Fashion

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My name’s Bee and I’m a dress-aholic. Don’t get me wrong; I am not stating this to claim any sort of fashionista status, but more to confess that I actually find dressing up easier than dressing down. When faced with the bleary eyed pre-7am task of rooting through my wardobe, I inevitably sway towards my rack of dresses. Come summer or winter, it is just so much easier to pull on a single item and be instantly fixed up! I can then use any remaining early morning smarts to match it with one of my rainbow of cardigans or chuck on a couple of accessories. Whilst this sounds lazy; it usually ends up looking smarter than if I spend ages battling a jeans, shirt, jumper, trainer marathon outfit ensemble.

Prior to this year, I had never really thought of shopping in George at ASDA for dresses. The main barrier was that I don’t have an ASDA near me (Mozzas4lyfe) and despite being an online shopping fan, hadn’t ever thought of checking out their fashion offering. However as I write this blog I remembered that when I was 15 I had a school Christmas disco to attend and my mum took me to ASDA to buy my dress and even thinking about it now gives me tingles. It was a red tunic style dress (boy was I bolshy and brave, I wouldn’t opt for red these days) with lacey material over the top. I loved it so much that I styled it up after the disco by wearing it over a long sleeved black tee-shirt and flared jeans on a near-daily basis for about an ACTUAL year afterwards. So, it’s kind of nice that after living the same amount of years as my first George at ASDA dress (!) I am rediscovering them.

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So, this year my oldest school friend Becca is getting married and I am super honoured to be a bridesmaid. Luckily enough I get to return the favour a mere few months after her big day. I love thinking how if you’d told us when we were swapping notes in class and whispering in the playground at the age of 10 that we’d be getting married in the same year, and that year would be 2015, our kiddie minds would have been actually blown. Anyway, I digress, and the point is that Becca’s bridesmaid dresses are from…. George at ASDA. And they are GORGEOUS. I won’t spoiler too much here, but they are Audrey Hepburn cute little 50s frocks with pockets and perfectly flicky skirts. That said, I haven’t yet tried mine on, because the snow up north over Christmas quashed my plans of popping to Beccas for a dress up session (which I am slightly relieved about considering just how many Guylian sea shells I managed to consume over the festive period) I know this is a rambly explanation but bear with me! The bridesmaid dresses had sold out, so Becca wanted me to order another dress of a similar style from George to check it fitted ok. I logged on, thinking (terrible… forgive me ASDA!) that I would order any old thing, try it on, and send it back. Instead I found it super hard to even choose from the selection of lovely dresses and then ordered this floral beaut that will do perfectly for a snazzy work gala dinner I’m attending later this year. Sorted!

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In that weird way the world works, just a day later the lovely Lucy at George contacted me to say they wanted to gift me a dress and bag to share on the blog and wax lyrical about how dressing up is not just for the festive season. (It’s not!) What a twist of fate! Being extremely familiar with the dress selection I opted for this gorgeous brush-stroke effect dress. The pattern reminds me of abstract palm trees, and I desperately need an injection of summer in my life, and I am also really into the midi length at the moment. Too many of my dresses have gone down the route of being washed too many times and turning into X-rated bum skimmers. With a nice midi option, there is no risk of accidentally sharing my ass cheeks with the office, a fact which everyone will surely be grateful.

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(Can we take a moment to discuss my chubby elbows?! I guess you never really look at your own elbows, as that’s physically impossible, but wow. I didn’t realise they were actually dimpled like little smiley faces!)

The dress feels really versatile, whilst I love it with tights and boots and a blazer for a smarter office wear look; I think it’ll be great with sandals for some smart summer roaming too.

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I selected a beautiful croc textured & pink satchel big enough to fit all the bits and bobs I need for work in; which is pretty hefty. I then realised that I have basically committed a lifestyle blogger CRIME, in that I have never, not ever, done a “What’s In My Bag” post, despite the fact I devour them whole when posted by anyone else. So, for your noseying pleasure, let’s have a look at what’s lurking in my shiny new satchel:

1. Wallet: I take after my mum in needing the worlds largest purse to store the important stuff like bank card and driving license; but also my 1000 loyalty cards for everywhere I have ever eaten or drunk ever. There is also some random bits like my oyster card (aka all-my-money-sucker) a swatch of the fabric for my bridesmaid dresses (ee!) and some lovely photobooth photos from my two times in Vegas.

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2. Kindle & Book: Working in publishing I now have a reading list as long as my arm. This means that I constantly carry three forms of books; kindle (where I can save manuscript PDFs), a physical book and audio, as I subscribe to Audible on my phone. During the day I usually switch between all three at some point. At the moment I am listening to “The Woman Who Stole My Life” by Marian Keyes, which is my first Marian Keyes novel and I’m excited to see what all the fuss is about having really enjoyed all the interviews and blogs I’ve read of hers. I’m trying to broaden what I read (/hear?) this year, as it’s important, now more than ever, that I am familiar with a real range of authors, titles and genres. I am reading “What She Left” by T. R. Richmond; which is an exciting proof copy as the book isn’t released until April (I still get geekily giddy about these!) and is told through a really unusual approach to fiction in that it is all written via compiled diary entries, social media posts and letters. There is no straight narrative prose. Finally, on my kindle I am reading The Amber Fury by Natalie Haynes and All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven. I’m a quarter through each and should probably stick to one and finish it… but I feel like they both require me to be in a certain brain space to tackle the tricky topics in each. My kindle case was a Christmas present to myself from Klevercase as Great Gatsby is my favourite book. Considering my kindle is 2 years old and has travelled around the world and back; getting covered in sand, sweat and sea… I’m so impressed that it’s still battling on and am currently awaiting the liney screen of doom any day!

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3. Mustard Moleskin: I keep notes in lots of places; in Evernote, To Doist and my actual notebook. I find having numerous places to tick tasks off makes it more likely I’ll do at least a few…

4. Vaseline: For a short, sweet period of time vaseline did an amazing “Queen Bee” honey branded tin. I should have loaded up because I instantly lost mine. The old fashioned label cocoa butter one is a runner up favourite though.

5. Pad lock & Underwater Headphones: I always have these odd objects on my person because I go swimming twice a week. The padlock is for my gym locker, and the underwater headphones have revolutionised my laps because now I can do it whilst listening to The National and Taylor Swift, and therefore never getting bored!

 6. Washi tape: Because you NEVER know when youre going to need to get crafty!

Okay so nothing earth shatteringly secret lurking in there, but even if there was you wouldn’t be able to find it beneath the 1,0000 kirby grips.

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I feel like I need to pinch myself, I just had the best magical birthday weekend and am definitely going to be crashing back down to earth with a double whammy of post-birthday and post-bank holiday blues any moment. I turned 2-9! To be honest, 27 was my worst of all years ever. 28 had sparkly shiny highlights (mostly Nick & travel related) but more than a fair sprinkling of health, family & life woes. 29 feels psychologically like I’m leaving my crummy late twenties behind and am now in a special stand-alone-year-countdown to thirty which should be packed with ensuring I do everything I ever wanted to by this milestone. I am slowly tick tick ticking off achievements and aims and feeling really positive about my impending new decade, no mid-mid-life crisis here thank you. Maybe it helps that a) I don’t read age fear-mongering women’s magazines and b) tons of my friends are 30+ or 40+ even, and are seemingly no different to 20+ers so it’s definitely only a number.

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My birthday celebrating actually started on Thursday (despite my birthday being on Saturday) as my eldest sister took me to The Wolsey for breakfast. This is something I’ve been desperate to do since moving to London but am glad I saved it for something super special. If you want to go and sample the famous Wolsey breakfast delights, be sure to BOOK in advance as it’s popular for a reason! The experience itself is decadent, in the grand dining room with sweeping staircases and swooping chandeliers. The menu is so extensive that it was near-impossible to decide what to eat. In the end I opted for a pot of (decaf) tea which came with a very nifty high-tech strainer, then we shared a basket of delicious mini pastries and then I had the eggs Alvington (their fanceh name for the one with smoked salmon) and it was definitely the best hollandaise of my LIFE. For someone who could eat hollandaise with every meal, this is quite a feat. The best thing about breakfast was the price actually! For such a special dining out, the prices aren’t much more than what you’d spend on an early morning splurge in Pret. It’s my sister’s birthday next month, so I have promised her an equally swish breakfast outing in return. Do you have any recommendations? Been anywhere wonderful? So far the Riding House Cafe menu is my plan A.

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It was a day for feeding my face, as I was later treated to a selection of tarts by my lovely work colleagues and a very impressively in-tune happy birthday serenade. Can I also take a moment to point out this raglan tee of dreams. I have always loved this style of top but hadn’t owned one until now; this is one I picked up in Madewell when hiding from the New York blizzard. The material is such soft jersey loveliness. I wish I’d hunted higher and lower for a few more as it’s now my go-to outfit with jeans, which almost feels as comfy as wearing PJs to work.

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On Friday I had a rare, glorious day off work and the sunshine put his hat on, especially for me! It was so excessively exciting to scamper about with bare legs, open toes and a tee-shirt dress, NO COAT! NO CARDIE! Saying that, I did spend most of the morning inside as I went for my first ever facial! Have you ever had one? I’m a total newbie but had some Spa vouchers as a bday treat and thought I’d opt for something brand new. I went to the Aveda spa in covent garden as I was drawn to their use of only naturally-derived products. Upon arrival I was led out of the chaos of their cafe and hair salon, and down into the underground tranquil Spa retreat. I have to admit I was a little bit nervous, but the first thing my facial therapist did was plunge my feet into soapy warm water and give them a massage whilst we chatted about my skin and what I was hoping for from the treatment. I then got into a huge bed, that was heated inside and I lay tucked in snug as a bug in a rug whilst my face and head was massaged, oiled, cleansed and endlessly exfoliated. It was so relaxing I nearly fell asleep a few times, until the steaming started. It was lovely at first but THEN my therapist started removing blackheads. OW! I was absolutely mortified, I didn’t know this was going to happen and wriggled around as she went to town on my face with a tweezer and some other unidentified equipment. Imagine that being your job?! I certainly was not expecting it. However it’s true what they say, no pain/no gain. My skin after has been baby smooth and dewy, although I had a few red blotches from the blackhead gate so I wouldn’t get this done the day before a party – like I did. Get it 3-4 days before to have time to recover the skin violation.

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Next was some gentler pampering, and my annual birthday manicure at Wah Nails. They currently have a pop-up at the amazing Box Park in Shoreditch, so I met up with my tres jolie pregnant cousin (she is due in 3 weeks and still dresses like she’s on a Parisian catwalk, I swear most women have embraced velour by this point!) and we spent an hour getting nail happy. If you haven’t ever had the Wah experience, DO IT! It’s a bit pricier than a standard french polish or plain polish, but the nails last at least a week …sometimes more. This year I opted for intergalactic, as I’m so obsessed with stars and constellations.

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My fro-yo obsession that has grown since my first experience in LA knows no bounds. My absolute favourite local joint is Snog, so on a dusky Friday night after stuffing our faces with cocktails and mini burgers in the Lucky Chip Slider Bar @ The Player, Nick & I stopped by for some Soho Snogging. I’m not quite sure how “guilt free” it is when you cover it in brownies and choc chips…

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My birthday present to myself was a blush pink Kanken, making the most of the current I Love My Kanken 15% discount. Hands up; my name is Bee and I am a Kanken addict. I would literally buy one in EVERY colour if I had the funds. Nick and I even had our first ever argument (!) over the fictitious scenario that if I win one in the million competitions I have resorted to entering, I wouldn’t give it to him (he doesn’t even have one) I’d just keep it ALL for myself. Perhaps by the grand old age of 29 I should be treating myself to “proper” handbags, but they just don’t make me as deliriously-happy as these backpack of dreams.

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On Saturday, my family and friends arrived from all corners of London and the UK for a party. However, this needs a post all of it’s own as it was a Wes Anderson themed party and the costumes were just so exquisite. If you follow me on instagram you will have got a sneak peek over the weekend. Sunday was a hungover slope of a day, with a giant diner breakfast and a walk with my brother around Camden market taking their toll and me ending up snoring away in bed by 9pm. Yesterday was a glorious sunny day; but we decided to hole up in Cineworld and rinse our unlimited cards by seeing Iron Man Three & The Place Beyond The Pines. IM3 was brilliant; I can’t believe a threequel can turn the super hero genre on it’s head so much! Messing with convention, twisting and turning, but not losing any of the action packed pase or cheesy one-liners. The Place Beyond the Pines was haunting and beautiful. I’ve read so many mixed reviews but I just found it captivating from start to finish. I’m a huge fan of the finer details, a geek for rewatching films repeatedly until I’ve spotted every hidden glance or mutter or meaning. The Place Beyond the Pines was packed with little nods to those who pay attention, and I really appreciated that. I’d give it 4*’s and place it up there in my films of 2013. If you’ve seen it, I really enjoyed Tea & Oatmeal’s review (and her blog in general).

More on my Wes-tastic Saturday soon…

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If you read my recent accounts of my Los Angeles adventures (part i & part ii) you will have gathered that I recently went on a work trip to America; where I spent 1 week working from the West (Best?) Coast and then jetted over to New York for another week. Obviously my initial reaction when finding out about this trip was WAHOOooooooOoOooOooooOOo! However, my second instant reaction was, what the HECK am I going to pack for 2 weeks, 2 cities and 2 entirely different weather systems (not to mention an itinerary of formal work presentations, tourist treks and bar crawling)?

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After weeks of jotting down outfit plans in Evernote and hours of frantic trying-on sessions which resulted in my room looking like it had been burgalised on more than one occasion; I finally had a suitcase filled with lessons learnt on how to pack for two VERY different climates. In LA the weather hovered around 28-30 degrees with blazing sunshine; although out on the coast there was a wind chill to contend with. In NY there was a blizzard to welcome my arrival and the weather barely crept over zero degrees, mainly sticking to the minus section of the thermometer. I found it really tough to adapt by the time I reached New York as I had got so used to just skipping out into the California sun every day, so on my first lunch break in NY I eagerly packed up my bag and embarked on the 4 flights of stairs down to the street in just my cardigan. I had got so used to the bliss of no-coat living. The second I stepped out into the frost bitten city streets I realised my error and skulked back up 4 flights to retrieve my coat, scarf, gloves and did NOT make that mistake again!

Top Tips for Hot to Cold to Sunny to Snowy Packing

01. Layers 

It’s the classic mum-advice whenever you visit a different climate and if it’s good enough for mums worldwide you just know it must be wise owl stuff, and it definitely is the first rule of thumb for packing for multi-climates. I would have a basic outift, then a multitude of others bits and bobs that I would carry around in a tote bag ready to layer on as the sun set or the snow set in. I sound smarter if I make it look mathematical:

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cardie + hoodie
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cardie + hoodie + scarf + leather jacket
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cardie + hoodie + scarf + leather jacket+ coat + knit headband + bobble hat
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Even when I was beach-bumming around Malibu I still had a few emergency layers stuffed into my bag for when the sun set. You can see from this photograph, taken on the same day, I could wear a short-short dress and cardy during the day, but by dusk I had added my trusty American Apparel hoody, pink cotton scarf-snood and a pair of Uniqlo thermal leggings. Which takes me neatly onto…

 02. Thermals

I have been a fan of thermals ever since you could only buy them M&S and they were of the frilly/holy/granny variety. Luckily nowadays thanks to the kings aka HEATTECH Uniqlo and their subtle, fashionable thermal collection, life for chilly boned bods like me has vastly improved. In fact the latest tie-up between Uniqlo & Orla Kiely produced such thermal beauties that they were begging to be worn for the world to see, rather than buried beneath winter woollens. For my trip I took a camisole, vest, t-shirt, long-sleeved and legging versions of the Uniqlo thermals. I also took thermal tights; which you can pick up in Primark and are so thick they don’t have a denier. They are like leggings with feet! Finally, I took my trust thermal socks. If you have survived winter without making the discovery that is thermal socks with all your toes intact, I want to shake your hand! Thermal socks are the worlds best invention. They are fluffy, furry and take the heat you create whilst walking around and circulate it around your hoofs leading to toasty, happy feet. Mine are from Primark but I have spotted higher-brow versions in Fat Face.

03. Key Pieces

The skill of any great packer is an eye for key pieces. There is nothing worse than chucking a bunch of stuff in a bag and arriving at your destination to discover not one item matches! I have been guilty of this myself; usually when I’ve been travelling somewhere on a Saturday and just one drink after work on Friday turns into staggering in at 2am and up-ending a drawer into my weekend bag and hoping that the items somehow miraculously turn into outfits en route. They never ever do. One of my key pieces for this trip was my cream lace midi dress. It’s comfortable, work/fun friendly and they main reason is; it looked lovely in LA with just bare legs and sandals. It also looked as lovely in NY with tights, clompy lace-up boots and all the layers listed above. I used a snazzy Stylight board here to highlight what I mean, I could spend hours on Stylight making boards. It’s certainly captured my cut & paste/mood board interest where Pinterest failed.

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Here is another good example of a versatile outfit pick. I’m obsessed with this birdcage tropical River Island T-shirt (a steal at £15!) and in the Cali sun I matched it with a denim highwaist buttondown skirt and sandals and a leather jacket for the evening. In NY it worked just as well with thick tights and my boots and a woolly cardie.

04. A good excuse for SHOPPING

Now lets just get this straight. You don’t want to pack toooooo well, as if you have a few items missing it’s the perfect justification to hit the shops. By the tailend of my second week on the road, life was getting stale. That musty aeroplane/suitcase smell was wafting after me like a cartoon cloud and I was thoroughly sick of the same few choices. So, I scuttled to Broadway and spent the last of my precious per diems in Forever 21, Madewell & American Eagle. Was I sensible in my picking up of warm weather supplies? No, of course I got dazzled by the stocks of spring/summer/sunny offerings so shivered my way through the final weekend and am now seriously hoping we get a glimpse of sunshine so that I can debut my results of New York foraging.

I will be posting all about my Big Apple antics this week, but in the meantime I wanted to say thanks Shopping Unlike for picking Like A Skeleton Key as a highlight on their blog this week and giving it this write-up. Shucks.

 

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Ok! I’m going rogue, and rather than my usual non genre ramblings this is going to be the closest I get to a fashion and beauty blog. I don’t know how you choose what to spend the pay day pennies on but I am so heavily influenced by the blogs I read. From nail varnish colours to tee-shirts to boots, I very rarely use anything except the fashionable folk I follow and read about to inspire my new purchases. I think I prefer to see things on a real life normal-sized girl (not an air-bushed sultry model) and get the real truth on how things fit so I know in advance whether to size up or down. The bloggers who have influenced me most recently are Rosie, Carrie, Kristabel & Vixpo with me making direct purchases after seeing items on their blogs! Obviously not everything is infuenced by blogs or I’d look like some weird stalker hodgepodge of other people, and my style is certainly unique and quirky (in both the best and worst ways!), so everything else is bought by the standard scrolling through ASOS or braving mega Topshop/markets & vintage when I have some shopping stamina.

I’ve really enjoyed wearing this outfit lately so here are a few details about what makes it such a hit. The reason I don’t usually post outfit photos is that I can’t stand still for long enough therefore I resemble fuzzy felt, as demonstrated below, and I also don’t have anywhere nice to take photos. These were taken in my parents house with beautiful Victorian wallpaper and chintzy 70s carpets for a backdrop.

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Blouse: Primark

Pink Knit: Zara

Owl Brooch: Ladybird Likes

Jeans: Topshop Indigo Leigh

Lace-up Boots: Primark

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I’m such a peter pan collar addict, and the combination with the sheer fabric and polka dot stitching meant I couldn’t resist this Primark blouse and have worn it practically every day since just switching what knitwear goes over it. The only downside is, WOW THE STATIC! You can’t expect the highest quality garment when you pay £8 but I also didn’t expect to turn into a walking lightening conductor. The shocks I give myself and others are so massive they make my stomach reel a bit afterwards. This hasn’t put me off though, just made me a bit more evil as I store up the static power and use them on meanies who shove me getting on the tube in rush hour. I really love this owl brooch because his chubby little face absolutely looks like he’s thinking “wtf am I doing on this sweater?”. Finally, I think I first saw these boots in black over on the very fashionable French for Cupcake (Claire)’s blog and they instantly solved my autumn woe of “but I live in brogues… what do I do with my feet when it gets cold and puddle-y?” so they are quite the outit staple as they look neat with dresses or jeans. Although, if worn for too long they appear to make my right foot go to sleep which isn’t ideal.

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Earrings – Accessorize

Nail Varnish Grey Day, Gun Grey & Blizzard Models Own

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I had an identical pair of earrings to these but the first night I kissed Nick (and we’ll end that story right there, nosey!) I lost one and have searched high and low ever since but never seen anything similar. I thought that ship had sailed and given up the replacement hunt, and have actually barely worn earrings since. Then on Friday I was skulking about in Kings Cross with time to kill as my train had been cancelled. Rather than rage about it, I headed to Accessorize to lurk amongst the gems and jewels and saw these straight away. The bee ring is actually the most I have ever spent on a ring (£26..) as I am so prone to lose them. I always take rings off when I wash my hands and so every ring I ever buy ends up being abandoned on a sink edge and promptly passing on to a new strangers finger. After 6 months, in typical form I have lost this bee 3 times, but always found it again (under my bed, pocket lining & under my work keyboard) so hopefully it’ll never leave me for long.

The one bit of outfit information that I shouldn’t gloss over is the fact that despite looks, this outfit is NOT warm! It may appear cosy but the jumper has a thousand holes as it’s sort of crocheted and the blouse is sleeveless. So hidden beneath is a Uniqlo heat-tech cami and a pair of  Fat Face thermal socks, fighting the battle to stave off goosebumps and stopping my chattery teeth.

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& Now the beauty bit. Aren’t eyebrows weird? You can’t think about them too much or you realise how un-symmetrical and caterpillar like they are, but I’ve recently learnt that keeping them in check is a very worthwhile face-investment. I am a total make-up dunce and stick to my very unadventurous ritual of liquid eyeliner and Bad Lash mascara and nothing more (although you wouldn’t believe it if you saw the giant make up bag of stuff I carry around just in case. Blue Barry M eye pigment that I last wore in sixth form college – just in case! Very questionable glittery eyeshadow that explodes EVERYWHERE BUT your eyes and makes my face look like a disco ball –just in case! etc etc) So for me to even think about adding something to my 2-minute morning beauty routine is a big deal. I need anything new to be fool-proof, quick and not look make-up-y.

I recently was picking up some new Bad Lash in Benefit when one of the (always so friendly!) staff asked me if I had tried Brow Zings and I said no. The name alone terrified me. But she gave me a demonstration and they have since changed my life (well, face). I’ve done a little before and after photograph above so you can see. My au-natural eyebrow is a bit of a patchy mess, especially given that when I was 16 I had it pierced. I was quite lucky/unlucky that being the third daughter in my family my parents were sightly over rules when it came to me and so I was the first person in my friendship group to get a wacky facial piercing and thought I was just biggest deal upon doing so. I remember getting the bus home from the piercing studio and everyone I passed looking at me. I sat there basking in the admiring glances, thinking about how alternative and bad ass I was, enjoying the constant… staring… until I got home and my mum politely pointed out it might have more to do with the blood oozing down my face, than the mega dope piercing. I am very fortunate that despite spending two years in a growing-out-getting-it-repierced-(what was I thinking?!)-cycle the scar really isn’t too prominent.

Anyway back to the wonder of Brow Zings! It’s a little case with one side wax and one side powder, and you use an angelled brush (worth getting advise on the right shape for your particular brow, oh and the right colour to match your hair) you dab the brush in the wax and powder a few times and then brush on. It’s so subtle that you don’t risk creating a Jennifer Connelly in Labyrinth by mistake and can keep brushing and brushing until it looks neat and just… instant better! I would highly recommend Brow Zings and have been given NO encouragement by Benefit to spread the word (the gushing is all real) They are available in Benefit stores where someone helpful can give you a demonstration or online here.

 

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Today is Sunday, and today is SUMMER!

I left the house in just a playsuit and cardigan, and didn’t feel a prickle of cold once. Even once the sun had set and I was pottering home. I walked 6 miles today, on the hunt for blossom and green grass and  beers outside and London Fields. Everyone I came across had wide smiles and the sky was blue.

Do you follow any of your favourite clothes shops on Twitter? I follow quite a few, as I like to keep a beady eye out for discounts and sales and the like. A few months ago I started following Tesco Clothing on Twitter, and I think I can definitely vouch for keeping their Tweet-er employed, as last week they posted a link to this gorgeous floral print playsuit that was reduced to £12. Within two seconds of seeing the tweet, I was on the website, selecting my size and purchasing before I could literally take another breath! It was ridiculous! Luckily my haste paid off, as I absolutely adore everything about this playsuit. The frills, the print and the length. I can’t wait to the degrees to nudge up a bit and wear it bare legged all summer long.

Something about the summer makes me want to ditch all my stuffy, stiff handbags and just stick all my worldly belongings into a tote bag. I don’t know why! I guess they are a handy size to shove a picnic blanket into, books, sunglasses, bottles of toffee apple cider etc into! This is my favourite one, I bought it at an Erol Alkan show and it always makes me smile.

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Welcome to the March spotlight feature!

This month is very exciting. This month marks my blog’s ONE YEAR BIRTHDAY! One whole year of me ranting and rambling and rummaging for topics to talk about and photograph. More about that next weekend on the exact anniversary day (treats ahoy) but to mark a very special month I’ll be having two spotlight features on two of my absolute, all-time favourite blogs this month, which makes me a bit weak at the knees…

First up is the divine Kristabel from I Want You To Know. Forget celebrity style crushes, they have nothing on this fashionable femme! Kristabel not only has a wardrobe I’d probably donate vital organs for, but a real talent for photography and witty writing so her blog is a head first plunge into viewing the world through her eyes. Oh and she’s lived in New York (maximum jealous.) I love the amount of little life details Kb goes into and also how every outfit is so completely unique and inspirational, but varying in style and trends. Oh and for a fashion outsider/novice, her seasonal trends updates are accessable and dreamy. Added to that, she is just a real sweetheart. Prepare to want to be her! Or at least be her friend.

1. When did you start your blog & why?
It was a combination of factors. I’d started to read quite a few blogs over the Summer of 2008 like Style Bubble and Flying Saucer and gradually my subscriptions grew and I began to think that I could contribute in some way. After going to the Angels Sale, I was so overwhelmed by the event but couldn’t really get this across to offline friends. I decided to write a blog post to show off my wares and the rest was history!

2. What inspired you in terms of content/theme/appearence?
In the beginning I was really new to Blogger and HTML, so I just kind of made up my theme as I went along. I wanted my header to include my favourite things and I’ve managed to build upon it as time went on.

3. How would you describe your blog in three words?
A bit random?

4. What is the story behind your blog name; I Want You To Know?
I named it after my favourite song at the time by Charlotte Hatherley, of Ash fame. It doesn’t really have any particular meaning, I just wanted a slightly abstract and ambiguous name.

5. What makes you the most happy and most sad?
I am happiest when having a spontaneous and insightful day with friends and family. I’m saddest when bad things happen to people who in no way deserve them.

6. Who is I Want You To Know?
I’m a final year knitwear student living between London and Nottingham. I’m a bit eccentric and probably have about a million thoughts going around my head. I tend to listen to a collection of the same songs over and over again before I eventually find new songs that manage to make the grade.

7. Can you share with us your top New York Tips?
Wander around the backstreets of key areas like Soho, The Lower East Side and Greenwich village, sometimes you can stumble across the most interesting places tucked away. Also Flushing in Queens has amazingly cheap Chinese food and transports you to another world!

8. Which others blogs do you feast on?
There’s a fair few, but the ones I really like checking are Style Bubble, Kingdom of Style, The Clothes Horse, Flying Saucer, Wish Wish Wish, Dead Fleurette and Park and Cube. There’s plenty more on my blogroll too!

9. You recently did an awesome run down of Spring/Summer11 trends. What are you personally coveting for Spring; fashion and otherwise?
I really want to find some creative prints on skater dresses, shorts and even tights. I want to try and revisit a few places in Europe this summer, hopefully Berlin and Paris.

10. What is your blogging soundtrack?
I tend to stream tv shows in the background, so most likely the somewhat generic choices of Gossip Girl, Glee, Desperate Housewives and anything Top Model related. I’m unashamedly also a fan of TV that’s so ‘bad’ it’s good, so think Gypsy Weddings, The Only Way is Essex, Take Me Out and occasionally Hollyoaks!

11. Valentines Day – Yay/Nay?
Nay!

Thanks so much Kristabel for taking the time to answer my questions in the midst of uni-work hell and generally being a crazy busy jetsetter (fresh off the plane from Ohio!). I hope you enjoy discovering her world as much as me.

 

If you want to check out previous Spotlight features you can find them here:

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This dress is one of my favourite ever charity shop purchases. It was £3, and I’ve had it for 3 years, and probably worn it 100 times. It’s a great summer frock, although the slit up the back makes it a bit bum-skimmy so only for days when I will be mostly sitting down!

But… I haven’t worn this dress for over a year. And it’s all because, the last time I wore it, I BROKE MY FOOT! Isn’t that ridiculous, so ever since then, everytime I look at it hanging sadly in my wardrobe, it reminds me of cracking bones and hours in Whitechapel A&E (aka scariest place on the planet) and general trauma. Do you think you can be superstitious about clothes? I know people have lucky pants, pulling dresses etc… but what about when your connotations with an item of clothing are bad?

I think in the past if I’ve had clothes that were bought for me by ex boyfriends, I have probably jumble-saled them, but that is a little bit different. With bad-memory items, it’s almost like I’m scared that by wearing it again I’m bound to have bad luck. But, I’m being brave, and lets hope the day passes with all my limbs intact and I can break the curse…

I love the candy striping, the big tacky gold buttons, the pockets (of course) and the silhouette of pinched in waist and poofy skirt section.

To face the blustery big smoke I’m surgically attached to my H&M fur coat. I get pangs of pain when I realise Spring is coming and I won’t be able to snuggle into it for much longer.

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Welcome to the second ever Spotlight feature! After the delight that is Miss Earth vs The Wildheart set the precident, I had to hunt high and low for my next victim of nosey questions blogging beauty.

Step up Blair! Blair has been a friend and fashionspiration of mine for a few years now and has transferred her awesome taste in clothes, intricate knowledge of high street fashion and wonderful whimsical way with words to her very own blog –Blair On A Budget which in her words is all about my wardrobe, fashion inspirations and high-street shopping addiction. She’s also a bookworm like me!

Blair also recently had a bit of a to-do with More! Magazine and became a victim of when businesses using social networking can go wrong… You can read all about it here.

1. When did you start your blog & why?
I started the blog in March of this year. There were a few reasons why: I’d recently come out of a relationship and it was part of a ‘new start’ for me, as I’d always wanted somewhere to write publicly but never had chance. Once I had the idea of making it about fashion, I also realised I was hankering for somewhere to talk about what I’ve bought and show off my outfits, since I devote an unhealthy amount of time and thought to shopping! I really wanted to get back into writing on a regular basis, even if only about clothes, and felt that if anything else came out of it, that would be a bonus.

2. What inspired you in terms of content/theme/appearence?
Well, at first I wasn’t planning to create a fashion blog – at the time I set it up, election fever was in full swing and I was feeling quite opinionated about lots of political issues, and for a while I wanted to set up a blog focusing on politics and feminism. When I started researching this and reading more of the political blogs out there, though, I just came to the conclusion that there are so many people doing it better than I ever could and I don’t feel informed enough to write about politics with any authority. So I went for the easier option of a more personal fashion-related blog. My main inspiration, aside from my friends’ blogs, was probably Kingdom of Style as a) I love the content, the balance of pictures and text (I don’t like blogs that just have photos with no story behind the outfit) and b) Queen Michelle’s style is amazing! As for the appearance, I wanted to keep it simple because I find really fussy, complicated layouts distracting – the main objective of the layout is to make the blog readable.

3. How would you describe your blog in three words?
Cheap and cheerful?! I guess that works, because the whole idea of the blog’s theme (and slightly corny name) is that I love fashion but don’t have much money. I know this is true of lots of bloggers but I really wanted to make it an actual feature on mine – a quest for good, hopefully non-tacky style on the minimum wage.

    
4. What do you love (/if anything hate) about your blog?
I love the fact that it’s a continuing record of my life and the evolution of my style. When I’m older, I’ll have a whole collection of pictures of what I looked like and what I wore, plus what I was doing and thinking about, in my twenties. I love discovering interesting new blogs and people, finding style inspiration and getting involved in debates.
I hate the fact that I don’t get to post as much as I’d like, and that taking/editing/uploading photos and writing posts swallows so much time! I also do get a bit nervous sometimes about the fact that I’m putting so many pictures of myself and personal information on the internet, as you never know who’s reading, and I occasionally worry about people who know and dislike me in ‘real life’ finding it. But if I let that bother me then I wouldn’t be able to do it at all, so I just try and remind myself that it doesn’t actually matter at the end of the day.
    
5. What makes you the most happy and most sad?
Happy: ESCAPISM – getting absolutely lost in a great book, music that seems to express exactly how I feel, films and TV, shopping. Buying a new item of clothing and absolutely falling in love with it. When someone I have a crush on says something nice to me and I get that amazing warm feeling inside! Getting compliments on my writing. Travelling and seeing interesting new places. Spending time with my friends.
Sad: sorry to say it, but my crap job and nonexistent career 🙁 I’m not where I want to be work-wise and sometimes it frustrates me so much that I’m a) not doing a job that utilises any of my abilities or qualifications and b) so poorly paid. But you know, you’ve got to get on with it and hope for better things to come…

 6. Who is behind Blair on a Budget? 
I live in Yorkshire, which I love, and work in retail, which I don’t. I’m 25 years old and have a degree in Politics & International Relations. I have a passion for books and try to read as much as I can; I aim to read more books each year than the last, though I don’t get as much time to read as I’d like! I love historical fiction and stories with a touch of the magical or supernatural about them – anyone is welcome to add me on Goodreads as I also love writing reviews and reading others’. Music used to be a huge part of my life but it’s been sidelined in the past few years, so I’m stuck in a bit of a timewarp (from my teens to early twenties) with my musical taste! I will always adore the Smiths, Morrissey, Amy Winehouse and Hard-Fi; these days I often listen to Britpop and feel nostalgic about the 90s, and apart from that I enjoy a lot of classical music and film soundtracks. I’m sort of convinced I’m going to marry Steve Coogan. I’m borderline addicted to chocolate and expensive coffee. Most of this makes me sound horrendous!

 
    
8. Which others blogs do you feast on?
I love all my friends’ blogs – check the links in my sidebar! – but I’m particularly excited to see what Rosie and Adele do with theirs as they’ve only started blogging recently. Also Lila’s, Baby Got Books, as it’s something different – a book review blog, and I LOVE reading book reviews. As for fashion blogs, my favourite daily reads are Kingdom of Style , LLYMLRS, Style Scrapbook and Jak & Jil. Enemies of Reason is my favourite political blog and I always keep up with the hilarious Go Fug Yourself. I’m constantly finding fantastic new blogs to follow and some great recent discoveries are Young Shields, Romeo and the Lonely Girl and Look, Know
    
9. What is your all time favourite outfit?
As my style is constantly changing, it’s hard to pinpoint a favourite because sometimes I absolutely adore certain items for a few months and then look back on them and feel completely different. Looking through the outfits I’ve posted on my blog so far, I would probably have to go for these two variations on a theme – as they incorporate THE BEST JACKET EVER and a number of my favourite fashion things – ripped tops, skinny jeans (Topshop Jamie = the best), black leather, flat lace-up boots.
    
10. What are your plans to make this the best summer ever?
I’M GOING TO NEW YORK! That’s happening at the end of August so it’s sort of going into autumn really, but I’m looking forward to it so much so it still counts. Other than that, I just want to get outside and enjoy the sunshine as much as I can, for as long as it lasts. Go on daytrips and sit in parks instead of just staying inside and letting it all pass me by.

>>Thanks Blair for taking the time to suffer my interrigation… and the wonderful blog links. My google reader just almost collapsed in on itself with great new reads!

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