Happy Friday! This week has been especially hectic, so I’m looking forward to some much-needed time away from my desk this weekend. We have family visiting from Australia, and are headed to Amsterdam for a long weekend away (I went earlier this year for a day for work and loved it so much I vowed to return in the autumn). I can’t wait to explore those gorgeous streets again! Let me know if you have any suggestions for things to see/do/eat in the city.
1. My friend Alex is visiting today and I’m SO excited to see her! We’re going to have lunch, go punting on the river, and wander around the colleges in all their autumnal glory. I adore this time of year but feel like the window for glorious autumn weather is so short, we have to play tourist in our own city while the weather is still lovely.
2. Come autumn, I’m all about that classic collegiate preppy look (I’m pretty sure I say the exact same thing every year, but I know what I like…), and this is exactly the skirt I’ve been searching for for years (it also comes in a cute mustard colour). I’m teaming it with a crisp white shirt and ballet pumps for now, and tan knee-high boots and a cashmere sweater once the weather gets cooler.
3. October’s arrival means it’s officially boot weather. It’s time to pack away your summer sandals and do a fall footwear stocktake. I was in need of a new pair of ankle boots (I live in them for autumn), so just bought this cute pair from Topshop until I’m ready to commit to the Rag & Bone version.
4. I’m a year-round bright lipstick lover, but lately I’ve been wearing a deep burgundy red on repeat. I added this one to my collection a few weeks ago and it’s so perfect for these crisp autumn days (the ‘Charlotte‘ shade is dark and glamorous without veering into gothic territory).
5. The days are suddenly getting rapidly shorter, and the resulting temptation to spend cosy evenings tucked at home has set in. The joy of getting home from work, lighting a candle (this is my current favourite), climbing into fresh pyjamas (I just bought this pair; they look like Kate Spade but are a total bargain) and curling up with a book (I just started this one) / Gilmore Girls marathon is real. Whatever your cosy pleasures are, embrace them guilt-free before the party season fatigue sets in!
6. For some reason, I hate using the word ‘Fiancé’. Even though I’m engaged, it feels somehow smug and pretentious; like I’m saying “I found a man, aren’t I clever?”. I always thought I was being slightly irrational, but the New York Times is here to tell me I’m not alone: the term is officially out of fashion.
7. If you haven’t already, this is the perfect weekend to switch over your seasonal wardrobe (sadly, the summer weather is now behind us). I’m still teaming many of my favourite summer dresses with ankle boots and a leather jacket or trench coat, but the rest gets packed away to make room for lovely new-season sweaters (these are my favourites), coats and cosy scarves.
If you follow me on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter, you’ll know that we’re recently back from a weekend city break in Vienna. As my fiancé and I had both been travelling separately a lot for work, we had barely seen each other and were in need of some quality time together. As we both love exploring more than anything, a quick flight to another European city seemed like the perfect answer. Although we had been to Vienna once before, it poured with rain our entire time there so we had been longing to return.
We took an early flight from Heathrow on Friday morning, and by lunch we were walking through the park in the sunshine in Vienna. We packed in plenty of museums, coffee shops and sights before our Sunday evening flight home, but still felt like we had enough relaxing downtime that we could head to the office refreshed by Monday morning. If you haven’t been to Vienna before, I recommend it for it’s beautiful architecture, history and grand old coffeehouses; it is a city just made for romance and cultural enlightenment. Next time we’ll come back in December for the famous Christmas markets and a night at the opera (the weather was perfect so we didn’t take in any of the renowned music halls this time, but I couldn’t think of a better way to spend a cold winter evening in Vienna).
These were the best things we covered during our stay:
Do // If you’re a culture addict, then Vienna is quite simply one of the best cities in the world. Grand architecture, rich history, breathtaking palaces and wonderful museums are yours to be explored. You’ll see many of the renowned ‘sights’ – the State Opera House, the Homburg Palace (above), St Stephen’s Cathedral, the Spanish Riding School – just walking around the old town and between the museums. On this trip we visited and loved the Belvedere Palace (the largest collection of Klimt and other masters housed in a baroque palace where the Archduke Franz Ferdinand once lived) and the grand Kunsthistorisches Museum, and on our last visit we loved the Albertina Museum and spectacular Schonbrunn Palace (which I posted here).
On both visits, we loved pottering around the fresh food market and eateries at the Naschmarkt (below), and on Saturdays there is a flea market at one end that is worth a visit if, like me, you love an antique treasure-hunt. If the weather is fine, take a stroll through the beautiful Volksgarten in the Museums Quartier, or find a chair beside the roses for a spot of people-watching.
For us, the highlight of the weekend was a sunset carriage ride through the old town. A white carriage drawn by two gorgeous white horses arrived at the entrance to our hotel looking like something straight out of an Austrian fairytale, took us on a tour of the town and then delivered us to Prater, a nostalgic 250 year-old amusement park. There, in the middle of the park, awaited the most exquisite three-course dinner in our own candlelit carriage on a grand old FERRIS WHEEL (so marvellous it warrants capitals for emphasis). As the sun went down, we ate dinner on the Riesenrad twirling high above the lights of the funfair rides below as the Viennese skyline glittered off in the distance, and each time we reached the ground a waiter would pop in to top-up our champagne or bring new dishes. Definitely a date night for the books.
Eat // It’s a good thing Vienna is a city made for long walks, because diet-friendly it is not. Here’s it’s all about the three C’s: chocolate, cake and coffee. The Viennese are passionate about their kaffeehaus tradition, and there are dozens of grand old cafes in the city which are worth a visit as much for the political cultural and literary history (these are the places where the likes of Freud, Loos, Trotsky would loiter) as for the confection.
My favourite has to be Cafe Sperl – all marble tables and dark wood paneling – where after spending the morning at Naschtmarkt, we tucked ourselves into a corner booth and lingered a while over coffee and the best apple strudel I’ve ever had as a pianist played all my favourite jazz standards. The next day we found a table upstairs at the equally glorious (though a little more touristy) Demel for tea and apricot strudel, and later stopped for coffee at Cafe Central which serves up some excellent people-watching with a side of history beneath its magnificent marbled arches (the cafe was a favourite of both Trotsky and Hitler during their Vienna years).
Lastly, if the famous Wiener Schnitzel is what you’re after, go straight to Figlmuller. I don’t eat meat so only had a salad, but the boyfriend was exceedingly pleased with his schnitzel – albeit defeated by the vast size – and the original Wollzeile location was oozing with old Austrian charm.
Stay // We stayed at the beautiful InterContinental Vienna, located just opposite Stadtpark and just a few minutes walk from the MuseumQuartier, the Old Town, the Naschtmarkt and the Belvedere Palace. Our suite had views over the park and was possibly bigger than our apartment at home. The staff were utterly delightful and organised that magical carriage ride and candlelit dinner on the Riesenrad for us. If you have a special occasion to celebrate (perhaps an anniversary or birthday or part of a honeymoon), then I can’t recommend the ‘romance‘ package enough. No detail was spared, and they really did go the extra mile to make sure we felt pampered and welcomed.
Souvenir // You really can’t go to Vienna without trying a slice of the famous Sachertorte (a rich dark chocolate cake with layers of apricot jam inside and a bittersweet chocolate icing, invented in Vienna in 1832). Better yet, take one home to share. Only Hotel Sacher and Demel sell the real deal. If that doesn’t satisfy your sweet-tooth, pick up some longues du chat or a tablet of dark chocolate at Demel, or a box of Sissitaler or Mozartkugel (the city’s iconic marzipan chocolates). Yum!
Good to know // The city is compact enough that you can walk just about everywhere, but otherwise the subway is clean, easy to use and goes everywhere you’ll want to visit. Most Viennese speak excellent English, but will appreciate your efforts to try your best German (the official language).
Wearing: ASOS dress (I’m wearing the ‘tall‘ version for a slightly longer length) // Chanel bag // Dune sandals // Tom Ford sunglasses // Mimco bracelets (old)
Have you made it to beautiful Vienna yet? Let me know if you have any recommendations I can try on my next visit!
Love, Miss B xx
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One of the best parts of reaching my thirties is that – for the most part – I’ve figured out what I like, and what works for me; both in style, as in life (there were some seriously questionable periods in my teens and early twenties when, trying to find my own identity, I embraced every new trend with varying degrees of failure). By now, I know that my look is part Parisian romantic-meets-uptown feminine, part Oxbridge preppy; classic, but always with a fun twist.
But just as I’m not defined by any one thing, I want my wardrobe to be as adaptable as I am to keep up with my strange double-life and whatever my schedule throws up each week. So when Boden, one of my favourite British brands (and always one of my Go-To’s for chic workwear, breton tops and the cosiest cashmere), asked me to show how I dress for my week – whatever that looks like – I was only too happy to oblige.
Read how I style my week below, and the full profile over on the Boden page.
As long-time readers probably know, this blog is not my sole-professional pursuit (obviously; otherwise I might actually manage to post more than once per week…!). Whereas most of my internet pals have long since quit their jobs to blog full-time, it’s important to me to maintain both of my passions, which is why to this day I still fly the ‘slashie’ flag and maintain my political career. Yes, it probably makes me the most peculiar blogger at Fashion Week (and I’m fairly sure I win the annual award for most pink worn in Westminster, ever), but I prefer to make my own rules when it comes to my professional path.
But while I mean business, I don’t believe in playing by boring sartorial rules of sartorial dressing. Unless I have a very important meeting or have overdosed on ‘The West Wing‘ the night before, you’ll rarely find me in a suit; instead I favour sharp tailored trousers, feminine blouses, and a faithful collection of go-anywhere LBDs teamed with accessories that make it my own. Hey, if leopard print heels are good enough for our new Prime Minister…
By the time the weekend rolls around, I can’t wait to see the back of the weekday commute and stay put in my neighbourhood for a couple of days. Cambridge is especially perfect in the Autumn, and this time of year is usually a glorious mix of weekends spent lazing in secret gardens, punting on the river, outdoor performances of Shakespeare and start-of-term college events with my boyfriend.
I’ve probably watched ‘Love Story‘ one too many times lately, but I’m really feeling that preppy 70s Ivy League vibe this season. I love how the tan saddle bag and tasselled boots add a new (old) twist on my usual Autumnal weekend-in-Cambridge uniform of preppy navy blazers + breton stripes.
Please tell me I’m not the only one around here with a strange double-life (and the dichotomous wardrobe to match)? I’d love to hear how you all divide your time between your professional and personal pursuits!
It’s that time of year when an crisp fall breeze blows through, the students start piling back into their Cambridge colleges, and the lazy days and floaty white dresses of summer are slowly pushed aside in favour of a fresh new look for the season and all my favourite autumnal pursuits; bike rides, afternoons in the museum, and hours spent reading in my favourite spots around town.
Come September, I start to rotate my seasonal wardrobe (feminine sundresses and sandals are slowly packed away to make room for cashmere and denim) and find myself craving the preppy Cambridge sensibility I always seem to turn to at this time of year.
I love the look of those ‘back to school’ basics; classic blue jeans teamed with striped tees, navy blazers and crisp oxford shirts. Although I’ll add a few more trend-led items and replace a few of my most well-worn pieces each season, these are the same basic wardrobe staples I have been wearing for years.
While some things may have changed in my wardrobe over the years (these days it more about quality over quantity, and staying true to my own style vs being swayed by every passing trend Vogue tells me I should buy into), others will always remain the same. I still want to team a new pair of shoes with my lived-in old jeans, or a new party skirt with a classic shirt.
I’ve been loyal to Gap since my university days, and for over a decade they’ve always been one of my first stops for the most comfortable jeans I own, the perfect basic tees, and the Oxford shirts that for form the basis of my 9-5 wardrobe. I’m thrilled to be collaborating with them this season to prove that regardless of where you are in life, the classic never go out of style. And really, it’s nice to know that whether you’re 18 or 48, there are some things that always look and feel right.
From Friday 16th – 23rd September, I’m excited to be taking over the windows of the Cambridge and London Oxford Street flagship stores, and you’ll also find a curated selection of my favourite pieces for the season ahead in-store (those very wardrobe staples I reach for year after year, and which never go out of style). I hope you love the pieces as much as I do; I know your wardrobe will thank you. And if you’re visiting either store, please snap a picture of my windows, rails or anything you buy and tag me (@agirlastyle) + #DoYou on Twitter or Instagram; I’d love to see!
What are your timeless classic wardrobe basics that you turn to year after year? I’d love to know if we’re on the same page.