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).
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.
One of my favourite things about summer in Cambridge is the abundance of fabulous events that fill the calendar. The end of term May Balls (actually held in June) where the colleges are transformed into glittering all-night soirees that would make Gatsby proud, games of croquet on the lawns, Shakespeare plays in the college gardens and grand garden parties for the fellows.
The other evening – in the middle of our house-moving weekend – the Clever Boyfriend (a fellow at Kings) and I took the night off to attend the annual Kings College summer party. We put on our party clothes and cycled on our way (as any Cambridge worth their salt knows, this is the only real way to arrive at a college event) to be greeted by a college all decked out for an evening of celebration.
There was champagne on the lawn, a candlelight supper in the great dining hall, games of Russian roulette in the library, a jazz band in the garden and a magnificent explosion of fireworks on the river.
There really is no affair quite like a Cambridge party.
The past two weeks have been a hectic whirlwind at work, leaving me so busy there was (almost) no time left for festive celebration. But even when I’m working the longest days, it’s important to me to make a little time to enjoy this wonderful season; the Christmas lights making all of London twinkle on my way home, watching the skaters twirl around the ice rink on the weekend, the sound of carollers at Parliament as I work, homemade mince pies and eggnog after supper, house parties with friends, wrapping presents with the Clever Boyfriend at home while watching our favourite holiday movies and a magical evening at the Nutcracker with my family (it wouldn’t be Christmas to me without a night at the ballet).
Here, a few of my favourite things that feel perfectly appropriate for the holiday season: a pair of fabulous Christian Louboutin red silk bow heels (treasure-hunted at the Louboutin sample sale) for cocktail hour with a Kate Spade purse to match, glittery manicures and twinkly jewels, a few sparkly accessories that make me feel like I’m unwrapping presents every time I put them on, and holiday candles that make my house smell like a festive cocktail of Christmas trees and wood fires and cranberries and loveliness.
Enjoying all the spring pleasures of my favourite month. Buying bunches of perfect pink peonies at the market. Lunchtime picnics in the park. Cherry blossoms in full bloom. Choosing to live colourfully. Adding a dash of springtime pink and sparkle everyday. Strolling the streets of Chelsea in colourful bloom (walking a mile is more fun in glittery Miu Miu heels). Learning to make the perfect martinis and macarons with Lulu Guinness. Cocktails and Mayfair private members clubs.
Glorious sunny weekends playing tourist in my own town. Spring cleaning. Packing away the cashmere and pulling out all my favourite summer things. Wearing lace and pastels and ladylike dresses and heels. Sparkly new treasures. Bike rides and long train rides. Heading north for a weekend of castles, bookshops and hidden tea rooms in Durham. J. Crew‘s marvellous London popup shop. Lunch with Jenna Lyons (girl crush) at Caravan. Sole sisters with Lucy and Laura. Handbags and afternoon tea with Kate Spade. Always stopping to smell the darling buds of May in bloom all over the city.
Walks through meadows of wild bluebells. The streets of Cambridge lined with heavenly-scented lilac trees. My neighbourhood looking respondent in spring’s glory. Filling my home with more flowers than is necessary just because it is springtime. Lulu Frost jewels everyday (this pearl-encrusted lips collar has barely left my neck). Chanel candy. Sweet treats: rosewater cupcakes, homemade macarons (with the help of an Oh La La class) and this candy pink Lulu Guinness lips clutch. Spring produce from the farmer’s markets. Date nights at Jamie Oliver. Darling blush pink Ferragamo varina bow flats and Marc Jacobs party heels.