7 Things for the Weekend

A Girl, A Style _ Brooklyn New YorkWearing: By Malene Birger dress (old, but similar style here) // Valentino bag // Karen Walker sunglasses // Kenneth Jay Lane bracelets (similar style here) // Dune sandals.

Hello lovelies! The past two weeks have absolutely flown by around here. I’ve been trying to make the most of the sunshine and have been cramming in as many hours outdoors as possible (hours spent reading in the park, having picnics, and weekend brunch outdoors with friends). This Sunday I’m so excited to be heading back to New York for a week! I’m actually going for a press trip with a few fellow bloggers to see Michael Buble (*faints with excitement*) and then I’ve extended my stay by a few days to catch up with my friends and just soak up the city. If you have any suggestions for great new cafes to try, your favourite things to do in the city, or how to score tickets to Hamilton, please leave me a comment below!

1. Is the weather going to be nice where you are? There’s only a month left of summer so make sure you get out and enjoy it. Last weekend y cousin came to stay and we got ice cream, lazed by the river, had a picnic and saw an excellent performance of Shakespeare’s ‘As You Like It’ in the Kings College Fellows’ garden at sunset. It was just perfect. If you’re in Cambridge in the next couple of weeks, try to get to one of the productions of the Cambridge Shakespeare Festival (they perform a different play in each of the college gardens and it’s one of our very favourite annual summer traditions).

2. I have lots of beautiful perfumes, but when I wear this fragrance, I literally get stopped on the street to ask what I’m wearing. I’ve never been to the Mediterranean Riviera, but I imagine this is how summer holidays there must smell. I have a major thing for Aerin (both the woman and the brand), but this is by far my favourite from her perfume collection.

3. I had a bit of a pre-emptive packing panic ahead of New York this morning and ordered a couple of new summer dresses, including this cu-ute little white number. I’m really not ready to say goodbye to summer dressing just yet, and thankfully it’s meant to be scorching hot everyday that I’m there, so I only want to wear dresses that pack well and that I can just throw on with sandals, sunglasses and little more.

4. Filling my home with art and prints I love is proving to be a very slow process (mostly because it takes me forever to get around to framing everything), but I’m gradually getting there. I just added this marvellous print to my collection and can’t wait to hang it by my desk (I also love the ‘London‘ and ‘Paris‘ prints).

5. Lipstick is one of my ultimate treats, and I recently indulged in two of the new ‘Hot Lips’ collection by Charlotte Tilbury (the 60s pink Bosworth’s Beauty + the perfect nude Kim KW) and they’re just as good as the hype. So good in fact that I’m going to go back for the fuchsia Electric Poppy.

6. When I travel, I always try and take a book set in the same city as the one I’m visiting. I bought this book from Strand Books (one of my favourite bookstores in the world) when I was in New York last May, and was so enthralled I’d finished it by the time my return flight touched down at Heathrow. It was so good the first time, I’m packing it again for this trip (and will pick up another New York-themed book while I’m out there).

7. Every September I get that ‘back to school’ feeling and become obsessed with organising everything; life admin, working through my absurdly bulging ‘to do’ lists, and getting back on track with my New Year’s resolutions. Although I put all my appointments in my phone calendar, I still love keeping a proper agenda for scribbling all my thoughts, ideas and daily lists. I’ve just ordered this 16 month 2016-17 Kate Spade version (my annual favourite), but I also love this striped version.

P.S. Don’t forget you can follow me over on InstagramTwitterPinterest and Facebook for daily updates + catch my latest posts (in case you missed them) here: 

Life: On seeking (and finding) that summer mindset + how I’ve been having the best summer yet
Travel: A weekend spent exploring beautiful Brussels
Style: A technicolour rainbow on the amazing island of Burano, Venice
Style: Weekend brunch dates in Notting Hill + the perfect little white dress for summer

As always, please do let me know what you’re buying, doing or enjoying this week in the comments below (I always love reading your favourites).  I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Love, Miss B xx

 

How to Have the Best Summer Ever: on Seeking (and Finding) that Summer State of Mind

A Girl, A Style _ Summer State of Mind

Remember those heady days of our youth when school would break up for the year and we’d have the whole summer stretched out before us like a sea of possibilities? Honestly, I had forgotten what that feeling was like.

Between my university years (when I’d spend the entire summer holidays either working or getting as many internships under my belt as I could), and adulthood (when years of being a type-A workaholic had tricked me into thinking I couldn’t possibly take a proper vacation or things would fall apart at work in my absence), summer had a habit of slipping by before I had even paused to take a moment to enjoy it. Other than a few lovely Sunday adventures and afternoon picnics in the park, too often I’d over-schedule my life to such a degree or feel so guilty taking any downtime just for me that ‘summer’ became something I merely admired from my office window at work (I must sound like a bundle of fun right about now…)

So this summer, rather than planning my weekends and evenings to within an inch of my life, I did precisely the opposite: with the exception of work, I have virtually cleared my diary for the entire duration of summer. My usual ‘bucket list’ (you can see last year’s list here, should you need a little inspiration for your own adventures) was this year replaced by just three simple goals:

1) when the weather is nice, get outside and enjoy it (instead of spending entire weekends doing battle with my inbox and life admin ‘to do’ list); 
2) give yourself permission to take time away from work to travel and explore new places;
3) do things I enjoy when I feel like it with people I love. 

And you know what happened? I’ve been having the very best summer of my life.

Because rather than carefully organising my free time to maximise the fun (there’s nothing that says ‘fun’ quite like military-level planning…) but then being horribly disappointed when it inevitably rained that day or friends had to cancel, I am learning to be truly impromptu and listen to what I need or feel like that week. When the stress of ‘Brexit‘ got all too much a couple of months ago, I escaped to Italy on a whim (I couldn’t seem to relax at home so joined my boyfriend in Bologna where he had a conference, and we turned it into a mini vacation); it was neither expensive or planned-out and yet it turned out to be one of the best trips of my life. The other day we saw the weather forecast looked good and found a great deal on a hotel, so booked a last-minute weekend in Brussels (and again had such a fun time).

Closer to home, having my evenings free has also meant saying ‘yes’ to things like punting on the river, impromptu dinner parties, or dates with friends (that I normally have to schedule months in advance because we’re all so busy). I found myself blowing off sunny Friday afternoons (which these days are ordinarily reserved for working on my blog) to get ice cream and sit by the river talking for hours on end with Caroline. The other day I met my dear friend Sasha for a last-minute trip to the theatre (after trying unsuccessfully to coordinate our schedules for about a year) and when we were having such a fun time that I literally missed my last train home, rather than suffering first-grade anxiety (as would be my usual response), I just went back to her place for a sleepover followed by brunch and a long walk through Regents Park the next morning.

And just today, when all my afternoon blog meetings were cancelled at the very last-minute, rather than getting stressed about the wasted time and journey to London, I met my friend Charlotte for a walk in St James’s Park (we were meant to go to an exhibition at the Tate but the weather was so glorious we both decided it would have been rude to be indoors and so changed our plans). When she had to dash off to get her train, I carried on lazing in the park beneath the shade of a an enormous fig tree to just watch the clouds float by and write this post (rather than racing home to work from my desk or having an internal meltdown that my post wasn’t up by lunchtime, as I usually would have done).

And so it was while sitting beneath this very tree, giving myself permission to just spend a couple of hours relaxing, that I realised I had accidentally struck upon that summer state of mind I spent years trying to find (or in my business, forgetting to even look for).

Whilst I still spend many a sunny day admiring the blue sky through the window at my office rather than on the beach, I’ve learned that the elusive goal of having ‘the best summer ever’ is not just about working through a ‘to do’ list of fun (or worse, being so busy I forget to make any time for fun at all).

But rather, as I have discovered this year, it’s about a state of mind: that vacation feeling of having a vague idea of what we want to see and do, but generally going where we like – at our own pace – when the mood strikes us. It’s saying ‘yes’ to new experiences when the opportunity presents itself, making new memories and exploring new places (or familiar places, from a new perspective, and playing tourist in our own city), having impromptu adventures whenever the sun is shining, or simply just spending the entire day lazing in the park if what we really feel like doing is nothing at all. In the first instance that means having the schedule that allows freedom (none of my usual type-A tendencies allowed, and of course it helps that we don’t have children to throw into the scheduling equation). But more inportantly, it is about giving ourselves the permission to just have fun and do as we please.

A concept I’d long-since forgotten from the days of my youth, but which I’m so happy to have rediscovered at last.

Here’s to the maintaining that vacation mindset, all summer long!

Wishing you all a wonderful weekend. And however you find yourself spending the rest of your summer, I hope it’s the best one yet!

Love, Miss B xx

 

7 Things for the Weekend

A Girl, A Style _ Weekends in the Park
Pictured: hat // book // sunglasses // dress // sandals // bracelet

Summer has finally arrived here in England, so I’m trying to make the most of every free hour. This weekend will involve bike rides, lazing in the park with my love, and Sunday brunch and a trip to the flower market with my friend. I wish these long balmy days could last forever.

1. Last weekend, after a late Saturday night at a glittering Cambridge ball, we spent all of Sunday afternoon lazing in the Botanical Gardens. We packed a little picnic, found a peaceful corner, and spent hours and hours just reading beside each other beneath the shade of a big tree. I started The Versions Of Us (which had been sitting in my ‘to read’ pile for at least a year) and haven’t been able to put it down since (bonus points for being set in Cambridge). It’s meant to be lovely all weekend, so I know where I’ll be tomorrow morning…

2. How are your 2016 goals and resolutions going? We’ve over half-way through the year, so now is the perfect time to assess how things are going and put in motion actions to get where you want to be by the time the year is out. Personally, I’m trying to have more spontaneous adventures and travel more often, get better at balancing every part of my life, and actually turn up to barre class every week.

3. Do you need a palm-print teapot? Of course not. But it sure beats a sad tea bag in a mug. I ordered this one recently and it makes me smile every time I use it (and I’m pretty sure I score bonus adult points for actually using a teapot).

4. Business in the front, party in the back: obviously I’m going to need these cute little ankle-strap pumps for work (and weekends, and everywhere in between…)

5. Ok, I probably need a Self Portrait intervention but, well, it’s just so very lovely (and the quality of labels triple the price). I just added this blouse to my collection and it’s true sartorial love.

6. Have you read Lena Dunham’s piece on our addiction to apologising? Even though I know that as a woman it’s incredibly disempowering to say ‘sorry’ a hundred times a day – sorry for having an opinion, sorry when someone else is rude to me, and sorry for one of the many balls I’ve failed to juggle that day (not seeing my friends enough, not leaving the office early enough to spend any time with my fiancé, forgetting to do something important) – it’s a habit I have trouble shaking. Do you say sorry more than you should?

7. We’ve lived in our place for exactly two years now, yet still most of our walls are completely naked. So I’ve resolved to finally set about getting all my pictures framed (including my beloved Gray Malin aerial prints) and putting up a gallery wall.

P.S. Don’t forget you can follow me over on InstagramTwitterPinterest and Facebook for daily updates + catch my latest posts (in case you missed them) here: 
Style: The best little white dress + coffee dates in Notting Hill
Life: On freedom, love and politics
Style: Punting on the River Cam with friends

As always, please do let me know what you’re buying, doing or enjoying this week in the comments below (I always love reading your favourites).  I hope you all have a wonderful long weekend!

Love, Miss B xx

 

On Freedom, Politics and Love

A Girl, A Style _ Politics and Love

Hi lovelies! Apologies for the radio silence around these parts the past couple of weeks. Following a glorious week in Italy (more on that later), I spent every waking hour campaigning for the EU referendum here in the UK (for unglamorous proof, see here), and every day since trying to find the words and come to terms with the enormity of what has happened.

Most of you will know I work in politics by day, so caring about what is going on is literally my job.  But the past week was on another level, and even Lord Dobbs would probably dismiss the events that ensued as too far-fetched a plotline for a season of House of Cards.

For those outside the UK trying to grasp exactly what ‘Brexit’ means and what on earth is going on, in summary: against the warnings of just about every economist, expert and world-leader the UK public voted to leave the European Union (a result no one predicted or expected), the global economy immediately went into freefall (the £ tumbled to its lowest level in 40 years and three trillion $ was immediately wiped off the international market), the ‘Leave’ camp retracted their main campaign promises within hours of claiming victory (as ‘not actually possible’), internal party warfare even stranger than fiction (seriously; you couldn’t make up the events of this week in Westminster) broke out in both the Government and Opposition parties immediately afterwards, the breakup of Great Britain seems highly likely (Scotland have said they now want to leave and Ireland is considering reunification, leaving just England and Wales), and no one can predict quite what will happen next or when we will regain stability. In short, we’re in the midst of the greatest crisis of identity for generations.

For me, the most worrying part of all of this is the rise of extreme nationalism and the resulting deep division that has emerged in the UK since the vote; at the moment, it feels like we’re a country divided like no other point in recent history. I, like most, had assumed that these sentiments were confined to the far-right fringes of society, but the result proves that is not the case. Nor is it confined to the UK; last week’s vote just echoes the political and ideological shifts happening elsewhere in the US and many parts of Europe.

And let’s be honest, for many, hate is a powerful political motivator; hate of that which we cannot understand, of those who are different to us, or of ways of life unlike our own. But I like to think there is something more important than hatred: love. Whether it be in the form of compassion, generosity, equality or tolerance (for those the same, different, or less fortunate than us), love is worth so much more than hatred, and must be defended accordingly.

We have made great progress and strides towards kindness and equality, but there is still much more to be done. We are extremely fortunate to at last be in a place where the right to vote is almost universal (though let us not forget that there are still too many countries where free and fair elections are not the norm), and we have a democratic duty to treat that vote with respect.

So, what’s my point exactly? Principally this: we can’t just sit by and wait for others to fix the problems or injustices we see around us, or assume that things will always be alright in the end. While young people will be the most affected by the outcome of this referendum for generations to come, only 36% of 18-24 year olds actually turned out to vote. Put simply, that means 2/3 didn’t actually make the effort to have a say in their future, so instead it was decided for them by others.

I’m constantly asked why I still maintain my day job when I could just blog full-time (and get to talk about fashion and lipstick for a living), but I went into politics for one simple reason: I wanted to make the world a better place than when I found it. Idealistic though that goal may be, it feels pretty wonderful to know I’m getting stuck in and fighting for what I believe in (after all, I have no right to complain about the result if I didn’t fight for the cause). So if you care about something and want to see change, be that change: campaign for a cause you believe in, write to your MP/Congressman/Senator, join the political party you most identify with and help shape things from the inside, and above all, register and vote. We must not sit by and allow others to decide our future for us, and we must not be complacent and assume that reason will always win out in the end; it will only if we make it so.

So, go forth and vote! 

Love, Miss B xx