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

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.

By Invitation: A Night in New York with Michael Bublé (+ a Competition)

A Girl, A Style _ Times SquareA Girl, A Style _ Michael Buble

As those who follow me on Twitter and Instagram will have seen, a little while ago I was invited to New York to join Michael Bublé to mark the launch of his debut fragrance, By Invitation, and new album. And when Michael Bublé calls, you definitely answer (and jump on the next trans-Atlantic flight). Regular readers will know my that New York is one of my true loves (I’ve been every year for the past 7 years), but this was definitely one for the books.

After spending our first day ticking off as many of our favourite New York things as we could, on the second day we were treated to a fragrance masterclass with renowned perfumer Karine Dubreuil-Sereni, who worked alongside Bublé to create By Invitation. I’m a bit of a fragrance obsessive, so it was so wonderful to learn about the complexity of the fragrance notes (from precious white musk to cassis and red roses) and the process that goes into creating a perfume. Truthfully, I normally avoid ‘celebrity’ fragrances at all costs so was worried I wouldn’t like this one, but it is honestly gorgeous; feminine but not saccharine, classic and yet modern. Mr Bublé summed it up by saying that if he were to pass a gorgeous woman on the street, this is the smell he would want to catch as he passed. I’ve been wearing it constantly since autumn (I especially love it spritzed into my hair or on a scarf so that it lingers all day), and am always getting asked what I’m wearing.

A Girl, A Style _ Times SquareA Girl, A Style _ Michael BubleA Girl, A Style _ Chanel Classic Flap Bag

My friend Hayley and I were lucky enough to get to spend time with the man himself in the afternoon, and he is quite probably the most charming man I have ever met (lovely, kind, handsome and hilarious in equal measure). Needless to say, my long-standing Bublé crush went up a few notches (sorry, fiancé!). Afterwards, we hopped to DryBar for a blowout (when in New York…) before headed back to the iconic Hotel Edison to get ready for the evening.

Downstairs, the ballroom had been transformed into an intimate jazz club (scented with By Invitation, of course), where we were serenaded by Mr Bublé and that voice. I grew up idolising the glamour of the stage and the old jazz crooners, so getting all dressed up and running through a glittering Times Square to hear Bublé perform at the iconic Edison Ballroom will definitely go down as one of my favourite New York moments to date.

A Girl, A Style _ Times SquareA Girl, A Style _ Times SquareWearing: Self Portrait dress (similar style here) // Whistles sandals (sold out, but similar style here) // Chanel bag // Kenneth Jay Lane bracelets (similar style here) // J.Crew necklace (faux pearl version here) // Lulu Frost earrings.
Beauty: Charlotte Tilbury lipstick in ‘Bosworth’s Beauty’ // Deborah Lippmann nail polish in ‘La Vie en Rose’ // NARS blush in ‘Gaiety‘.

Thank you, Mr Bublé for the most magical evening in New York City!

Love, Miss B xx

Any fellow Bublé fans out there? I’m giving away a bottle of the gorgeous new ‘By Invitation’ fragrance signed by Mr Bublé himself, just in time for Christmas! Just comment below letting me know why you should win and I’ll choose and announce the winner on the 2nd December.

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I was flown to New York courtesy of Michael Bublé and ‘By Invitation’. Photos of me by Bang on Style (thank you, Debs!)