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


Pearls & Pastels in New Orleans

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New Orleans is a hard place to encapsulate in mere words. At once beautiful and dishevelled, it is steeped in layers and layers of history which make it so compelling. This was my very first trip to the city, and I was enthralled from the first moment.

My friend Nicolette and I flew down to Louisiana the day after I arrived in New York from London. On our first evening there, we headed straight from the airport to the historic French Quarter for dinner and a ghost tour around the old town (in this city, tales of spirits and pirates and strange happenings abound, and mystery seems to seep from every aged building) and I was wide-eyed at the atmosphere that surrounded me. Blues bands played on street corners out the front of smoky little jazz clubs, gas lamps flickered in the warm air, tiny bistros and antique shops glowed invitingly and the intoxicating smell of Cajun food filled the warm air.

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Even though it was the beginning of November, it was still as warm as summer in New Orleans and so anything more than a little dress would have been wholly unnecessary. I had packed this silk Band of Outsiders dress (which I like so much I just bought the top version as well) which I had worn on repeat towards the end of the English summer, but which also works with a coat and ankle boots for autumn and winter when not playing tourist in balmy New Orleans-climates.

It was so lovely to be able to make the most of the glorious sunshine, and we spent a happy few days just walking around the gorgeous streets of the French Quarter and Garden District, listening to live jazz, eating southern shrimp and beignets and all the Cajun food we could manage, making new friends and hunting for treasure in the most wonderful little antique shops and boutiques all over town. I won’t pretend that the whole city is perfect (in parts it is heartbreakingly impoverished and segregated), but on the beautiful, pastel streets of the French Quarter I felt as though I had been transported to another era.

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Wearing: Band of Outsiders dress (also available here), Mulberry ‘Lily’ bag, Zara heels (sold out but similar style available here), Chloe sunglasses, Kenneth Jay Lane necklace and bracelets (sold out but similar style available here), J. Crew necklace (similar style available here), Jacquie Aiche ring. Beauty note: Essie ‘Bahama Mama’ polish, MAC ‘Ruby Woo’ lipstick.

New Orleans, you’re really rather wonderful!

Love, Miss B xx

P.S. Stay tuned for my mini-guide to city in an upcoming post

Photos of me by Nicolette Mason

Michael Kors + The Perfect Boucle Jacket

I was delighted to have been asked by Michael Kors and Selfridges to be involved in their latest campaign, How I Wear My Kors. Regular readers may remember one of my previous collaborations with the brand here, and when dear Michael asks, the only answer is “of course!” This time around, they again wanted to spotlight real women in their everyday lives. So, true to brief, I raced straight to Selfridges after work, picked up a Kors bag and did a twirl on the street for the camera, then went straight back to my life minutes later. Dividing my time between my day job (in politics) and this blog means that on most weekdays, I look to pieces that can easily transition between all the events I cram into my schedule. I leave home in the morning and will usually be in the office until late, with perhaps a quick meeting squeezed into a lunch break and then a press event or fashion dinner after work before heading home. Ordinarily, twice-daily wardrobe change is usually nonsensical (although I have been known to slip out of a suit and into a pink Valentino dress in the bathroom when I have a special event on, and I am sure my colleagues would also refer you to the many, many pairs of heels stacked under my desk in boxes). So instead I balance feminine dresses, silk blouses and jewels with smart jackets, and bags that mean business to make outfits that work just as easily in the office as they do at a fashion event. In this case, it was an easy cream silk blouse (the sort of go-with-everything piece that all women should have in their wardrobe), sleek black jeans (which I can get away with on those days I don’t have meetings if I dress them up with neat heels and a jacket), sandals I can actually run in, my usual layers of jewels’ the perfect chain-trim boucle jacket (which seems to look just as good either dressed up or down), and this business-like tote bag which managed to fit my iPad, a pair of flats, a magazine and everything else I insist on carrying around every day.

Wearing: Michael Kors jacket, Michael Kors silk blouse and tote bag (borrowed), J. Brand coated jeans (also available here), Kenneth Jay Lane pearl necklace, Jimmy Choo sunglasses (c/), Zara sandals (sold out), Michael Kors watch (also available here and here), Mimco bracelet (past season), Chanel camellia ring (past season). Beauty note: MAC ‘Ruby Woo’ lipstick.

Does your wardrobe need to take you from the office to evening events (and everywhere in between)? I’d love to know your savvy tips if so!

Love, Miss B xx

Photos by Jonathan Pryce