Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Welcome to Miami - Vices: Rum and Sun.

So I've been a little slack on the regular blogging front, but I have a good reason!

I got pretty heavily distracted by a press trip for the Standard that was so luxurious, it was just silly.  The lovely people at Bacardi swept me off to the bright lights and bronzed bods of Miami to visit their archives for a weekend, before a stop in gorgeous Puerto Rico to visit the distillery, learn some serious cocktail-making skillz and attempt to salsa with the locals.  

I'll be writing more about the drinks biz side of it for work but it was all related to their new Untameable campaign which you can find out more about here. The main gist of it is that the Bacardi family are totally badass and you do not mess with them.  The Boardwalk Empire fan in me was also delighted to hear all about the Prohibition parties down in Havana.

Style-wise, I thought I'd write a little post on what I wore while I was there.  I didn't get chance to take proper outfit pics - I was too busy drinking an obscene amount of rum and eating an obscene amount of seafood - but I do have a little Instagram collage to prove I was actually there/make my life look deceptively glamorous.  

Packing for a press trip is a bit of a nightmare.  You have an itinerary but you don't necessarily know the other people on the trip so it's difficult to judge the vibe for what you might need. It was also March and I was travelling to sunshine so I literally had to crawl under my bed to dig out something that wasn't a woolly jumper.

Below, I've pulled together looks for the flight, daytime and night-time that are either exactly what I took with me, or very close.  

My main aim was to not look too shabby, given it was my first time travelling First Class and the only other person I knew going was the Associate Editor for Esquire, who predictably arrived in a Saint Laurent coat "from Hedi".  The bastard.

I ended up over-packing (obviously) but, unlike some, I did not take SIX pairs of shoes for three nights.  I realised once I got there that a lot of what I brought with me was from Zara - some bought recently and some from years ago.  It reminded me that although some of their catwalk rip-offs are outrageous (see the sporty Prada aesthetic that has infiltrated Zara stores of late), their clothes are so often the most interesting on the high street.  

Miami style is quite some distance from the way I normally dress.  Mainly because I have never been featured in a P Diddy video.  Every girl there was a total babe and dressed like she might be dating Sisqo.  Every guy was triangular and buff and had tribal tattoos.  It was tacky-fantastic and I loved it.

In summary, the Fresh Prince was right, Miami brings the heat.

First Class Flying

Snakeskin print duster coat:  £79 Topshop  Blue PVC bag:  £102 Minimarket  
Brushstroke print blouse:  £29  & Other Stories  Black platform sandals:  £55 Topshop   
Silver foil jumper:  £39.50 Marks and Spencer   Black high-waisted peg trousers: £22 ASOS Petite

 Daytime stroll

Classic men's white shirt:  £45 Cos  Yellow mid-heel sandals:  £30 ASOS  
Sunglasses:  £70 Kurt Geiger  Striped Shorts: £24.99 Zara 
Vintage 90s floral dress: £22 New Retro UK

 Partying in the city

White leather slingback sandals: £79.99 Zara  Orange crochet mini dress: £49.99 Zara  
Gold hoop earrings:  £5.50 Topshop  Metallic leather shoulder bag:  £65 & Other Stories  
Vintage Monet gold-plated necklace:  £95 Susan Caplan

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Bare Ankles and a Springtime Love Affair

The sun came out, the temperature crept up a little bit, the wind dropped...I know you were all thinking the same as me...BARE ANKLES.  The thrill!


However many times I've entirely failed to connect with the dreary, gossipy world of Jane Austen, I can't deny the sensuality of an ankle reveal.

It says quite a lot for how much I factor in "sexiness" to the way I dress that I felt daring, nay practically risqué to slam my socks drawer shut and slip my bare feet into a pair of saucy kitten heels.  Grab a cold shower because these pics are borderline NSFW.

Navy plated lining blazer: £135 Cos  Cropped burgundy trousers:  H&M  Striped jumper:  Mango   Shirt:  ASOS  EarringsMarks and Spencer  Shoes:  Ravel   Sunglasses:  Vintage Ray Bans

These leopard print shoes are so ancient they actually hail from Ravel in the Whitgift Centre in Croydon at least 10 years ago. They are a testament to hoarders everywhere.

Spring weather is the perfect time to wear cropped tailored trousers and after years of struggling to find any that fit me, I struck gold last year.  The key is to buy cheap.  You know how you can be exasperated and banging your head against the mirror in H&M because you can't squeeze into a 14 in one item, but an 8 is hanging off you in a different style? 

It's the same for trouser lengths.  No-one is going to pretend that these clothes are the highest quality or timeless heirlooms, but the slight liberties taken at the quality control stage of production means some quick rummaging can turn up a gem of a pair of trousers which finish perfectly just above the ankle bone, even if you have 28in legs (high five).

The main feature I wanted to point out in this outfit post is actually not my cheap trews, but my beautiful new coat.  Sometimes you just fall hard and fast and there's nothing to be done to stop it.  Sometimes you meet a piece of clothing and you want it to take you there and then and promise it will never leave you.  You know that piece of clothing might break your heart but it'd be worth it because it just feels RIGHT.

Sorry, got a bit carried away.  My new coat has done some things to me that may never be undone.

Not sure that the pictures do it justice but clothes from Cos are chic like something else and it's the way it makes me feel that makes it worth the bucks.  This is the perfect lightweight fabric, perfect navy hue, is cut perfectly across the shoulders and has the most incredible pleated lining I've ever seen.  

Now go and get your ankles out you bloody harlots.

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Midi skirts: Not just for the Talls

When you get used to dressing in a certain way, to doing your best to counterbalance whatever flaw it is which has sent you off piste from the sample model size and shape, it becomes quite difficult to break the habits you form.  You learn some rules which work for you and don’t deviate from them.  

It’s not a bad thing to know what suits you but I can’t help but think that it sucks a little of the fun out of fashion to be so self-restrictive.
Clothes are a way of expressing yourself and sometimes, if I’m in a really good mood, I want to express that via a gold shirt with black lace and frills and shiny buttons even if traditional fashion rules might suggest that’s a bit much for someone with  a healthy helping of boobs (Or ‘curves’ if we’re being strictly DM-sidebar-correct).

For years I had convinced myself that any skirt or dress length below the knee was my mortal enemy.  I thought that they would emphasise the stumpiness of my legs and do me no favours.

The truth is I was doing myself no favours – to ignore all longer skirts and dresses was to cut off my nose to spite my face.  Midi skirts are everywhere and I want in on the action.

This outfit is a mix of old, very old and brand spanking new.  The shoes are a charity shop find and the skirt is last year's ASOS Petite.  

I snapped up this silvery sweat in M&S of all places during one of their weekend 20% off bonanzas.  
It's a dream jumper for me fulfilling all my metallic/sweatshirt/grey jumper needs in one tidy go.

Bubble effect foil jumper: £39.50 Marks & Spencer

I've wanted a Lovebullet necklace for ages partly because, whilst I'm amused by the idea of crystals balancing my zen, I do find pendant necklaces stress-relieving to fiddle with instead of elastic bands.  But enough with my nervous mental tics, I've always loved Amethyst.  Rings are vintage (and all real stones I'll have you know).

Handbag: £24.99 H&M

I wear a Casio at all times (either in silver or gold) because you can adjust them easily for tiny wrists and they don't fall off.  This nail polish is new and from Topshop and may or may not be officially called Sickly Barbie House.

Casio Mini in Silver: £30 at Urban Outfitters

Friday, 7 March 2014

Bella Freud SS14 - Close to my Heart

I'm currently obsessing over Bella Freud's SS14 collection "Close to my heart". 

I'm a long time fan of the "Je t'aime Jane" and "Ginsberg is GOD" jumpers but the most recent collection might just be the one that makes me part with a ludicrous amount of money to own something special.  

The collection is inspired by her love of "Film Noir, 70s Reggae album covers, graffitti and images of her mother as a 1950s teenager".

All sweats, knits and t-shirts that would look perfect to dress down prim midi skirts or look preppy with cropped tailored trousers, I love the playful logos on luxe material and the touches of neon. I'm much more inclined to buy high end products that are wearable and any of this collection would fit right in to my wardrobe.  

I'm most torn between the Psychoanalysis jumper in grey and the Love Hate t-shirt in neon.  
Mentally planning outfits involving both is not helping matters.

I love the casual lookbook  - gorgeous model with hardly any make-up and scraped back hair, and each piece nonchalantly paired with the same pair of leopard print hotpants.  My top picks are below and the collection is available to shop online here.  Prices range from £85 to £270.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Neoprene Dreams

Thus far in life, scuba material has not been kind to me.  The months I spent travelling and doing Outdoorsy Things were peppered with agonising pauses while I was sized up by tour guides who shook their heads and disappeared to look for "one for kids, I know we've got one for kids somewhere".

When everyone was kitted out for whatever slightly stupid activity we'd signed up for, looking identical and excited, I would be stood grumpily wearing a totally different wetsuit to everyone else.  And a different helmet.  And, on one occasion, when there were no flippers for my tiny feet, enormous space boots that almost drowned me (drowning was preferable to me cutting my feet on coral. Only in Fiji)

But since the fashion gods have decreed that scuba is no longer constrained to watersports, neoprene is everywhere and I'm finding myself forgetting the wetsuit traumas and eyeing up the sweaters.

Stiff material is great for creating a structured silhouette but it can't be subtly scrunched or folded if it's over-sized so it can look a little bulky. I don't think this rules it out altogether - it just warrants trying before buying.  

There are some very cool neoprene coordinated separates about but two lots of scuba on one short person might seriously restrict movement.  I imagine it to be a bit like that time at uni when you thought it would be a really good idea to make a fancy dress costume out of cardboard boxes and then realised you couldn't fit in the toilet cubicle.

With scuba, less is more.  I would mix it up with other textures like leather or tailored trousers.  
On the top half, one way to solve the problem of proportion is to look out for cropped pieces which might work as regular-sized on a smaller frame.  

At the high end of the scale, Alexander Wang is the master of scuba with some insanely priced but beautiful neoprene tops.

The high street, however, are making good and delivering at Zara, & Other Stories and Cos. Those Europeans love themselves some scuba. I've picked out some of my favourites below.


Grey lurex-neoprene cropped sweatshirt: £498 Alexander Wang at Matches  White cropped neoprene t-shirt: £19.99 Zara  Green cropped neoprene tee: £190 Alexander Wang 


Floral neoprene sweatshirt: £25.99 Zara   Patterned neoprene cropped top:  £75 (down from £150)  Clover Canyon at The Outnet   Gingham scuba tee: £28 Topshop


Black neoprene jacket with striped band:  £25.99 Zara  Blue textured scuba skirt:  £59 Cos  
Navy neoprene skater skirt:  £75 Whistles

Friday, 28 February 2014

A Wedding Outfit Miracle

A week ago today I was at a beautiful wedding in Lincolnshire which, as well as being gorgeous, heart-warming and tequila-filled, gave me a rare opportunity to spruce up a bit.  I don't have that many pics of my outfit as I was busy snapping away the other guests getting merry.

Being petite, weddings present much more of a sartorial obstacle course than other occasions. You will likely be in a room with young people who have been scrubbed up and presented beautifully shiny, and therefore the risk of being mistaken for a 13 year old cousin enjoying their first shandy is pretty high.

That's on top of all the usual issues of long dresses swallowing up short people.  Here is me checking out the dresses in Ghost and looking like a tiny forlorn orphan who will never go to the ball.
As ridiculous as this looks, I am actually wearing heels in this photo.

Shopping for my first winter wedding was a game of two halves.  The dress (a total bargain) was breezily snapped up on a spontaneous shopping trip from French Connection on the Kings Road, with all the ease of saying 'yes, yes I would like a free drink, thank you so much'.  

It was one of those moments when there was no way the dress should have looked good on me - tomato red-orange (clash with my hair), a high neckline with no sleeves (not the most flattering on my boobs/upper arms) and pleats around the hips and thighs (no explanation needed).  

But when I tried it on, I did wonder if the animated critters from Cinderella had been involved in the making of it, because it just sort of worked.  I felt GOOD in it, and that, ladies and gentleman, is a Mastercard #pricelessmoment.

It's obviously supposed to be more of a mid-length dress but I have really come around to this length on me - it makes ankles look elegant and makes me look like a laydee.

Dress: £60 down from £120 French Connection

Bag: £15 Accessorize (not online)

Second half of the shopping game and the hunt for shoes was a relentless Odyssey complete with shipwrecks and a Cyclops and bloody harpies.

I never really wear this shade of red and was stumped at how to accessorize it.  It's a perfect length to show off a really great pair of shoes, but shopping for shoes in early February, when the shops are exclusively selling ankle boots on sale, is a nightmare.  Also, my tiny feet fall out of court shoes all the time so they're not great shoes for long events.

Zara came to the rescue with patent candy-coloured T-bars that are totally hot. They are a blue-toned pink so just held back from being too sickly. The patent finish, cylindrical heel and point stop them being prissy and make them badass.

Shoes: £59.99 Zara

I've since seen them in the Sunday Times Style Magazine and on several blogs so am a bit concerned I'll get bored by them but for now, I'll be getting as much wear out of them as possible.

Finished things off with a pale blue clutch, massive crystal earrings, a vintage gold and turquoise bracelet and a leopard print faux fur coat for when we were outside.

Big thank you to the wonderful Walker family for hosting me/fattening me up for the slaughter, to the ace couple Jenny and James for being adorable and to the bride for wearing these under her dress:

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Backstage at the BRITs Beauty Spa (aka The Girls Aloud Makeover)

Sometimes, when I’m not getting up at 5am or taking calls from angry members of the public, my job is really good.  Sending me to play in the backstage spa at the Brit Awards was one of those times.  For one afternoon, I had an Instagram-worthy life.

The write-up for the Standard is here but I thought I’d post my non-newspaper-appropriate comments and a few extra pics.  

Hairstyling selfie and green juice:  It's like I'm in The Saturdays

Diligently checking work emails obviously

Fiona from DECLEOR was so incredibly lovely, I wanted to take her home.  She basically hovered her hands over my face before diagnosing my skin immediately and giving me an amazing facial.  She also gave me an eye serum that she PROMISED would age me backwards.  An absolute steadfast Benjamin Button contracted promise that by the time I’m 30, I will look 16.  I got her to pinky swear and sign it in blood.

Tanning is not my bag. I prefer a generally pasty complexion with the touch of ‘mottled’ when it gets chilly, an angry red nose in both hot and cold weather, and veins as blue as possible.  But it’s the Brits!  And it’s only one step away from the National TV Awards so I might as well bloody go for it.

My history with spray tanning is limited to a couple of attempts when I was 17 that were so bright orange they actually burned into my retinas and the glow from that haunts me to this day.

I was reassured that spray tans have “come a long way” by the Vita Liberata beauticians although “I’ve definitely got too much liquid in the bottle.  I think I was expecting someone taller” is not a GREAT start to a spray tan.

I have to admit, although I developed to a teak varnish finish through the evening, when I washed it off the next day, it was really subtle.  Colleagues were sorely disappointed their jokes about Croydon nights out didn’t land as well as they had hoped.

Revlon decked me out with bitchin’ nail art and a make-up look I would never even attempt myself.  It did feel like all of the make-up ever was on my face but I suppose that’s what high def has done to the world.

My hair, styled in the VO5 blowdry bar was clearly the best part of the makeover.  It was so big, the friend I saw afterwards said “Did they…give you…more hair?”  I’ve spent the past 10 years trying to make my hair look something like this, and wouldn’t you know all it took was a professional stylist and gallons of product?

Played things incredibly cool when I found out he normally does hair for Little Mix and said “Ooh she’s very young to be engaged isn’t she?”, because apparently I’d adopted the demeanor of a sceptical elderly lady in a doctor’s waiting room.

This job resulted in no fewer than four pictures of me on one page of the paper, which I think is overkill for anyone.  Dammit, I’ve been overexposed.