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

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.

Christmas in Cambridge

a-girl-a-style-_-christmas-bowsa-girl-a-style-_-christmas-bows-3Happy Christmas week! Wherever you are and however you celebrate, I hope you’re all starting to wind down for the year and enjoy some festive merriment. In all honesty I’m still in the midst of my usual pre-Christmas frenzy at work* (desperately trying to get everything on my to-do list sorted before all the government departments shut down for the break), but I’ve been determinedly filling my weekend and evenings with all the Christmas. 

Since moving to Cambridge from Australia (almost 8 years ago to the day!), I’ve taken Christmas to a whole new level. December heatwaves and garden parties have been replaced by the kind of festive pursuits I used to dream about growing up. I treasure my Christmas traditions – both old and new. Each year I love going to see a performance of the Royal Ballet’s The Nutcracker, attempting to ice skate (terribly), meeting a girlfriend for afternoon tea somewhere fabulous, throwing our yearly holiday movie night where our neighbours all turn up in their pyjamas (we’re lucky enough to have a real-life ‘Friends’ scenario in our building and are close friends with many of our neighbours), and probably the grandest Cambridge tradition of them all – attending the annual Carols from King’s service at the King’s College Chapel (perks of having a clever Fiancé who happens to be a King’s Fellow).

a-girl-a-style-_-topshop-pink-fur-coata-girl-a-style-_-christmas-in-cambridgea-girl-a-style-_-christmas-in-cambridge-2With my calendar so full of parties in December – from decadent college supper parties in the grand dining halls to more relaxed candlelit parties at friends’ houses – I take this as the perfect excuse to dress up (you don’t have to tell me twice). In December, I really only have two sartorial modes: cosy (cute pyjamas for an evening spent snuggled indoors), or festive (because if you can’t get away with being a little bit theatrical with your outfits in December, then really, when can you?). Basically if it’s shiny, sparkly, or has a bow on it, I want to be wearing it right now.

To take the drama out of getting ready when I’m rushing from work to a party, I always rely on one of my favourite party dresses, knockout shoes, and a small but chic bag that can fit all the essentials. So when my favourite Cambridge brand – the Cambridge Satchel Company – asked me to pick out a new bag for the holiday season, I knew this gorgeous red patent version was the one straight away.

Although I don’t tend to wear red when it comes to clothes, I adore it as an accent in the form of party shoes or a swipe of lipstick (I’m never without my red lipstick in winter). I’m not really sure why I didn’t own a red bag before, but now it’s one of my favourite things and seems to work with everything I’m wearing right now (bonus points: its smart enough to be party-appropriate, but still fits all the essentials I need to tote around during the day).

a-girl-a-style-_-cambridge-satchel-saddle-baga-girl-a-style-_-christian-louboutin-bow-heelsWearing: Cambridge Satchel Co saddle bag c/- // Sister Jane dress // Topshop coat // Topshop brooches (on coat) // Christian Louboutin shoes also seen in this post (past season but similar style here).
Beauty: Bourjois ‘It’s Redding Men’ liquid lipstick c/- // Marc Jacobs ‘Kink & Kisses’ blush.

However you’re celebrating this week, I wish you all the happiness and cheer of the season!

Love, Miss B xx

* This explains the fact that I am both obviously sleep-deprived and in need of a haircut in these pictures (aka the never-ending battle that is deadlines vs beauty sleep…)

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This post is in partnership with The Cambridge Satchel Company. Photographs by Joe Galvin.

Pastel Streets and Pink Coats

a-girl-a-style-_-the-pink-coata-girl-a-style-_-bywater-street-chelsea

If my Instagram feed the past week is anything to go by, the only thing we should all be wearing now that December has arrive is a combination of red, plaid and cream aran knits. But while I love a little tartan – and I’m certainly not opposed to a sartorial cliche or two – I prefer invest in the sort of pieces I know I’ll be able to wear all season long and that won’t feel entirely passé come January. For me, a chic party dress and a classic coat beats a scratchy Christmas sweater any day.

Although blush pink is my favourite colour, I used to think it was just for spring and summer. But the past couple of years, it has established itself as a year-round favourite in my wardrobe. A pink coat might not seem like the most practical choice for winter, but it’s actually the piece I reach for the most once it’s too cold for a nude trench coat (my autumn staple). Aside from blush and navy, I don’t actually wear much colour, and a pink coat seems to instantly brighten an otherwise all-black outfit and add a pop of much-needed colour on a grey winter day and feels subtly festive at this time of year.

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Although I already have several pink coats in my wardrobe, I fell for this blush version the moment I spotted it at Whistles. I resisted for a few weeks (on the very rational basis that I didn’t need a sixth pink coat), but then reasoned that as I wear a coat every day for five months of the year in England, buying a couple of lovely new options each winter was a sensible investment. Because really, life is too short and winter too long to settle for boring coats.

And I’m happy to say that on a cost-per-wear basis alone, the coat has already earned it’s place in my closet. I added a couple of these darling crystal brooches to make it resemble this Kate Spade version I was also fantasising about, and have been teaming it with a black dress and heels for work and appointments, and cashmere sweaters and over-the-knee boots for errands and weekend outings. Bonus points for the big pockets and the classic cocoon cut that makes me feel instantly more pulled-together.

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Wearing: Whistles coat // Ted Baker dress // Kate Spade heels // Coach bag (fuchsia version on sale here) // J.Crew bag charm // Celine sunglasses c/- SmartBuyGlasses // Topshop crystal brooches // Michael Kors watch // Kenneth Jay Lane earrings (inexpensive version here) // Z for Accessorize crystal ring c/- // ASOS horseshoe ring.

Beauty: Marc Jacobs ‘King & Kisses’ blush // Charlotte Tilbury ‘Kim K.W.’ lipstick // Chanel ‘Pink Rubber’ nailpolish. 

What are your favourite non-festive winter staples for this time of year?

Love, Miss B xx

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Photos by Joe Galvin