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Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Outfit Post: Let's Talk About Confidence


A quick scroll of my blog and social media channels may show you a happy, confident woman. Someone vibrant, who is out a lot, perhaps has one too many pairs of shoes and seems pretty outgoing. That's not far from the truth. On the whole, I'm pretty content with my lot. I have a great life that I've worked hard to create and I'm fairly confident in myself. But my self-assuredness has definitely been earnt after years of lacking confidence and anxiety. I'm proud of myself for overcoming hurdles to accept and embrace who I am. I truly believe that this is one of life's hardest lessons, especially for women, and it is only becoming harder with social media, Facetune, filters and photoshop. 

For me, confidence is a funny thing. Often it comes down to how you physically look (or feel you look) rather than accomplishments or achievements. I would much rather be judged for my career or work than how I look but that is the way society operates. I am the first person to put my hand up and admit that I'm fairly blessed when it comes to looks - my features and build are broadly in-line with what society deems as "attractive". I can see and acknowledge my privilege in this respect but it doesn't mean I haven't spent years uncomfortable with how I look. 


In my younger years, I was painfully thin. I ate. I still feel like I have to jump to my defense and tell you I ate, most people made jokes that I didn't. During my teenage years, I was just tall and skinny with a super fast metabolism. It marked me out and people would always ask if I ate, whether I was anorexic or worse. I hated how I looked and hid away in baggy clothes - I practically lived in my three-stripe Adidas tracksuit. Add to this awful 90s glasses, braces and a mane of frizzy hair.  I managed to hit every single "awkward phase" stereotype. 



Nothing lasts forever though. Eventually, the braces came off and I discovered contact lenses. I chopped all of my hair off and started straightening it. By the time I was heading to A-Levels, I had started to blossom and for the first time in a long time, I started feeling comfortable and even confident. 

For women, I think confidence is something that fluctuates daily. There are so many contributing factors. The media, and increasingly social media, plays a huge role in how I feel about myself. The media loves to pit women against each other, just look at all of the "who wore it best?" articles or cast your mind back to YEARS of the media pitting Jennifer Aniston against Angelina Jolie. This mentality is so ingrained into our collective mindset and it's so toxic. 


I used to scroll through my feed and see a bunch of beautiful women who looked incredible. Rather than being happy for them and celebrating their beauty, I felt like it highlighted my own lack of beauty. I'd see a beautiful curly hair that I wish I had or someone with fuller lips or a more defined, feminine jawline. The worst was if I saw someone with a gorgeous hourglass figure which only highlighted how boyish my own figure is.


It's so easy to get sucked into a negative cycle of thought. But something I realised is that another women's beauty does not mean the absence of your own. We are all beautiful. It took me a while to understand it's human nature to want the opposite of what you have; if you have brown eyes you'll want blue ones, if you have dark hair you'll want blonde hair and so on. It also took me a while to realise that I am who I am. I was created like this. Try as I might, I will never have blue eyes or ringlet curls or an ass that just won't quit. And that is ok, because I have lovely brown eyes, naturally thick hair and a slender frame. These are all things that make me me and unlike anyone else on the planet. Isn't that something to be celebrated? 


Now when I scroll through my social feeds, I'll double tap a beautiful woman or tweet her. I feel happy for her and confident in myself. It's so easy to slip into old habits but I've slowly trained my mind to see myself in a positive light. Having self-confidence is a beautiful thing and because I'm comfortable in myself, I feel like I need less validation from others. As long as I'm happy, who cares what anyone else thinks? There are so many much more important things to be thinking about than that. 



I'm conscious that I've dedicated so much of this post on physical confidence. I guess this is the easiest way to unpick confidence. When you start taking into account how a person actually feels in relation to family, friends, past experiences and work, things get a little complicated. Confidence stems from different sources and fluctuates daily. While I'm confident in many areas of my life, blogging is where I still come unstuck.

As a "Blogging Elder", I was an early adopter of blogging and social media and I've seen the landscape change so much. It started out as the antithesis of glossy editorials in magazines but over time has evolved into the thing it was a rebellion against. I came from an era where you didn't have to put yourself out there to a new world where you have to be front and centre, laid bare in your writing and looking perfect in front of the lens. 


I spent a lot of time feeling unhappy with my content and I lacked the confidence to get in front of the camera. I ummed and ahhed about working with a proper photographer. Then I had a fortunate stroke of serendipity and started working with an old friend and photographer, Adorn Girl. From our first shoot over 6 months ago, we just clicked and our images have gone from strength to strength and with that my confidence in blogging has soared. We work so collaboratively on the looks we shoot and where we shoot them; I'm happy having my picture taken and it shows. My images inspire what I write and to write better.



And the best thing about Ashanti is she keeps pushing me to be more creative. She has convinced me to dip my toe into YouTube with a little lookbook video. I was so blown away by how great it looks that this is now going to be a regular feature - it's such a fun way to bring my personality and clothing to life. I hope you enjoy this little video, if you do please subscribe to my channel! 


Suit jacket - Topshop
Suit trousers - Topshop
Bralet - Oysho
Sneakers - Vans

Photography and videography by
Adorn Girl

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Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Outfit Post: The Trouble With Trans-seasonal Dressing



Autumn is one of my favourite seasons. Clear skies, crisp mornings and the beautiful shades of the falling leaves. London is at its most beautiful in Autumn (don't @ me). Summer in London is glorious but the buildings and transport are not built for warm conditions. But from September it really comes into its own. Everything is geared up for cosiness. 

The one thing I hate about autumn is trans-seasonal dressing. Aka dressing for four seasons in one because you never know what the day is going to throw at you! In a single day, it's possible to be too hot and too cold, especially when navigating the inferno-like Central Line. The layers peel off, then get shrugged back on before heading outside. The mornings are beautifully crisp and bright but the sunshine belies the drop in temperature, lulling you into a false sense of warmth. 

Practicality aside, being in this trans-seasonal period is also hella confusing trend-wise. Do you cling onto summer a la Sandy from Grease or do you throw in the towel and embrace AW17? What if you're not quite ready to give up millennial pink and wear red just because Givenchy, Max Mara and Roksanda et al want you to? Autumn/winter sees the return of practical big bags but what if I still want to be hands AND carefree?! So confusing. 


In this shoot, I was totally caught out by the cold as I'm sure you can see by my visible goosebumps! I kind of threw the look together with pieces I like, much like I do IRL these days. Clearly, I am not yet ready for the weather or to let go of pink in favour of red (just me?). It's the season for experimenting and throwing a look together but a word of warning - a sheer top has no business being worn in this weather unless it's under or over a jumper!



Top - ASOS (similar)
Jeans - River Island (similar)
Shoes - ASOS (similar)
Bag - Shrimps (similar)

Photography by Adorn Girl

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Monday, 25 September 2017

The Perfect London Weekend


Last weekend was glorious. After spending the previous weekend missing the shows and recuperating at home, I was itching to get out and make the most of living in London. The FOMO was real! In a city like London, there are new restaurant openings, events, exhibitions and parties every single night and it can feel like you're missing out. I don't regret prioritising my needs and self-care but I always feel a little guilty for hibernating for a weekend. I'm so fortunate to live in a brilliant, culturally-rich city I really ought to make the most of it. The challenge is to do this while having enough downtime to remain sane! 

This weekend, I found the middle ground between enjoying the city and prioritising my health. I had a lowkey weekend of exploring the city as well as making sure I had enough time to rest; it was the perfect balance of doing things and doing nothing. Admittedly, one of the reasons I wanted to have a more active weekend was a rather large delivery from the team at LOTD, there's nothing like a mini wardrobe update to get you out of the house! I wanted to share my weekend and wardrobe with you in a post that feels like a throwback to blogging in back in 2011 - less editorial shoots and more candid snaps.    


Friday


On Friday, I headed to the Barbican for the newly opened Basquiat retrospective, Boom for Real. It's the largest exhibition celebrating the famed artist's life and work in the UK - which seems insane considering Basquiat's influence across the arts. The vast exhibition spanned two floors and was brilliantly curated, covering Basquiat's early work as part of SAMO to his friendship with Andy Warhol and personal journals. It was brilliantly curated, giving a real in-depth look into Basquiat's work as well as his life and creative process. 




After the exhibition, I headed to one of my favourite low-key bars in London, The Gilbert Scott at the St Pancras Renaissance hotel. The grand, ornate bar was restored to its gothic glory after years of neglect. From the grand pillars, gilt detailing and huge windows, it's a beautiful space. The best part is it's often quiet, so no queues or shouting at your companion to be heard. It's a place for intimate conversations and whispered secrets, washed down with expertly mixed cocktails and a side of triple cooked chips or truffle mac 'n' cheese. 


Army jacket - vintage
Jumper dress - LOTD
Boots - ASOS

Saturday


I eased into Saturday with a lie in, Ashtanga yoga and breakfast in bed. Is there any better way to spend your morning?! After this, I hopped over to Soho to explore one of my favourite areas of the city. Soho is ever-changing thanks to the omnipresent threat of gentrification in London. It's a little different every time I head over there, sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse.




One of my favourite new entrants to the Soho scene is Kova Patisserie, a Japanese patisserie just off Wardour Street. They have an excellent selection of Japanese tea, from hoji cha to genmai cha, but the real reason I visit so often is the incredible Mille crepes. French for "thousand crepe cake", Kova's version has multiple layers of crepes with a light custard cream - matcha, chocolate, vanilla or coconut flavour - in between each layer. They are utterly irresistible and the perfect pick-me-up or treat. 




Jumper dress - Zara
Sequin skirt - Zara (similar)
Silver boots - LOTD
Houndstooth coat - Mango (similar)

Sunday


Sunday is usually a day for editing and writing for me. I also managed to squeeze in a nap and pour over the Basquiat book I picked up at the Barbican on Friday night. Blissful. 




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Sunday, 24 September 2017

Outfit Post: The Blue Tulle Dress


Whether I go to the shows or sit them out, I always find Fashion Month the most inspiring time of the year. I pour over images from the shows (RIP to the original style.com) as well as street style images and candid snaps on Instagram. I'm like a sponge, I take it all in and in one way or another, what I see ends up inspiring how I dress. For that reason, my style from February-March and September-October tends to be a little more expressive and fun than other times of the year. I rediscover the joy in dressing; beauty and frivolity comes back to the fore. Rather than dressing for life, I dress for enjoyment. 

Clothes are so transformative, both physically and mentally. Each morning, there's a little metamorphosis in front of the mirror as I change out of my dressing gown and into my outfit for the day. Sometimes, it's a subtle shift into boyfriend jeans and sneakers. Low key. Sometimes it's a little more dramatic, with mirror shiny heels, slinky satin OTK boots or a dramatic dress. The physical transformation is easy to see, but what I love about fashion and clothes and getting dressed is how it makes you feel. For me, one of the simplest joys is getting dressed into a great outfit, smiling and skipping out of the house. The confidence I get from putting together an amazing outfit stays with me all day. 


Happiness and confidence are exactly what I felt as I slipped into this cornflower blue tulle dress. I actually spied it on ASOS last month but with all the decadence and beauty of the shows in Milan, it just felt right to wear it now. Voluminous with layers and layers of tulle; this frothy dress is such a joy to wear. It actually bounces as you walk. For me, it epitomises the fun and frivolity of the shows which I love at this time of year.



Dress - ASOS
Bag - Miu Miu 

Photography by Adorn Girl

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Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Outfit Post: Non-LFW Street Style


Confession: I shot this outfit a month ago and saved it to run during London Fashion Week. I love the rhythm I've gotten into work my blog, posting a weekly outfit post at the beginning of the week and wanted to continue this while I was busy at the shows. As an old-school blogger, I'm at the shows in a serious capacity, to report on the collections and everything I see rather than focusing on what I'm wearing and having a semi-annual blogger catch up. 

However, things didn't quite go to plan this season. Earlier in the week, I launched a brand I've been working on for the past 6 months and I was utterly exhausted. Not exhausted in that "I'm so glad Monday is over" way, actual exhaustion. The vision going blurry, headaches for days, insomnia kind of exhaustion. The late nights and continued lack of sleep caught up with me and I physically could not drag myself in for the shows.

Honestly, I'm disappointed in myself but sometimes, your health needs to come first. In London, we make a massive deal of being busy and overworked, wearing it like a badge of honour but there's nothing great about working yourself into the ground. Instead of running around in the cold for 12 hours a day, I spent LFW holed up in my room sleeping and it was the best decision I could have made. The impact of digital on fashion week means you don't *technically* need to be there; with live streaming and images being emailed across immediately post-show, you can be there without being there. 

What isn't captured in the live stream and images is the *excitement*. The queuing and running around, especially as a blogger aka one-person publishing team, is exhausting and dull. But once you've taken your seat in the show space, the excitement is electric. The hum of chatter, PRs rushing to get everyone seated, the booming music subtly setting the tone for the show. It all adds to the frisson of excitement that can't quite be conveyed without being there. 


The other element of fashion week that can't be faked is what's going on in the streets. Street style is as influential as the clothes going down the runway, arguably more so. It's given birth to countless photographers, influencers, books and bloggers. In the early days, before Garance Dore, Phil Oh and Tommy Ton were shooting campaigns, street style was a candid, almost voyeuristic peek into someone's sartorial world. Street style is a lot more contrived, often planned meticulously weeks in advance but it's still as fascinating to see how pieces are put together. 

This brings us full circle, to a look I shot weeks before the shows. It wasn't really even supposed to be a street style look, I just happened to be wearing the outfit as we strolled past a graffiti-filled street and it all just came together. I think that's when the best looks are pulled together, a little spontaneously rather than overthought and diligently planned until there's nearly no impulsive flair left. Let's keep a little joy in dressing. 



Denim jacket - Topshop
Mesh bodysuit - Missy Empire
Khaki trousers - Topshop
Belt - Off White
Heels - Brian Atwood

Photography by Adorn Girl

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