Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Spring/summer fashion essentials

Even though I'm writing this watching the torrential rain outside my window, it is in fact nearly summer, and us Brits have had the odd good day weather-wise (or at least, the odd day in double digit degrees where we instantly jump into shorts and sandals). So, in an effort to lure the sun back out and get us all excited for the warmer weather that we might get eventually, I thought I'd go through my spring/summer fasshion essentials this year.

Spring/summer is my favourite time of year when it comes to fashion; the colours and patterns are more my style, the clothes are flowier and more comfortable, and who doesn't love chucking on a pair of shorts and a vest and frollicking in the sunshine?! We all have different seasonal staples, and I for one love seeing what other people turn to when they are stuck for an outfit, or what items of clothing make up their everyday looks, so I hope a few of you find my spring/summer staples interesting as well!

1) The kimono
I couldn't post this in SS15 without including the beloved kimono. I have three in my wardrobe and am always eyeing up pretty floral ones to add; I will most likely have one in every colour of the rainbow before summer is over. They go with absolutely everything and are a great alternative to cardigans when it's hot/humid and you just need a bit of extra coverage.

2) The floral playsuit
Duh. These have almost completely replaced floral dresses in my wardrobe, because they look so much more casual (with the ability to still dress up) and make the wind a problem of the past. For the past few summers I have slowly warmed to the idea of playsuits, and this year the highstreet has really stepped up its game, so with all the lovely designs it's hard not to have at least 10 in your collection, right?

3) The slouchy t-shirt
For years, I have been searching for the perfect slouchy, effortless, 'I-just-threw-this-on-and-went-outside-honestly' t-shirts, and finally I found them at H&M in the linen basics section. The thick linen material makes them so much more 'effortless' than cheaper cotton basics, which always seem to shrink in the wash and not fall quite right after a few wears. I have these in black and white and they are definitely coming with me on every holiday for the next 5 years.

4) The floral vest
Since I was about 14, no summer was complete without a floral vest of some description. Primark have some excellent designs this year, and their wider collection of motif tees are to die for as well. Perfect for holidays and everyday spring/summer outfits, any floral/motif vests you buy are pretty much guaranteed to still be in fashion years down the line.

5) The sandals
For people like me who despise flip flops and any sandals that go between your toes (hello blisters), over-the-toe sandals like these beauties from ASDA are a spring/summer life saver. This pair definitely do not look like they cost a tenner from a supermarket, but that's the whole point I suppose.

6) The floral shorts
Like the playsuit, floral shorts have been slowly taking over my wardrobe for the last few years. I remember a time when I wore more floral skirts than shorts, but since the trend of flowy culottes and skorts, I see no need for skirts that are weather-dependent or require an extra layer underneath for modesty. Way too much effort.

7) The statement trousers
Finally, the spring/summer trousers. Although I would love to keep this post to my top summer holiday essentials, that would not be accurate for the average British spring/summer, where we do spend half of the days with our legs covered. For spring/summer, I tend to stick with cropped trousers, and this statement pair from Matalan have been a staple for me for a few years now.

8) The neutral trousers
And a neutral counterpart is essential to complement all those pretty motif/floral tops that are already in your favourites! For spring/summer I always tend to keep it light, so as opposed to my usual black jeans, this beige number from ASOS have become my go-to.

What are your spring and summer essentials this year, and what are your favourite shops to get them from? :)

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

MAC lipstick collection

Shameful though it is for a beauty blogger, my MAC lipstick collection only actually started a year ago when I finally rationalised the first purchase to myself. Now it is definitely my go-to brand for a lipstick I know I will be able to rely on and wear easily (and that smells like heaven, always a plus). Although I only have five in my collection so far, I find these kinds of posts so helpful because blogs are my main source of information when it comes to deciding on a MAC lipstick; seeing swatches and the shades other people have loved most over the years definitely does influence my choice when I enter the store and am faced with the immensity of the lipstick stand. And I would be lying if I said I didn't have another five shades on my 'to buy' list thanks to the enabling of the blogosphere, so I hope to provide some of you with the same justification - basically you need these lipsticks in your life!

Chatterbox - Amplified
Crosswires - Cremesheen
Speak Louder - Cremesheen
See Sheer - Lustre
Syrup - Lustre

I have tried to make my humble little MAC collection as versatile as possible with different shades, but still only include colours not too far out of my comfort zone that I will never wear, and keeping with tones/intensities that complement me.

Chatterbox and Speak Louder are cooler, more blue-toned shades, with the former a little more subtle than the latter to match different occasions. Crosswires, See Sheer and Syrup (which looks a lot less pink in real life) are warmer colours, which I generally feel a lot more comfortable in on a daily basis as I feel they make less of a statement against my ghostly skin tone. With the pink of Chatterbox/Speak Louder, the coral of Crosswires, the burgundy of See Sheer and the mauve of Syrup, I've got a lot of bases covered. I am looking to add a brighter coral to my collection (recommendations welcome) and also a nice, wearable nude for pale skin (Shy Girl, looking at you) to fill the gaps.

However, I'm less interested in adding a classic red to my MAC collection just because I am not as keen on the intense shades. Although Party Line is tempting me, I'm very happy with the other reds in my lipstick collection and honestly am not a huge fan of the Amplified formula, which is generally what the brighter colours are. I find it a little too drying and would much prefer to spend over £15 on a nice Lustre that I know I will wear all the time. But honestly who knows with MAC, because I am just as likely to enter a store tomorrow and stumble across the perfect dark red Lustre that I'd never heard of before.

Have any of these shades caught your eye, or do you have any recommendations for shades to add to my collection? When it comes to MAC, you can never have too many suggestions so please do let me know your favourite lipstick shade!

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Look of the Day - Daisies and leather

This bank holiday weekend has so far been fairly uneventful, but among the usual errand running, shopping, and seeing family and friends, I've had the chance to experiment with my wardrobe a bit more than office life allows. Playsuits are my absolute favourite for those everyday outfits that you still want to look like a little effort went into, and they just so happen to go perfectly with my fancy new leather jacket which I have been wearing non-stop. Crossing my fingers that it doesn't get too warm so that I can carry on wearing it, but lets face it, that's pretty much a given considering the British 'spring' we've been subject to so far.

Playsuit: Boohoo
Shoes: Clarks
Jacket: gift
Bag: Lehua Night Market in Taiwan
Necklace: Topshop
Nails: Barry M 'Like A Nude'

Collection Lasting Perfection concealer
Estee Lauder Double Wear foundation
Benefit Dandelion blush
Benefit Hoola bronzer
Urban Decay Naked 3 palette
L'Oreal Paris SuperLiner Blackbuster eyeliner
Rimmel Wonder'Full mascara
Soap & Glory Archery eyebrow pencil
Rimmel Lasting Finish by Kate Moss lipstick in 03

Sometimes I just fancy doing a full face of makeup for not particularly special days, and today my Naked 3 palette was calling to me from the bottom of my palette drawer. I barely ever use it because it's too precious, but that's an attitude I'm trying to change otherwise what's the point in me even owning it?! A little bit of Burnout all over the lid, with Nooner and Darkside blended into the outer corner/crease made a perfect everyday eye to go with my usual base/contour, and a nice, dark nude lipstick complemented the neutral look. The Boohoo playsuit was supposed to be the statement of the look with its spring daisy design, and the black/tan/neutral accessories darkened it down a little more for the abysmal weather.

Let me know if any of you have any tips for accessorising spring wardrobe staples to make them more weather-appropriate, because I will continue to wear playsuits regardless of the rain!

Sunday, 26 April 2015

DIY - Travel scrapbook

I've always been fascinated by the beautiful travel journals, scrapbooks and daily planners that people post on Instagram and Pinterest. The idea of organising your keepsakes in chronological order with little messages to take you back to that time and place just seems really romantic to me, and it's something I know for a fact I would appreciate in years to come, because it's something I regret not having started doing years ago. But because I'm too lazy to ever write a diary and too boring to document my daily life in a scrapbook, a travel journal/scrapbook made perfect sense.

Since I first confirmed my trip to Taiwan I had had the idea of scrapbooking it in my head - being my first 'proper' trip I knew I had to make the memories last as long as possible and capture the whole experience, but in more than just photos; I wanted to capture the tastes, smells, thoughts flying through my head, little inside jokes and moments that would make us laugh in years to come. So I collected as many tickets, receipts, leaflets etc. as possible, even going as far as stealing the mug coasters from the hotels we stayed in (because memories of coasters are important to me), and bought a beautiful scrapbook from Paperchase that is just ideal for documenting travels around the world!

And I'm sharing this little craft venture in the hopes of inspiring a few of you to make your own! Although it's never a thing you could provide step-by-step instructions for, I thought showing the basic materials, basic steps and a few tips I've picked up along the way would be as good as starting point as any to those of you out there who are interested!

DIY materials:
1) Scrapbook
2) Pens, pencils and whatever other drawing/writing utensils you fancy
3) Basic materials to make the paper less plain, i.e. kraft paper, tracing paper, envelopes etc.
4) Tools such as glue, scissors and double-sided tape
5) Also consider photo corners for adding polaroids/printed photos
6) Other crafty materials to make the paper less plain, i.e. stickers, doilies, patterned paper etc. 
(tip: even more appropriate if they were bought from the country you visited!)

Scrapbooking is not an exact science, so choose whatever is lying around in your craft collection or buy things especially to vaguely add a little dimension and colour to plain paper. Basically you will need a book to stick things in, tools to stick them in with, crafts to make the book pretty and the actual things you want to remember, but you won't know exactly how to put these things together until it is all in front of you, so just gather whatever you can.

Step 1

Find the perfect scrapbook. This is important; there's no point adhering all of your precious keepsakes to a few tacky bits of paper or an ugly notebook that you just want to throw away afterwards. I was after a hardback book that was a decent size with a good amount of pages to add future trips to. I had the idea of covering whatever book I chose with map wallpaper to make it a bit more appropriate, until I found this beauty in Paperchase that did the work for me!

Step 2

Gather all the memories you want to put on the page, and experiment with the layout. Start off with whatever 'background' you want like a sheet of patterned paper or a leaflet etc, then add photos and keepsakes, then fill up empty space with other crafty bits. Even when I think I'm happy with the layout, I will usually leave it for a bit, play around and move things about a bit more just in case something else works better. This is also where I would write my 'main' bit of text to make sure it fits in the space I've allocated it.
Step 3

Once you're happy with the way the page looks and that you've got everything important there, start sticking things into the book. Start with the bottom layer and work your way up, then add some final touches like captions and stickers/doodles to any empty space.

A few tips:
  • Layering is your friend. Printed out too many photos? Just layer them all up with a few stickers holding them in place so you can flip through.
  • Try not to write excessively. I tried to stick to 'highlights' with little bullet points of specific memories, captioning photos with inside jokes, or even just jotting down the food I ate, movies I watched etc. as a quick memento.
  • If you do want to write a long 'entry' about a particular feeling or thought or experience from that day, you can hide little messages to yourself in envelopes or underneath layers; that way it's not detracting from the page with a huge chunk of text, and you can be as cringy as you like without everyone else being able to see it at first glance!
  • For goodness sake write things down on scrap paper before you add it to the book; know exactly what you're writing when you put pen to paper to avoid spelling mistakes and pointless waffle.
  • I chose to scrapbook my trip in chronological order because that's just the way I want to look back through it and relive the experience from day one - but if you don't, at least caption photos with dates and locations, otherwise you will forget what happened when and it won't be quite as nostalgic.
  • Don't try to include everything. You just won't be able to.

And there you have it - my beginners' guide (by a beginner) to travel scrapbooking! Is this something you would ever consider to remember an important trip, or do you have any more tips to add? Let me know :)