if a little pricier) to stop your eyes from depuffing - it feels really hydrating and indulgent (which we don't get much of sitting in Economy). And you don't look all out mad as you would with a full face mask on. 


FIND SPACE

I'm definitely a folder, not a roller. My belief is if you pack sensibly, there is no need for rolling. I put shoes in first, and place in the corners with the treads facing out, then pack around. As you see gaps emerge - stuff with swimwear, socks and underwear - items that won't crease.

Wash bag: £20, Elizabeth Scarlett. Jumper: £187.75, Eileen Fisher. Trainers: £115, HushBook: £15, Kikki K.
And yes, I know that books don't save space but I love the feel of a real book on holiday -and the memories it creates of that trip. Sometimes you need to have sentiment over practicality.

I hope you found this useful! Here's a little video we shot with Lucky No 13 for our last trip to LA:


Subscribe to my YouTube channel here, where you can see all my videos first.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Frugal City Guide: 7 new spots to try in LA

Top: £59, MonsoonJeans: £49, Monsoon. Sandals: £39, Monsoon
LA, the City of Angels. And, surprisingly, one of my favourite places. After travelling there for work countless times (I've been there for one night before doing a photo shoot), it's so nice to go as a 'visitor'. It's very spread out and you need a car and sometimes it gets tiring driving around (tiring for my husband I mean, I was a mere passenger!) but all the destinations are worth it. We were also really lucky with the weather, it was low to mid 20s the entire time - perfect mooching weather. Here's a little guide on what we got up to:


WHERE TO STAY

Ace Hotel, Downtown LA

Hotels in LA are expensive. Fact. What with the extra tax and city tax and everything else on top (same goes with car rental, there's never just a bog standard price, always extras), we couldn't afford a hotel for the entire time. We knew we would be staying in friends whilst in San Diego and save money with our Air BnB so we booked the Ace for Friday and Saturday - at roughly $200 a night (and Hotels in US are always cheaper if you stay a Saturday night). We just wanted 2 days to stroll around, relax and get over our jetlag - and we'd never stayed Downtown before. It's a great position right by cool stores APC, Acne etc and you feel very 'in it' - the rooftop pool is great for those early jetlag mornings too (although it is not for swimming! Too shallow).



Brunch at The Ace Hotel

It was so nice to be a part of LA you could walk around, we walked to Little Tokyo for the first time, which obviously I enjoyed - much more of an 'area' than I thought it would be. And we loved walking past all the old theatre signs.



Top: £185.30, Club Monaco. Dress: H&M (bought instore but buy similar from Asos here). Watch: Shore ProjectsBag: £51.60, Aurora London. Sunglasses: £118, J Crew. Shoes: Asos (old but buy similar from New Look here). Photograph: Christopher O'Donnell


TO DO

Ledlow, Downtown LA

Tile porn forever, and a great place for brunch - the french toast (and Bloody Mary) was worth the calories. 

Mules: £128, All Saints


Grand Central Market, Downtown LA

A total foodies heaven, similar to Borough Market in London with all street vendors etc - sushi, oysters, pulled pork, pressed juices etc - you can get pretty much anything here - make sure you go hungry! There's a lot of seating areas, and some restaurants have their own seating area (there were queues for the seated ramen area, obviously).




Leather jacket: Jigsaw (old but buy similar here). Dress: And Other Stories (sold out sadly). Bag: £64.50, Aurora London. Sunglasses: £118, J Crew (I bought the red ones instore). Sandals: £275, LK Bennett x Bionda Castana. Photograph: Christopher O'Donnell


WHERE TO STAY - Silverlake

For the last part of our trip, we wanted to feel a bit more like locals. A lot of the make-up artists and hairdressers I work with all live in Silverlake and it is considered the more 'creative' area. We found this gorgeous bungalow just off of Sunset for 4 days and as we drove up, we passed so many coffee shops and boutiques (it's right by a Clare Vivier store which I went straight into) - we knew it was the right area. We had on street parking (valet at the Hotel was $30 a night) and we could walk to local restaurants. An instagram follower recommended Night + Market Song for dinner, which was on the road opposite. We had to queue from 6pm but it was worth it, absolutely packed, great atmosphere and the Thai food was out of this world.



White top: £29.99, H&M. Hat: £30, Catarzi at Asos


Iced coffee from Alfred's, Silverlake
Night + Market Song. The queues are totally worth it. Go in and sign up on the form on the wall (don't wait to be asked, like us!)

BEST FOR SUNSETS - Manhattan Beach


Can you justify a 40 minute drive for a sunset shot? We can...it's a great beach for a walk or run, the promenade is full of runners. And the town just up from the sea is gorgeous filled with coffee shops, restaurants and stores (I spotted a Free People store but had already spent my money in Madewell!).
Hat: £30, Catarzi at Asos. Dress: Mes Desmoiselles. Leather jacket: Jigsaw (old but buy similar here).

BEST PEOPLE WATCHING - Larchmont Village

It's basically a cool, gentrified area of LA near Beverly Hills with cool cafes and shops, it has Farmers Markets etc and so great to grab a coffee and watch the world go by. Funnily enough, we stumbled upon it as we were shooting some outfit pictures in a quiet street and a lady came out of her house to ask what we were doing (cringe) - and when we explained we were from England she gave us loads of places to go. Larchmont Village was at the end of the street and we hadn't even noticed! So we went for a coffee whilst TV agents were gossiping around us, it felt so Hollywood.

Leather jacket: Jigsaw (old but buy similar here). Dress: £40, Monsoon.  Sandals: £16, AsosBag: £59.50, J Crew


BEST SHOPPING - Abbot Kinney Boulevard

We've been to venice so many times but never really strayed from the beach - such good window shopping (and it remained window shopping for me, with shops such as Vince, Current/Elliott etc), great restaurants, cool graffiti and a general great LA vibe. If you're looking for healthy, organic LA lifestyle then look no further.






We had lunch at Gjelina, a Venice institution - healthy, good food. Be warned - they don't serve bad things like Coca Cola and they won't modify any dishes (I asked for cheese on my mushroom pizza and instead, just had to order something else!). But it was packed, the atmosphere was great and food was delicious. 


And afterwards, we rented bikes and got ourselves hand-made salted caramel ice cream. Because, why not. 



Top: £59, MonsoonJeans: £49, Monsoon. Sandals: £39, Monsoon

You can watch our Youtube video (and subscribe!) here and below, filmed by Lucky Number Thirteen:



Sunday, 22 May 2016

•Frugal Buy* Accessorize bikini

Bikini top: £15, Accessorize. Bikini bottoms: £14, Accessorize. Towel: £20, Wood/Grey. Sunglasses: £15, Accessorize. Book: £10.39, Amazon
I don't buy as many bikinis as I used to, back in the day I would go on a 10 day holiday with 10 different styles. Nowadays, I have 4 -5 favourite styles - they're more classic too - a Topshop stripe one, a Heidi Klein taupe one (everyone needs one expensive wow factor one), a classic black high waisted style and a swimsuit. Gone are the days when I want to stand out in a bright white bikini (this was confirmed by the hen weekend in Marbella last year) - I much prefer to look chic in the background. And this certainly fits the bill.


It's a dead ringer for the Marysia one I love at £230. It's a waffle fabric which makes it super flattering against the skin, I sized up in the bottoms simply because I hate a clingy brief and these hold you in without unsightly bulges. They come with straps but they're detachable for someone like me who hates halterneck tan lines - so it's basically the ideal bikini. And the best bit? I could afford the swimsuit version too:

Scallop swimsuit: £29, Accessorize
FRUGAL EDIT


1. Bikini top: £14.99, H&M. Bikini bottoms: £9.99, H&M

2. Cotton off shoulder dress: £65, And Other Stories

3. Gold-plated necklace: £39, Tom Shot at Cadenzza

4. Raw edge straw hat: £19.99, Mango

5. Nail polish in 'Mom': £6, Topshop

6. Jute bag: £14.99, H&M

7. Knotted sandals: £39, Topshop
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