Fashion

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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:

cardie
cardie + hoodie
cardie + hoodie + scarf
cardie + hoodie + scarf + leather jacket
cardie + hoodie + scarf + leather jacket + coat
cardie + hoodie + scarf + leather jacket + coat + knit headband
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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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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