Let it never be said that I don’t know what I like. Trends come and go – and whilst I’ll sometimes experiment with a new style – it’s those classic, gorgeously feminine pieces I always reach for. Or put more simply, red lipstick and Louboutins always trump #normcore (unless you’re my friend Alex of The Frugality, who wears boyfriend shirts and Birkenstocks like no one else and makes me wish I were half as cool as her).
I’m pretty powerless against a dark floral dress, but I always prefer a dark, winter version (as seen here and here) vs a lighter spring iteration, which can feel a little too twee or predictable. I bought this neoprene version in Anthropologie before Christmas, and it it looks instantly glamorous, but is actually completely effortless (exactly what I like in a dress). I teamed it with my sky-high red Louboutins for date night, but it looks just as good with a mid-heel (this Kate Spade pair are a perfect substitute because, let’s be honest, those Louboutins are strictly taxi shoes only) for dinner, or teamed with black boots or a ballet flat for day. Just add red lipstick and a jaunty beret and voila: the perfect coquettish winter look that will work for just about every occasion.
Happy holidays! I’m off to Australia today just in time for Christmas; I haven’t been back in a few years and I couldn’t be more excited to see my family and friends and white sandy beaches. But because Christmas in the middle of summer just doesn’t feel as merry, I’ve been cramming in as much of the festive season here in England as I can before jetting off for the other side of the world.
There have been all my favourite traditions; all-weekend holiday movie marathons in our pyjamas (with a side of hot cocoa), holiday baking sessions (and dancing around in our kitchen to Christmas tunes), the Royal Ballet’s The Nutcracker, seeing all of London’s Christmas decorations and department store windows and a few marvellous holiday parties.
Of course, a fabulous holiday party demands a dress to match; preferably the sort that makes you want to twirl, and which can be worn year after year as you create new memories and traditions.
I added this floral organza dress to my collection a month ago, and it has already taken me everywhere from my office Christmas party and an afternoon tea date with a friend, to the most fabulous soirees on my schedule (just add a little extra sparkle). I love everything about the style (bonus points for any dress with pockets), and it will work just as well on Christmas day (even in the Australian heat) as it will well after the holiday season has ended.
Last month, I was lucky enough to be whisked to Munich for two days to attend Oktoberfest with Thomas Sabo. Now, anyone who knows me will know how hilarious the thought of me at a beer festival is; I hardly ever drink and the thought of noisy festival goers en masse rather fills me with terror. But because I love Thomas Sabo, and because I know attending Oktoberfest is one of those things every traveller should experience once in their lifetime (but that I probably wasn’t about to go anytime soon otherwise), I jumped at the chance.
So there I was a few days later; swapping two days in the office for the annual Bavarian festivities. Happily, my blog pal Carrie had also been invited; as we’re both premature nannas who don’t drink beer, we knew we’d be sticking together like glue. We tore ourselves away for half an hour after landing to quickly peek at the city, before being ushered off to begin our evening at Oktoberfest. We were greeted by our lederhosen-clad guides and delicious gebrannte mandeln (paper cones of hot sugar-glazed almonds) for a walking tour of the area.
In truth, I was a bit apprehensive and didn’t know what to expect, but I honestly had the most wonderful time. The atmosphere was celebratory and merry; the air thick with the smell of warm gingerbread and the sound of old-fashioned fairground rides, and I was wide-eyed at the sight of all the charming stalls (selling German snacks and ceramic beer krugs) and almost everyone dressed in their lederhosen and dirndls. Although I was aiming for ‘Bavarian fairytale’ when I got dressed, I only wish I’d found an authentic dirndl to wear to really get into the spirit (we were the odd ones out to not be wearing traditional dress).
After trying our luck at a few games of chance and walking around the whole site (it’s not especially large, so only takes about an hour or two to cover the ground), we headed into Käfers Wiesen Schänke - one of the oldest and grandest beer halls at the festival. It was as though we’d stepped into some kind of German Disneyland; it felt like a perfect version of every traditional stereotype you could imagine. Think jolly oom-pah bands and revelry, gingerbread hearts strung from the wooden beams, and the sound of hundreds of giant beer glasses clinking. At our booth we were greeted by tables groaning with giant pretzels, brotzeit (platters of German sausage, cheese, radish and bread), potato dumplings and strudel. As the night wore on, the cries of ‘Prost!’ (cheers) grew more frequent and everyone began singing loudly and dancing on their benches while we looked on in bemused wonder (I’m sure I would have joined in had I managed more than an inch of my beer…! I’m so very rock ‘n’ roll, I know).
As they say, it certainly was a night to remember!
The weather in Cambridge is being frankly bi-polar at the moment (glorious one day, drizzly and grey the next), so I’m trying to make the most of every bit of sunshine before summer disappears. My in-laws are visiting from Australia for a month, so we’ve been spending our weekends and evenings after work playing tourist in the city. The other Friday, I finished work an a little early (the perk of everyone except me being on vacation in August: less emails to deal with!), so decided to head straight to Kings College for an hour of downtime and lazing on the riverbank before the others arrived for our evening of picnicking and punting on the river (my favourite Cambridge summer pastime).
I knew I wouldn’t have time to go home to change after work, so reached for this preppy-casual look that could take me from the office to a picnic. I teamed it with heels and an old favourite blazer during the day (to make it just polished enough for casual friday), and then just kicked off my shoes for punting.
For the sake of full disclosure: although I’ve bought my fiancé a few pairs of jeans and some great check shirts in Hollister (and honestly they wear better than most other brands in his wardrobe), I haven’t shopped there myself in years. But when they invited me into store to pick out my favourite pieces, I happily accepted on the basis that my best friend swears by their jeans and seems to be wearing a pair whenever I say she looks especially great.
I bypassed the super-destroyed denim (too trendy for my taste) and the ultra-thin legging jeans (that don’t work if you have curves), and went for the classics. This gingham shirt is exactly my style and a wardrobe essential; I had spent a year hunting for the right one and have already since worn it tucked into navy chinos at the office and teamed with a little black a-line skirt on the weekend. I’m trying to incorporate different denim styles into my wardrobe (instead of reaching for the same three favourites), and these skinny blue jeans (I also bought a clean version without the ripped knees) are perfect for that preppy collegiate look I love, the same the quality as all my designer pairs (minus the price tag), and so comfortable (even while messing about on boats and cycling around town).
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be lazing by the river…