Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Today I'm Wearing ... Uptown/Downtown

Today I'm Wearing ... Uptown/Downtown


Confession: this is not actually what I'm wearing today, but what I wore on Sunday for Mother's Day lunch at my sister's place. (We had roast chicken basted in porcini mushroom-infused butter, with roast potatoes, glazed carrots and steamed Savoy cabbage, with Thai sticky coconut rice and grilled tropical fruits for dessert, in case you're curious. It was flipping delicious.)

I have long been a fan of the juxtaposition of ripped denim and tailoring, whether that's busted black skinnies, a sleek blazer and ankle boots along with my best 'I'm with the band' insouciant facial expression, or destroyed boyfriend jeans with a Chanel-esque tweed box jacket, as here.

The jacket that I was wearing was a lucky find in the sale at Marks and Spencer – a sweet little navy, white and silver slubby number hanging in amongst the sort of things that you glance at with a wry 'I think we can see why that's in the sale' thought to yourself. It had no price ticket on it but it was the only one and it was in my size, so I nabbed it and took it to the till along with a pair of cigarette pants and a One Direction t-shirt (for Mini-Me, obvs. I swear ...), to find that it had been reduced to the paltry sum of £20 – #winning.

I'm certain I'll be back to M&S soon, too, since the current season is so strong, particularly the Limited Edition range – the stork-print bomber, croc-panelled leather dress, 70s-style playsuit and bright leopard-print sandals are at the top of my wishlist right now.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

A to Z

If life were like My Fair Lady, you and I would be a couple of wayward Eliza Doolittles and i-D would be our Professor Higgins. But there ain't no rain falling in any Spanish plains here. Check out the most stylish elocution lesson you'll ever take, and repeat after me ...

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Today I'm Wearing ... Best Basics

Today I'm Wearing ... Best Basics


This time of year can be immensely frustrating. The shops are full of bright colours and lightweight fabrics, but the weather oscillates wildly between warm enough to sit in the garden in tees making daisy chains, and cold enough to want to wear four coats at once, not to mention the rain, hail, wind and whatever else Mother Nature can throw at us. Winter's trends seem passé in the light of the sun and summer's seem faintly ridiculous when you're seriously considering digging out some thermals.

It's these times when a wardrobe of great basic pieces is so important. Things like a well-tailored black jacket, a breton stripe tee, indigo skinnies and a smart pair of flats will look chic in any weather, in any season and in almost any situation. Those four items are probably the most important in my wardrobe – genuine can't-live-without stuff. What are your wardrobe essentials?

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Loving Lately: Caroline Hirons and beauty bits

I'm back! And with softer, smoother skin. No, really!

Full disclosure: taking a few days off blogging will not result in softer, smoother skin, but worshipping at the temple of Caroline Hirons will. I always felt I'd been blessed with genetically wonderful skin and would never really need to follow a proper skincare regime. That was at least until a year or so ago when I realised I was horribly, horribly wrong. I'd made it to the wrong side of 25 without so much as a hint of crow's feet by some miracle but suddenly there were lines on my forehead that hadn't been there before ...

Then last week I discovered Caroline's blog. Considering she's been blogging for four years next month I was somewhat aghast that I hadn't stumbled across her site before, but better late than never. This is a GOLDMINE of skincare advice. I spent probably two solid days reading up, and if you're looking for a quick start guide on looking after your skin, spend a little time reading her cheat sheets, particularly the ones on morning and evening routines, cleansing, facial massage and her top tips. Seriously. Reading this site will change your life. Or at least your face.

So with all this powerful new knowledge, I pulled out every single product I own (including hair and make-up stuff it covered my 5ft bed) and sorted through the skincare looking for nasties like mineral oil, SLS, granular exfoliators, silicone, lanolin and anything else that looked a bit dodgy. This meant getting shot of about half my products, at which I almost cried.

However, I've now been following Caroline's routines and recommendations for less than a week and already my skin looks a thousand times better. Honestly – my spots are rapidly disappearing, my skin is brighter and more even-toned and feels softer and smoother to the touch. It is actually amazing. So I wanted to give a little shout-out to Caroline, and to some of the products that I've been using – and, I might add, using properly, possibly for the first time ever.

Loving Lately

Lancôme Bi-Facil
I have been a devotee of this eye makeup remover for some time now and recently recommended it to a friend with the words, "It's the only thing that can cope with my industrial mascara and eyeliner habit!" Anyone who has ever used Benefit's They're Real! mascara will know exactly where I'm coming from. I have yet to find another remover that does the job quite as well, though No7 Beautiful Skin Eye Make-Up Remover is a well-priced alternative.

Good Things Fresh Start Creamy Cleanser
I picked this up in the supermarket the other night when I was beginning to despair of finding something gentle for Mini-Me to wash her face with. I'd never heard of the brand before, but a little digging revealed it to be the brainchild of well-respected beauty journalist Alice Hart-Davis who is on a mission to create a skincare range that isn't full of crap. This cleanser is not only comprised solely of Good Things (see what I did there?) but also smells delicious AND is amazingly afforable. WIN.

Elemis Tri Enzyme Resurfacing Facial Wash
I got a little bottle of this in a goody bag at London Fashion Week (I can't remember from which show) and have been using it A LOT. It makes my skin feel really clean without drying it out, and since I've been using it my skin tone has definitely improved. Yes, it's a more expensive cleanser but it works, and you only need to use a little at a time.

Dr. Organic Manuka Honey Face Mask
I love honey as a natural skincare ingredient because it has a wealth of benefits – it's antibacterial, full of antioxidants, moisturising and soothing and can help to unclog pores. So picking up this face mask in Holland and Barrett was kind of a no-brainer. It's clay-based (great for drawing out all the accumulated crap in your face) but very gentle and doesn't leave your skin feeling stripped of its natural moisture.

Lancôme Génifique Yeux Youth Activating Eye Concentrate
I got a little sample pot of this from my sister, who used to work for the L'Oréal group, but no longer – meaning I have to buy all my L'Oréal-brand products full price and STILL love them. This includes Lancôme, Kiehl's, Shu Uemura, Yves Saint Laurent, Kérastase and a host of others. This eye gel-cream is richly moisturising and brightening – but apparently does contain parabens, so keep that in mind.

Yves Saint Laurent Forever Youth Liberator and Forever Light Creator
I love both these serums equally and if I had them both at the same time I would use Youth Liberator in the morning and Light Creator in the evening. Yes, it's bloody expensive (though this twin-pack is an absolute bargain – remember a little goes a long way) but you only get one face so it's worth looking after it, no?

Kiehl's Midnight Recovery Concentrate

When a product achieves 'cult' status it's because it gets results. Midnight Recovery Concentrate should probably be renamed 'Magic', not least because it's less of a mouthful. I put this on overnight and wake up to softer, plumper, happier skin. Simple as that.

REN Evercalm Global Protection Day Cream
I really, really, REALLY love REN products. I mean REALLY. This moisturiser is light and lovely and suited to almost all skin types – handy for me as I have days when my skin is super-sensitive and reacts to everything, except this. Other REN superstars include the Glycolactic Radiance Renewal Mask (which I MUST restock because I love it so much) and the Active 7 Eye Gel which is my favourite de-puffer and dark circle ass-kicker.

I'm still on the hunt for a really great exfoliating toner and hydrating toner, though: any recommendations?

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Unspiration

Image found here

I don't know about you, but there are times when I just can't pull myself together. No matter how hard I try, inspiration fails to strike and I feel like I'm banging my head against a brick wall. I end up with half a dozen draft posts that I can't manage to finish, twenty-five apologetic emails sitting in my outbox, mood boards that have nothing to do with my mood, a list of phone calls to make that I simply can't face and an overwhelming sense of futility and uselessness.

I can usually trace it back to other things going on in my life – fear of failure, money worries, illness, child-related stress, any one of a million other piddly little things – but sometimes it's just a black cloud that descends over me that I can't seem to find my way out of. Occasionally I can cheer myself up by consuming obscene quantities of chocolate/wine/cheese, or put a brave face on it by taking two minutes to swipe on some mascara or lippy before the school run. But more often I just want to pull the duvet over my head and hope that if I go back to sleep it will go away by the time I wake up (in case you're wondering, that doesn't work either).

I've struggled with depression on and off for some years and though I think I'm better at coping with it now, when I wake up one morning in that mood it's just as hard to get myself going as it was the first time I ever felt it. I've tried anti-depressants, counselling, self-help, self-medicating ... But what really makes a difference to me is 'naming it' – admitting how I'm feeling. I don't like talking to a counsellor about it, and I don't want to burden my friends or family with it, so I write it down. It doesn't always make an immediate difference, but the cathartic process of putting pen to paper, or fingertips to keyboard, is familiar and comforting and it brings me back around to what I actually love doing.

I suppose my need to write about it on this occasion was crystallised by the recent, tragic news of L'Wren Scott's apparent suicide. That someone whose life was outwardly golden could be suffering such agonising personal turmoil that she felt there was no hope was a loud wake-up call for me. It certainly puts my own troubles into perspective.

So forgive me for having a bit of a self-indulgent whinge, but I hoped that sending my purgative ramblings out into the online ether might help lift me out of a slump that has lasted for weeks now. It took me a good few hours of re-reading and editing this, plus a blood-boiling row with someone, to find the courage to hit 'publish'. And maybe it was the argument that roused my spirits, or maybe the writing catharsis is doing its thing, but I feel better already.

With any luck, normal service will resume shortly. And if you've taken the time to read down this far, or indeed have taken the time to read anything I've written here, thank you.

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Face Off with PMS

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Evidently it's something we're all thinking about at the moment, since Garance and Kate over at The Man Repeller both posted about it in the same day – coincidentally the day mine arrived.

Yes, it's Mother Nature's delightful monthly visit, and although I don't think any of us especially enjoy talking about it, we do love to moan about it and all its associated evils. Everyone has their own special ways of coping with it, but it was Lisa Eldridge's PMS Face skincare and make-up tutorial that really caught my attention when I found the link in the comments.

When she started going through all the things that happen to our faces when it's that time of the month, it was like PMS beauty bingo. Puffy eyes, check. Acne breakouts, check. Tired-looking skin, check. Dark circles, check. If any or all of these apply to you, watch the video. You won't regret it.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

On Wednesdays We Wear Pink

On Wednesdays We Wear Pink

Left outfit:

Right outfit:

So Mean Girls is ten years old next month, which makes me ... umm ... really old but, like Sex and the City before it, it's a pop culture point of reference that still has plenty to teach us about life, love and style.

Case in point: on Wednesdays we wear pink. Although The Plastics were generally more of the Barbie persuasion, I like to imagine that 'think pink' does not necessarily equate to 'deck yourself out like the fashion doll aisle at Toys'R'Us'. Thus, two very different outfit ideas, all in pink. What do you reckon?