Tuesday, 16 October 2018

AW18 Trend: Animal Print

Last month, I wrote that brown is a HUGE trend this season and shared my tips on how to style the notoriously tricky hue. The popularity of brown is partially due to leopard print also being a big trend for AW18. I only gave it the briefest of mentions because I had this post up my sleeve, dedicated to leopard print, snakeskin, zebra print and every other animal print under the sun! The AW18 runway embraced it's wild side and the high street swiftly followed suit. 

Leopard print started emerging as an early autumn/winter favourite back in August as pieces started dropping on the high street. I let out an audible cheer and picked up this cheeky little flamenco skirt from Nasty Gal as well as some satin wide-leg trousers. See, I fall into the bold camp of people who declare that leopard print is a neutral. I have a couple of pairs of leopard print shoes which I have worn every season for at least 4 years...they're being held together by the skin of their teeth and the skill of my cobbler! I'm seeing this season as an opportunity to stock up on one of my wardrobe staples. 

This season isn't *just* about leopard print though, so don't fear if it's not your favourite print. While the likes of Dolce & Gabbana and Max Mara embraced the print in a BIG way, Tom Ford opted for a punchy red leopard print and I've seen a handful of pieces inspired by his collection on the high street. Meanwhile, plenty of brands including Balenciaga, Victoria Beckham and Isabel Marant favoured snakeskin, faux python, zebra print and every other print imaginable. This has, of course, hit the high street, with Zara betting heavily on snakeskin and other high street stores dabbling in a range of different prints. 

I absolutely adore leopard print. For some reason, it makes me feel extra ballsy and fearless. I get that it might not be for everyone though, it's an acquired taste. I've outlined three different ways you can embrace animal prints: 

1. Accessorise
This is best for people who want to dip their toe into the world of leopard print without fully committing. A pair of shoes, bag or even a belt can give a subtle nod to the trend without being too overwhelming. 

2. Half/half
If you're feeling slightly braver, pair a leopard print piece with true neutrals, as I did for this look. I opted for a white top, black heels and a basket bag and let my leopard print do the talking. 

3. Head to toe
For a look that's straight off the runway, embrace a print from head-to-toe. I think this is going to be my favourite way to wear animal print as we head into AW18, though more likely to be snakeskin rather than leopard print as I've spotted SO many people in leopard print at the moment! 

Are you going to give animal print a try this season? If you need some inspiration, check out my Pinterest board

Top - Mebuar | Skirt - Nasty Gal | Heels - Aquazzura | Bag - Missy Empire (similar) | Necklace - Astley Clarke

Photography by Adorngirl

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

The Eye of the Tiger

* My necklace was gifted by Astley Clarke but my opinions are independent*

Though my jewellery style is understated and a little minimalist now, I definitely used to embrace the more-is-more stance. In the early days of my blog, I was a jewellery magpie and alternated between stacking on rings, heaping on bracelets and piling on necklaces. I think it must hark back to my childhood. I have very vivid memories of walking over to my mum's wardrobe as a child, pulling out a huge bag of necklaces and layering one on top of the other until I resembled my idol. Mr T in case you were wondering...it was the Eighties! 

Thankfully, my magpie eye has gotten more refined over the years. My approach to jewellery is now carefully curated. I don't buy often but when I do add a new piece to my collection, it's meaningful to me and treasured. I don't really follow jewellery trends as I prefer my pieces to be timeless and classic rather than disposable.

The one aspect of jewellery which still catches my eye is the use of crystals. I'm a huge fan of Ayurveda and have been studying it for the past year - it's an ancient science of life which focuses on mind, body and wellness. Modern day 'healing crystals' have their roots in the Vedic sciences, which state that each type of crystal is endowed with its own frequency which influences humans in different ways. 

This choker from Astley Clarke initially caught my eye because of its beautifully simple design. When I realised the deep amber stone was a tiger's eye crystal, I needed to find out more about it. In Ayurveda, it is used to attract more luck into your life. It is connected to the Solar Plexus Chakra, Third Eye Chakra and Crown Chakra - essentially linking your 'gut feeling' to the vision your third eye sees. The result is stability, focus, confidence and courage. It challenges anxiety, fear and negative emotions while having a positive, grounding energy. It also looks really pretty and glows like a sunset when I wear it. 

For the last couple of months, I've worn my tiger's eye choker nearly every day. Whether you believe in the healing power of crystals and the Vedic sciences or not, it's a gorgeous piece of jewellery which I absolutely adore. Every time I put it on, I feel special and for me, that's what jewellery is all about. Do you have a piece of jewellery which has a story behind it? 

Necklace - Astley Clarke *gifted* 

Photography by Adorngirl

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

London Fashion Week SS19

I have to admit, I'm really sad that London Fashion Week is over. This has been the best season for a long time for a couple of reasons. It was great to see ethical fashion adopted by a number of designers and tie-ins with charities and alliances dedicated to sustainability.

Also, for the first time in a long time, I actually had fun at fashion week. Usually, my schedule is packed so I barely have time to even drink a gulp of water or the sheer volume of people plus the stress triggers my anxiety awfully. This season I had a busy-but-manageable schedule and spent time with fashion friends who I usually only see at shows.

Johnstons of Elgin
I balance LFW while working full-time, so my fashion week kicked off post-6pm at the Johnston's of Elgin presentation. Held at the beautiful Waldorf Astoria, the presentation felt more like a party with the great and the good of the fashion world clustered in intimate groups clutching a glass of champagne and taking in the beautiful presentation which took centre stage.

Well known for knitwear and their sumptuous AW collections, I was intrigued to see what they had up their sleeve for the summer season. As it happens, Johnston's of Elgin do summer as well as they do winter, with zesty yellows and cobalt blues taking centre stage. Fluid silhouettes in the finest, lightweight cashmere silks and cottons felt airy and slightly Grecian.

I can't write up the collection without mentioning sustainability - Johnston's of Elgin helped to fund and launch the Sustainable Fibre Alliance so the materials used are sustainably sourced.

Johnstons of Elgin SS19 London Fashion Week

Fyodor Golan
Fyodor Podgorny and Golan Frydman have their eyes on the ocean. Their SS19 collection is inspired by everything ocean-related, from surfers and castaways to the beauty of the ocean itself. The collection is a clash of beautiful gowns with sequin scales and fluid silhouettes as well as commercial pieces with bold stripes and oversized flower prints.

Why the fascination with the ocean? This season, the boys teamed up with Plastic Oceans UK, the first UK charity to focus on plastic pollution in the oceans. The brand is known for their sustainable approach to fashion and they have eliminated the use of plastics from their collection and also promote the use of recycled and sustainable materials.

Fyodor Golan SS19 London Fashion Week

Clio Peppiatt
Inspired by John Water's cult film Female Trouble, Clio Peppiatt's SS19 collection is a riot of tinsel hues and surrealist influences which explore the idea of unattainable beauty. The collection felt like a half-shot of tequila with its chocolate box tones layered over rich taffetas, snakeskin and lizard skin, all adorned with Swarovski crystals.

Clio Peppiatt SS19 London Fashion Week

Markus Lupfer
Like Fyodor Golan, Markus Lupfer was also inspired by the ocean. His SS19 collection takes us on a trip to the seaside, through a whimsical, pastel-hued lens. His collection features pretty icecream shades and swathes of frothy tulle. Light-weight, airy fabrics & a healthy sprinkle of sequins = the most beautiful spring collection.

Markus Lupfer SS19 London Fashion Week

Jiri Kalfar
Is there anything more glamorous than a collection inspired by Studio 54?! Jiri Kalfar is channelling the luxe excess of the 70s with the very topical concept of conscious consumption. The collection is based around zero waste patterns, recycled sequins and uses absolutely no leather or fur. I’m so glad to see conscious fashion gaining momentum in London.

Jiri Kalfar SS19 London Fashion Week

Zeynep Kartal
My final show on Saturday was red carpet favourite, Zeynep Kartal. Zeynep’s collections are always dramatic & extra, for SS19 she was inspired by her Turkish roots and an ornate 13-pronged Chelengk diamond jewel gifted to Lord Nelson from Sultan Selim III of Turkey in 1798. Decadent, extravagant and majestic, just how red carpet dresses should be.

Zeynep Kartal SS19 London Fashion Week

FH Christensen
FH Christensen is a new discovery at LFW, designer Farzaneh’s SS19 collection is an extravagant ode to old-school glamour. Red carpet ready gowns and super fun cocktail dresses in ethical and sustainable silks and Duchesse satin with beautiful, exquisite beading, all made in London. I can’t wait to see what she has in store for next season too!

FH Christensen SS19 London Fashion Week

Simon Mo
Like many designers showing at LFW this season, Simon Mo’s inspiration comes from the ocean and more specifically the impact of pollution and plastics. The collection is inspired by Sinbad the Sailor, the collection features vintage scuba suits with exaggerated proportions, soft gauze skirts inspired by ocean waves and retro marine elements. A true celebration of the beauty of the ocean.

Simon Mo SS19 London Fashion Week

One of the finalists of Fashion Scout's Ones To Watch award, AuCarre is a beautiful brand which celebrates feminine power. Founded by twin sisters Erini and Dimitra, the brand's SS19 collection is inspired by feminine surrealism and features hard drawn digital prints, technical knits and layers of tulle.

AuCarre SS19 London Fashion Week

What was your favourite show of the season? 

Tuesday, 4 September 2018

How to Wear Brown This Season

When I worked in fashion I learnt something very important: for most designers, Pre-Collections are more important than Main. In between spring/summer and autumn/winter, the majority of brands release a pre-collection, which is like a little preview that hits stores around December and July just before the main collection drops. This is what you should be paying attention to if you want to spot the commercial pieces and to get a preview of what's to come. 

I worked for a huge luxury department store for years and the buyers always invested heavily in Pre, so I paid attention and got an early indication of what trends were being picked up and gaining traction. While I saw what has been shown on the runway 6 months earlier,  I learned to always scope out stores early to help plan which trends I'm going to focus on for rest the season. 

And what have I seen for AW18? Pantone might be touting ultraviolet as the colour of the year but this season is an undeniable ode to brown. Chocolate, cocoa, chestnut, walnut, coffee....brown. The two trends which have emerged triumphant already are the seventies and leopard print/animal print, both of which lean heavily on one of fashion's most overlooked hues. Brown is really the new black! 

Brown was seen at the likes of Rochas, Gucci, Etro, Dior and Fendi as well as Chloe, who embraced the awkward hue with open arms. Chloe always draws inspiration from the Seventies but AW18 is literally like stepping back in time, Natacha Ramsay-Levi's collection features a muted, earthy palette and details including billowing silk shirt dresses and blouses, retro prints and chunky gold jewels. Coupled with the current craze for classic logo pieces from Fendi and Vuitton, it's no surprise that brown has been picked up heavily by the high street. 

The colour brown tends to be a bit controversial in fashion. It gets a bad rap for being boring, bland, ugly and difficult to wear. I have to admit, when I started seeing it appear on the runway and in store windows, I did have flashbacks to my uniform for the Brownies! My primary school uniform had a similar colour palette too and neither were a good look. 

Despite these two traumatising incidents(!) I'm open to embracing brown this season. I'm a huge fan of leopard print, for me it's a neutral, so my autumn/winter wardrobe will naturally skew towards brown and caramel shades. As for the Seventies, I'm more likely to adopt a couple of nods like fringing or flowing silhouettes rather than a full-on throwback look.  

I like the challenge of wearing brown, like Miuccia Prada who stated, "Brown is a colour that no one likes, so of course I like it because it's difficult". There's something very satisfying about getting out of your comfort zone and challenging yourself. Earlier this year I wrote about the dress that pulled me out of my style rut and I feel like embracing brown can shake up my winter wardrobe in a similar way too. 

Intrigued by brown and want to give it a whirl? Here are my top five tips for wearing brown this season: 

1. Stay true to your style

This is THE most important piece of style advice and is applicable for any trend and any season. If you're really not comfortable in brown or the Seventies trend or leopard print, simply don't wear it. I have to admit that the Seventies aren't my favourite trend, so I found this dress which is actually a nod to the Eighties (another huge AW18 trend) and it is much more me than some of the Chloe-esque pieces I spotted on the high street. 

2. Try a subtle nod

If top-to-toe brown is daunting, try gently dipping your toe in the trend rather than diving in head first. Brown and leather go hand-in-hand so try some accessories. I've also seen some lovely brown knits and tweed blazers. 

3. Keep it fun

Brown feels a *serious* hue. It conjures up images of librarians or my GCSE physics teacher, Mr Clark Maxwell. Brown definitely needs some fun, slightly whimsical or playful elements. That's why I paired this dress with pink fluffy mules, after trying on a pair of silver court shoes it just felt flat but the fun of the fluff perfectly offset the seriousness of brown. 

4. Don't forget the accessories

Brown is one of those shades which looks utterly delicious against gold. Like a fun or whimsical twist, I will definitely be piling on the jewels when I wear brown. For me, the combo of brown and gold adds a more luxury element and elevates the whole look. I wore layered necklaces through spring/summer in winter I want to pile on the rings and maybe throw on a waist belt. 

5. Accent shades

Brown is actually a super versatile hue to wear, especially when you pair it with jewel tones like emerald greens, sapphire blues and warm yellow. The overall look is rich, sumptuous and slightly reminiscent of a box of Quality Street! My finishing touch to my look was my little Miu Miu clutch, the shade contrasts beautifully with the deep brown dress and the gold chain detailing gives it a luxe edge. 

Dress - Zara | Shoes - Topshop (past season) | Bag - Miu Miu (past season)

Photography by Adorngirl

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

Why Your Own Platform Is Your Most Powerful Channel As A Content Creator

Back in 2008, I started this blog and began to call myself a blogger in a somewhat sheepish manner - this was in the early days of blogging when no one really knew what a blog was. Explaining that you had a website where you wrote about fashion and took pictures of yourself with a self-timer in your bedroom felt a bit weird but over time, blogging started becoming mainstream and "acceptable". What started as a few dozen people carving out a little corner of the internet for themselves quickly turned into a blogging army of thousands in the UK. 

It's been incredible to see the industry evolve over the years. What started off as a little hobby or passion project has evolved into fully formed businesses and a profitable industry. In turn, the term blogger has filtered out and was replaced with influencer or content creator. I prefer the latter as we are now creating content across multiple platforms - full posts on the blog with horizontal images, square images and witty captions for Instagram, snippets of everyday life for Twitter, engaging videos for YouTube and inspo/mood boards for Pinterest. A stark contrast to the days of self-shooting in your bedroom with bad lighting and zero editing! 

Instagram is undoubtedly one of the key channels for creators, so much so that many have either given up their blog to focus on Instagram or completely skipped starting a blog in fave of IG. As longer captions and galleries started to become popular, blogs started so seem a little redundant - what's the point in creating long read content when Instagram posts are quicker and easier? IG is also the first port of call for everything, from doing a quick background check on a potential Bumble date to discovering a new brand; your Instagram profile is your new business card

However, focusing solely on Instagram puts all of your eggs in one basket and you're limited to the whims of the algorithm, which we all know is as fickle as the weather. I was an early adopter of Instagram, back in the days when it was a fun channel full of Valencia-filtered snapshots of real life. As it evolved into a super important, super filtered channel, I was slow to react and grow my following. I'm now stuck in a weird IG void, full of creators who are putting out good content, using hashtags and engaging with their audience but seeing zero pay off. Growth is slow or non-existent and I'm constantly having to chop and change my strategy as the algorithm changes all while watching people who I know use bots to grow. It's a little disheartening, to say the least! 

Last year, I wrote a post on why I've decided to ignore the numbers and enjoy Instagram as a platform. It was liberating. And in the 12 months since I wrote that post, I've accepted that I'm never going to be a super influencer...and that's totally fine with me. I don't want to give up my life just to have a high number of followers. I want to enjoy my life and live it while sharing some moments online rather than planning my life around creating content to fit a certain aesthetic. 

Take travel for example, I'm super passionate about travelling to exciting destinations and sharing that with my audience but I'd rather enjoy where I am, immerse myself in the culture and create memories rather than slavishly trying to create the perfect moment. Recently, I visited Paris and while I dressed down in kicks, oversized tees and cycling shorts I saw other influencers in tutus clutching a bunch of helium balloons by the banks of the Seine. It seemed ludicrous to go to an incredibly beautiful city with an impractical wardrobe just to capture a shot and filter in a pink sky and Photoshop out all of the people in the background. That's when I realised that I just don't care enough to devote my entire life to a platform that makes me jump through ridiculous hoops and doesn't reward my hard work. 

Rather than being discouraged completely, I decided to reframe and focus on what I can impact - my own platform. The beauty of having your own platform is that you are in control. No one can tell me what content to put together, what I can write or what I can wear. I can do what I like on my platform and the work I put in pays off because the goal posts aren't constantly shifting. 

As a weekend creator, I have had to prioritise where I spend my time and while I've been posting weekly content to my blog consistently for over a year and posting to Instagram nearly daily, I've ignored the maintenance and upkeep of my blog. I'm not 100% happy with my blog platform and branding and I've totally neglected the SEO side. In hindsight, it seems crazy that I've ignored the nuts and bolts of a platform that I have control and ownership over! If I'm not happy with the performance, I can work at it and my changes make a difference, I'm not a slave to bi-weekly algorithm changes. Any tweaks I make to the site or copy is evident immediately while any SEO effects will be seen within weeks. 

So what am I actually working on? 

Have a blog-first mentality

I touched on this when I shared my blogging goals for the rest of 2018. I'm concentrating on creating authentic, meaningful content which resonates with my audience. I'm shifting my focus so that my blog is at the core of my content creation strategy and other channels follow the message and content of my blog. This means creating the content I want to and carving out my own aesthetic rather than following social media trends - you certainly won't catch me posing outside of Peggy Porschen!

I'm working on creating an editorial calendar I actually want to stick to. I've created several in the past but my renewed focus has crystalised that I need to put my blog at the centre of my plans. I'm hoping planning my content further out will help evolve my blog content and create a consistent voice. 

Optimising my blog's SEO

In the short-term, I'm working on SEO to help more people find my blog. I have already set up Google Analytics and Search Console to make sure Google knows my site exists. But SEO is more than just ticking a couple of boxes, you need to continually optimise your site and content to ensure you rank for the relevant keywords. 

As I neglected my blog maintenance for so long, I started with a deadlink audit and discovered I had over 500 dead links on my blog! Dead links are essentially sites that I have referenced and linked to in old posts which now do not work - this is usually where I've linked to an old product, brand, site or blog which no longer exists. This negatively impacts SEO as one of the ways Google rank websites is by crawling their links, a high number of dead links can stop search engine spiders from crawling your site and indexing it...which is bad. 

I have now removed the dead links and archived some very out of date posts. The next step is to make sure my existing posts are optimised for the correct keywords. Tools like Moz Keyword Explorer and KeywordTool.IO are invaluable for researching keywords which have high search volumes but little competition - it's much more effective to go after these longtail keywords rather than broad keywords which have high competition. These keyword terms need to be worked into the title of my posts as well as the first paragraph. They also need to be factored into images, which need to have descriptive alt tags and keywords. 

Rebranding my blog

I started my blog a decade ago and I've tweaked the branding over the years but I've been itching to completely overhaul my blog for a long time. The name and current look and feel don't really resonate with me anymore, I've grown so much as a person over the last ten years and it feels like there is a disconnect between me and my blog. I've started this task in earnest but metaphorically stripping my blog back to its bare bones to put it back together is a process that is taking time and I want to get it right. I can't wait to finalise my plans and share the brand new blog with you soon! 

Are you shifting your focus onto your own platform? Is blogging relevant still? What content do you like to see? 

Dress - ASOS | Heels - Nicholas Kirkwood

Photography by Adorngirl
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