A Life Update: A New Season + Change of Gears

A Girl, A Style _ A New SeasonA Girl, A Style _ Gap Olive Chinos, Mulberry Shoes

Blazer // Chinos // Top // Bag // Sunglasses // Watch // Lipstick

I have a confession to make: my day job and I are on a break.

As most of you know, by day I work in government – well, I did… until now. I’d been happily hurtling myself full-steam along a career path for my entire working life – first in Washington (I got my start in the US Senate), and then Canberra (working for the Australian Parliament), then Westminster (working first in government policy and then five years as parliamentary advisor to a Cabinet Minister), and finally Brussels (I spent the last two years working mostly with the European Commission). But all of a sudden, I realised that path was bringing me more stress than joy, and it was time to take a break and start seeing other careers.

I’ve been struggling with this decision for a while, partly because I’m deeply passionate about politics and fighting for the causes I believe in, but also because I worked so hard at university and over the last 15 years to get to where I was (see the embarrassing proof in this post that it really has been that long…) and didn’t want to throw that away. I’d be lying if I didn’t also mention that being a political advisor and a blogger had sort of become my identity and USP (barely a day goes by when I don’t get affirming messages from my loveliest of readers who say they love that I work in both politics and fashion), and I was incredibly nervous about giving half of that up and who I’d be if I did.

But the truth is: when I arrived in Washington as a bright-eyed 18 year old, I decided to go into this career to help make the world a better place. Then between the global political climate, Trump, Brexit and the state of the political spectrum here in the UK (I think everyone can agree it’s a sorry state of affairs, regardless of which ‘side’ you’re on), politics was really starting to wear me down. It had become more of a source of stress and frustration than hope, and it had just got a bit too much to never be able to detach from all of that. I absolutely loved working in Parliament – even the gruelling hours and the need to be switched on to current affairs 24/7 that came with it were a thrill because I had the most incredible boss (a Cabinet Minister who was one of the few good guys in Parliament) and we spent each trying to make a positive difference. But since then, although I loved and respected the people I worked with, I’d started to feel like I couldn’t make a meaningful contribution and as though everything around me was completely unravelling politically, which rather filled me with despair. That’s not the attitude I want to have for the rest of my working days, so I knew it was time for a change.

So terrifying though it was, when one of the projects I had been working on at work came to an end, it was the opportunity I needed in order to be able to to muster all my courage and give myself permission to walk away before I became cynical or lost my passion for the things that still mattered. Hopefully not forever, but at least for now and until a more hopeful prospect comes along. I’ll still be working on some projects and causes that are meaningful for me, but doing so on a part-time basis gives me the freedom and breathing space to feel excited again. Maybe one day I’ll even decide I hate myself enough to consider running for office myself…

A Girl, A Style _ Autumn PreppyA Girl, A Style _ Gap ChinosA Girl, A Style _ Cambridge Satchel Co Tassel Bag CrimsonA Girl, A Style _ Cambridge Style

I wish someone could tell me where I should be career-wise in five years, but I suppose the journey to figuring that out is most of the fun. So I’ve given myself the ultimate gift of luxury: a chance to change gears work-wise and go freelance full-time to pursue whatever feels fun and exciting again. I figured if I can’t do it now while I’m still (relatively) young and unburdened by the responsibilities of adulthood, then when can I?

In the immediate term, I really want to give this blog the time I’ve never been able to properly devote to it when I was working in government. As the first step, I’ve been busy beavering away at a new and improved site design and direction which will keep me busy until its launch at the end of this year (I can hardly wait!). I hope you’ll all love it as much as me!

But equally, while I want to finally have the time to spend blogging, creating content, and writing about things I love, I don’t want to just be a blogger and it’s still important to me to work on other things (i.e. that aren’t all about ‘me’). I’ve always done at least two things with my time, and I think I’d get bored if I weren’t busy all the time (even at university, I worked in politics alongside a full-time class schedule, and then on this blog since graduating and moving to the UK). So the plan is a few days for the blog and a few days for freelance life and to just see where things lead me in a year or two. I’ve never before given myself such freedom to step off the work treadmill and figure out what I want from the next phase of my career, and I confess it feels like the ultimate luxury to be guided by passion rather than practical considerations.

Amongst other exciting things, I’m thrilled to have joined the team of one of my favourite British brands, The Cambridge Satchel Company, as their ‘Blogger in Residence’. I first met the brilliant Founder, Julie Deane, one day when I was working in Parliament and we were both just starting out – she with the brand and me with this blog. She quickly became one of my favourite women in business and I’ve remained friends with the brand ever since, and it’s been a pleasure to see them grow. In a twist of serendipity, they told me they were looking for someone exactly like me the very day after I finally decided it was time for a change of gears career-wise, and everything fell into place perfectly. After spending the past 15 years working in such ‘serious’ roles, I still can’t quite believe I can actually get paid to work on exciting creative things for brands I love. Surely work is meant to feel more like… work?

Whatever it means, I’m embracing that back-to-school feeling the autumn brings and stepping into the new season with renewed vigour. I haven’t felt like the ‘new girl’ in a while, and I confess the prospect is thrilling!

A Girl, A Style _ Cambridge Satchel Company Tassel BagA Girl, A Style _ Back to School PrepWearing: J.Crew blazer (old, but similar style here) // Gap chinos c/- // Saint James breton top // Louis Vuitton scarf // Mulberry heels (old, but similar style here) // Karen Walker sunglasses // Michael Kors watch // The Cambridge Satchel Company bag (borrowed).
Beauty: Charlotte Tilbury lipstick in ‘Carina’s Love’ // Clarins blush in ‘Golden Pink’ c/-.

Whatever the new season holds for you, I hope it’s fulfilling and affirming. I’m looking forward to stepping into a new chapter and setting some fresh goals for the remainder of 2017!

Love, Briony xx

P.S. I’m always asked for advice about how to get into politics or government. Now that I can finally talk about my job (which wasn’t possible when I worked full-time in politics), let me know if you’d like a proper post on my career journey and advice. Just as importantly, I would love to start using this platform to share more posts like this and talk more about careers and issues that matter (and how we can all make a difference), so please let me know what you’d like to see!

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Photos by Joe Galvin

7 Things for the Weekend

Kate Spade eye mask (similar style here) // Next maribou slippers // The White Company bedlinen

My husband (still feels so weird saying that!) has a meeting in Oxford today, so I’m tagging along so that we can make a weekend of it. I’ve been many times before, but it’s one of my favourite cities and I’m excited to be having a mini escape for a couple of days. I’m looking forward to exploring all the colleges, visiting the museums, and sitting in tiny coffee shops with a book.

1 // Meet a friend for a gallery date. I always try to get to an exhibition at least once a month (we’re so lucky that all the public museums are free in the UK, meaning can pop in as often as you like), but I’ve really been binging on London’s culture the past few weeks. In the last fornight alone I’ve visited the Royal Academy for the Summer Exhibition (on until the 20th August), the National Portrait Gallery for the BP Portrait Award Exhibition (until the 24th September) and the Sir John Soanes Museum (an incredible cornucopia of treasures).

2 // Buy yourself a new dress. My diary seems to be jam-packed until the end of summer, with barely a day off until October. I ordered this dress (it might be the cutest thing I’ve bought all year) to take me everywhere from picnics and games of croquet in the park to garden parties and dinner with friends. I’ll wear it on its own with sunglasses and sandals for now, and a leather jacket and these white trainers for autumn.

3 // Treat yourself to a new perfume. I really had no need (!) for a new scent, but when I visited the Jo Malone boutique to choose my wedding fragrance, they had this candle burning. I hadn’t smelled it before but it was so gorgeous that I recently went back to buy the perfume version. I’ve been wearing it non-stop for the past week and have already been asked what I’m wearing at least once a day. It is fresh and delicious and unlike anything else I already owned.

4 // Celebrate your friends. My trans-Atlantic soul sister Nicolette and her friend Gabi launched her own plus-size clothing brand, Premme, last week and I could not be any more proud (and I made sure she knew it)! I wish I could order everything, but especially this kick-ass ‘Feminist AF’ denim jacket.

5 // Plot a winter getaway. We’re currently trying to figure out where to go on honeymoon (an African safari is currently in first place), but know we definitely want to go somewhere warm in January to escape the worst month of winter and have something to still look forward to. I can’t resist a whimsical globe, and have been spinning this one on my desk every day fantasising about all the places I want to visit.

6 // Upgrade your excess baggage. Whenever travelling or taking the train to London, I always seem to need a tote bag big enough to hold my laptop, water, book, camera, and all the other stuff I seem to need to carry around with me. I got this one at the start of summer thinking it would be great for weekends and vacations, but it’s actually so perfect for carting all my stuff around in (it’s SO sturdy and strong) that I’ve been using it practically every day. Bonus points for the French slogan and making me feel like I’ve just popped back from a week in Provence.

7 // Have a lazy Sunday morning, guilt-free. Pick up the weekend papers, brew some coffee, put on some jazz, and make your favourite brunch. Heaven!

However you’re spending it, have a lovely weekend everyone!

Love, Miss B xx

 

Married a Month!

A Girl, A Style _ We're Married

We did it!

As those of you who follow me on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook will know, we were married a month ago today in the most beautiful ceremony at Kings College in Cambridge. So many of you sent lovely messages of congratulations and wanting to know more about the details, so whilst we wait for the photos to come back, I thought I’d share some reflections on the day.

In the interests of full disclosure and saying the things no bridal blogger ever admits, I should preface this by saying I never really pictured myself as the ‘marrying’ kind. I didn’t ever dream of a big white wedding as a young girl, probably at least in part down to the fact I didn’t have the best example set by my own parents (who divorced spectacularly after 10 years) and my subsequent fear of divorce. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not against the institution of marriage per se, but it was never really a life goal of mine upon which I pinned my future happiness.

Yet despite my somewhat lukewarm feelings about getting married, none of this is to detract from my relationship – which has been a great source of happiness in my life for more than a decade. I met Mark 12.5 years ago (on New Year’s Eve), and from our very first date, we both knew we would be together for the long haul. But between two overseas moves (him to Japan, and then both of us to England), a PhD, first jobs, and buying our first home together, having a wedding just wasn’t the top priority. So we decided to go at our own happy snail’s pace until our 10th anniversary when he proposed. We had originally planned on getting married last summer (a year and a half seemed about right to give people advance notice for travel and to plan a wedding whilst working full time – without sending ourselves into a frenzy), but when we were told by King’s College that the Chapel was to be restored for much of the summer, we postponed until this summer (because it was worth waiting for and because scaffolding isn’t my vibe; not because we had cold feet!)

But as the wedding loomed, we started to get a bit overwhelmed by the stress of how much there was to do, how much of our savings we were spending (we were planning and paying for most things on our own), and by a few of the people we considered closest to us who couldn’t bring themselves to share in our joy (some of my closest family and friends showed zero interest, and my oldest friend had a meltdown both a week before and after the wedding). I confess that at one point, we both wished we had saved ourselves the stress and just eloped (and if people hadn’t already booked their flights a year in advance, we might have!)

As the day finally rolled around, it really was the most incredible experience to throw a wonderful big Cambridge party and get to declare our love for each other in front of so many people we love. I honestly couldn’t stop smiling from the moment I laid eyes on everyone in the Chapel to the moment we said our farewells, and I’ll treasure those memories always.

To be honest I’m still not a fully-fledged member of the ‘smug married’ club (in the words of Bridget Jones) just yet – I haven’t changed my name, the title ‘wife’ still makes me cringe a little, we haven’t been on honeymoon yet (we’re saving that for January), and there were so many outdated wedding traditions I chose to eschew on the day* – but we couldn’t be happier. Whilst we’ve been together so long that it doesn’t really feel any different to be married, there are definitely moments where we feel like more of an official ‘team’, and that’s a pretty great feeling.

Thank you all so much again for all your sweet messages; I read each and every one with a big smile on my face! If there’s anything in particular you want to see or know about the wedding, then please let me know in the comments below and I’ll try to share everything on here in the weeks to come.

Love, Miss B xx

* perhaps that is a subject deserving of its own post. There are so many wedding traditions that I love, but so many I just couldn’t bring myself to partake in. I asked on Twitter whether those of you who were married had chosen to keep their own names, take their partner’s name, or hyphenate the two, and I was so fascinated by all the responses on each side of the debate. 

 

Summer Picnic on the River Cam

A Girl, A Style _ Picnic at Kings College, CambridgeA Girl, A Style _ Sunday Picnic Cambridge Satchel Co Cloud Bag

Hello from Cambridge! Sincere apologies for the sporadic posting around here; this month is proving extra hectic between election campaigning (don’t forget to vote today!), wedding planning (and my inability to delegate anything), and trying to finish all my work projects in time to be be able to take a couple of weeks off to spend with friends and family (who will soon be arriving from all around the world).

Although these are all excellent reasons to be busy, it hasn’t left much room for downtime. Feeling overwhelmed and knowing my tendency to keep going until I burnout, I knew I needed to carve out a little time for self-care in the form of Vitamin D and switching off (read: ignoring my 7 inboxes for just a moment). So on the weekend amidst wedding admin at our venue, I grabbed my boyfriend, threw together a hasty picnic, and headed for the river to spend even an hour reading a book in the sunshine together.

A Girl, A Style _ Summer PicnicA Girl, A Style _ Eugenia Kim Daydreamer Straw HatA Girl, A Style _ Kings College CambridgeA Girl, A Style _ Cambridge Satchel French Blue Cloud BagA Girl, A Style _ Anthropologie Kinsey Gingham Dress

In summer I love those sunny, lazy days where you just switch off, throw on something that makes you smile, and spend the entire afternoon lazing in the park. And while this wasn’t quite one of those gloriously leisurely days, it was still exactly what I needed.

While it’s all too easy to wax lyrical about the importance of making room for fun (and I know blogs – including my own – can perpetuate this myth that everyone else is having the time of the lives whilst we’re chained to our desk / doing laundry / running around after children / etc.), sometimes even taking time out can feel like just another task on an already manageable ‘to do’ list.

But as our mini afternoon picnic reminded me, no matter how hectic things are – indeed, especially when things are hectic – it is so important to take an hour or two to just ignore everything you should be doing, get outside (instead of admiring the sunshine through your office window), and do whatever makes you feel happy. You’ll help avoid that dreaded feeling of ‘overwhelm’, make some new memories (because no amount of email-replying will do that), and come back feeling more calm and refreshed.

So here’s to us all remembering to put self-care at the top of the ‘to do’ list and carving out some indulgently lazy time every day.

A Girl, A Style _ Picnic on the River CamA Girl, A Style _ Picnic at Kings College Cambridge

Wearing: Anthropologie dress c/- (I also bought this similar version) // J.Crew sandals // Eugenia Kim hat (past season but similar style here + inexpensive version here) // Cambridge Satchel Co bag c/- (currently on 50% off here) // Anthropologie sunglasses // Kenneth Jay Lane bracelets // John Lewis picnic basket // Marks & Spencer picnic plates // H&M picnic rug (actually a linen tablecloth!)
Beauty: Deborah Lippmann ‘Naked’ nailpolish // Chantecaille ‘Sheen’ illuminator c/- // Clarins self tan (so good + smells like fig) // Charlotte Tilbury ‘Kim KW’ lipstick.

What are your best strategies for carving out downtime when your schedule threatens to overwhelm you? All tips gratefully received!

Love, Miss B xx

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Photos by Joe Galvin