How To Be Both: On Style + Intellect

A Girl, A Style _ Little Black JacketA Girl, A Style _ Marc Jacobs BlouseJ.Crew jacket // Marc Jacobs blouse // J.Crew skirt // Chanel bag // Charlotte Olympia heels // Celine sunglasses // Charlotte Tilbury lipstick

This post was originally meant to be about those wardrobe staples I rely on – the little black skirt, a white silk blouse, my well-worn Chanel bag – but lately I’ve had so many emails from younger readers asking for advice on how to juggle an interest in style and fashion with their first job, a career, or a social conscience. This somewhat took me by surprise, until I remembered that I was that girl not so long ago.

When I landed my first big internship during university – working for a US Senator on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. – I had no idea how to dress for my first entry into my future career in politics. So the week before my departure, in a panic and on a student budget, I raced to every shop desperately trying to find anything that would make me look serious, intelligent, and like less of an outsider than I was.

A Girl, A Style _ Little Black Jacket 5A Girl, A Style _ Little Black Jacket 3A Girl, A Style _ Little Black Jacket 7A Girl, A Style _ Charlotte Olympia Kitty Heels + Chanel Timeless Bag

I knew no women in politics from which to ask advice, there was no such thing as style bloggers, and there were as yet no political dramas that portrayed strong female characters who were both stylish and brilliant. So I presumed that to be taken seriously, I should show up looking as ‘serious’ as possible, and eschew any signs of femininity – lest an interest in fashion marked me out as frivolous. My suitcase was full of cheap black suits, boring shirts, and ‘sensible’ shoes I thought would make me look professional. I didn’t look ‘more intelligent’, I just looked like an 18 year old trying to dress like a boring 40-something. And because I love you all, here is the hideous photographic proof to illustrate my point.

I went far in that internship, and it opened so many doors when I got back to Australia and started my career in politics. But I wasn’t noticed because I was wearing sensible shoes and no makeup; it was because I showed up at 8am each morning and didn’t leave until 8pm, volunteered for more and more responsibility, worked hard, and knew my stuff. Wearing lipstick and a pretty blouse wouldn’t have changed my success in that role (and for what it’s worth, I was still sexually harassed by two male Senators regardless of what I was wearing, simply because I was young and female – not because of how I was dressed).

Of course it’s important to be well-groomed and mindful of dress codes in the workplace, and in much the same way you wouldn’t wear a silk ballgown to the beach, or denim shorts to afternoon tea at Claridge’s, some things will never be office-appropriate. But over the years, thanks in part to having more female role models to look up to, but also due to my growing confidence in my own abilities, I learned that you don’t have to sacrifice your own style, feminininty or personality to be taken seriously. I still wear a suit from time to time (though now it’s a black tuxedo that I team it with a silk top + a great necklace rather than an ugly shirt), but nowadays you’re more likely to find me in a dress or a skirt in which I feel like myself.

A Girl, A Style _ Little Black Jacket 2A Girl, A Style _ Chanel + J.Crew Lady JacketWearing: J.Crew jacket (I also love this spot versionthis navy version) // Marc Jacobs blouse // J.Crew skirt (past season, but very similar style here) // Chanel bag // Charlotte Olympia heels (also in flats + this summer version which I’m definitely going to need) // Wolford tights // Celine sunglasses // Michael Kors watch // BaubleBar earrings c/- // Chanel brooch.
Beauty note: Charlotte Tilbury ‘Carina’s Love’ lipstick // Deborah Lippmann ‘Shape of my Heart’ nail polish. 

Because an interest in fashion and intellect are not mutually exclusive, and a preference for Louboutins over sensible footwear does not diminish the fact I have three university degrees, graduated top of my politics class, or have successfully negotiated a bill through Parliament.

Putting on a pair of cute heels for the office won’t lessen your intelligence, caring about fashion doesn’t make you less of a feminist, and you won’t be taken less seriously for wearing lipstick to a political rally.

So here’s to all the brilliant, smart, and politically-aware girls in the great outfits! You deserve to be there as much as anyone.

Love, Miss B xx

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Photos by Joe Galvin

Three Days in Paris

Wearing at top: Whistles coat (now on sale here + also seen here) // Chanel bag // Topshop brooches (on coat) // Kenneth Jay Lane bracelets // Tom Ford sunglasses // Mac ‘Ruby Woo’ lipstick. 

One of the definite perks of living in Europe is that there is a wealth of marvellous cities just a couple of hours away (vs Australia, where flying anywhere takes about 20 hours). My friend Grace was was coming to town from New York a few weeks ago, and when we were making plans she asked if I also wanted to join her in Paris after her stay in London. I thought about it for all of two seconds before saying ‘oui‘. One of my resolutions for 2017 was to do more of what I love, more often. And Paris and wonderful girlfriends definitely both fall into that category.

So I put on my out-of-office, hopped on an early Eurostar, and just three hours after leaving my house found myself stepping off the metro and into the glorious sunshine in Paris. As Grace was flying and thus arriving an hour later (I’ve since educated her on the merits of getting a Eurostar instead of a flight between London and Paris), I found a charming little cafe around the corner from our apartment and holed up with my laptop and the biggest coffee the French do (translation: tiny).

We headed upstairs to the tres incroyable One Fine Stay apartment we were lucky enough to call home for the next two nights, and it was everything we could have wanted in our fantasy Parisian apartment – just steps from Le Louvre above a florist on Rue St Honore and all marble, chic design elements and sweeping French windows. After tearing ourselves away, we wandered down the road to the Palais Royale. In the springtime – when the roses are in full bloom and all the Parisians sit around the fountain with their weekend papers – it’s one of my favourite places in the world, but it’s still utterly lovely in the winter too. Our first stop was to Cafe Kitsune for coffee (like the blogger cliches that we are), before finding a little cafe nearby for a late lunch outside in the sunshine. We sat and caught up on life over champagne and Croque Monsieurs, and just happily people-watched for hours. I could think of worse ways to spend a Friday afternoon…

One of the joys of visiting a city you’ve both been to many times before is that instead of feeling you have to rush around to see everything, you can just move slowly with no agenda and do exactly as you please. So after lunch in the park, we went for a stroll around the neighbourhood with nowhere in particular to be but all of Paris to enjoy. For dinner, we headed to Tannat – the most wonderful little neighbourhood restaurant a little out of the way, but entirely worth the metro ride – where we caught up with Lindsey (who is an American writer living in Paris and is basically living my dream) over French onion soup which we all agreed was so good, it was practically life-changing.

As Grace and I had both only recently visited Paris with our boyfriends, we wanted to spend hours shopping – not exactly something you can do with a man in tow, no matter how patient (my fiancé has a one hour shopping threshold, so I have to use it wisely). And as we were staying on Rue St Honore, we didn’t have far to go.

We started with brunch in the sunshine at Cafe Marly (on the terrace of the Louvre), before heading to Astier de Villate at no. 173 – one of my favourite purveyors of delicious homewares, but also rather devastatingly expensive. Next it was onto Collette, one of my favourite boutiques, at no. 213 where we fell for embroidered shoes by Tabitha Simmons and bags by Olympia Le-Tan, and sniffed our way around the beauty room (always one of my favourite spots to discover cool new beauty products), where I convinced Grace to buy a bottle of Byredo’s Pulp perfume (we have the same taste in fragrance and as I’d just acquired my first bottle for my birthday and am now quite obsessed, I knew she’d love it too). After a pause at Diptyque at no. 330, it was on to the really excellent spots. We went to Goyard at no. 233 to fantasy shop, but Grace fell for a chic white clutch bag which she took home. Whilst we were there, two guys came in with their adorable dogs to have them fitted for Goyard collars… only in Paris!

A detour via Annick Goutal (where I again convinced Grace to buy a bottle of Petite Cherie – my favourite summer perfume) and the new Laduree macaron boutique on Rue Castiglione, and then onto Chanel on Rue Cambon. I fell deeply in love with this blush pink bag (below), but thought I should exercise some restraint (that is quite the hefty impulse buy…) and ‘sleep on it’. Alas, the next day the store was closed, and two failed transfers to the London store later, I’m still trying to hunt it down to make it mine.

Well and truly window shopped-out, we headed to Hotel Costes for a glass of pink champagne (and a peek at the hotel’s florist, exploding with perfumed roses). I’d been listening to Costes’ annual albums (the perfect French lounge soundtrack for lazy weekends) for the past decade, but had only ever visited the florist in person. My tip is to avoid the terrace (devoid of ambience and full of smokers) where they’ll try to seat you if you’re not staying at the hotel, and request a seat in the bar or one of the smaller rooms (all plush upholstery and crimson walls). Even if you only go for one drink and a peek at the hotel, it’s the perfect spot for a special treat next time you’re in Paris.

Afterwards, it was time for dinner, and we were both in the mood for a proper French supper. I suggested we head to the Left Bank, where all the iconic bistros sit – Cafe de Flore, Le Deux Magots, Cafe Bonaparte and Brasserie Lipp. So we hopped in a car and 10 minutes later found ourselves tucked into the corner table at Brasserie Lipp, imagining all the great artists, philosophers and literary greats who had dined in that same spot before us.

After far too many carbs, we decided to skip the metro and walk back to the apartment. It was a beautiful evening for it, and we strolled down Rue Bonaparte, across the Pont des Arts – pausing to take in the lights reflected in the Seine and the Eiffel Tower glittering in the distance – through the Louvre and back to Rue St Honore. We fell into our beds, full and happy.

The next day, we strolled to Le Marais – my favourite neighbourhood in Paris. Grace was hankering for crepes, so I led us to Creperie Suzette; it’s where I had my very first meal in Paris about 12 years ago when I stumbled upon it by accident (and miraculously I remembered the way this day). We sat outside and had the most delicious goats cheese crepes as a jolly French band played all my favourite jazz standards on the other side of the pavement. It felt like the perfect cinematic moment, and we couldn’t have been happier.

Given the face Grace and I are both art obsessives, we can never go to Paris without visiting at least one gallery. So after a quite turn around Place des Vosges (one of my favourite spots in all of Paris) we headed to the Musee de Picasso nearby. Unfortunately half of the museum was closed for re-hanging and so we only got to see half of the collection, but it was still worth the visit to learn more about the man himself (and gives me a good reason to return again soon and see the rest).

Sadly Grace then had to leave to get her flight back to New York, so we walked back to the apartment and said a fond farewell (happily I’ll get to see her again in a few months) and I headed up to Montmartre with my bags to see my friend Anne. After chocolate tarts from Hardware Societe (I feel it’s perfectly acceptable to forgo normal nutrition in favour of pastry when in Paris…) we walked all over the bohemian neighbourhood for hours until night fell – past the Sacre Coeur (which she lives right beside) and its vantage point over the rooftops of Paris, past the artists and the tiny cafes in the Place du Tertre, up and down picture-prefect stairways, past windmills and vineyards and cabarets, and through the Place des Abbesses. I love having friends all over the world, and it’s always such a treat to have my own personal French tour guide when I’m in town.


Wearing: Zara top (similar style herehere) // Chanel bag // Celine sunglasses. 

Finally, tired from walking but heart full of new Parisian memories with dear friends, it was time to head to Gare du Nord for my train home. Until next time, au revoir Paris!

Love, Miss B xx

P.S. You can see Grace’s post from our trip here!

7 Things For the Weekend

A Girl, A Style: Cafe Bonaparte, Paris

Bonjour! I’m writing this from a little café on Rue Saint Honoré in Paris where I’ve escaped for an impromptu weekend away. My friend Grace is in town from New York and invited me to to join her for a weekend adventure together. The sun is shining and we have no plans other than to visit a few galleries (we’re staying next to the Louvre) and do as many of our favourite Parisian things as we can manage (sincere apologies in advance for the inevitable macaron spam on Instagram).

French pastries aside, here’s my roundup of suggestions for the week ahead:

1. Make a date with your favourite gallery-loving friend to see an exhibition near you. Grace and I went to see the David Hockney exhibition at Tate Britain after work on Wednesday and it was marvellous. Although I had hoped to see the full collection of his portraits, I adored seeing the evolution of his style and the exquisite explosion of colour (his Malibu series – set against a pink backdrop – is a particularly good antidote to a rainy day). If you’re a fellow art enthusiast and in London between now and the end of May, be sure to go and see it.

2. I’ve just finished re-reading this book, and it’s the perfect bedtime read (for when you can’t face anything too intellectually-demanding). I love the idea of setting your own happiness project each month and figuring out what works best for you (my January theme was ‘family’, February is ‘what I love’, and March will be ‘organising’).

3. I loved this post by my friend Carly on how to meet people. I remember the anguish I felt when I first moved to Cambridge and realised that aside from my boyfriend (with whom I moved), all my friends were now on the other side of the world in Australia. Great advice for any fellow-introverts and those who find themselves alone in a new city.

4. Try a new workout. I confess that after life got in the way over Christmas, I completely fell out of my exercise routine the past couple of months and am now struggling to get back in the swing of things (nothing more demoralising than realising you can only lift half the weights you could a couple of months ago). So I’m shaking things up with some cute new trainers, some different classes and a weekly trainer in between to keep my motivation up.

5. If you haven’t already, start planning a spring adventure. I’m thinking of heading to New York with my aunt and cousin for some much-needed happy family time up after losing my beloved uncle to cancer last month. A picnic in Central Park, tea at the Plaza, an afternoon at the Met and a glittering Broadway show seem like a good cure for the blues. (P.S. If you’re also heading that way, this is my favourite guide to NYC).

6. I know there’s still two months of winter weather remaining, but I can’t help but think of Spring days ahead. Although I won’t get to wear it for a couple of months, I just ordered this perfect blush lace midi dress (it looks like Self Portrait but is only £35) to wear the moment I can step outside sans-tights!

7. Send someone you love a surprise in the mail, for no reason other than that you appreciate them and want to make them smile. I was sent this gorgeous Jo Malone candle last week – just because – and it completely cheered me up at the end of a particularly stressful day. Now I smile every time I burn it!

Wishing you all a wonderful weekend!

Love from Paris,
Miss B xx

 

Faux Fur Security Blankets + Coffee Dates

A Girl, A Style _ The Faux Fur JacketA Girl, A Style _ Cambridge Satchel Co Cloud Bag + Fitzbillies Chelsea Bun

Well, we made it through January! Between the current state of world political affairs (which I just can’t, and won’t ignore) and losing my beloved Uncle to cancer, it definitely goes down as one of the most emotionally taxing months I’ve known for a while. But no matter how trying the times, there’s always a way through. For me, that means reverting to my most introverted tendencies and taking it one day at a time until the storm passes; temporarily eschewing anything not immediately urgent or essential in favour of quiet hibernation, familiar comforts and small pleasures, and doing what I can to help make things a bit better for others worse off than me (as my readers so wisely reminded me, there’s no shame in admitting that life isn’t always Instagram-perfect, and the world is definitely not perfect right now).

While the January might be the most depressing month of the year in the Northern Hemisphere when it comes to the weather, those cold, dark nights do make for the perfect guilt-free excuse to embrace cosy hibernation and battery-resetting JOMO (the joy of missing out, or not having to fill your diary with important events and exciting adventures).

A Girl, A Style _ Faux Fur JacketA Girl, A Style _ The White Fur JacketA Girl, A Style _ Fitzbillies, Cambridge Instagram

So while I could quite happily tuck myself indoors until winter is over with a stack of books, a Netflix queue of old movies, and a coffee table laden with Diptyque candles, the reality is that I have an office to go to (and a heaving workload to go with it), political causes to rally behind, wedding plans to make, and friends to see (who probably think I’ve gone and fallen off the face of the earth).

And if I can’t literally wrap myself in a furry blanket indoors, I’ll be wearing the closest thing I can (on days when a duvet and/or pyjamas are not socially acceptable). This outfit is pretty much the lazy girl’s guide to cold-weather glamour: a fur jacket that looks polished but feels like a cosy bear hug, a pair of black jeans that go with anything and require zero thought, red lipstick (to give the appearance of having made an effort), and a couple of fun accessories to make you smile. Fact (according to me): it’s scientifically proven your day will be 20% better when accompanied by sparkly shoes (that you can walk in) and a whimsical bag (that can still fit all the essentials).

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to need another flat white and a blowdry to face February front-on.

A Girl, A Style _ The Best Coffee Shop in CambridgeA Girl, A Style _ Cambridge Satchel Co Star Print Cloud Bag

Wearing: Cambridge Satchel Co cloud bag (plain navy version here) c/- // Unreal Fur jacket (past season but similar style here) // GAP jeans c/- // Self Portrait top (just seen; on sale here) // J.Crew heels (past season but similar style here) // Chanel brooch // Z by Accessorize rose gold crystal ring // ASOS gold horseshoe ring // Alex Monroe gold love ring.
Beauty: Charlotte Tilbury ‘Carina’s Love’ lipstick // NARS ‘Gaiety’ blush // Deborah Lippmann ‘Naked’ nail polish.

How are you making it through winter? Please send all your loveliest hibernation tips my way!

Love, Miss B xx

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This post is in partnership with the Cambridge Satchel Company. Photos by Joe Galvin.