It's so exciting to share this post! In the history of my blog, which is eight years old now (woah), I don't think I've ever had any professional, high quality photos to share with you readers that keep me tapping away at my keyboard year after year. Back in the day, blogging was purely an unheard of peek into a stranger's wardrobe, whereas now it's an editorial feast of content and collaborations. I'm never going to be a camera whizz although I do take some photos for work, but I'm better at reviving a photo through heavy editing rather than capturing a desired shot. Not that that would matter as a blogger as it has to be other people behind the lens, and that's usually my mom during an odd weekend! Working full time means I know I wouldn't get the use out of a snazzy camera sadly so I potter on with what I have.
A few weeks ago local photographer Emma Christina got in touch to see if we could work together to shoot some looks for her portfolio and for my blog. Yes please! I was chuffed to have a chance to post some really fantastic shots where you can see my outfit properly and I can really get down to explaining why the devil I'm wearing what I am.
Emma was absolutely lovely and we had such a fun time chatting and then taking photos around Birmingham. I brought a bunch of outfits and tottered to different 'typical' blogger settings. We actually stumbled across the amazing car by chance and tentatively took some photos while looking out for any approaching owners! I didn't have any qualms even though a few passers-by were watching us - I just pretended in my mind that I was a model on a real shoot! Emma was so slick and encouraging too and I felt really at ease, and these photos look more like Made in Chelsea than made in Birmingham! I'm so pleased, imagine if all my posts were like this! Maybe I need a photographer boyfriend ASAP.
Onto the outfit, and how could I not wear these new purchases as my favourite ever trend comes into play this season! This outfit is literally my soul breaking free from a life of office wear. If I could step aside from the daily grind and just live day-to-day wearing exactly what I could - and still hold down a job - it would be this! I watched the movie Dazed and Confused just about a million times when I was a teenager and bell bottoms are the most comfortable yet confident thing to wear. I bought this Missguided pair as soon as I saw the perfectly executed print and they are so high waisted that even the shorter crop top will suit. I found this cute crochet crop top in Primark of all places and I like how it steps away from the '90s crop trend.
Thank you again Emma, this is the best post ever! I'll be saving this outfit for a certain trip next month though - I'm going to New York!!! Good bye life savings, hello life long dream. I'll save that for another post though - watch this space.
Missguided Trousers, New Look kimono, Primark crochet crop top, New Look choker, River Island heels
Here are the looks I've been obsessing over this month! I'm seriously inspired by the '70s trend coming through but can't embrace this for a few months until I can pack away coats and jackets, so I'm still coveting khaki shades, nude hues, and denim. Topshop had some new jeans with frayed, cropped hems which I really had my eye on but they only came out in black! I've also been lusting after homewear as I'm getting that urge for a Spring clean and bedroom refresh. If I had my own place, the themes would be marble, gold, nude, jade green and white. All pictures are from my Tumblr!
It's time to talk about my Athens trip! This post has been quite anticipated but it just reflects how slap bang in the middle of everything it was. Some people have one big holiday per year and count down to the day with crosses on the wall calendar, but my friends and I have formed a routine of city breaks scattered across the year so you never feel too far away from one. We have still never been on a package or beach holiday together, if you don't count Barcelona, and we possibly never will. Rather than sunbeds and tour reps, we seek an adventure we cannot predict. We actually chose Athens as a hen weekend for the first member of our group to get married! We booked the trip as a surprise and all chipped in to pay to whisk her away, and there were ten of us in total in the end. I looked at a cheesy trip to the Canary Islands but the bride-to-be's younger sisters picked out Athens. I didn't have any previous desire to go there but would never turn down a raucous trip with my main girls or the ultimate way to celebrate one of us getting hitched.
We flew from Gatwick on the Thursday and it was possibly the most stressful journey ever! First my friend revealed I was responsible for the directions, and it didn't help that I am not a driver and have no idea where Gatwick is or how to navigate motorways, and we had to stop off to put oil in the car for the first time for fear of the engine blowing up. A few hours later with Google Maps for company, we realised we were not far from Birmingham at all and in fact were rapidly travelling down the M5 towards Bristol, taking the most excessive loop around the UK to reach London. Now too far down this route to turn back (and not knowing even how to begin to re-route), we said several prayers in scary silence as we spun in different directions, battered with wind and heavy rain, and soon were still two hours and over one hundred miles away from the airport just as the other car of girls texted that they were arriving into the airport. Panic! We beat all of the odds and just about managed to park up, run to an airport shuttle bus and race down to departures on time. This was almost scuppered when we started queueing at the gate for Pisa, one minute before the flight time. Can you believe we are a bunch of professional women?! Hardly the calmness we were hoping for but we finally took our seats on the EasyJet plane and compared all of our preprepared notes on the best clubs, bars and destinations.
It's quite difficult to get a feel for a city when you are hunting across the internet for information. I find it's best to print a list with addresses and descriptions of all clubs and restaurants, and then your group members can scan over these on the trip and pick out the most suited. It also helped when recommended places by locals as you can cross reference the unbiased description on your list. The maid of honour had created day plans of different attractions and mapped them out so we were sorted each day too. One thing we always struggle with is restaurants as the best ones always seem to be the most expensive and sometime you need to eat sooner rather than later.
I would say this holiday was summed up with practical jokes and silliness as we spent the flight joking to the bride's sisters that we had decided to not go out all holiday and stay indoors pampering the bride instead! Their faces were a picture. We arrived to Greece in the early evening and took a metro ride to our apartments, even though a taxi all the way would have been the same price we found out on our return! Travelling into the city by public transport is always a good introduction to the setting though, and we stepped out of our station just as it got dark and grabbed a bite to eat. We stayed at the McQueen apartments which were fantastic value and comfort, although the area could be compared to a run down, abandoned town! They were just off a wide main road with lots of large deserted buildings, but a few streets away were all of the party streets so that shouldn't put you off; it always felt safe. One building seemed to be the home to stray dogs and we even spotted gangs of them roaming the city together like pals. Apparently they catch the metro and meet each other in town!
There were six girls on the first night and four more were set to join us the next day, and there's nothing like that first step into your new temporary home when it's as fabulous as this. Especially clean, modern and equipped, we had a two bedroom space plus two balconies with a view of the Acropolis and lots of full length mirrors. This, along with plug sockets, is so important on a girls holiday!
The bride expressly permitted anything cheesy or crude and we followed suit with a few alternatives. The maid of honour brought along various dare cards, signs and a highly-used selfie stick, and we planned dress themes for each night that were definitely not fancy dress. The first night was Rainbow Night, where we were all due to wear a different coloured outfit. I did shop around for weeks trying to find any version of an orange, yellow, green or purple dress that I liked but during early February, the shops were a sea of black, white and camel! I went with my trusted Missguided khaki set instead and we all trooped out just before midnight. This is where we made cardinal holiday mistake number one by ignoring our own research and heading to the area the hotel receptionist suggested. Often people try to send you to a 'nice' place when really you want the most alternative, underground jaunt in the city and not a glamourous club with pop music! We took a taxi to the recommended are of Gazi, the local strip of restaurants-come-bars spilling out onto a courtyard. We stopped off in the first bar after being tempted in by the promise of drinks deals, and ended up staying there for most of the night as we literally had the place to ourselves! The 'DJ' was playing YouTube songs on a laptop so we took over the playlist and willed away the hours gossiping and becoming best pals with the only other bar residents who happened to be an American couple also looking for a club. A bar man walked us in a line to a nearby club, almost like a trip of school children, but as we navigated the paved roads in heels, we arrived to find it was shut! Unimpressed, we hit another place but as it was way into the early hours, it was only playing Greek music. We found across the whole trip that every place will turn to Greek tunes after around 3am.
Somehow I was soon taking off my make up before hitting the pillow and we woke up the next day to sunny skies and a full itinerary ahead. American tourist told us the hotel was full of models with go-sees to get to (apparently) so we had to be quieter. A few girls had not been away with us before and were surprised that despite partying into the daylight hours, it still meant getting up before lunch time and continuing on with a full day of sight seeing - and then doing it all over again the next night! We embarked on a tour of all of the sights apart from the Acropolis, as our final friends were not joining us until that evening, and the main centre was only one easy metro stop away. We were certainly there outside of the scorching tourist season, but I was so surprised at how smooth it was to travel around the city. Hustle and bustle was nowhere to be found here and we moved around with ease. There was still lively street entertainers and busy markets, but nothing hectic.
We had some breakfast/lunch and not before long, the heavens opened. Well, they literally parted and a waterfall of rain and golf ball-sized hail did not stop falling for the entire day. Considering some of us were in sandals and cardigans, this was a disaster! Never fear though, we still moved around all of our locations including the Acropolis Museum, National Gardens, Arch of Hadrian and Zappeion, just with very wet feet and very wet hair. Embarrassingly we bumped into the American couple in the museum and swiftly tried to avoid them as last night had been such a blur! We picked out a touristy restaurant later that evening after hours of walking around Athens and soon our other friends arrived to complete the group. The action really started when we were all there as that night we brought out the hen-do games and had quite an emotional time telling all of our best (aka most embarrassing) memories of the bride to be and filming some equally as hilarious/tragic messages for the groom! The newest girls to arrive also did a beautiful, hysterical and seemingly choreographed dance to Spice Girls' 2 Become 1 for the bride involving lots of group swaying and arm movements, which turned out to be completely made up on the spot! That night was Black and White night and it was so effective in the group photos! With the loose themes, each person can still dress in their own style but you all look amazing together. I wore my Dancing Alien's lace top with a Missguided white pencil skirt and a red lip of course!
After setting a time for 11pm drinks in our apartment, everyone was finally all in one place by around 12.30am, we had the hilarious time doing the activities above and so then eventually we didn't leave our apartment until around 2am!? To some this may seem ludicrous but European clubs don't get going until around 1am so this suited us perfectly. I'll always be a night owl, prolonging an evening so it's as amazing as it can be before turning the page to a new day, loosing the evening forever.
When we bumped into the American couple in the museum and had that very awkward chat, hiding our blushed cheeks with the inevitable sunglasses that are a must after 4 hours sleep, they highlighted YOLO club for that night. Not only was this on our encycolpedia list of clubs but it also sounded pretty decent, yet when our taxis linked up outside, it seemed like a huge cube with few people opening the doors and a dull bass softly pumping. In the carpeted reception area, we definitely weren't sure if we wanted to go through the adjacent double doors but with no other options to hand, we took the chance and settled on getting a 100euro table between us that covered entry and free drinks. Stepping into the club was a whole other realm though! A huge space with a central bar leading to the dance floor, there was a heaving crowd, some seriously gorgeous dancers on a glowing stage performing impressive routines rather than strutting around, and a long, sloping stretch of staggered platforms where the VIP tables were, almost like an amphitheatre looking down onto the dance floor. We all crushed into our table area with as many girls to a velvet seat at possible and were so damn happy we had stumbled upon the best club possible! Drinks and dancing later, we were jumping across to other tables, a few of the girls with long white dresses had tied the hems up around their shoulders for more dancing room, and we were of course chatting to random girls in the toilets about nothing every time we ran off for a group visit. After a few hours the club filtered out almost immediately and the DJs played straight Greek music. We had brought out a few sheets of other clubs addresses so we jumped in the taxis outside the venue and were promptly tipped out of them, with any and every driver refusing to take us to our destination. After Googling the chosen afterclub's address, pleading with bouncers and dodging some boys from Essex who randomly popped up and tried to 'help' us (any sound of the English accent when we are out of the country is not a joyous occasion!), we didn't get anywhere!
In the end we gave up, with a few girls heading back to the apartment and the rest of us convinced to go back inside. Luckily the music tides had turned and I climbed into the DJ box to dictate the songs we wanted to hear. If I am bored in a club, I will head to that DJ and get that song changed! We soon hit a takeaway and hit the sack at around 6am, all after loosing a room key, plotting an extensive and successful plan to steal the hotel's master key and return it innocently to the shocked receptionist after finding the huge bundle of keys 'on the stairs', and all sleeping in the same bed for no reason. This might sound like one heck of a night, but of course by 11am the next day we were dressed, out and off to the Acropolis! It's that laugh-a-minute mix of people that tiredness just doesn't seem to occur. Thankfully that day offered a continuous blue sky and even a little sunshine on our skin; perfect for the upcoming views.
At the base of the Acropolis, a few gals had some incredible caricatures done surrounded by other tourists, and of course we all chipped in to force the bride to be to have on done, which was drawn with a pitchfork and accompanied by an ankle tagged 'groom'! It was hilarious to watch the picture form after whispering she was getting hitched. We navigated our way to the top of the mountain with surprising ease and were soon looking over the breathtaking city views amongst the imposing, ancient citadel. The Parthenon is absolutely magnificent.
Despite going on a raucous break to celebrate our nine year friendship having such an important milestone and relieve some of the bride's pre-wedding stress, it is also the time to feel so reflective of how far we have all came since those first days of meeting and how we all find ourselves to be in such an overwhelming place together. Very much summer sisters, we have all shared some of the most striking and significant times together, and spending a few days laughing away at the mundane happenings of home, you also end up covering topics of work, goals, passions and dreams. Such an eclectic and ambitious group of women definitely feed me to push forward with discovering my own potential and confidence, and I hope the bride to be's sisters also found it to be a holiday with a difference. The views felt very humbling and a perfect setting to round off the trip together.
We concluded the day of sight seeing with a lovely meal at a homely yet hearty restaurant, and trooped back to the apartments. By now your suitcase contents have been strewn across any shelves and floor, you're slightly concerned all of your belongings have walked off, and you can't for love nor money find an available charging socket for all of your drained electronics. After a shower and an extra scrub to remove any shred of remaining make up, you feel just about refreshed to embark on a third night on the town with as much gusto as the previous two. It was timed purposely well that this night was Goth Night. Oh yes, you can see the maid of honour has a certain penchant for all things alternative and has possibly watched way too much True Blood. Despite a genuine offering of an authentically vampy brown striped, corseted floor length goth gown from my friend's colleague to her (she did not take up on that offer!), we weren't actually hitting the town dressed in spiked boots, PVC and black lipstick. We were all going for the hot goth vibe, with deep plum lips, LBDs, chains, cuffs, platforms and lots of smoky eyes. Some girls went for a more retro, rockabilly vibe and some the more traditional sultry look. I wore my plunge Pepper Mayo crochet dress with an elaborate lace choker (borrowed) and my lace up heels, with a hint of MAC Diva lipstick and sooty eyes. Contrasting to the previous night of elegant feel, this night made for a totally surreal but awesome vibe of teenage rebellion. Looking around the room and seeing all of my friends in an alternative hot goth world was the most bizarre but amazing thing! Everyone making the effort but still looking as gorgeous as ever was the best way to do a dress theme. We may have looked like we had just came from a funeral or were a little too into Twilight, but we definitely looked awesome.
We booked a few taxis from the hotel to that infamous club that no taxi driver would take us to the night before for some unknown reason. After driving in three separate cars to the address printed in our DIY city guide, we realised why. The club didn't exist!!! It was literally a burnt out tower block - no wonder it was such a fail the night before! The drivers shouted at each other in Greek while leaning out of their car windows and made a joint decision to take us to somewhere called Spell. Again we came up trumps as this club too had a heaving dance floor surrounded by platforms of bars and tables, and we pushed our gothic selves to the centre of the room and had a blast! At one point I wandered off to request a song and was watching my friends from the towering DJ box, literally in awe of their bobbing heads causing havoc and mischief among a sea of faces. I got a song played that I knew they would recognise as a request and they all turned and cheered at me waving from up high in the box. Mission accomplished!
The night rounded off with an infamous yet fresh Greek takeaway where they put the chips inside the burger of your choice (veggie for me!) and hobbled off home via a piggy back that ended with a twisted ankle. After a few hours' doze, we were cramming our towering platforms into our slightly over-generous carry-on suitcases, subsequently abandoning said platforms because they just did not zip in, and headed for a congratulatory brunch on another successful holiday! We browsed some markets, got accosted by the street performers, grabbed an ice cream, and soon we were chilling in the airport before touching down on the twinkling sea of London lights.
The season we visited Athens meant we didn't see the port, enjoy any roof top bars or travel out to any beaches, but I would definitely recommend it for a city break on a budget. The food, travel and accommodation was impressively cheap and during February it was a breeze to navigate and enjoy. 'Soak in the sights and party all night' was our prerogative, but you could also take the classy options of frequenting the famous hotel bars and soak in even more culture from the city shadowed in preserved history. Thank you to my superbly talented friend Nomsa for these photos. I hope you enjoyed my post and check out my vlog below too! Can you recommend any destinations for us for next time? Who know's who will be getting hitched next! We've definitely set the standard for hen celebrations to come.
Last weekend I had the upmost pleasure of taking my mother out for the day! I was tempted to Bullring to check out this season's style event and took my favourite +1 as my mom is all about style and trying new trends. In fact she just bought a pair from the Clarks x Orla Kiely offering! Now isn't Spring the most inspiring fashion season? Some years it seems to take absolutely ages to come around but the sunshine has arrived already and I'm so set to burst my summer wardrobe out. It's a shame I don't work in fashion any more so can't wear whatever I like during the week, but I'm planning a few holidays and festivals otherwise. Beauty is something I've took a back seat in recently as my aim was to home in on my signature look before buying anything new. I've had my lighter hair for around a year now and I really need to explore some new shades though.
It's so common to feel like you're flipping your wardrobe 180 degrees when a new term comes so it's rather handy that every season Bullring hosts a one-on-one session space to offer treats and workshops from different brands. Shoppers can stop off and sample their 'fix' of new season offerings, and this year's Spring event had a beauty focus with a select few hot brands stationed near the mecca that is the Selfridges beauty hall. My mom and I hit the Beauty Amnesty first, which offered a £10 Bullring voucher in exchange of old makeup items - amazing! I even told loads of people at work about this and was sure to bring a few gloopy lip glosses and dry eye liners with me that had been languishing in my make up draws.
We did a circuit of the stands and stopped by Ole Henriksen first, who I recently found out is all organic and that really intrigues me. I find applying cheap products to my skin just feels strange as your body is actually absorbing these solutions and potions, whether good or bad. Surely natural is the way to go? We tested a few zesty gels in zingy orange pots and I made a mental addition to 'the perfect eye cream' list I am currently collating. My mom had a luxurious hand and arm treatment at the Clarins pop-up stand, and I almost booked another facial at the Clarin's Spa as all of the lovely memories of my last two came flooding back. I'm saving for an upcoming holiday though so I refrained!
I had a photoshoot with stylist Emily Jayne a few weeks ago (more on that when the photos are printed!) and was so happy to introduce this genius to my mom for a colour consultation at the event. I haven't shopped the same way since my consultation last year, and my mom has since bought a pair of '70s style flares with popping colours, just like Emily Jayne advised for her complexion! Learning the colours that suit and lift your face really transforms the way you look at the clothes you buy forever!
Then we split up and while my mom tried out the new Lancome L'Absolu Rouge Lipstick, I had a contouring session with Shu Uemura using the Lightbulb Oleo Compact Foundation, and ever since I've been taking my bronzer up much higher on my cheeks. My bedroom has quite dull lighting that somehow also exposes every flaw and line, so I'm always quite careful when applying my makeup nowadays and don't always feel too happy with the finish. I haven't had a makeover in a while so it was so useful to try something new and refresh my technique. I'm so ready to switch up my skincare as the sun's rays return, and I want to try a new foundation since MAC Pro-Longwear is setting too dry for me at the moment. For the past few months I plodded along but now I feel so inspired. It's by far my favourite fashion season in a long time and I've got so many looks and outfits buzzing in my mind, I just need the days to wear them!
I had an extra voucher to spend at the beauty hall and I gave it to my mom to repeat purchase her favourite Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua foundation. It's certainly a milestone when you go out with a parent and you pay for lunch too!