How to be Fabulous Each Morning (in 15 Minutes)

A Girl, A Style _ How to be Fabulous

I don’t know about you, but during the week, I never have the luxury of being able to take my time getting ready. If I want more than half an hour to get ready, then I have to either forgo sleep or get to the office late (and frankly, I’d rather lie in bed for those blissful ten minutes after my alarm goes off than spend time styling my hair). Needless to say, I’m by now an expert in getting out that door as quickly as possible, without turning into a frazzled, grumpy mess.

The secret to leaving the house feeling your best? Leave ten minutes to do your makeup (more if you can spare it) and always do a few things that feel leisurely and fun, no matter how rushed you are (for me that’s taking a few minutes to put on a soundtrack to listen to while I’m getting ready, make a quick + healthy breakfast to have while I’m doing my makeup, and always remembering my lipstick, perfume and jewels: those finishing touches that make me feel ‘done’).

Here’s how I do it when I’ve got 15 minutes flat:

One minute: Turn on music that makes me want to have a dance party in the bathroom (hello, Motown!). Brew coffee/put fruit in the blender. Jump in the shower (Jo Malone shower gel starts the morning off right), brush teeth + sing badly.

Four minutes: Quick face routine + slather on body moisturiser (+ sunscreen if it’s summer). Get coffee/juice, giggle at my boyfriend’s silly jokes.

Six minutes: Dry shampoo (Batiste is the best bargain in my beauty arsenal) + quickly run a GHD or tongs through the front and ends of my hair. Twist hair into a bun while it’s still warm to set while I’m getting ready.

Eight minutes: When I’m short on time, I focus on perfecting my complexion and adding a pop of colour. I start with BB cream all over + long-wear foundation and concealer where I need it.

Ten minutes: Add a glow (I like Nars illuminator around the cheek/browbones, down the bridge of the nose and on the cupid’s bow), lightly buff bronzer into the cheekbones/temples/jawline) then a pop of peachy blush on the cheeks.

Eleven minutes: Add a flick of liquid liner (I’ve tried them all, and this Stila marker version is absolutely the best; foolproof and SO fast), fill in brows and a wash of pearly/bronze shadow if you have a moment.

Twelve minutes: Spritz on perfume (this Jo Malone version is my current favourite), undo hair (shake out waves or pin back into a loose undo), and get dressed in something that makes you feel fantastic.

Fourteen minutes: Add a dash of sparkle (if in doubt, add a statement necklace or a pair of fabulous earrings). Do a twirl + turn off Motown soundtrack.

Fifteen minutes: Grab handbag, do a quick outfit check, smile and go!

In transit: Add a coat of mascara and a pop of bright lipstick on the bus/train/at the lights if you ran out of time at home (ie. these are the only two acceptable steps to do in public; never your whole makeup routine). Write your ‘to do’ list for the day (be sure to include something just for you/that makes you smile). Spend the morning being pulled-together + fabulous!

A Girl, A Style _ How to be Fabulous 2
Pictured (L-R): Nars ‘Turkish Delight’ lipgloss // Anthropologie monogrammed mug (from Nicolette) //  BaubleBar earrings c/- (similar style available at Shopbop) // Nars ’413 BLKR’ illuminator c/- // Nars ‘New Attitude’ blush.

Do you have any tips for getting-fabulous-quick each morning?

Love, Miss B xx

P.S. By popular request, I’m bringing back Beauty Wednesday each fortnight. Do you have any requests for future beauty posts? Let me know in the comments below or via Twitter / Instagram!

10 Ways to Find Balance in Your Life

Hello my lovelies! Firstly, I must begin with an apology for my prolonged absence the past few weeks; anyone who visits often will have noticed my inactivity on here and I’d hate you to think I’m neglecting you all.

The truth is, no matter much I view the world through my own rose-tinted lens and actively seek out pleasure each day, sometimes circumstances can be beyond our control and life can get a little stressful. The dichotomy of my serious political day job and my evening fashion, writing and blogging pursuits are not, I’ll admit, a common combination, but I love the balance of the two and generally merrily juggle each side-by-side. But right now, my day job (to which I am nothing but loyal) is taking a little* more of my time and energy than normal, so other pursuits, by necessity, had to receive less attention.

But because life is rarely constant (and really, wouldn’t it be boring if it were), I’ve been reminding myself of a few important lessons  (and learning some others) about finding balance. So when life throws you a curveball or things get hectic, here are 10 ways to find a sense of calm and happiness amidst the stress:

1. Get organised. When things get hectic, it can be all too easy to try and avoid dealing with the situation (a fast route to chaos!). Instead, take stock and neutralise the situation as best as you can by getting organised. Break things into smaller, manageable chunks and set daily ‘to do’ lists you can work towards each day. As humans, we are naturally spurred on by success, so it is immensely satisfying to tick things off like a series of mini-accomplishments.  Re-assess each day until things calm down, and take control of any situation before it escalates.

2. Set limits. Recently, I found myself working 60 hour weeks as the norm in my day job which, after travel, sleep and basic daily tasks, left just one hour to do everything else I enjoy each day (which explains why things got a little quite around here…). Needless to say, I was tired, stressed, mentally exhausted and frankly un-productive, and realised that running myself down was helping no one. Because everyone can only be stretched so much, I’m now making it a rule to set limits to what I can reasonably achieve in a day be as strict with those boundaries.

3. Switch off and take time to recharge. When I leave the office each day, I put some happy tunes on my ipod and use the journey home to literally switch from ‘work’ to ‘home’ mode. I’m trying to find moments, no matter how brief, to recharge with some peace and quiet; a good book, a yoga session or wind-in-my-hair bike ride, a favourite movie or a non-essential activity that makes me smile (because no one needs afternoon tea with girlfriends, but oh how fun it is!) If you’re not getting enough ‘happy’ time in your schedule, then literally block out some time (and stick to it!) in your diary each day or week to do something just for you the same way you would any other important appointment.

4. Make peace with the word ‘no’; embrace ‘yes’. When you’re already over-stretched, it’s entirely acceptable to put yourself first and say ‘no’ to absolutely any invitation you’re not enthused about or eliminate things which add little value or pleasure to your life. One of the great joys of being a grown-up is that we’re allowed to say ‘no’ if we want to, and not feel guilty because of it. Conversely, life sometimes throws up wonderful opportunities at the most unexpected moments, so recognise the surprise chances when they come along and say ‘yes’ to a few new things outside of your normal routine. They might just lead you to something wonderful!

5. Be kind to yourself. When stress kicks in, your body goes into ‘emergency’ mode and releases a high dose of cortisol (the ‘stress’ hormone) which, over longer periods, can have detrimental effects on your cognitive processes, weight and metabolism, immune system, skin and just about every other important bodily function. Be sure to counteract the effects by being as good to yourself as you can; eat properly (that means vitality-boosting, nutrient-rich meals rather than reaching for the sugary ‘stress snacks’), get enough rest (because no one can function properly when they’re tired and run-down), make time for your grooming rituals (because when you look good, you’ll feel good), get some exercise (happy endorphins and stress-release), and generally treat yourself with kindness.

6. Nurture an optimistic outlook. Sometimes when things get really hectic, optimism doesn’t flow as freely. But here’s the thing: while optimism seems to come more naturally to some than others, positivity is still a choice. Actively choose to view things more optimistically, and it will be easier to recognise difficult situations as an opportunity to grow and learn a new life lesson, rather than the disaster a pessimist may perceive them to be.

7. Treat yourself to a few small pleasures. Sometimes, a bit of pampering does wonders for a stressed disposition. When things threaten to get too much, I book myself straight in for a massage (my ultimate stress relief), buy myself some cheering flowers, and indulge in a small treat I’ve been longing for. It needn’t be expensive, but it’s important to show yourself kind gestures when you need a little spirit-lifting.

8. Surround yourself with those who uplift you. Who we are is so often a reflection of the company we keep, so make sure that company truly makes you smile and encourages you to be the best version of you (here’s a secret: that person we all know who secretly wants you to fail to make themselves feel better? It’s totally okay to let them go, guilt-free). If you’re having a particularly stressful week, make time to nurture your relationships and see someone you love or send a thoughtful note to a treasured friend.

9. Send out some love. Tell someone you adore just how much you appreciate them, send a surprise letter to a friend, help someone in need, pay a stranger a compliment or practise random acts of kindness. Doing something nice for others releases seretonin (the hormone responsible for feelings of bliss) in the brain, so you’ll feel happier while making someone else’s day too.

10. Feel gratitude. When feeling overwhelmed, focus on all the wonderful things you have already achieved and already have and those positives will in turn appreciate in value. Be grateful for the wonderful things – big or small – that already fill your life and you’ll find a deeper sense of happiness even when things around you are stressful.

How do you find serenity and balance when things get stressful?

Love, Miss B xx

* translation: a lot!

How To: My Favourite Apps and Gadgets

One of the questions I’m most frequently asked by lovely readers is what I use to blog / take my pictures, and how I edit my photos. So here is a roundup to all my favourite gadgets and apps.

To write my blog: I am seriously attached to my Apple MacBook Pro, and my blog is self-hosted on WordPress.org (meaning I pay a monthly hosting fee and built the design from scratch).

On the go: Though I’m really a pen and paper girl (for my endless ‘to do’ lists and ideas), if I’m travelling then I’ll take my iPad (which lives in a Stella McCartney Falabella case) or my new Samsung Galaxy Note tablet (which comes with the snazziest pen for hand-drawing and writing over pictures) for checking in.

Photography: Until this point, I’ve mostly used a Canon 1000d (the perfect entry-level digital SLR camera) for my blog photos, but I’ve just upgraded to a Canon 650d which so far seems perfect. If I don’t want to take a big camera but want something in my bag ‘just in case’, then the Olympus Pen Mini is excellent (it works like an SLR, but is a fraction of the size / weight and you can also add photo filters a la Instagram). Regardless of the camera I’m using, I always shoot on manual so that I can set the ISO higher and the shutter speed lower than it would otherwise be on automatic (to give a brighter, breezier look).

Phone: I am rather permanently attached to my iPhone, and between checking my emails, approving comments, writing from the train, snapping pictures of little things that make me smile, and updating my social media, sometimes it feels as though my blog could barely function without it. My favourite apps are Instagram, Hootsuite to keep up with my Twitter feed (you can create categories and columns, meaning you can just check your favourites or your mentions if you’re short on time) and Dropbox to easily transfer photos between my phone and computer.

Photo-editing: I am really rather low-fi and do as little as possible when it comes to editing (I prefer good, natural lighting to post-processing), but sometimes I do give my pictures a little tweak. Oh my phone, Instagram (I always use the Earlybird filter) is by far my favourite app (I always put my ‘month in pictures’ posts together using the pictures I’ve snapped on Instagram), but I also love the PicFX app for the bokeh effects (that gives the little twinkly lights in the two pictures above) and the rosy Marshmallow filter (also in the two pictures above). For my main (camera) photos, I’ll sometimes use PicMonkey (like Photoshop-lite, but free and online and easy-peasy to use) to brighten, crop or blur photos, smooth out a blemish or add a slight filter (I like a touch of Tranquil for a vintage look). You can also make collages on PicMonkey, but I tend to use either Polyvore for a collection of products (like my ‘monthly loves’ posts) or, for my ‘month in pictures’ posts, literally line the images I want up in a square on my computer’s draw programme and then save them as a jpg file (I told you I was low-fi!).

…And there you have it; all my blogging secrets revealed!

Photos: (top) Apple iPhone, Lulu Guinness phone case, Chanel Malice nail polish, Miu Miu sunglasses, Rifle Paper co. Notepad, Bauble Bar necklaces, Mimco cameo necklace (old), vintage brooch, Mac Ruby Woo lipstick, The Great Gatsby book.
(bottom) Samsung Galaxy Note tablet and Nicholas Kirkwood chevron case, Warby Parker glasses, Mimco pearl necklace, Olympus Pen Mini camera.

Feel free to ask me any more questions, and please do share your favourite apps and gadgets in the comments below.

Love, Miss B xx