Summer Picnic on the River Cam

A Girl, A Style _ Picnic at Kings College, CambridgeA Girl, A Style _ Sunday Picnic Cambridge Satchel Co Cloud Bag

Hello from Cambridge! Sincere apologies for the sporadic posting around here; this month is proving extra hectic between election campaigning (don’t forget to vote today!), wedding planning (and my inability to delegate anything), and trying to finish all my work projects in time to be be able to take a couple of weeks off to spend with friends and family (who will soon be arriving from all around the world).

Although these are all excellent reasons to be busy, it hasn’t left much room for downtime. Feeling overwhelmed and knowing my tendency to keep going until I burnout, I knew I needed to carve out a little time for self-care in the form of Vitamin D and switching off (read: ignoring my 7 inboxes for just a moment). So on the weekend amidst wedding admin at our venue, I grabbed my boyfriend, threw together a hasty picnic, and headed for the river to spend even an hour reading a book in the sunshine together.

A Girl, A Style _ Summer PicnicA Girl, A Style _ Eugenia Kim Daydreamer Straw HatA Girl, A Style _ Kings College CambridgeA Girl, A Style _ Cambridge Satchel French Blue Cloud BagA Girl, A Style _ Anthropologie Kinsey Gingham Dress

In summer I love those sunny, lazy days where you just switch off, throw on something that makes you smile, and spend the entire afternoon lazing in the park. And while this wasn’t quite one of those gloriously leisurely days, it was still exactly what I needed.

While it’s all too easy to wax lyrical about the importance of making room for fun (and I know blogs – including my own – can perpetuate this myth that everyone else is having the time of the lives whilst we’re chained to our desk / doing laundry / running around after children / etc.), sometimes even taking time out can feel like just another task on an already manageable ‘to do’ list.

But as our mini afternoon picnic reminded me, no matter how hectic things are – indeed, especially when things are hectic – it is so important to take an hour or two to just ignore everything you should be doing, get outside (instead of admiring the sunshine through your office window), and do whatever makes you feel happy. You’ll help avoid that dreaded feeling of ‘overwhelm’, make some new memories (because no amount of email-replying will do that), and come back feeling more calm and refreshed.

So here’s to us all remembering to put self-care at the top of the ‘to do’ list and carving out some indulgently lazy time every day.

A Girl, A Style _ Picnic on the River CamA Girl, A Style _ Picnic at Kings College Cambridge

Wearing: Anthropologie dress c/- (I also bought this similar version) // J.Crew sandals // Eugenia Kim hat (past season but similar style here + inexpensive version here) // Cambridge Satchel Co bag c/- (currently on 50% off here) // Anthropologie sunglasses // Kenneth Jay Lane bracelets // John Lewis picnic basket // Marks & Spencer picnic plates // H&M picnic rug (actually a linen tablecloth!)
Beauty: Deborah Lippmann ‘Naked’ nailpolish // Chantecaille ‘Sheen’ illuminator c/- // Clarins self tan (so good + smells like fig) // Charlotte Tilbury ‘Kim KW’ lipstick.

What are your best strategies for carving out downtime when your schedule threatens to overwhelm you? All tips gratefully received!

Love, Miss B xx

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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.

Small Business Saturday: The Best Independents in Cambridge

A Girl, A Style _ Small Business Saturday Cambridge Wine MerchantsIn association with American Express #ShopSmallUK

I’ve lived in Cambridge for nearly eight years now, and it’s been a delight to build a collection of favourite local shops, cafés and the likes that I treasure (as well as discovering new gems that continue to pop up) over the years. To me, it’s the small independent boutiques, the local baristas (who know you by name), and the local neighbourhood cafés that really make a community (and which have helped make this adopted city feel like home for me).

This weekend, the UK celebrates Small Business Saturday; a day when people across the country are encouraged to get out support their local small businesses.

I’m always asked about my favourite places in Cambridge (and to be honest I think this warrants at least three separate posts), so when American Express – founder and ongoing supporter of the campaign – asked me to team up to highlight some of my favourite local independents, I was delighted to take part.

A Girl, A Style _ Small Business Saturday Hot Numbers Coffee CambridgeA Girl, A Style _ Small Business Saturday The Pint Shop CambridgeWhilst this list is far from exhaustive, here are a few of my favourite local shops and eateries in Cambridge that I regularly visit:

Hot Numbers // For me, Hot Numbers is the authority on good coffee in Cambridge (to the extent that most of the best cafés in town serve the coffee roasted in the café). At the original Gwydir Street location (just off Mill Road), its signature flat whites come with a side of jazz with live music on Thursday and Friday evenings, as well as on Sunday afternoons, and a rotation of local art on the walls. This is the perfect spot to read the Saturday papers or work on your creative idea (the staff don’t mind how long you loiter with your laptop); and you’re just as likely to pull up a chair beside a Nobel laureate as you are a tech founder.

Pint Shop // Bene’t Street is my favourite foodie destination in the city (I send all my friends there if they’re new to town), and Pint Shop is one of the best on the block. Granted, I don’t partake in two out of the three things it’s famous for (beer, bread and meat), but it’s still one of my favourite cosy spots to while away a lazy afternoon. This is a firm local favourite beloved for its craft beers and modern twists on British classic dishes.

A Girl, A Style _ Small Business Saturday 6 Ice Cream CambridgeA Girl, A Style _ Small Business Saturday The Urban Larder Cambridge6 Ice Cream // Hands-down my favourite ice cream in Cambridge. Aside from the Cambridge Cream (its signature combination of honey, lavender and burnt cream), its flavours change daily depending on what’s in season, so you never know what you’re going to find on the menu (which is half the fun), but expect unusual flavours like salted dark chocolate, blackberry sorbet, or strawberry and rose.

Urban Larder // Over on Mill Road – which is home to lots of independent grocery stores and eateries – you’ll find Urban Larder. It’s exactly what you want a local neighbourhood café to be, and serves up delicious coffee and snacks (made from locally-sourced ingredients) with a smile. Its three-cheese toasties are something else.

Garden Café // One of my favourite ways to spend a lazy Saturday is to find a seat beneath a big tree in the Botanical Gardens and spend a peaceful few hours with a good book and the weekend papers. I always stop at the Garden Café on my way in for a picnic to complete my perfect afternoon (its home-made sausage rolls, salads and cakes are excellent).

A Girl, A Style _ Small Business Saturday Cambridge Wine MerchantsA Girl, A Style _ Small Business Saturday Boudoir Femme CambridgeCambridge Wine Merchants // Although I rarely drink, this is one of my favourite local gems and where I always head when I want to treat the wine-enthusiasts in my life. The staff are all oenophiles and have an encyclopaedic knowledge of wine, and it stocks both well-known and hard-to-find wines from all the best regions. The beautiful Kings Parade location (right opposite Kings College) also serves up Jack’s Gelato and Pimm’s from the window in the summer months, and hot mulled wine in winter.

Boudoir Femme // This award-winning independent fashion boutique is always one of my first stops in Cambridge for wardrobe basics; the perfect pair of MiH jeans, American Vintage tees, cashmere scarves and Yawn pyjamas.

Cambridge Satchel Co // Without a doubt my favourite Cambridge-based brand. This label has grown from humble beginnings – founder Julie Deane started the label from her kitchen table in Cambridge when she couldn’t find a proper leather schoolbag for her children – to become a global success story. Beloved by preppy students and fashion editors alike, its chic leather bags are entirely desirable. If in doubt, go for the classic satchel in tan, navy or oxblood.

A Girl, A Style _ Small Business Saturday Cambridge Satchel CoLove, Miss B xx

This post is in partnership with American Express and Small Business Saturday (but I couldn’t be more proud to support the ‘shop small’ initiative). Visit amexshopsmall.co.uk to learn more about Shop Small in your city. 

Promoter: American Express Services Europe Limited has its registered office at Belgrave House, 76 Buckingham Palace Road, London, SW1W 9AX, United Kingdom. It is registered in England and Wales with Company Number 1833139 and authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

My Week, My Style

a-girl-a-style-_-boden-my-week

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