Friday, 9 October 2015

*Must Buy* Next cashmere mix scarf

Cashmere mix scarf: £40, Next
Not meaning to be too much of a bore, but I've been searching for a really good scarf for a while...

It would need to be classic, stand the test of time and keep me warm. And preferably grey.

I thought I'd found one in Cos - 100% cashmere and £59...I was willing to spend the money, as well, but something was not quite right. But I borrowed one from a model whilst in Lisbon and it had the perfect mix of softness, sturdiness (yes this is a thing) and I loved the tassels - it felt like an old college scarf. It was Acne.

Le sigh.

And then I found this online - 40% cashmere, 60% lambswool. It's the PERFECT marly grey...and I love it. £40, it's not the cheapest scarf on the block - but sure cheaper than Acne...

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

How To Pack Light

Espadrilles: Dune (old). Mini perfumes: Miller Harris. Towel: Atterley (sold out). Washbags: Anya Hindmarch and Accessorize. Bikini: $89, Triangl. Sunglasses: £260, Jimmy Choo. Leather bag: £250, Sophie Hulme

From one extreme to the may be autumn outside and we're trying on our winter coats. But we're still thinking about sunny winter getaways. I am currently in Spain, basking in the last of the hot days...but also planning a trip to Italy next month.

Blogging and holidays don't often go hand in hand. Mainly because you end up working on them (the light is just too nice to ignore!) and you get excited at that last chance to wear your favourite holiday clothes on Instagram. 

But I'm still a good packer. And this boils down to my years of experience - travelling for 8 years with hand luggage allowance on work trips - having to pack at sometimes 12 hours notice to get on a flight. Plus I'd always rather spend money on a meal than my luggage allowance. The key is in the minis, the light-weight items and the confidence in the pieces I pack. Here are a few rules I stick to.

1. Pick your bikinis wisely, and stand by your choice. You don't need 7 swimsuits for 7 days. 3 maximum. Just make sure they're your favourites.

2. Think about what they will have at the destination. Shampoo and conditioner? Beach towels? NEVER have toothpaste, a mistake I have made all too many times. Always take.

3. If you need to take a towel, invest in a hammam version. Lightweight and super chic - it's all you need at the beach. You can buy 2 for £50 at Net A Porter (maybe split with a friend), or you can buy singularly on Amazon.

4. You only really need to take one bag and shoes for the evening. In the day you will just wear Birkies/flip flops. Think realistically - take one pair of chic black sandals maybe 2 for a week long trip - maybe some espadrilles (but you can travel in these). Trust me, you'll survive.

5. Have a stand-by box of travel toiletries. If I didn't have this, I would forget half my suitcase. In the box under my bed is basically a load of miniatures, suncreams, deodorant, toothbrush, spare chargers, comb - often things that I use in my house up until I need to leave. It means I can pack whole heartedly the night before without leaving myself post-it notes across the house the morning of.

6. Swear by minis. Especially if going hand luggage only. It just means you can take more stuff, right? A mini bottle of suncream will last a weekend if you're doing a citybreak, so will a mini moisturiser. I still like to take my 'expensive' creams though. But with products like Clinique, Darphin etc I can only really afford the small bottles anyway - so everyone's a winner (!). 
Brands like Elemis do special travel products, too. And Miller Harris do 8 mini sprays for £24 - something I would ask for as a christmas treat. The Boots 'minis' aisle also makes me really, really happy - Mark Hill sea salt spray, Colgate - all you need. Liz Earle are currently offering 3 minis when you order over £50 - I still use the mini bottles of toner and refill from my big bottles. Obviously Muji is our friend here, their spray bottles and mini jars are essential.  
The one full size product I take is deodorant - because you don't want to run out of that....

7. A chic washbag makes everything better. When you're travelling Ryanair and they sift through your luggage, at least it all looks like you're travelling first's like wearing nice underwear in case you get hit by a bus. I have a really old Anya Hindmarch one from my first magazine job (back when the washbags were suede lined - not great for liquid product but hey, it feels nice). But equally, I love my Accesorize gold zip wallet just a much.

And in my carry-on? 

1. My H&M hat - because it would just get battered in my case.

2. Smythson travel wallet. This was my leaving gift at Red and I LOVE it so much. It has 4 different compartments, all colour-coded - so we have 1 for my passport, one for my husband's, one for money and one for tickets/receipts.

3. I always carry a mini zip wallet, for my cards, or work receipts. I have to make some attempt at keeping work/life separate!

4. A good camera. I'm trying not to take iPhone snaps anymore, mainly because I don't have any memory, but also because I notice such a difference when taking photos through this Olympus.

5. Cashmere socks - even if only short haul. I wear them on the plane, but also slip them on when asked to take my shoes off during security (I hate the idea of stepping where everyone else's feet have been!).

6. iPad and case - I always download some BBC4 documentaries for the flight. And this is a regular zip wallet from Gap that I use as the case, which means I can always find it easily.

7. I found these Frends headphones in TK Maxx for £50 - what a bargain (they have loads of good branded ones here). Not only do they look cool, but they make you feel like you're listening to surround sound on any plane. Plus they block the noise of kids/crying/irritating passengers.

8. On a long haul flight, it's always a good idea to keep up with a little beauty regime. I've worked with too many make-up artists not stand by this. And these Eyeko Hydrogel eye patches are what Alexa uses on a flight - leave them on for 10 minutes and rub in the residue, no need to wash off. Softens the skin under the eyes and leaves you looking more fresh and awake.

9. Prescription sunglasses, to slip on as soon as my feet hit terra firma.

10. Use a travel bag that can double up as your beach bag. I'm using Accessorize's new Heritage collection bag.

11. A good book. Yes, I suppose a Kindle is good for packing light but I love the memory that a book with sand in the spine leaves with me.

12. Planes can really dry out your skin, I let some rose oil absorb into my skin as soon as I take off. And a lip balm comes everywhere with me - currently loving Lanolips.

It's also worth noting, I often travel in a cashmere hoodie - M&S or Hush do great ones. As this time of year, it's good to have a warm cover-up plus it makes you feel that little bit special on that budget airline...

Monday, 5 October 2015

The Big Coat Edit

Coat: £240, Gestuz at Asos. Jumper: £280, Bella Freud. Trousers: Finery London (old). Shoes: £225, LK Bennett. Bag: £280, The Jacksons
It's that time of year again....if you don't get it soon, there will be none left. Don't say I didn't warn you. I usually say get your coat in August, but maybe it's because of the warmer autumns we've been having, decent coats don't really start dropping until now.

My tip for the new season is a grey coat. A modern alternative to the camel coat - a sleek, modern classic. I have this Gestuz one (a kind gift which actually feels like wearing a dressing gown) and a Gant crombie style which look really modern and go with EVERYTHING. I've added a few new styles along with the classics because let's face it, when we're parting with a fair bit of money on a needs to last.


Dior A/W

This is total outfit making territory - a good colour-block coat can really make an outfit 'sing'. I saw an amazing red mohair one as part of the Boden Icons collection, but it's not available yet - will keep you posted - I added the Boden one below, although not technically 'colour'pop', it still has that statement coat feel. And by the way, cool new brand Harris Wharf pretty much owns this trend - they make all their coats in a kaleidoscope of colours so if you love this trend, take a look.

1. Red wool coat, £295, Gant

2. Wool stripe coat, £179, Boden

3. Blue wool coat, £330, Harris Wharf


Chloe A/W
An eternal classic, I found my perfect pea coat in Jigsaw , and there is no looking back. The Next one is also great value, I borrowed it for Paris Fashion Week and it felt far superior than £55.

Coat: £79.99, Zara
Wool coat: £49.99. H&M

Wool coat: £55, Next

Wool cape: £85, Topshop

Michael Kors A/W
This trend comes around time and time again, looks like I'll be keeping hold of my Zara crombie style, then. If a new investment, look for the sloping shoulder styles, they feel more relaxed and make great weekend wear. And monochrome or navy is the easiest style to work into your wardrobe.

1. Navy wool check, £69.99, H&M

2. Yellow check coat, £85, Next

3. Red plaid wool coat, £275, Madewell at Net A Porter

4. Monochrome wool coat, £89.99, Mango

Wool coat: £99.90, Uniqlo


Eudon Choi A/W
It's a wardrobe staple. We all need one/ have one/ want one. Thank goodness they're in fashion this season, too.

I am kind of obsessed with this Boden version, £399 (but a bit steep for me!)

1. Khaki coat with black faux fur trim, £89.99, Zara

2. Waxed black parka, £170, Whistles

3. Cotton parka, £59.99, H&M

4. Wool parka, £365, J Crew

5. Faille parka, £150, Iris and Ink at The Outnet

6. Sherpa lined parka, £99.95, Gap

There is also a new style I'm seeing around, a parka and a duffle coat hybrid (but without the thick toggle buttons) which feels smarter. I bought a navy version from Cos about 3 years ago and it feels relevant again (they even have an almost identical style online now).
£175, Cos

£149.99, Mango


Chloe A/W. Coach A/W. Suedette coat: £44.99, New Look

Faux fur coat; £110, Marks & Spencer

Length is important this season, and can add drama to a simple outfit.

Wool coat: £119, Zara
Wool coat: £180, Atterley

An eternal classic. Also loving the belted styles of the moment...

1. Wool coat, £250, Whistles

2. Wool wrap coat, £225, Topshop Boutique

3. Wool coat, £99.99, Mango

4. Wool coat, £59.99, Zara

Well, I hope that hasn't exhausted you too much...

Saturday, 3 October 2015

The perfect weekend....

Bed linen: Soak & Sleep. Book: £16.99, Amazon. Metal tray: £12.99, H&M. Mug: £1.50, Primark. Plate: Donna Wilson
4 consecutive weeks of working on weekends has made me really appreciate what they're all about. Currently, I'm in Spain - and I'm going to be enjoying my weekend - it's all about that wind down which you don't have in the week. Even when I work from home on a Sunday (which is all too frequent at the moment), there is a slower pace to life.

When work wears you down and life becomes one big to-do list, it's the best feeling to clear some space on your weekends (especially now wedding season is slowing down) and make space for, well, nothing. I celebrate being at home, as it signifies time to 'switch off' and stabilise everything. Being away for work feels so glamorous but I long for a weekend lazing in bed and not thinking about the next social media post...

For me, it's about the rituals - Saturdays always mean a lie in, eggs and soldiers and food shopping (in Lidl, naturally), then often seeing friends in the evenings.

Sundays are about cooking - I love to cook a big casserole or something that takes ages to cook, just because I can. I'm optimistic about cooking something from Otto Lenghi's new Nopi Cook Book - despite the 756 ingredients you need to make each dish, everything in the restaurant tastes so delicious, it's motivation enough. 

I try and see my nan most weekends too, often to get myself out of the house (as I tend to be lazy these days). In the afternoon: a movie, ironing and relaxing with a candle. Ironing sounds strange, but I love doing it, as it represents time for me, the time to get through the pile and hang up fresh clothes I can't wait to wear again. And next weekend, when we're home, I hope to put Marie Kondo's decluttering theory into practise. Only keeping items that 'spark joy'.

Throw: £115, Edit 58Nail polishes: £12,Butter London. 'The Life and Death of Sophie Stark', £8.99, Amazon. Pyjamas: The White Company. Slippers: Marks & Spencer.

Lounging clothes are important, too. There's nothing I like more these days than a good pair of pyjamas (okay yes, I am officially old). The White Company, Desmond and Dempsey or Hush all meet the criteria for me. Equally, cashmere is a must (a pair of the M&S tracksuit bottoms are on my christmas wishlist yearly - but funnily enough, at £99, they never appear).

Twenty One candle, £32, The White Company.
I've always enjoyed a good book, but find myself slipping away into the world of social media, apps and emails lately. So I'm rekindling our relationship. I've been recommended this book - The Life and Death of Sophie Stark -  by my old editor, book reviewer and founder of The-Pool, Sam Baker. And seriously, there is no higher praise. I was told 'if you liked 'Where'd You Go, Bernadette', you'll love this'. Which has pretty much sold me on it - can't wait to get my teeth into it this weekend in Spain.

I should also mention that I have been admitted into St Thomas's Sleep Clinic for my sleep troubles. It's nerve-wracking but also a huge relief to finally be diagnosed and potentially treated (I have something called Slow Wave Parasomnia) - just being listened to and having someone explaining what is happening in my sleep is almost half the battle, and I've been sleeping much better since seeing someone. Thank you everyone who left such supporting messages on my last post about sleep. 

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Off Duty Style

Coat: £198, Jigsaw. Jumper: £24.99, H&MJeans, £78 in the sale, AG JeansShoes: £220, Marni at Bicester Village. Bag: £32, Next. Sunglasses: £88, Ray-Ban at Asos

I have been after a classic pea coat for ages. It sums up weekend, off duty dressing for me. Wear with a stripe top, ripped jeans and you're pretty much close to the Parisian dream. This Jigsaw one is really good quality - you get what you pay for - but it's also on the reasonable side of the wool coat scale (there is also a super affordable version from Next I borrowed for my Paris trip on instagram). Looking forward to wearing this with a chunky poloneck later on in the season.

I was chatting to my mum the other day, and we both kind of agreed that a coat was where we'd spend our money. A classic coat is something you'll have for years - and you can't go wrong with navy, camel or grey. The pea coat is the perfect outerwear piece for our surprisingly warm October, too. 

Can we also appreciate this amazing fringed bag from Next? It comes with a long strap too. I picked it for my trip to Paris (where I'm working on a Paris Fashion Week instagram takeover for Next) - but I couldn't wait to use it! 

Coat: £198, Jigsaw. Jumper: £24.99, H&MJeans, £78 in the sale, AG Jeans. Bag: £32, Next 

Coat: £198, Jigsaw. Jumper: £24.99, H&MJeans, £78 in the sale, AG JeansBag: £32, NextSunglasses: £88, Ray-Ban at Asos. Photographs: Christopher O'Donnell
Later this week, I will be doing a round-up on the coats you need for A/W...the new, the bargains, the new styles and of course, the classics - see you there!

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

How To Be A Blogger - Our LFWend Talk

Shirt: £80, Gant. Skirt: £250, LK Bennett. Shoes: £495, Jimmy Choo. Clutch: Gap (old)

You may remember that last Fashion Week, I was asked to do a talk at London Fashion Weekend. Well, this year I was thrilled to be asked back (amongst other hosts Anya Hindmarch, Bella Freud and Mary Katrantzou - no biggie) and this time, I was to host a panel about blogging – so I asked fellow bloggers/web entrepreneurs and friends Erica Davies ( and Naomi Mdudu (from The Lifestyle Edit) to come along for a discussion.

With Erica from The-Edited (who is wearing the fabulous 'Galaxy' dress from Atterley )

I wore my LK Bennett skirt with a classic Gant shirt and borrowed my favourite shoes from Jimmy Choo - ‘the ‘Glisten’ flats - for the afternoon (my Topshop ones are pretty similar but sometimes you just want to ‘feel’ a bit more special).

Shirt: £80, Gant. Shoes: £495, Jimmy Choo. 

Firstly, it was PACKED. The space has now moved to the Saatchi Gallery which has far larger rooms for presentations than Somerset House and it was exciting to see so many people had signed up to the Talk. We were quite nervous before it started but once we got going, we all know what we’re talking about and the conversation just flowed. 

So what did we actually talk about? Anything and everything…should bloggers be more open about collaborations? Who takes our pictures? How obsessed are we with instagram? (the answer is VERY)! How did we start our blog and when did we realise it could be successful? We crammed A LOT in the 30 minutes but thought I would round-up a few bullet points from our discussion.

  • ·  If you’re wondering how to make money from a blog, you’re probably in it for the wrong reasons.  A good blog takes a while to build up and you have to work A LOT for free, my website has finally started to work for itself but I have worked on it unpaid for almost 4 years now, pretty much full-time. I started because I really, really wanted to tell people about those fab shoes in New Look, or share my secret lunch spots in Barcelona. And from good content, only then did more paid projects come.
  • I  spend way too much time on Instagram - it's becoming obsessive - the layout of the grid, the pace...and I use Snapseed to edit all my photos. There are also different people on instagram to my blog, so I make sure I load different content to all my platforms.
  • It’s important to always keep your integrity when blogging, I have turned down many projects because they’re not right. Don’t be afraid to do this – by turning down the wrong ones, better ones will come. I never work on any project with a brand I don’t love and work with already.
  • Twitter is hugely important to drive traffic to your site, especially when starting out. You need to push your content out there, don't be scared - no one else will do it for you!
  • I take on projects to keep my blog going, I pay everyone who works with me – photographers, admin assistants, Eurostar for my photographer etc. To produce good content costs money, and projects help me towards getting the best out of my blogposts.
  • I don’t believe in too many hashtags. I may be on my own here, but I believe if you create interesting pictures, people will follow you. You can then create your own hashtags.

Thank you to everyone who came down to see us speak - it was wonderful to see so many people there and chat to some really inspiring ladies afterwards.

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