Tuesday

[Essentials] The Little Black Dress

This is hardly ground breaking news, but I've decided a little black dress is the bee to my honey when it comes to fashion essentials. The truth is I've never really had one and when sorting out my wardrobe this week I realised there is a rather epic hole in my closet... Which needs to be filled. ASAP.

for spanish style LBDs like Miroslava Duma try here and here

Shape wise, it totally depends on your figure.  I have to be fitted at the top as my waist is my thinnest part. I love, love, love scuba necklines as they are so slimming across the shoulders and also make my boobs look perter (I asked my stylist friend, and she agreed, so it's not just me going mad).  The colour is perfect, no-one looks rubbish in it. Even very pale skinned people can do a "Cate Blanchett" and look very erm, pale and interesting.

for tunic/shift style LBDs like this try here and here

Short dresses aren't just for your teens, I've found that my ideal length for a dress is about 5 inches above my knee (because above that, it all goes a bit wrong and I start to resemble a blancmange) - if longer than that I need to be careful because it actually makes me look really chunky, I was blessed with my Dad's calves and small feet which doesn't help me in the proportion stakes.

What I love is that they can be worn all the time.  Black looks great in summer with coloured heels (particularly the Italian themed ones, think Dolce and Gabbana advert) for a lunch or with sandals for flapping around town. On the reverse, you can't really beat a LBD for a party and I've never seen a friend in one that hasn't had it commented on - absolute fail safe. I want to find my "I have nothing to wear, so I'm wearing this" dress, and quick...

for long and simple LBDs try classics like here and here

When I've been shopping for mine, I've looked at the clothes I already have and what makes me feel good - basically I'm looking for the same silhouette as when I wear my pencil skirts and scuba tops and vest tops. Or on the flip side, sixties style long sleeved shapes (like this one) make me feel like dancing around the room like a twit. I'm willing to invest in this, and by invest I mean around the £250 mark.  I really do believe I'll be in it for years (until of course my inner Gwyneth comes out and I shrink to a size 6 and live on kale chips by the sea, which is a day in my life I am yet to be convinced will never happen).

Here are some special finds on the investment side of things: I recently discovered Halston Heritage and am hastily awaiting the arrival of my first of their dresses.  If you're after something sleek and simple at around the £200 mark, look no further than them. You can also find a great selection of their dresses at The Outnet. Classics wise, designers like Calvin Klein are perfect. This dress screams yes, and so it should for the price. Victoria Beckham also has a lot to offer you for this kind of thing, like this. For something a little more fierce, brands like Rag and Bone are perfect. This dress at Net A Porter is beautiful and could easily be a daytime piece as much as for a night on the tiles.

for long sleeved LBDs try here and here


On the high street there are some great options too.  Black is a colour you can often wrong, and when done cheaply looks like a blue/black rather than proper black.  Always try and find a navy item in a store and put it up against a black one - will show you the true colour (ideally put both next to a pale/white piece).  Shape is crucial but the high street are doing this really well at the moment - after that, it's all about fabric. As always, steer clear of the polyester.

for jersey maxi dresses try here and here

First stop, ASOS. If I am ever trying out a style for the first time I always go here first. For example, if you want to try out the maxi-dress look (like above) then this one is great for £30. For a short sleeve version this is a no brainer. This spanish style dress (like Miroslava Duma's in the first picture) is a bargain for £22. Topshop have some great options, and if the price doesn't sell this dress to you - let the photo of Cara Delevingne in it do it for you instead. Or, this one for £22 is a great starting piece if you want to test the shape of a fitted dress for the first time (ps, I bet you will love the scuba neckline - it's faultless).



Whistles are great for this kind of thing and are a nice premium high street option, meaning lower prices than designer but excellent quality for your £. They actually have a great option in the sale, this one is reduced from £395 to £95! New season wise, this classic swing dress is fantastic and I challenge any shape not to look good in it... Lastly, if you're after something more contemporary make COS your friend.  Their Scandi-sleek LBD options are outstanding: here and here. Enjoy!
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Saturday

[Essentials] The Grey T Shirt


I haven't done an essentials post in a while, and as they are the foundations of this blog I feel a little bad.  It's well timed, I move out of my Battersea flat in a few weeks and am currently going through a wardrobe cleanse.  I have thrown out a lot, and have other bags for selling and charity shops.  I find it super therapeutic.


So, back to the essentials.  This post is all about the grey tee shirt.  A simple, understated top that every girl should have.  It's just one of my twenty odd essentials boards I'm accumulating on Pinterest here.  It's more laid back than it's black and white friends (nothing says weekend like a grey tee and a pair of slouchy denims) and works really well with coloured skirts and tops - particularly pinks and blues, ooh not forgetting metallics.  


Admittedly this isn't one for hot weather.  Grey cotton is the worst for sweat, so if you are one of those who does get a little sticky in the sun - steer clear until the summer calms down.  I have one, but there is an argument to say you need two - one fitted, one oversize.  My fitted one is from Reiss a couple of years ago.  It's been worn to death, but still hanging on in there and looking good.


Recommendations for brands are as follows: For fitted tees, the high street do them well.  Topshop, COS and Uniqlo will be good enough quality.  For the oversize, thats where you need one with a slightly higher price-point (it's all about the fabric, people make the mistake of forgetting you need fit even more with larger things than tighter ones). Peridot, Splendid, James Perse and Rag and Bone are all favourites - invest in your (t shirted) chest my friends, you won't look back (although do keep an eye on The OutNet for deals, they have some good ones here).



Pair them up with your leather jackets, black denims and utility shirts for weekends, or with pretty lace skirts, prints and heels for something a little more... Enjoy!
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Tuesday

[Travel] Wilderness Festival with Moxy Hotels


A few weeks ago I banged on righteously about festivals being horrendous.  This was with little to no experience of anything of the sort, unless Westlife concerts at Wembley counted (I was TWELVE, ok?).  Then I was asked by Moxy Hotels to give it a go at Wilderness Festival (in case you didn't know, Moxy are Marriott's cool younger sister hotels for boutique stays on a budget - opening in Milan in a few weeks, and across Europe over 2015).



Wilderness is actually anything but (bar phone signal, see below).  It is in fact the best example of British middle class living I have ever seen.  I would imagine a good 50% of attendees were called Sebastian or Felix. The remainder were a combination of children  (who were lucky enough to have their own carts to be carried around in all day) of parents who definitely drove Audis, and Waitrose shoppers.  It was like middle class problems had vomited on Oxfordshire. Pure. Genius.



It would have been quite a sight watching me at Paddington station for my weekend camping expedition. For a start, I had no tent.  Steph and I were relying on managing to track down one of my friends, Olivia, who had a spare (needless to say that I didn't see her for the entire weekend, not helped by the lack of phone signal as soon as I arrived, and were very lucky that another group of friends had a spare - albeit with a hole in).


We plonked our stuff down at the campsite (note to self, wheely suitcases are not suitable for camping) and head straight for the festival.  Wading through the rain to get to it all, I spotted all of the teepees and various glamping camps (complete with hot tubs, masseuses on tap and unlimited gastro-pub type grub) and eyeballed everyone coming out from them with intense jealousy. As soon as I saw Mark Hix's bar offering espresso martinis, a Mulberry craft tent and a Laurent Perrier pop up I kind of knew I was going to be ok, or better still enjoy myself.  



Everyone was just up for a really good time, a chill out, some good old fashioned fun. People went off and enjoyed their banquets, had a spa treatment, did some yoga (with Lululemon, I was seriously peeved I forgot my leggings as their pop up looked amazing)... It was just such a nice experience. To put it in perspective when we got to the main stage a few gallons of cocktails down, the man in front of me in the crowd apologised for being tall and moved behind me so I could see.  10 minutes later someone shouted out "I've found an iPhone 5s, does it belong to any of you?" before they strolled off to hand it in to lost property. 



I dressed as one should for these things; wellington boots, hippie style dresses (just discovered Free People, amazing), flower garlands (yup, I know, I've slagged them off so much on Twitter, I'm a complete hypocrite) and even bought myself a bumbag at the Accessorize pop up.  I loved it, a total escape from my jeans and t shirt self.  Make up wise - bar the face paint I wore zero. No one did. It doesn't matter.



It was as appropriate to be blind drunk at 3am (once the little ones were all tucked up inside their winnebagos) as it was for our friends to bring their 10 week old baby (Hugo, obviously) along to experience his first live bands for the afternoon. I bumped in to friends I hadn't seen for years (surprisingly easy to spot male friends when they are all dressed in bright shades of Ralph Lauren chinos) and others dressed as postmen, black cats and bumble bees or some just who had face planted themselves in neon paint.  



In a nutshell, I had such great fun. I thought I'd hate it. Granted, waking up to a sodden selection of clothes in the pouring rain (I think it rained more inside our tent than outside of it) wasn't a highlight, but everything else certainly was. If anyone hasn't "done" a festival before, do this one before any other.  Bring your wellies, hampers and someone called Sebastian, Felix or Hugo (if nothing else just to translate what the different sizes of champagne bottles mean in real, size terms) and have a jolly good time. Thank you, Moxy Hotels!
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Monday

[Travel] Lunch at The Wild Rabbit in Kingham


Having had a manic few weeks of late, Lucy, Lopez and I escaped London for the day last week and were treated to lunch with the girls from Angel Publicity at The Wild Rabbit in Kingham in Oxfordshire.  We'd actually been past the hotel before on our trip for Lucy's birthday, but as we were a little disorganised back then there wasn't space for us to eat, so it was great to be back.



A simple journey from Paddington (which Lopez loved) and a short shuttle from the station and we were there - far easier than I'd thought it would be.  Kingham is one of the most beautiful little places that make up the Cotswolds, England's famously picturesque countryside, with sand colour stone houses, pretty gardens and perfectly pruned rose bushes. You really do feel as if you are in a film set for The Holiday 2. 




The hotel is in the centre of the village and is a beauty in its own right. With 12 rustic bedrooms (we saw a middle sized one which was to die for), a bar, a private dining room and a restaurant you really don't need anymore in a rural retreat. We arrived to a lovely selection of cocktails before being taken to our table for the feast of all feasts.  




It was very hard to choose, but I started with the crab lasagne before moving on to beef with gorgonzola packed ravioli.  The dessert really was quite something too; a raspberry soufflĂ© with warm raspberry sauce and ice cream. Lopez sat with us all lunchtime, hoping for leftovers to no avail - meals like that aren't for sharing! It was really nice to be in environment where the dog wasn't a hindrance, he's super well behaved but sometimes dog friendly really means dog tolerant - the staff were so lovely to him, and he really enjoyed he fuss (and the odd treat that appeared with the waitress too).

Topshop shirt / J Crew vest / Isabel Marant trainers (via Vestiaire Collective) / LK Bennett rucksack

I was wearing what I live in for "days off" - my green army shirt from Topshop (I've had mine for years, but find similar here), J Crew vest (I have about 10 of these, more than I should, but they're so handy - I wear at least 3 a week) and my AG jeans (these ones are actually new, more high waisted than usual and feel super stretchy - look at the campaign video with the girls doing ballet in them). Put it this way, after all the food I still felt slim in them!  



Topshop shirt / J Crew vest / Isabel Marant trainers (via Vestiaire Collective) / LK Bennett rucksack

I also had my ever faithful Isabel Marant sneakers on, bought spontaneously on the way home from a night out from Vestiaire Collective a few months ago... the dangers of being sent notifications to let you know they had come available for less than half their retail price, whilst drunk. I vowed never to join the bandwagon and get a pair of these, but then my sister did and they were so comfortable I decided to I needed to cave... I'd never seen the light blue colour before, I was hooked!


Topshop shirt / J Crew vest / Isabel Marant trainers (via Vestiaire Collective) / LK Bennett rucksack

After a little walk around the hotel grounds (via posing in some silly hats in the courtyard) to see the new dog friendly rooms (complete with a garden for Lopez to run riot in) and a great little dining space which you can rent out and have your own private chef.  All in all, a worthwhile trip - we got back to London for early evening and not needing dinner after the huge lunch, Lopez and I curled up on the sofa and went straight to sleep! I'm already planning a trip back to stay at the hotel and trying to tempt the girls away from the local pub for an afternoon to enjoy a country lunch, very doable from London!



Rooms at The Wild Rabbit start at £149, and lunches are around £40pp. 
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Tuesday

[Outfit] Summer Blues in South Kensington


Nancy and I went out for dinner last week with Grove Communications at Riccardos on the Fulham Road.  If anyone is ever in the vicinity at anything close to "food time" then you really must take a visit - Riccardo himself will talk you through the menu (and tempt you with another glass of wine and espresso martinis...) and you'll leave feeling fuller than full. On the way there we took these pictures, stopping briefly to let bewildered onlookers go past...


I got this dress a while ago and have been meaning to blog about it for ages. It seems luck is on your side though as it's now over £100 cheaper in the sale. Its from Hobbs, a label that I've been reigniting my passion for in recent seasons, I've got a few bits and bobs from them in 2014 and after seeing their AW15 stuff I think that's going to continue moving forward.  Although, amusingly the first time I wore this I walked past a 70 year old in the same dress... (my friend I was with was beside herself with laughter). Without the belt it can look a bit like a nurses outfit so I paired with a Swedish Hasbeens one I was given during press days...


The bag and I have become summer best friends.  I've never been one to deviate from my worthwhile investment purchases when it comes to handbags, but this bright and beautiful thing has changed my perspective. It's so fun and so summer, and again luckily for you it's now in the sale over at my-wardrobe - for cheaper versions make Accessorize your new best friend.   The rings and things are a an eclectic mix of bits I've bought (and picked up) so far this year; a leather bracelet from Morocco, my Shore Projects watch, my Owen and Savary cuff, Monica Vinader bracelet and a woven plait from a stall on the market in South Africa.


The shoes, you guessed it, L.K.Bennett. They're a new colour in the Florets again and I'm a bit obsessed with them.  They remain the only shoe style I can walk all day in; I have really small feet and disproportionally big bottom so my poor little soles have to carry a lot when I'm in heels!  I have these in four colours now and I think these are probably my favourite yet.  I'd never been one for pink before, they're definitely my first pair of shoes in this colour - they look really good with blue denim and white which defines the majority of my wardrobe at the moment...




I hope you guys have a great week!  I'm off to Wilderness festival with my friend Steph, although we're yet to get a tent!  I'm also moving home in the next couple of weeks to Clapham/Wandsworth... Very sad to leave Battersea as I love living in such a pretty area, but equally excited to move into a new home and focus on some home decor (hence the Pinterest boards - apologies if you prefer the fashion pictures and you're being inundated by my photos of home office spaces - I can't help it!)

Photos by Nancy Gibbs
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