Beauty: The Glittery Manicure (to Brighten Grey Days)

I recently did an easy tutorial for glittery nails over on The Glitter Guide, but as it has been such a constant in my winter beauty regime thus fur, it makes sense that I share one on here too. On grey and wintery days or during the holidays when you want your fingers to look as pretty as the decorations on the tree and the fireworks in the sky, there is nothing quite like the glint of glittery nails peeking out from a coat.

Get experimenting with the adorable glitter polishes that much to our delight are everywhere at the moment (I love those by Essie, OPI and Deborah Lippmann), and just have fun – no one ever said glitter should be serious!

Here’s how to do it yourself:

1. Clean and file nails. This means shape, buff and push back cuticles. (When wearing glitter always keep nails short, neat and rounded so the look stays cute and classy and never verges into trashy territory.) Apply a clear base coat to protect your nails and give the polish a surface to adhere to.

2. Choose your colors. All you need is one of your favorite nail polish colors and a fun glittery polish to go on top. Color combinations that either match (such as pink glitter on baby pink, silver glitter on dove grey) or compliment (rainbow glitter on red or burgundy, or pastel glitter with different sorbet colors are happy combinations) look best.

3. Twinkle and shine. Apply two coats of the solid colour as a base coat (in this case I used the lovely lavender Nails Inc ‘Cambridge’ – named after the city I live/love – though any pastel will do). With your glitter polish you can either do a simple glittery topcoat (one or two coats depending on how dense you want the glitter), a dense glitter (three to four coats for a super razzle-dazzle effect – you can skip the base color if going for this look), dots, stripes, or a combination of anything that takes your fancy. To get the ombre effect I’ve done here (using Essie’s darling pink ‘A Cut Above’), remove the excess from the brush then just paint the glitter on the tips, bringing it down slightly towards the centre of the nail with whatever is left for a gradual fade effect (I did coats this way so the look was more obvious). Don’t worry about being too perfect – it will look like a lovely sprinkling of loose glitter however you paint it on.

4. Maintain. Seal with a top coat to make everything smooth (this will also make your polish last longer). If you get a few tiny chips after a day or two, the beauty of glitter polish is that you can easily patch up the area with a teeny bit of base colour and glitter topcoat without anyone noticing.

5. Remove: Several people have asked me how to remove glitter (it is notoriously stubborn, though as it does tend to last a few days more than regular polish alone, it all evens out in the end in terms of removal time), and I’ve found that filling the cap of your nailpolish remover (or a little glass dish) with remover solution and soaking each nail in there for about 30 seconds to a minute helps it just slide off.

What is your favourite quick beauty fix to help brighten grey days?

Love, Miss B xx

Christmas Joy

It is Christmas Eve here in London, and I could not be filled with more joy. After weeks of working up a frenzy in the political day job, it feels utterly glorious to have at last collapsed into the giant marshmallow-squishy sofa at my English family’s place right beside the big Christmas tree (complete with pine smell, fairy lights and vintage ornaments from generations of the family) as the lights of West London twinkle outside behind me.

Although Christmas as an expat will always evoke bittersweet nostalgic memories of loved ones who are either no longer here (my darling Mama) or on the other side of the world in Australia, there is something so very exciting about a northern hemisphere Christmas. Whereas in Australia Christmas, falling in the midst of the Southern Hemisphere summer, was always celebrated with lunch and cocktails and games in the garden outside, here I can happily indulge all the Christmas traditions that, due to the heat, one simply can’t enjoy with quite the same enthusiasm in Australia.

And so I plan to spend the next few days doing the following in as high a dose as possible (in no particular order): sitting beside the fireplace with the scent of Christmas candles burning, baking gingerbread men and roasting chestnuts, eating chocolate for breakfast (because Christmas is the only time, aside from Easter, when this is permissible behaviour as a grownup), going for long walks along the Thames to avoid a state of food-induced coma, going to watch the Nutcracker and the great British pantomime with the family, wearing all the sparkles in my wardrobe, attempting to work my way through my stack of as yet unread magazines, and cramming in as many Christmas movies (the cheesier and more childlike, the better) as the family and Clever Boyfriend will possibly allow me.

So, to each and every one of you, whether you celebrate Christmas or another equally precious set of traditions, I send you love and joy and good wishes from London. I am so very grateful for all your kindness and support and sweet comments, tweets and emails which make me smile every single day of the year.

Love, Miss B xx

Giveaway: A Little Ralph Lauren Holiday Cheer

The most divine package landed on my desk yesterday morning; the utterly charming and lovely Ralph Lauren (the undisputed Godfather of that polished glamour I love so much) sent me over a couple of his ‘Holiday’ candles to put a great big smile on my face and instantly get me in the festive spirit.

I love beautiful scented candles more than almost any other small luxury for the home, and this one is amongst the best I’ve ever tried. The fragrant cocktail of pine needles, redcurrants, cinnamon and juniper berries is almost indescribably lovely, and it has instantly infused me with festive joy more than any of the mince pies and Rat Pack Christmas tunes I’ve been gorging on all week. And as if by some Christmas miracle, it started snowing outside my window here in Cambridge just after I lit it. I can’t tell you how much it filled me with glee to awake this morning to the sight of a fluffy layer of white icing on the ground and a house that smelt of Christmas. How’s that for a magical holiday candle?

And because I adore you all so much and want someone else to have a little of Ralph Lauren’s holiday cheer (I can’t promise it will bring you snow, but I am sure one smell of this will make you feel instantly happy and festive), I’m going to give one of the these away.

To enter, just leave a comment here or send me an email telling me why you’d like to win. For extra brownie points (though I’m by no means going to be bossy about and insist you do anything), follow A Girl, A Style via your preferred methods (Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram (on iPhone/iPad) or Bloglovin‘), and Ralph Lauren’s Facebook page. Be sure to include your email address so that I can contact you if you win. And so that I can try my very best to get it to the winner in time for Christmas day, last entries by 11am Monday morning GMT. 

Thank you Ralph Lauren for the holiday cheer!

Love, Miss B xx

Update: Thank you to all who entered, and congratulations to Barbara on winning!

Paris: The Chanel Christmas Windows at Printemps

This year, Chanel have taken over the entire storefront of Printemps, that grand dame of the Parisian department stores on Boulevard Haussmann, for Christmas.

And given my adoration for all things Chanel, it was a given that a visit to the grand department store would go straight to the top of my Parisian ‘To Do’ list when I found myself in Paris the week after the unveiling of the windows.

And oh, what a fantastical vision these holiday windows are!

Within each of the 12 windows, Karl Lagerfeld has brought to life twelve miniature Chanel worlds – one for each of his favourite places (one can presume).

Some, such as those dedicated to Paris (where miniature Karl Lagerfelds swing from Parisian landmarks playing photographer extraodinaire) and Moscow (where tiny ballerinas leap and twirl and pirouette to the soundtrack of the Ballet Ruses) just invite passers-by to press their noses against the window to see the puppet show unfold. Others, like the Tokyo (Thunderbirds–esque puppets sailing past the Japanese skyscrapers in futuristic flying cars) and Los Angeles (where Pan Am pilots smooch the primping trolly dollies) will simply make you giggle out loud.

Each of the others were new manifestations of past collections, with some my favourite items brought back from the archives. There were treasures nestled beneath a giant red dragon in the Shanghai window (I could barely pull myself away from the sequinned Chanel takeaway noodle boxes, jade dragon brooches and China doll bags), an ode to glam rock Brittania (where bags were adorned with the Union Jack), Scandanavian deer merrily wearing jewels around their necks, and scenes from a grand Ventian ball (complete with fine china, glittering frog princes and a giant crystal chandelier).

So if I make one request of you all before the year is out, it is this: should you find yourself in Paris before Christmas (a happy thought in itself), then do go to Printemps, if only to press your nose against the magical Chanel windows!

Do you love Christmas windows too? Where are your favourite holiday windows this year?

Love, Miss B xx