Saturday, 31 December 2011

Looks I'm loving

The start of the new year being just around the corner coupled with festive overindulgence has made me even more determined to lose another stone in 2012. I want to be toned and healthy, and if possible achieve the unthinkable, get legs as toned as Snooki’s (apologies to those of you who can’t believe I’m saying this, frankly I can’t believe I’m saying this either but hell, if that little meatball can do it so can I). Speaking of toned legs, I give you Jennifer Grace, 25 years old and from California. Her posts on Lookbook remind me a lot of how some of the London girls dress (and how I’d like to dress), casual but with a fashionable/grunge edge, but with that unmistakable California girl style.

Thursday, 29 December 2011

New Year, New Start

So, Christmas has been and gone and it's time to start turning our attention to 2012 and what the year ahead has in store. This Christmas The Boy and I seemed to receive more than our fair share of presents and I fear on our return to the flat we will struggle slightly for space. No need to worry though, additional clutter will only spur me on with the spring cleaning. For some reason I spend pretty much the last four months of the year obsessing over creating the perfect Christmas that by the time it gets to boxing day I'm ready to take down the decorations and make a fresh start. This year I have big plans, not only for a general clear up of our living space but life in general:

1. Making my bulging wardrobe work for me - I love fashion, which can be seen by the sheer volume of garments, accessories and footwear in almost every accessible area of the flat. Yet I still seem to find that without careful consideration the night before, 6.30am will often see me staring vacantly into the wardrobe uttering the immortal words "I have nothing to wear". The invention of blogging has given me endless inspiration for putting together ensembles yet I often end up reaching for the same old tried and tested outfits. In 2012 I want this all to change. I want to spend less on frivolous fast fashion and make the clothes I have work harder for me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting some sort of ridiculous ban on shopping for a year but do expect me to be reworking some old ensembles rather than heading straight to the high street - expect photographic evidence of my attempts to become more of a fashionista in the new year!

2. Get back to crafting - those who read this blog regularly will know that I get inspiration from a variety of places in addition to the world of fashion. I love to draw, knit, sew, paint and just generally craft, these are things that thanks to the nurturing of my mother, I've done all my life, yet seem to have little time for these days. So, with a new sketchbook and endless half started projects in my craft box, 2012 will be the year that I get back to doing some of the things that I truly love to do.

3. Learn to say No - 2011 has been a busy year for The Boy and I with a seemingly endless array of events and obligations taking up the time we should be spending together. Sure, I love celebrating special events in the lives of both our friends and families, but when you get that sinking feeling before you leave to go somewhere with your head basically telling you that you'd be better off staying on the sofa; something isn't right. Sometimes I know it's just me, but ultimately I just want to consider what I do with my free time, and who I spend it with.

4. Choose my friends wisely - a friend is someone who is there for you, no matter what. Who you can go for months or even years without seeing and when you meet up everything is the same. Truly great friends can even be people who you speak to only online, who you knew in the past but have reconnected with over a shared passion. Friends take you as you are, understand and are non-judgemental. Who, when you say you can't afford to do something, actually listen and offer up other solutions. I went for years feeling that I wasn't good enough for certain people, now I see that ultimately they weren't good enough for me, and I now choose my friends wisely. I have learnt over time that it is important to be selective of the people you choose to have in your life as some will simply take and give nothing in return. In 2012 I want to spend more time with the people who make me happy, you know who you are.

5. Save vs. Spend - the end of 2011 has seen vast amounts of cash disappear from my bank account (I like to give) meaning I will need to be frugal as we enter 2012. Equally, 2011 saw the beginnings of a house deposit being squirrelled away here and there and 2012 will be the year in which this grows, by as many methods possible. The L&F eBay shop should be back up and running within the week (watch this space) and spring looks set to be car boot central as I head down south to get rid of the last of my old junk at the family home and help raise a bit of extra cash. Already the queen on the coupon I will be using as many as possible to full effect in the new year to help with the budget in the L&F household for the many weddings and holidays we already have in the diary.

Ultimately, I want to spend 2012 living healthily and happily, surrounded by the ones I love – all the best to all of you for a wonderful fashion filled 2012!

Friday, 16 December 2011

Looks I'm loving

Bonnie Barton (got to love that name alone) mixes geek chic with a variety of patterns and textures to create her own unique look. The twenty-two year old currently residing in Philadelphia is often a source of inspiration for me as, lets face it, it’s not often I mix prints and fabrics (I’m more of a comfort girl at heart). Find Bonnie on Lookbook and

Sweet Charity

My recent weekend at home was particularly special as I was able to do one of my all time favourite things; support a great charity and shop. Who wouldn’t love that? Saturday was a day for me and the mother (whilst Dad took The Boy on what can only be described as a pub crawl). It’s been a while since Ma and I have spent anytime just the two of us and with Grandma passing away recently I wanted to make sure she was ok and spend some genuine mother-daughter time together. We set off early and headed for a top secret location where we could indulge in our favourite pastime: bargain hunting. Sue Ryder is a charity close to my heart and their sale days are legendary, hence the reason I found myself queuing in the grounds of a stately home on a cold winters day. There was many a bargain to be had and my wardrobe now contains even more fashion gems (if that was even possible). Bargains of the day were an amazing pair of curtains for the hallway (more of those later) and some brand new tan leather Clarks loafers.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Blog of the week

As most of you will know, aside from during a recent bout of food poisoning, I love food! There’s nothing I enjoy more than being cooked for, going out to eat, or even cooking myself which seems to be fast becoming a favourite pastime of mine. When I don’t have time to cook for myself or am simply being too lazy when I come home and crash out from work, one of my favourite blogs to drool over is that of Homerunballerina. Written by a chef named Audrey from New York, Homerunballerina is the perfect combination of food and fashion (although mostly food) with images to accompany the recipes that literally make me want to hop on a plane to New York pronto.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Getting dressed

Preparing for the work Christmas party has taught me two things. One, I have far too many nice going out clothes when you consider that I stay in almost every night of my life (bad thing), and two, that there is no reason for me to buy any new clothes for all the weddings I have to go to next year (good thing).

Narrowing down option choices for the Hobbs Christmas do has most definitely been my chore of the week, ending on Thursday night with me needing to choose between six outfits. Six! All of which looked great proving that sometimes it might be worthwhile for me to actually, shock horror, go out rather than heading straight home and putting on my leopard print pyjamas and towelling dressing gown. When I mentioned this to The Boy he said that we do go out. I said that I meant out out, and no, Wetherspoons does not count.

Another dilemma facing me when deciding on what to wear was how Essex of a look I could get away with in central London. Obviously I’ve never lived in Essex but the influence of TOWIE on some elements of my wardrobe is very evident in some of the dresses I own. Basically any bright colour I am now wary of – particularly when teamed with platform heels. Not that the tight bright dress, high heels, tan/lashes/extensions look is one that I rock intentionally but some outfits are just a bit better received outside of London. Here are some images of my final choice (leopard, obvs), along with some of the other gorgeous Hobbs girlies.

Monday, 5 December 2011

The Breakfast Club

December very much seems like a time for catching up with friends, eating and generally sampling the festive cheer and it's safe to say I've been doing plenty of all of the above of late.
As a lifetime Christmas fan I have been excited about December rolling around since approximately August and when the 1st finally arrived last week there was many a reason to celebrate. The members of the Branch Merch team are all fans of food and the beginning of the festive season seemed like as good a reason as any to try out a new eating establishment, namely The Breakfast Club in Soho (after all, an early start when it involves food is completely diffe
rent to an early start when it involves working). As a sufferer of food envy my decision to have French toast with bacon and banana went out the window when virtually all of the team went for the All American, a gut busting concoction of pancakes, egg, potato, bacon and sausage topped off with maple syrup. It may sound too much but let me tell you, it was good. Not only did the food taste great but the atmosphere, the staff and the music were all fantastic - leading me to to beg that we forget about work, stay for another cup of tea and then hit Oxford Street for a spot of shopping. But alas this was not to be, work was calling and we headed back to the office to discuss The Muppet Christmas Carol and sing songs from Beauty and the Beast (who knows why, it's just the life of a branch merchandiser). And, for some of us who had over eaten, attempt to have a nap under the desk without anyone noticing.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

A weekend away

There really is no greater feeling than that of having days off when you would usually be at work. I love my job. Having worked so many awful jobs in the past and with so many people out of work these days I truly appreciate how lucky I am to be working in the fashion industry, which has always been my dream, but come on, a long weekend is always a welcome break from the daily grind.

Wednesday evening saw The Boy and I hitting the road and heading south to the Davies family home for a few days. My Masters graduation ceremony had finally arrived after eleven months of waiting and this could only mean overindulgence of food and drink at home with my favourite people. The coach arrived into Fareham at about 9 leaving plenty of time for a delicious supper made by Mother Davies and the watching of many old videos of me singing with my band (believe me, not my first choice for the evenings viewing). This blast from the past has led me to realise two things:one, my hair seems to have not grown in about five years and somehow I need to find a way to get it that long again, and two, I really did used to be tiny, like a size 6 or something. When did that happen? I have literally no recollection of this period of time although I was clearly that size for a while (I've always thought I was fat). Still, I'm far happier with my body now than I have been in years (something to do with the love of an amazing man and eating a lot of vegetables) and this meant that Thursday afternoons trip to town ended with numerous purchases to add to my already bulging wardrobe: three printed blouses and some All Saints shoes, thank you Tkmaxx.

Thursdays dinner was a Wetherspoons curry with the parents and six of their friends. Sure some people slate Wetherspoons (and I admit, some can be dodgy as hell, Tooting? No thank you) but can you really go wrong with good, cheap food and drink and nice surroundings? No, you cannot. So with the wine flowing we ended up staying relatively late (which is a worry when you have to pose for a photo that will be on the wall of the family home for the rest of your life the following morning).
Graduation day dawned bright and early as we needed to be in town for 9 so I spent a frantic hour and a half doing my make up, hair and getting dressed (managing to get deodorant all down the side of my dress in the process, obviously). Arrival at uni was no less manic as I rushed to pick up my gown (£10 extra for a Masters go
wn when essentially all that's different is that the hood is screwed up) along with the hundreds of other fashion graduates, almost all of them inappropriately dressed. What is it with girls and short skirts these days? Sure I appreciate a mini now and then but there’s mini and there’s mini. Choice of skirt length is especially worth considering when you’ll be descending a staircase in front of hundreds of people. You would think anyway.

It was a lovely day catching up with old friends followed by an evening in the pub with the fam (steak and chips for me – see what I mean about the eating out?).

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Looks I'm loving

Today I’m loving the style of Karolina Oacik(basically I love any outfit she wears). Casual, dressy, it doesn’t matter, this girl knows how to dress. And to top it all off she owns the Next black leather and fur boots that I’ve been stalking on ebay for more than a year now. She also has a great blog, sure I don’t know what she’s actually saying because it’s all in Polish, but hey, it looks pretty, and that’s all that matters right?

The weekend dissected

This weekend has been pretty relaxing and drama-free really, just how I like them!

Yesterday mainly consisted of a spot of shop work at Westfield Stratford (don’t you just hate it when you work for a retailer and they think it will be a good idea for the head office staff to work in a store for a day? Here’s a clue: it’s not a good idea). Those of you who have visited Westfield Stratford will know that on Saturdays, particularly when it’s close to Christmas, it goes by it’s other name: hell. After four hours working the shop floor I had big plans to meet The Boy and hit the shops for an afternoon of retail therapy, but sadly this was not to be. Every soul in east London and beyond seemed to have had the same idea and the centre was packed to the rafters, and due to an extremely poor design layout (Westfield take note) shopping in any shape or form, without murdering numerous shoppers and sales assistants, was out of the question. So after a quick trip to Kurt Geiger to pick up my free bracelet (thank you Elle magazine) we hit the road and headed back to Kensington for a relaxing evening in front of the (imaginary) fire.

This morning saw me up bright and early (miracle for a Sunday I know) for a spot of housework. Tidy house, tidy mind and all that. The bedroom seems to have become a dumping ground for any items that don’t really have a home in any of the other rooms, and as the bedroom doubles as my office, this was my main task. Boring I know but needs must. Following a shower and a pop tart The Boy and I headed to Hammersmith to do the shopping that we didn’t get to do yesterday. Hammersmith is not my favourite destination for a Sunday stroll, mainly due to the many colourful characters we always seem to encounter, todays highlight: a big issue seller who first meowed like a cat and then snorted like a pig when we walked past. Ok then. But anyway, it has the shops we needed so off we went, taking in our local cemetery on the way (weird I know but it looks pretty in the autumn).

Shopping was successful, even if The Boy would not let me buy some silver Christmas stocking hangers that I’ve had my eye on in Tkmaxx. It’s OK though, I got him back by buying lots of tree decorations. Our house is going to look like Santa’s grotto I tell you. I also hit up my favourite charity shop and picked up the perfect dress for my graduation ceremony, an amazing little black number from Reiss.

Lunch was a roast, obviously, with a glass of wine and the papers in a local pub. Pretty much the perfect Sunday afternoon, apart from burning my mouth on a roast potato: my greed for food strikes again.

So now for an evening of trashy TV and fashion magazines whilst The Boy is at a comedy gig (I don’t like comedy gigs, they’re just not funny) before an early night ready for work tomorrow. Monday’s are the worst. But still, three day week for me and that can only be a good thing. Who knows I may even open a bottle of wine (only the bottle in the fridge tastes like a mixture of vodka and gin so maybe just a diet coke).

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Creative Crush

Lookbook is a constant source of inspiration for me and I love it when people put some effort into their image compositions as well as their outfits.

Being an artist at heart, I am particularly fond of people who use illustrations within their posts. One of my all-time favourites is Kelli Murray Larson, an artist, illustrator and designer from San Diego, California - Ke – whose quirky sketched interpretations of her daily ensembles never fail to inspire me to pick up my sketchpad.

Find out more about Kelli here, at her fantastic blog

A London Life

It's safe to say that London life officially has me hooked. A lot can happen in six months (most importantly, due to not having a television and having to watch TV via the internet, the blog fell by the wayside) and my life has truly changed beyond belief.

So, what’s new? After weeks of hunting on online property websites during my lunch break, The Boy and I tracked down our dream flat in West Kensington, not far from where he lived before. Queens Club Gardens to be exact, our gorgeous one-bed nestled in a pre-war red brick mansion block with private residents garden, is perfect for our first home together. Being a five minute walk from both Barons Court and West Kensington tube makes it great for getting into town quickly but offers the kind of peace and quiet I knew I would crave after the move from the coast.

My passion for fashion hasn’t waned since my move and I now find myself working in the heart of the fashion capital for UK high-end brand Hobbs. My love of the retail industry has seen me with many careers over the years but I’m now working as a Branch Merchandiser and loving every minute (even if sometimes the love is through gritted teeth, office politics and all that).

Some things have remained the same of course, and always will do no matter where I'm living. Things like wanting to hurry home and curl up on the sofa with The Boy and a good book or classic film after a hard day at the office. But with change has come many new found daily enjoyments: the daily walk to work through a peaceful West London cemetery, people watching (cue outfit envy) as I wait for the tube, the free copy of Stylist as I head home on a Tuesday, and as much as I moan about the tourists on Oxford Street as I attempt to make it to the tube station there really is nothing like living and working in the heart of the capital.

Monday, 28 February 2011

The workwear conundrum

Applying for so many jobs lately has made me question what actually constitutes work wear nowadays? It’s a conundrum I seem to be faced with in alarming regularity at the moment and has forced me to reassess my wardrobe and my ideas of who I’m going to be.

When I was younger I always thought that when I had a career I would wear a suit, but now here we are 28 years in and that hasn’t happened (and if I’m honest, the idea of wearing a traditional suit actually makes me want to vom a little bit). I was also a girl who in year seven at school would idolise the older girls and declared that when I was in year eleven I would wear my hair up every day, as I thought that’s what you did when you got older. Needless to say by the time I reached year eleven I still hadn’t managed to master the kind of chic up do I had imagined so continued to sport my usual messy blow dry (how I coped in the years before straightners I will never know).

So, I find myself in 2011, still with no clue on what to wear for interviews let alone actual work. Lookbook is proving a great source of inspiration as always, here are some looks I’m loving for your viewing pleasure.

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Life as an unemployed graduate

Well my four week placement in London is over and now I'm officially unemployed. Scary times indeed. Last night I hopped on the last bus from Victoria with the Boy and headed south to home for a weekend of TLC with the family-i.e. a Saturday morning stroll around the park and shops with mother for me, whilst The Boy and Father hit the local beer festival. Spending time with Mother was of course lovely however the shopping was pretty terrifying due to a trip to the bank which coincided with the realisation that I really don't have much money and now I have no source of income (aside from selling my life on ebay and at my local carboot).

Unpaid work experience is all very well, but when you're not a RAH can be a difficult lifestyle to maintain. As friends swan round London thinking nothing of picking up numerous decaf skinny latte's, the latest fashion magazine and a bottle of Evian, or a must-have item from Topshop, I on the other hand am refilling my water bottle and eagerly awaiting my walk to the tube to pick up my free copy of Stylist or the ES Magazine.

At 27 I feel like my life has been put on hold, you never realise how important money is until you don't have it. Still, on Tuesday The Boy and I escape to France for a few days relaxation before the major job hunting begins, and I'm planning on enjoying myself (whilst preferably spending as little money as possible).

Saturday, 12 February 2011

A return to long lost loves...

Having recently finished the hell that was my MA course, the infinite amount of free time I now find myself with is coming as a bit of a shock. Over recent weeks I’ve mostly been sorting stuff out to sell at the carboot and on ebay (desperate times and all that), applying for jobs and flat hunting. Although, without a job the flat really is a pipe dream so I should just concentrate on tracking down that elusive career of mine.

Reading is one thing I’m getting back into, having devoured two books over the last week alone. The pleasure that reading a good book whilst on one of my endless train journeys brings me is unbelievable, especially after months where every spare second was filled with uni work. The next of my past loves to return will be drawing and painting. This fills me with excitement as it literally feels like it’s been months, if not years, since I sketched anything. An upcoming holiday in France with The Boy and our best friends seems like the natural place to start and I can’t wait to try and capture anything that catches my eye. For now I’m sparking my imagination by looking at the work of many a talented artist and illustrator online, such as Brett Manning, whose work I discovered through one of my favourite blogs Delightfully Tacky.

Lunch at Harrods

My many house/job hunting trips to London over the past few weeks have led me to develop a new food obsession: chicken caeser wraps from Harrods food hall (I’ve even gone so far as to make a detour in order to get one for lunch). A weekend walk with The Boy led us to pick one up on the way to the park and there’s been no going back since, they are officially may favourite food for lunch on-the-go in London town.

At £3.80 they’re cheap-ish for London lunch prices (especially for a girl with no job) and taste absolutely lush. Can’t wait for the summer when I can grab one for lunch and relax in the park with a good book and The Boy in the sunshine.

Harrods food hall itself fascinates me enough. I always want to buy pretty much everything I can see and often imagine winning the lottery (or just getting a well paid job) and being able to do my weekly food shop there. Or at Whole Foods on Kensington High Street, which I always browse with The Boy and then instead end up hunting through the reduced section in Waitrose down the road. I’d even settle for a job at Harrods food hall, although I’d spend all my wages on food at least I’d be happy (and full).

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