Valentino Dresses and Autumn Leaves

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A couple of weeks ago, I had just returned from New York and was in need of caffeine and a girl date to help overcome my jetlag. My friend had just received some excellent news, so I put on my favourite new dress and we met for hot cocoa and cake at a charming new café in Cambridge to celebrate.

As it was such a beautiful day and Cambridge was looking so splendid in all it’s autumnal glory, we walked through the colleges after lunch to savour those perfect last moments of autumn. The last of the leaves seemed to be swirling on the breeze and falling that weekend, blanketing all the college gardens in a carpet of red and gold.

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As usual, we had my friend’s secret fellows garden all to ourselves (a heavenly escape from the tourists in the form of an acre of sprawling lawns and manicured English flower gardens and a canopy of old trees behind her grand college), so there was only one thing to do: act like children and throw autumn leaves at each other for the rest of the afternoon.

This dress had been on my wishlist for months and months (I have a RED Valentino addiction), so I finally bought it the moment it went on sale on Shopbop. I realise that a Valentino dress this special should really be reserved for dinner at nice restaurants and birthday parties and nights at the theatre rather than throwing leaves and twirling through Cambridge colleges, but I live by the motto that one’s favourite things should be enjoyed every day. So – true to my word – I wore it to the museum and for a rainy afternoon on the Upper East Side when I was in New York a few weeks ago, for a long walk through Central Park, at brunch with my friend at the Delaunay in London, paired with a black tuxedo jacket at the office, and just about everywhere in between.

Because really, life feels that little bit more wonderful when you’re wearing a dress that makes you want to twirl.

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Wearing: RED Valentino dress (also available at Net-a-Porter) // J. Crew Necklace // Jacquie Aiche ring // Isabel Marant ‘Poppy’ heels (also available at Matches or similar (cheaper) style here) // Wolford tights (also available at ASOS and Selfridges). Beauty note: Essie ‘Big Spender’ nail polish // Estee Lauder ‘Fuschia Flash’ lip lacquer.

Do you save your favourite things for special occasions, or do you make your own excuse to dress up?

Love, Miss B xx


September Loves

1. Buying: I wear my blush Mulberry Lily handbag (available here and here) so much that I’ve just ordered this dark blush version for winter. What can I say; I know what I like!

2. Sparkling: I have a thing for beautiful bracelets, and the double-cuff (the same bracelet worn symmetrically on each wrist) has become my jewellery signature. This crystal version from J. Crew is ever so beautiful, and will add a little Gatsby glamour to every outfit. I’ll have two, thank you!

3. Wearing: I’m not yet ready to give up bare legs and hibernate beneath wintery layers, but September has brought with it an autumnal chill in the air and a tendency to a sudden rainy shower which call for a little more than a summer dress. I’ve just added this perfect Coach trench coat (a timeless classic) to my wardrobe and have been throwing it over everything to make my wardrobe feel instantly more autumn-appropriate.

4. Beauty note: After a summer of petal pinks and bright lips, I’m currently craving a 60’s cat eye and nude lip. The best shades I’ve found are from MAC (‘Hue’ or ‘Myth’) or Tom Ford (‘Vanilla Suede’ or ‘Blush Nude’), and really, could there be anything more chic than pulling out a little black and gold tube of Tom Ford lipstick?

5. For the home: As the nights draw longer, I’m favouring cosy evening indoors and am making my home feel as welcoming as possible with warm throws, scented candles, soft lamps and twinkly lights. This clear Kartell bougie lamp is my favourite, and adds a touch of modern French chic to my desk.

6. Play: Making the most of the last lingering moments of summer and the first days of Autumn with lazy weekend walks along the river and evening bike rides around town. Happiness is having the wind in my hair and a big bunch of flowers from the market in my Pashley basket.

7. Small luxury: Because a girl can never have enough sparkle, I’ll be adding these charming little lucky horseshoe studs (which look much more expensive than they are) and the matching necklace to my collection.

8. On my wishlist: I have an unfailing weakness for both Valentino and lace, so the two combined is irresistible. These lace ankle strap pumps are chic, feminine and just the right height that they could be dressed up with a cocktail dress, or down with a flirty skirt or cropped trousers for day.

9. Listening to: My love for Paris extends to my musical tastes, and the annual albums released by Hotel Costes (that chic Parisian establishment) are perfect for sunny days and evening cocktail hours alike.

10. Watching: The Spring/Summer ’14 collections on the runway at London Fashion Week. Orla Kiely is always a favourite, and the Mulberry show at Claridge’s was utter perfection; from the invitations arriving with a miniature Wedgwood teacup and Claridge’s afternoon tea being served for breakfast to the beautiful embellished floral prints and dogs in Mulberry jackets on the runway.

I hope you’re all having a lovely month! I’d love to hear what your favourite things are currently!

Love, Miss B xx

Sleepy Hollow, New York

I’m just back from New York, and it was nothing if not an adventure! The unexpected arrival of a certain Hurricane Sandy may have put a stop to the majority of my plans (instead, my NYC BFF Nicolette & I basically had a four-day slumber party in her perfect Williamsburg apartment), but we did manage to cram in a few adventures on either side of the storm.

Top of my list for this trip had been an autumnal day trip somewhere on the East Coast; I didn’t mind where, so long as the leaves were orange, the scenery picturesque and the activities centred around idyllic American ‘fall’ fun. Which is how we came to spend the weekend before Hallowe’en in the town of Sleepy Hollow in upstate New York.

I hadn’t actually realised that Sleepy Hollow (of the Headless Horseman legend) was an actual place until Nicolette suggested it as the destination for our roadtrip. Now, I’ve always been practically obsessed by Hallowe’en (given it is barely recognised in Australian and England, I’m rather fascinated by the American-centric tradition), but when we pulled into the town I got so worked up in excitement I actually squealed.

The little town of Sleepy Hollow needs none of my rose-tined romanticising, for it was so hauntingly charming all on its own. Every surface seemed covered with the confetti of fallen flame-coloured autumn leaves, each lampost and wooden porch decorated with scarecrows and spiderwebs and candlelit jack-o-lanterns, while costumed trick-or-treating children criss-crossed the little streets.

We visited haunted cemeteries, and the house where Washington Irving (author of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, and some say the founding father of American fiction) spent his days, and watched dramatic performances of haunted tales, and threw ourselves in giant piles of crunchy leaves (that someone had so kindly raked into leafy mountains that were practically begging to be jumped in), and picked pumpkins from the patch, and drank apple cider and ate s’mores and candy corn and stroked black kitties that crossed our paths in the garden – and generally relished in all the wonderful Hallowe’en traditions I’ve ever wanted to try – until the stars twinkled in the dark sky overhead.

Thank you Nicolette and Sara and Sleepy Hollow for fulfilling all my autumnal and Hallowe’en fantasies!

Wearing: Opening Ceremony cat sweater (the best gift from Nicolette which I’m completely obsessed with; now sold out, but similar style here), Uniqlo Oxford shirt, Camilla and Marc dress (worn as skirt), Chanel handbag, Marc Jacobs chain belt, Ash boots, Mimco necklace, ring and cuffs, Zara sunglasses, bow headband from Tokyo (similar style here), MAC ‘Ruby Woo’ lipstick.

I’d love to hear what seasonal activities you have been enjoying in your corner of the world!

Love, Miss B xx

* Thank you to everyone who sent kind/concerned messages during the hurricane!

Thank you Nicolette for helping with these photos!


October in Pictures

Jumping in piles of crunchy leaves and all my other favourite autumnal pursuits. The arrival of autumn bringing out my Cambridge-centric preppy wardrobe. Bike rides and second hand bookstores. Buying big bunches of roses at the flower market. My first little orange Hermes box in the form of this vintage ‘H’ cuff from Vestiare Collective. Cambridge looking especially beautiful as the leaves change colour. Cosy evenings indoors as the nights grow longer.

Dressing up for black tie dinners and theatre dates. Tim Walker’s marvellous London exhibition. My favourite view view of the Thames from the terrace at the Houses of Parliament. Dandy embroidered slippers at Penelope Chilvers. Appearing in a new London campaign for Michael Kors. Tea, cake and excellent people-watching in the teeny covered arcades of Brixton Village. Sparkly Miu Miu ballet flats that I wish were in my wardrobe.

Flying to New York for adventures with my NY BFF Nicolette (see my New York adventures from last year here). Yellow taxis, Broadway and the bright lights of Times Square. Pumpkins and Halloween decorations on every block. Halloween parties in Chelsea. Laduree macarons and picnics in Central Park. Rowboats on Central Park Lake. Walks all over the Upper East Side. Window shopping on Madison Avenue. Riding out Hurricane Sandy in the most positive way we knew how: with candles, cocktails, card games and Audrey in How to Steal a Million.

I hope you all had a wonderful October! (And to all of you on the East Coast, I hope you and your loved ones are safe and sound after the Hurricane).

Love, Miss B xx