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.
As a girl raised in Australia, I love the heat of summer. Until I moved to England, my wardrobe consisted entirely of dresses, shorts, and breezy blouses (and I only owned one coat that I think I wore a total of three times a year). Because wardrobe habits die hard, I still rather optimistically over-shop for summer in the hopes that we’ll have a long, hot summer that will stretch on for months on end. This being England it never works out that way, but when we do have a heat wave, at least I’m always the one prepared.
I wore this outfit for a long-day of sightseeing in New York, followed by dinner al fresco in Soho with friends. It has all the elements of my perfect summer outfit: start with a breezy dress (so much prettier than tiny hemlines or anything too-tight and bonus points for built-in airflow when it’s too hot for waistbands), add flat sandals that can take you anywhere, a cross-body handbag (to leave you hands free for bike rides and iced coffees), and a few jewels to add interest (and because I feel naked otherwise). Add big sunglasses and bright lipstick in lieu of full makeup and you’re set for anything.
Even though I don’t live in Australia anymore, I still uphold my tradition of buying a Zimmermann dress each summer (because no one does summer dressing better than the Australians), and this one has quickly become a favourite; I’ve been wearing it every week and it is perfect for everything from casual fridays in the office and dinner in the city to weekend adventures and picnics in the park when the sun strikes (because it’s black and I can machine wash it, I can happily mistreat it – because summer is too short to be precious with your clothes).
Summer is on its way out in England, and I’m trying to make the most of these last balmy evenings before they disappear for the year. Of all my beloved Cambridge pastimes, there is little I adore more than lazy summer evenings spent idling on the River Cam. At Kings (the grandest of all the colleges), the river bank is not accessible to the general public, so we usually have the entire stretch of bank to ourselves.
Often, I’ll meet the Clever Boyfriend there after work, and we will have a picnic for supper, stretched out on the grass with cheese and strawberries from the market and some bread to feed to the resident swans (who always come to say hello).
As we sit there together in the shade of the willow trees – the Kings chapel swooping into the sunset in front of us, the college cows grazing in the grass behind, and the punts floating up the river at our feet – it always feels more like a perfect literary moment from an entirely different era than real life.
Summer weekends: surely two of the most beautiful words in the English language. For this, the first weekend of summer in the Northern Hemisphere, I had a blissfully relaxed schedule filled only with the sort of pleasing pastimes that make the weekend feel wonderful. On Saturday, the Clever Boyfriend and I went for bike rides and burritos at our favourite Mexican place, before a long stroll through a few of the grand colleges and a Saturday matinee at the charming little ADC theatre (if you’re in Cambridge and get a chance to see the Footlights perform, you simply must go; I guarantee they’ll have you in fits of giggles!). Yesterday, I met my friend (and A Girl, A Style sidekick) Sophie for brunch at Afternoon Tease (one of my favourite little Cambridge cafés; anywhere that carries Frankie magazine, peonies on the tables and an abundance of homemade cake is alright in my book). I say brunch, but really it was one of those long, languid afternoon dates that ease into the early evening. We talked for hours and hours about good books, happiness and everything in between over the best eggs Florentine and iced coffees in town. Eventually, we tore ourselves away at closing time, parted ways and I cycled off home with that glorious summer sunshine on my face, Phoenix in my ears and a basket full of peonies. Summer Sundays, you are my favourite!