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Saturday, August 02, 2014

The 100th (and a mini farewell!)


Tee: Asos
Culottes: Topshop 
Shoes & 'fashioncode' bag: Zara 
Cuff: Vintage 
Sunglasses: Topshop 

First of all....GUESS WHAT GUESS WHAT?! It's only my flipping ONE HUNDREDTH BLOG POST! How exciting is that!! 

Now that that excitement is over, time to get down the the post. A few weeks ago, I put a tweet out that read: 'The age old question is once again nigh: am I cool enough to pull off culottes'. Pretty predictably, no one responded (I know what THAT means). Even so, I decided that even if I wasn't cool enough for them, I was jolly well going to get my hands on a pair anyway. My man-repelling tendencies really won me over with this one, and I have to say I pretty much LOVE them. Even though I am a little late to the party with this one (culottes have been making their rounds through blogsville for a while now) I am pleased I finally arrived...better late than never, right? 

I am pretty gutted that I have ran out of time before my 5 week travels commence (on MONDAY!!!!!!) to post all the things I wanted to. I had so much planned, including lots more outfit posts and a few different bits to diversify my page and readership. Sadly though I've just had waaaay too much to get done before the big trip begins! Which is where the little farewell comes in. I had considered scheduling posts for my blog whilst I'm away, but I decided to just leave it and hopefully pick up where I left off when I return. For those who don't know, I am trekking through North America for 5 weeks, starting in New York and finishing in LA. I am super excited and also a little apprehensive, but I already know it is going to be a life-changing trip and hopefully one of the happiest times of my life (this was definitely the case when I last went travelling 3 years ago). If you'd like to keep up to date with my travels and to see a potential New York style diary, follow me on Instagram HERE

So here's to my 100th blog post, and I will SEE YOU IN 5 WEEKS <3 
xxx

The big book post (Part 1: Fiction)


For this post I decided to do something a little different. Although I think of my blog as a place to chat about all things fashion, beauty and personal style, I also want it to be somewhere to have a little ramble now and again about my other passions and interests. I have been a "reader" (and a huge dork) since I was a very young child. Literature classes in school were my favourite, and my degree course took a big focus on novels, be it from English or American writers. For those reasons I thought I would do a little post about some of my favourite reads. I'm hoping these suggestions may come in handy for anyone looking for a holiday read, or just wanting to get a little more into reading on the whole. Just as a disclaimer, I don't claim to be a book expert or have a taste that will cater to all, I am just extremely passionate about reading and writing, so wanted to share my thoughts with some of you. So here goes...!


To Kill a Mockingbird: The classic American hero: To say that this book is a classic is an absolute understatement. It is such a strong piece of writing that everyone should try to read in their lifetime. I first read the novel when I was in sixth form, and used it as a basis for one of my A-level Literature pieces of coursework. It spoke to me then and it still does now. It introduced me to America's shameful history of racial injustice, as well as reminding me about the power of a child's imagination and perspective. And is there anybody who doesn't wish that Atticus Finch was real? He was, after all, the man who spoke these rather epic words:

"You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view... until you climb into his skin and walk around it."


The Fault in our stars: The cliched choice: I know, I know, what a typical, predictable choice. But I really did enjoy this book through my own reading of it rather than just through listening to the hype. John Green has such a way with words and a casual style of writing, I can't wait to read more from him. The Fault in our stars did make me tear up a little, but I also rejoiced in the cute, funny moments of the novel. If you don't know the storyline, (where have you been?!) it follows two teenagers with terminal illnesses who fall in love, and has just been made into a movie (which annoyingly I didn't get to catch whilst it was in cinemas!). The scenes in Amsterdam also struck a personal chord with me, and topped off my enjoyment of a book which I really couldn't put down. 


“As he read, I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.”




Lolita: The weird one: This is a book to both enjoy and grimace at. Lolita tells the story of Humbert Humbert's fatal attraction and love for 12 year old 'Lolita' (he is in his late thirties). It is such a highly controversial book that it sometimes seems wrong to say you enjoyed reading it. But it is on the whole one of my favourite books. The characters are so interesting and the way it is written compels you to read on even if you don't know whether you should. I first read it at University, and it has been on my bookshelf ever since. 

“He broke my heart. You merely broke my life.” 



Atonement: The ORIGINAL favourite book: I remember I used to go around telling everyone in my first year of Uni that this was my favourite book. The big confession is that actually I hadn’t ever got past the first half of the book, and loved the film enough to be able to ACT like I had. I wanted to sound clever around all my fellow bookworms so I went for it and told a little fib. It was only when I actually got round to reading the book in its entirety in my second year that I realised actually WOW, this really is my favourite book. The book absolutely trounces the film, especially in its ending. It made me cry real, actual tears; it takes a lot for a book to be able to do this. I will cry at films like nobody’s business, but a book has to really move me in order for it to happen. Let’s also not forget the library scene. If the ending doesn’t do it for you, the library scene will (in an entirely different way…) I so actually (in a way) attribute this book to my acceptance into University. I used a quote from the opening pages as the first line of my personal statement when applying, and it worked out pretty well! 

“In a story you only had to wish, you only had to write it down and you could have the world"


The Rosie Project: The Book that saved me from Insomnia: When I was in my second semester of third year, right after my exams, I went a little loopy and just stopped sleeping altogether. Not because I wanted to, just because for some reason I couldn't. It was like a switch had flipped in my brain that I couldn't switch back. I read countless advice websites, books and articles, and decided I needed to set myself a solid bedtime routine. I started to meditate, drink a hot drink before bed, try to calm down more etc etc. But the real thing that saved me was getting up and reading every time I had a bit of a sleepless episode. And the book which accompanied me through the shittiest of times was The Rosie Project. The main character is awkward and socially reclusive and just so so loveable to me. It's such a wonderful, simple story about falling in love and helping one another, and I will always love it for helping to put my sleep pattern back together! 

“I asked you here tonight because when you realise you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.” 


Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: The book that reminds me of first year: Anyone who did my course at Uni in Notts will surely remember this book. It was a set text in our first semester of our first year under our 'American Literature 1' module. Still to this day, that was one of my all-time favourite modules. The tutor who ran our seminar was just awesome, and I met my two best course friends whilst studying it. This was our second or third novel we ever studied there, and it was one of my favourites to get through. It's a classic American adventure story, and is the sequel to 'The Adventures of Tom Sawyer'. It follows Huck Finn's journey down the Mississippi river, and explores and criticises the awful racial attitudes and offensive language of the time. It is a flawed book, and one that has lots of offensive language in it, so bear this in mind if you consider giving it a read.

"It didn't take me long to make up my mind that these liars warn't no kings nor dukes at all, but just low-down humbugs and frauds. But I never said nothing, never let on; kept it to myself; it's the best way; then you don't have no quarrels, and don't get into no trouble...I learnt that the best way to get along with his kind of people is to let them have their own way."


Gone Girl: The holiday thriller: I picked this up at the airport a year or two ago because I wanted an exciting holiday read, and this was exactly what I got. Flynn's book is such a page turner, and good if you are tired of books about soppy love and heartbreak. It's basically a murder mystery style thriller which follows a man whose wife has gone missing. You get to hear from both perspectives and put the pieces together yourself. What's even more exciting is this is being released as a film later this year with Ben Affleck playing the lead (who I LOVE). I just hope they don't kill the book and stay loyal to the amazing original storyline. 

“My mother had always told her kids: if you're about to do something, and you want to know if it's a bad idea, imagine seeing it printed in the paper for all the world to see.” 


Hope you enjoyed this post, what are some of your favourites reads? 


Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Graduate


Just a little over a week ago, I graduated from The University of Nottingham with a 2:1 in English and American Studies (Joint Honours). Whilst I'm aware there are probably an abundance of graduation posts currently flying around, I thought it was important to me to post about the day and my experience with University in general. 

The ceremony itself was so well organised, impressive and somewhat overwhelming. The hall in which we graduated had been transformed into a Harry Potter-esque environment, and the stage looked really majestic, with two HUGE screens next to it to capture each student's walk across. Naturally, as a highly clumsy and uncoordinated human being, I was terrified about falling or doing something stupid, but luckily my moment went without a hitch. It was lovely to be reunited with my friends on my course, especially my pal Jess who really kept me sane throughout the three years at Notts. It was also a little sad not to be graduating with a few friends who went on a year abroad to America (who will graduate next year) and those on the English side of my course (I graduated with my home school-which was American Studies). 

'Dress as if you were going for a job interview' was what we were told in an information package sent before the day. I chose to totally disregard this advice, and go with an outfit that made me feel totally fucking awesome, because that's how I wanted to feel when I walked across that stage after three years of really really hard work!! I firmly believe in the mantra that if you feel confident in what you're wearing, you will come across as more confident on the whole, especially in those extra nerve-wracking moments. The skirt is from Warehouse; somewhere I rarely shop but sometimes spot the odd piece. I just paired this with a little River Island crop and some classic Zara strappies. Makeup wise, I painted my nails with Essie 'Fiji' and went for my fail safe look of a darker eye and nude lip (but let's not even talk about the epic fake tan FAIL- I am definitely not a pro in this area hahaah!). 

If I am being completely honest, (and that is what I aim to be on here!) University was a massively bittersweet experience for me. I think we as young people are propelled into this mindset that Uni is the only path for us and that whilst we are there everyone around us is having the time of their lives, which in my opinion just isn't always true. Don't get me wrong, I am so glad I went to University, and loved my life at Nottingham (if any of you are considering studying here, DO IT!!!). I met some amazing people, did some really cool things, and came out of it with a degree I am so proud of. But along with all the good came some not so decent people (cliques of girls in first year can be shitty), a very tough work regime, and some other struggles which I guess many 20-somethings go through. It can also sometimes be a bit difficult being so far away from home, although I eventually learnt to enjoy my independence and thrive in the freedom living outside of a family home can bring.Some of my happiest moments came with the girls I met & lived with in second year, and through the work I did in third year with the University magazine, Impact. I will forever miss the partying, girly chats, and even the exam-cram all-nighters which I shared with my beautiful flat 6 girls last year (you know who you are!). Special mentions also to Jess and Hannah, my two best course friends, who are just the biggest babes ever. When all is said & done, I will desperately miss life at Nottingham and the amazing people I met along the way. 

I guess what this post is trying to explain on the whole though, especially to people who are about to go to University, or are already there and finding it a bit tough, is this: University is a wonderful experience, but it can be full of downs as well as ups, so take it as it comes and know that if you are not "having the time of your life" 24/7, or going out partying every single night, you are most definitely not alone. 

LASTLY, as a literature graduate, I wanted to search for a piece of writing which talks about University life from a writer I really respect. If you are a recent graduate I urge you to read Marina's Keegan's short essay 'The Opposite of Loneliness'; it's one of the most beautiful (and tragic- Keegan was killed just days after her own graduation) things I've ever read and just makes so much sense.



P.S. If you've got this far after my massive ramble, THANK YOU & WELL DONE 

Monday, June 30, 2014

The perfect contouring trio for pale gals

For me, contouring has always been a bit of a mystery. The world of blogging (along with Kim K of course) introduced me to the art of this skill, but it has taken me a good while to get the hang of it. I remember doing the makeup for a shoot at Impact magazine (at uni), and one of the models asking me how I was doing her contouring. I got a bit tongue tied and sort of made something up, because I wasn't all that sure what I was actually doing. In truth, I'm still kind of not, but I think I've definitely improved in this area! This post will talk about good contouring products, rather than techniques. If you want to learn how to contour, however, YouTube is full to the brim of tutorials, so head on over. 

The main problem I used to have when attempting to contour was the lack of suitable products that are available to buy. Just to give you some context about my skin; despite having dark eyes and naturally dark blonde hair, I still nearly ALWAYS have to get the palest foundation at a makeup counter. Lots of bronzers and contour powders are not exactly ideal for paler skins, as they are too brown, dark, or shimmery. It's also difficult to know which tools to use, or which style of highlighter to go for (cream, powder, shimmery, non-shimmery...the choices are endless!). The good news is if you have pale skin, I've done the hard work for you ;) After trying LOTS of products, I have finally found a winning combination for contouring. 

The first product I use in the process is Mac's Prep and Prime highlighter in 'light boost'. It is a perfect combination of glow and concealer, and really reminds me of the YSL touche eclat. I use this at the very tops of my cheekbones, and create a 'triangle' shape, similar to that of the infamous Kim K style, but smaller. I don't use a brush to blend it, as I find it works best with my fingers. Next, I use a contour powder in the hollows of my cheeks. For this I have been using Mac's Harmony blush. It is a muted plum/taupey shade, which means brown or dark undertones can be avoided. I actually heard about this from Tanya Burr in one of her tutorials, so can't really take the credit for its discovery. I use this with a Mac 168 brush, which is described as a 'large angled contour brush'. I'm pretty sure if you shopped around you could find cheaper versions of this, but ideally look for an angled brush which is small enough to be used easily in the hollows of your cheeks. The last step is blush. I find that matte blushes sort of ruin the contoured look which has been created already, therefore the best type to use for this is a blush/highlighter hybrid. The one I am in love with is Estee Lauder's Illuminating Powder Gelee blush. Annoyingly, this was a limited edition product last summer (I'm sorry!) but a brilliant dupe for it is Benefit's Rockateur. As long as it's a glowy, highlighter-y blush, it should work well. I use this with my real techniques blush brush. After this, I dust a bit of NARS laguna bronzer over my face and some matte powder on my T-zone, and my face is done! 

Sorry for the rambling but I hope this post may come in useful to my fellow pale folk, let me know in the comments which products you love to use for contouring. 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

(Shoe) Booties


Jumper: Pied a Terre @ House of Fraser (sale-old)
Belt: River Island (with trousers via asos here)
Skirt: Urban Outfitters (in store, not online)
Shoes: Urban Outfitters (sale, different colour here

I am so crazy in love with these peep toe boots (or 'booties' as my all time idol Leandra Medine would have me say). I could not believe my luck when I saw them in the sale for FIFTEEN POUNDS (down from £75) in UO in Nottingham. How could I say no at that price? I have since worn them out in Nottingham with a check print dress where I admittedly looked like I was attending an 11 year old's birthday party, but I kinda liked it (see my instagram for the full outfit!). Their grey cousins are up on the UO website and linked above, which I feel are equally as cute, despite being a little pricier at £25. I also picked up this slip-esque skirt whilst in Urban, and have styled it here with my favourite oversized extra fluffy knit I picked up from a pricey brand in HOF which was having a sale. With the boots and a belt to finish off the look, I feel this outfit is a perfect combination of pretty and tough. 

In other news, I am pleased to unveil my new blog design. I have been working with the wonderful Jen at Magic Feather Designs for a few weeks now to get what I wanted, and am really pleased with the results. If you are considering a re-design, get in contact with Jen (via her website) as I could not recommend her enough. Secondly, it's also worth mentioning that last week I received my results for my degree, in which I have been awarded a 2:1! I am so relieved and over the moon to find out I have got the mark I have so desperately been working towards; such a lovely feeling. I will talk more about uni life and my experiences in a graduation post which will go up next month. Lastly, I thought I would mention that I am going to live in Amsterdam for a few weeks from this coming Thursday as I am interning out there. I will be staying at my Dad's beautiful apartment on the canal, and can't wait to get to work as well as go and hang out at some of my favourite spots in my spare time: Vondel Park, Foam museum, the Nine streets and that breakfast place down the street that I always forget the name for. If any of you live in Amsterdam or are out there whilst I am, please get in touch! Wish me luck! 


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