A Life Update: A New Season + Change of Gears

A Girl, A Style _ A New SeasonA Girl, A Style _ Gap Olive Chinos, Mulberry Shoes

Blazer // Chinos // Top // Bag // Sunglasses // Watch // Lipstick

I have a confession to make: my day job and I are on a break.

As most of you know, by day I work in government – well, I did… until now. I’d been happily hurtling myself full-steam along a career path for my entire working life – first in Washington (I got my start in the US Senate), and then Canberra (working for the Australian Parliament), then Westminster (working first in government policy and then five years as parliamentary advisor to a Cabinet Minister), and finally Brussels (I spent the last two years working mostly with the European Commission). But all of a sudden, I realised that path was bringing me more stress than joy, and it was time to take a break and start seeing other careers.

I’ve been struggling with this decision for a while, partly because I’m deeply passionate about politics and fighting for the causes I believe in, but also because I worked so hard at university and over the last 15 years to get to where I was (see the embarrassing proof in this post that it really has been that long…) and didn’t want to throw that away. I’d be lying if I didn’t also mention that being a political advisor and a blogger had sort of become my identity and USP (barely a day goes by when I don’t get affirming messages from my loveliest of readers who say they love that I work in both politics and fashion), and I was incredibly nervous about giving half of that up and who I’d be if I did.

But the truth is: when I arrived in Washington as a bright-eyed 18 year old, I decided to go into this career to help make the world a better place. Then between the global political climate, Trump, Brexit and the state of the political spectrum here in the UK (I think everyone can agree it’s a sorry state of affairs, regardless of which ‘side’ you’re on), politics was really starting to wear me down. It had become more of a source of stress and frustration than hope, and it had just got a bit too much to never be able to detach from all of that. I absolutely loved working in Parliament – even the gruelling hours and the need to be switched on to current affairs 24/7 that came with it were a thrill because I had the most incredible boss (a Cabinet Minister who was one of the few good guys in Parliament) and we spent each trying to make a positive difference. But since then, although I loved and respected the people I worked with, I’d started to feel like I couldn’t make a meaningful contribution and as though everything around me was completely unravelling politically, which rather filled me with despair. That’s not the attitude I want to have for the rest of my working days, so I knew it was time for a change.

So terrifying though it was, when one of the projects I had been working on at work came to an end, it was the opportunity I needed in order to be able to to muster all my courage and give myself permission to walk away before I became cynical or lost my passion for the things that still mattered. Hopefully not forever, but at least for now and until a more hopeful prospect comes along. I’ll still be working on some projects and causes that are meaningful for me, but doing so on a part-time basis gives me the freedom and breathing space to feel excited again. Maybe one day I’ll even decide I hate myself enough to consider running for office myself…

A Girl, A Style _ Autumn PreppyA Girl, A Style _ Gap ChinosA Girl, A Style _ Cambridge Satchel Co Tassel Bag CrimsonA Girl, A Style _ Cambridge Style

I wish someone could tell me where I should be career-wise in five years, but I suppose the journey to figuring that out is most of the fun. So I’ve given myself the ultimate gift of luxury: a chance to change gears work-wise and go freelance full-time to pursue whatever feels fun and exciting again. I figured if I can’t do it now while I’m still (relatively) young and unburdened by the responsibilities of adulthood, then when can I?

In the immediate term, I really want to give this blog the time I’ve never been able to properly devote to it when I was working in government. As the first step, I’ve been busy beavering away at a new and improved site design and direction which will keep me busy until its launch at the end of this year (I can hardly wait!). I hope you’ll all love it as much as me!

But equally, while I want to finally have the time to spend blogging, creating content, and writing about things I love, I don’t want to just be a blogger and it’s still important to me to work on other things (i.e. that aren’t all about ‘me’). I’ve always done at least two things with my time, and I think I’d get bored if I weren’t busy all the time (even at university, I worked in politics alongside a full-time class schedule, and then on this blog since graduating and moving to the UK). So the plan is a few days for the blog and a few days for freelance life and to just see where things lead me in a year or two. I’ve never before given myself such freedom to step off the work treadmill and figure out what I want from the next phase of my career, and I confess it feels like the ultimate luxury to be guided by passion rather than practical considerations.

Amongst other exciting things, I’m thrilled to have joined the team of one of my favourite British brands, The Cambridge Satchel Company, as their ‘Blogger in Residence’. I first met the brilliant Founder, Julie Deane, one day when I was working in Parliament and we were both just starting out – she with the brand and me with this blog. She quickly became one of my favourite women in business and I’ve remained friends with the brand ever since, and it’s been a pleasure to see them grow. In a twist of serendipity, they told me they were looking for someone exactly like me the very day after I finally decided it was time for a change of gears career-wise, and everything fell into place perfectly. After spending the past 15 years working in such ‘serious’ roles, I still can’t quite believe I can actually get paid to work on exciting creative things for brands I love. Surely work is meant to feel more like… work?

Whatever it means, I’m embracing that back-to-school feeling the autumn brings and stepping into the new season with renewed vigour. I haven’t felt like the ‘new girl’ in a while, and I confess the prospect is thrilling!

A Girl, A Style _ Cambridge Satchel Company Tassel BagA Girl, A Style _ Back to School PrepWearing: J.Crew blazer (old, but similar style here) // Gap chinos c/- // Saint James breton top // Louis Vuitton scarf // Mulberry heels (old, but similar style here) // Karen Walker sunglasses // Michael Kors watch // The Cambridge Satchel Company bag (borrowed).
Beauty: Charlotte Tilbury lipstick in ‘Carina’s Love’ // Clarins blush in ‘Golden Pink’ c/-.

Whatever the new season holds for you, I hope it’s fulfilling and affirming. I’m looking forward to stepping into a new chapter and setting some fresh goals for the remainder of 2017!

Love, Briony xx

P.S. I’m always asked for advice about how to get into politics or government. Now that I can finally talk about my job (which wasn’t possible when I worked full-time in politics), let me know if you’d like a proper post on my career journey and advice. Just as importantly, I would love to start using this platform to share more posts like this and talk more about careers and issues that matter (and how we can all make a difference), so please let me know what you’d like to see!

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Photos by Joe Galvin

My Week, My Style

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One of the best parts of reaching my thirties is that – for the most part – I’ve figured out what I like, and what works for me; both in style, as in life (there were some seriously questionable periods in my teens and early twenties when, trying to find my own identity, I embraced every new trend with varying degrees of failure). By now, I know that my look is part Parisian romantic-meets-uptown feminine, part Oxbridge preppy; classic, but always with a fun twist.

But just as I’m not defined by any one thing, I want my wardrobe to be as adaptable as I am to keep up with my strange double-life and whatever my schedule throws up each week. So when Boden, one of my favourite British brands (and always one of my Go-To’s for chic workwear, breton tops and the cosiest cashmere), asked me to show how I dress for my week – whatever that looks like – I was only too happy to oblige.

Read how I style my week below, and the full profile over on the Boden page.

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Wearing: Sally coat // Lovely sweater // Sophia shirtdress // Drawstring bag // Court shoes  (all items c/- Boden)

Weekday:

As long-time readers probably know, this blog is not my sole-professional pursuit (obviously; otherwise I might actually manage to post more than once per week…!). Whereas most of my internet pals have long since quit their jobs to blog full-time, it’s important to me to maintain both of my passions, which is why to this day I still fly the ‘slashie’ flag and maintain my political career. Yes, it probably makes me the most peculiar blogger at Fashion Week (and I’m fairly sure I win the annual award for most pink worn in Westminster, ever), but I prefer to make my own rules when it comes to my professional path.

But while I mean business, I don’t believe in playing by boring sartorial rules of sartorial dressing. Unless I have a very important meeting or have overdosed on ‘The West Wing‘ the night before, you’ll rarely find me in a suit; instead I favour sharp tailored trousers, feminine blouses, and a faithful collection of go-anywhere LBDs teamed with accessories that make it my own. Hey, if leopard print heels are good enough for our new Prime Minister…

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Wearing: Abingdon trench coat // Carolyn dress // Saddle bag // Court shoes // Sadie sunglasses (all items c/- Boden)

Weekend:

By the time the weekend rolls around, I can’t wait to see the back of the weekday commute and stay put in my neighbourhood for a couple of days. Cambridge is especially perfect in the Autumn, and this time of year is usually a glorious mix of weekends spent lazing in secret gardens, punting on the river, outdoor performances of Shakespeare and start-of-term college events with my boyfriend.

I’ve probably watched ‘Love Story‘ one too many times lately, but I’m really feeling that preppy 70s Ivy League vibe this season. I love how the tan saddle bag and tasselled boots add a new (old) twist on my usual Autumnal weekend-in-Cambridge uniform of preppy navy blazers + breton stripes.

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Wearing: Navy tweed blazer // Soho jeans // Striped breton top // Suede boots // Saddle bag // Selma sunglasses (all items c/- Boden)

Please tell me I’m not the only one around here with a strange double-life (and the dichotomous wardrobe to match)? I’d love to hear how you all divide your time between your professional and personal pursuits!

Love, Miss B xx

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Post in partnership with Boden #MyWeek. Photos by Joe Galvin

Back in Class

A Girl,  A Style _ Back in ClassA Girl, A Style _ Back in Class 1

The students are all making their way back to Cambridge this weekend, all wide-eyed and enthusiastic ahead of the start of term this week. I love the sight of them wheeling the wooden trolleys through their colleges, laden with books, cases and all their worldly possessions for the year ahead. Although it is years since I graduated myself, every autumn I still crave that preppy back-to-class look (which seems to suit life here in Cambridge so well).

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I had to wear almost this exact outfit (navy blazer, kilt, bow-tied shirt) all the way through school and so really should be over it by now, but there’s still something I love about that uniform. Though truthfully, the preppy look is a lot more fun as an adult when you can swap the knee-socks for ladylike red-soled Louboutins, the tartan kilt for a leather skirt, and not be hauled into the Headmaster’s office for wearing lipstick (true story).

I suppose there will come a point where I’ll have to stop dressing like Blair Waldorf at prep school, but for now, while I’m in Cambridge, I still take comfort in pulling out my preppy uniform each autumn.

A Girl,  A Style _ Back in Class 6 A Girl,  A Style _ Back in Class 9

Wearing: Band of Outsiders blazer (similar style available at J.Crew) // Whistles sweater (also available at ASOS) // ASOS shirt // Whistles skirt (now on sale + also available at ASOS) // Lulu Guinness clutch (past season, but similar styles available here + at Kate Spade) // Christian Louboutin heels (sold out, but similar styles available at Net-a-Porter + J.Crew) // Lulu Frost necklace (past season, but similar styles at MatchesNet-a-Porter + J.Crew) // Vintage brooch // Lola & Grace ring c/- // ASOS hair bow (also available in red).
Beauty: NARS ‘Heat Wave’ lipstick (also available at Sephora + John Lewis) // NARS ‘Orgasm’ blush (also available at ASOS + Selfridges) // Essie ‘Bahama Mama’ nail polish (also available at Debenhams + Liberty London). 

Is there a style you gravitate to year after year, regardless of which stage of your life you’re at?

Love, Miss B xx

Photos by Beth Morton

 

7 Ways to Welcome Autumn with Bobbi Brown

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Outside, the brisk evenings are drawing in and there is the palpable feeling of change in the air. As the leaves begin to fall and autumn announces its arrival, I suddenly desire  a few new pleasures; cosy cashmere to snuggle into, a refreshed beauty aesthetic and a little luxurious glamour. I’m thrilled to team up with Bobbi Brown (one of my favourite everyday beauty brands) to celebrate the new season.

1. As the temperature drops and the seasons change, so too do I crave a few changes come autumn. For me, the easiest way to transition my look for the season is with an overhaul of my beauty bag. I switch my fresh summer fragrances to those with a little more depth, step up the hydration, and tweak my makeup look. Pastels are replaced by warm hues, and my everyday bronzed eye becomes a little more smoky and sultry. My favourite go-to is the Bobbi Brown smokey nudes palette; I’ll wear a contoured 60s eye for day, a smudgy, smoky look for evenings, or a molten metallic for parties.

2. As with the changes to my beauty look, each season I look forward to refreshing my wardrobe. Girlish pieces are pushed aside in favour of a slightly more sophisticated, classic aesthetic, summer’s floaty white blouses and lace dresses are paired with tuxedo jackets and polished accessories, and a neutral palette is offset with a singular pop of colour in the form of fuchsia nails or berry-stained lips (I like Creamy Matte lipstick in ‘Bright Lily’).

3. Make the most of the last warm days of the year with a gloriously lazy weekend filled with all your favourite simple pleasures. Team a chic neutral beauty look (try with your favourite weekend uniform for a leisurely brunch and a walk around the neighbourhood with someone you love.

4. Treat yourself to a few fabulous dates with your girlfriends. As the nights draw in, I like to retreat to cosy, glamorous haunts where I can get dolled up (a smokey cat eye using inky black kajal liner is always appropriate in this scenario) and linger over good conversation and a marvellous cocktail or two.

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5. Make the most of the harvest season and stop by your local farmer’s market for a bounty of local autumn produce. I love stopping for a hot chocolate and s’mores, buying armfuls of flowers, and going home with a basket of plump figs, apples, blackberries and pumpkins and turning them into something delicious.

6. Transform your place into a cosy, inviting retreat. Invest in a few new home comforts  (I like those to aid luxurious hibernation; scented candles, divine bed linen, gorgeous lighting and a good supply of tea and books), spend an afternoon organising your wardrobe and beauty cabinet, and add a few fresh flowers in each room. Invite your friends around for an old-fashioned movie night/slumber party, or host a cocktail party for a few of your nearest and dearest. Just add a swipe of red lipstick (Creamy Matte lipstick in ‘Heart’ is my current favourite) and a swinging soundtrack.

7. Play tourist around town or take a trip to the countryside to see all the changing colours of the season. Go for a long bike ride, visit an apple orchard or pumpkin patch, tour a historic home, and jump in piles of crunchy leaves.

Love, Miss B xx

P.S. Stay tuned for my tutorial on how to achieve the perfect smokey nude look for autumn using the new Bobbi Brown collection.

This post is in partnership with Bobbi Brown