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August 2015
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October 2015

AW15 at River Island Style Studio, Birmingham Bullring

 

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I don't know about you but I think this season is seriously on fire in the style stakes. We've had a long slog of '90s, and let's not forget last winter's sugary pastels, so it's really time for something a little less cutesy. I've read a few people say they're not into this season's '70s throwback but I'm SO into everything! It's so much more accessible and in fact flaunts styles that you might not originally associate with the era but maybe are already wearing. The stylists at River Island headed to their new Bullring store to share their latest collection with local bloggers and I popped along to get the low-down.

The event was hosted in the new Style Studio; a fabulous lounge separate from the main store, with plush sofas, huge mirrored changing spaces and a complimentary fresherment bar. In fact the whole service is complimentary and anyone can book in for an appointment with the superb Birmingham-based stylists Laura and Afsheen, be it for an event you have coming up or just to try a few new styles - and you can book in online.

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First up we had a talk through the AW15 range by London stylist Danielle, and you can see the edit in my vlog below! There are so many takes on the '70s trend that are actually extremely wearable, from the Victoriana blouses with their high collars and lace detailing, to fringed ankle boots that sit a little bit higher with a chunky block heel. We were guided through the suede capes, mini skirts, peasant detailing, and of course fur upon fur. The blouse Danielle was wearing above went straight into my basket and I've even bought my mom one for her birthday! Danielle styled it oh so well with cropped flared black jeans, ankle boots, the cute neck tie and the statement belt.

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I just adore the chunky leather bags and tan colours. What's not to love! There are so many ways you can incorporate this trend subtly into your wardrobe with a few select pieces and feel totally refreshed for the new season.

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We were let loose on the store and I browsed around with Laura, spending more time chatting than shopping! 99% of the time I shop alone and my eyes only flit across the rails as I consider things that truly stand out to me, rather than actually exploring styles I may not have tried before. I tried on a few things that I never would have considered before, including the outfit below, and I can totally see the benefits of a hat transforming an average hair day. This navy suede cut-out cape was absolutely amazing but just out of my price range, though I did buy a whole selection of things. A few new blouses for work with neck ties and lace detailing, some suede ankle boots, and a statement fringed bag. With these added to my office-appropriate work trousers and camel coat from last year, I feel so ready for autumn.

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Don't miss my vlog below for the low down of all the trends and a peek at the clothes up close! How do you feel about the '70s trend?


My Style Icon | boohoo


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Boohoo set me a challenge to choose a celebrity icon and pick a favourite look to recreate. This was a task I could certainly taken on but who to choose? Who do I look towards? Well in truth, the styles I stalk are those of my favourite bloggers, vloggers, and Instafamous gals. Sometimes I'm blown away by how these people can look so damn put together every other day but when you have the incentive of being a full time blogger or in a career that gives free self-expression, you do live for what you wear. When I used to work in fashion we could literally wear absolutely anything, from tiny crop tops to mesh to bodycon, whereas now I can't even show my upper arms! So I live vicariously through my favourite Instagram accounts on a daily basis as I commute in my office attire, and the weekend is my time to break free. I went through a phase of stepping out of the fashion leagues and buying a few things I really loved, but accepting that no matter how many fashion purchases I made, I'd never have chance to wear them! However I've slowly learnt to find joy in the clothes I buy for work and home in on buying some fierce weekend-wear, so every time Saturday rolls around, my only option is to dress in something damn fine.

Weekend evenings have never let me down though, and over the past year or so my hem lines have came down but my desire to wear something a little bit different has increased. And so enters some of my favourite Instagrammers (style wise that is, I follow a million people I love) who I often stalk, of course, but also pick out just why they look so good. It's the super curly hair, statement curves or the man-repeller heels (although I'm not 100% sold on that term as any man who passes comment on your style should always be repelled), 

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missjoslin || amrezy || xanetia_unnarae || spikesandsequins || _nataaalie || x_carms

I hope you can discover a few of the girls above for flawless, endless inspiration! As for myself, I have been stalking the boohoo Kirsty-Ann dress for multiple weeks and it came out in this berry red shade. Gorgeous! I teamed it with super dark lips, lace up heels and a top tail, but I'm thinking next time it could even be added to knee high cage heels or slicked back hair. It's carefully concocting a recipe of different style elements that might be slightly off the radar but somehow clash in a good way, and committing. I'm still getting back into my stride but I have booked another holiday destination - I swear I save £££ by having my job as my boyfriend - and I've stashed away so many things from the boohoo summer sale including maxi dresses, kimonos and boohoo Night dresses like these. Watch this space!

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A Slice of Heaven: The Moseley Haven, Birmingham


This year had been a turning point in my focus on well-being, motivation and self-nurture. As a single, independent person I have a lot of 'me' time, but that also means I'm the only one responsible for looking after myself. When my to-do list gets clogged up with every single little thing I've been putting off or have yet to even start exploring, and the two free days of the week feel like they flutter by in a flash of errands and commitments, you do stop to ask if you are truly content, and secondly, if you are thriving. I usually skip the content part and push myself to achieve and set goals that never seem to end. This year I've been spending time reviewing and thinking mindfully about how I can be more 'in the present' and feel energised by my current situation and experiences, rather than propelling myself to a future dream that is never achieved because there's always a next step after that. Time to stop and smell the roses.

As much of a multi-taker that I am, I also know that sole, calm experiences are something I used to have a lot of, and now find hard to factor in. Whether it was browsing charity shops across the city for hours as a teenager hunting vintage clothing, to reading all of the books in the Young Adult section of the library, to writing blog posts about every little detail of my life in 2007, I used to glide into my 'me' time with ease. Now I fill it with errands, tax returns, courses, budgeting, or just reminding myself of what I should be doing, when in fact the world will not stop if none of those things are not done immediately. I slowly but surely turned over a new leaf and made a conscious effort to read, write and be open to 'treating' myself. After all, what are we working for if it's not to enrich ourselves, enabling us to create better lives for us and those around us?

I received a wonderful email from Alison Knowles, an experienced beauty therapist who recently opened a new beauty spa in local Moseley Village; The Moseley Haven. I'm so keen to explore the business' we have around us. I have grown up frequenting the green grocer and visiting the markets in town with my mom, and today I like to dabble in any local offerings, from dance classes to beauty to cocktails. There's nothing like experiencing a local independent, and Alison mentioned that her spa uses Eve Taylor Aromatherapy products, who is the creator of Dermalogica oils and the found of professional aromatherapy, with an OBE to prove it. I've had many facials, which I'll come onto next, and the products are a key player in not only the results, of course, but the facial experience itself. Eve Taylor is only available to professionals so this was a unique chance to try the skincare in all its glory. 

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On the bright Saturday morning I strolled along to Alison's beautiful house; if you know Birmingham then you'll certainly know that Moseley Village is so picturesque and serene. The spa is the most ambient, inviting space, and feels especially cosy but also refreshing and tranquil - a hard balance to reach. When going to an in-store or hectic spa, it does feel like an extravagant affair that I never know if I am 'grown up' enough for and also doesn't always feel private, but The Moseley Haven is so inviting and the sort of place you want to take your time to enjoy and appreciate - and never want to leave! After the warmest welcome from Alison, I felt right at home and settled into the heavenly, heated bed ready for the Skin Quenching Facial. The setting felt quite literally like you had stepped into an oasis of calm and it's easy to drift away. 

I started this blog almost nine years ago because when I feel passionate about something, I want to tell all of my family and friends about it. Facials and spa treatments are the most wonderful experience as there is nothing like the care someone gives your skin at that moment, the music, the excitement to see the results, and not to mention the amazing massages and treatments. If you have a good facial experience, this will include hand, neck and shoulder massages too! I urge everyone I know to have treatments alongside their usual beauty routines as I can't stress enough how luxurious they are and so much more of a buzz than buying a fast-fashion dress. The feeling is priceless!

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Each stage of the facial blended into one another yet each felt like a different chapter for the skin, and you feel more and more harmonious as the hour goes on. The Skin Quenching facial starts with preparing with the Balancing Cleanser, with Lavender and Jasmine, Sage, Linden Blossom, Rosewood and Soya to balance and harmonise the skin; then an all-important Enzyme Peel. Papain and Bromelain enzymes gently break down the surface skin cells and loosen comedones, aka blemishes, and Bentonite clay absorbs excess oils. Then there is an incredible lymphatic draining massage for the face and decolette using a treatment oil with Rosewood, which helps promote cellular stimulation, Jasmine for balancing the skin, and plant oils to protect moisture and natural oil levels. Facials are so important if you take your skincare seriously as there is just no way you could work this sort of magic on your face yourself. It's not just the products but the actual motions on your skin that really make the ingredients work and literally breathing life into your face contours. Yes - did you know a facial actually creates sculpted cheekbones and lifts the eyes, it's not just your skin's appearance that is affected.

The Soothing Masque gave the healing powers of Green Tea, and then Alison's favourite Oxygen Response Serum concluded the hour, which aids Oxygenation of the cells, leading to skin renewal and removal of those toxins. The treatment finishes with the Refining Eye Gel containing Algae and Seaweed extracts for firmness with reduced puffiness, and Balancing Moisturising Lotion with the star Vitamin E. Not only do you have a sublime experience, but you are also set to leave with skin that is perfectly primed and ready to take on the elements and continue working across your day, complete with SPF. Absolute bliss! My skin felt like a flawless canvas, glowing with hydration.

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The Moseley Haven also offers popular gel manicure and pedicures using China Glaze, lashes, waxing and massage treatments.

"Regular facials are so important to keep your skin balanced and looking at its best, using the right products will help with your skin tone and complexion, and the facial draining massage helps keep the skin firm and helps release any toxins which can lead to unwanted puffiness, dullness and keep the skin glowing and radiant.
 
Using products at home with a good skin routine is very important but the reason facials are great is because you get the facial massage which has so many benefits to the skin and really boosts your circulation.
 
Having regular treatments is also very beneficial to your well-being and gives you time to really relax and de-stress." - Alison Knowles
I also loved how the Eve Taylor products were based on natural essential oils; a reason the range was chosen as the signature for Alison; also making for a serene and natural experience. Paraben and fragrance free, and not tested on animals, it's practically saintly. Alison uses the peel or mask to exfoliate once a week herself and then applies either the Soothing masque to hydrate the skin or the Purifying masque to combat any impurities. Words of professionals are gospel to me! Why do I never use masks?!
 
The dream would be to have facials every few weeks and then continue on every month or so when you have settled into a great skincare routine. I can't say I ever have a constant run of feeling my skin is especially pampered, as once you have felt your skin after a facial you realise it's never been so clear or so hydrated. I'll definitely be visiting the spa again to influence not only my skin but also my well-being and self-appreciation - the prices are extremely reasonable too.
 
And Alison's top beauty tips? Always remove makeup before going to bed, always use a sunscreen on top of your daily moisturiser and don’t forget to include your neck and décolleté when you do your skincare routine.

Fusion Festival 2015!

My festival mood board sure came in handy as I went to not one but two festivals this year. 4Music offered a pair of tickets to Fusion Festival and I grabbed my festival friend for a day of music and dancing. Festivals are such a mood-booster as there's nothing like sharing live music with thousands of others, plus a chance to hang out with friends all day and wear a cute outfit of flower crowns and glitter tattoos that would be wholly inappropriate for any average Saturday. I said in a previous post how it's essential to have dates in the calendar to look forward to and Fusion Fest. falls on the Bank Holiday - perfect timing!

Cofton Park is only 15 minutes on the train from Birmingham city centre and is minus all of the camping horrors, as I found the weekend before in the soggiest tent that ever existed. We cruised into the fest with iPhone weather promising clear skies each hour, and there's something so satisfying to be outdoors all day in the sunshine.

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We were delighted to head straight to the VIP section with a huge canopy bar area full of comfy soft seats and high bar tables to perch at, plus the heavenly clean toilets. I cannot look at another port-a-loo again! I've never done VIP at a festival apart from when I scored a backstage pass, and it's so nice to sit on something comfortable and have no queues!

We chose a Vimto Sunrise from the Vimto bar that was totally delicious - I love pineapple! - and I'll definitely be making that again. Determined to sample all of the music on offer, as I love seeing acts and artists that you are only just familiar with, we sat back to enjoy Ella Henderson at the main stage.

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Fusion Fest is super youthful and cool, with plenty of teens and families alike enjoying the ice creams and laid-back vibes. The food stalls are a notch up from any festival grub I've seen before, with a few quirky vans like the No Dog Quorn offering below! I am going to have a bash at a few of these myself for a quick lunch.

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Sigma was up next and had everyone jumping, and we soon retreated back to the VIP area for a a break in the comfy lounge and a sample of a Vimhito, with extra bon bons! Some guys asked if they could sit at our table and when I asked about their press lanyards, it turned out the were Facebook millionaires (in terms of likes, not pounds!) and were going on stage with The Vamps the next day. Complete with manager and body guard (really) we joked around that they must be members of The Vamps as we'd never heard of them (lolz) and recommended a few places to go out later. As someone who has the full time job but blogs on the side for love rather than a career aim, it was interesting to meet people doing it as their main income. You can see the guys in my vlog below, and they get mega points for thinking we were in their main 16-24 age bracket of fans!

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We were soon back in front of the stage for the final acts of Labrinth, who was truly a master of the crowd and can jump at least 7 feet in the air...

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... and Rudimental, who I have seen a few times before and love the live band set-up and how they bring on a host of different singers. Such feel-good music!

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It was such a fun day and so effortless; it was as easy as popping down to the park and stumbling across some of the best stage acts out there. 4Music will be showing the highlights of Fusion Fest in the 90 minute show ‘Fusion Festival 15: The Best Bits’ on Saturday 5th September from 3pm (Freeview channel 18, Sky 360 and Virgin 330), featuring exclusive behind the scenes footage, including backstage performances and interviews with the acts. Enjoy my vlog below too and see the pranking in action! Muhaha...


A Weekend in Manchester!

I had a fantastic weekend with my best beauty buddy Georgie and if you have ever considered a city break in Manchester, this is the post for you! We were planning a sunny get-away but time and prices ran away with us, and it was better to plan a local trip in a UK city and shop 'til we dropped. And that's exactly what we did, deciding on Manchester! This is my student city (along with Boras, Sweden - do you remember when I lived there!?) and I love everything about Manchester and the North in general, from the style and spirit to the music/food/shopping scenes.

Georgie and I met on the train despite myself managing to book the one arriving an hour before, and we gossiped none stop until Manchester Picadilly. We booked the Premiere Inn at the Printworks, even though its a good 5 minute stroll from there, as it was also right next door to the Arndale shopping centre. If you're there for the shopping, it's best to spend a day in the city and a full day at the Trafford Centre.

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We dumped our things and headed off for lunch in the Northern Quarter; a menagerie of vintage stores, quirky record shops and trendy eateries. Trof was a favourite of my friends who continued to study in Manchester after I graduated and has a sweet menu with burgers, sandwiches, and apparently comes alive at night with a cocktail bar and three floors of music. It's not too pricey and we had the place to ourselves, minus a PDA couple that joined our corner as we finished.

Fuelled and ready to hit the shops, I showed Georgie down Market Street and towards Selfridges. I had no idea their food floor was no more and we went down to the beauty hall to hit it hard instead. We made a pact to be totally on the ball with gaining any samples we could then try out that evening, and Georgie was a master! We were in the market for oils and eye creams, and as a testemony to Northern spirit, every assistant was so friendly and more than happy to offer a sample or two, or ten in Aesop's case! We even saw some dudes rack up a £900 bill at the Tom Ford counter and gossiped about their footballer status to the Lancome ladies.

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How beautiful is this Eyes to Mesmerise shade by Charlotte Tilbury?! We carried on around the shops, Georgie was enlightened by the bargains of Bodycare, and we splurged some vouchers I won at work on a takeaway Pizza Hut, complete with salad bar and our drink of choice - sparkling water! In matching Ariel pyjamas, it was the ultimate sleepover.

A few movies and some beauty sleep later, we awoke and immediately inspected the results of all of the skin care we had sampled the night before, before applying loads of makeup and heading towards Home Sweet Home for breakfast, as kindly recommended on Twitter by Sarah of Sequin This. Sadly there was a 45 minute wait for brunch so we took a look at the many cafes in the nearby streets and stumbled across Superstore. The wooden and charcoal metal interior was industrial but rather simplistic and relaxed too, and we indulged in matching berry pancakes with honeycomb butter - not too plentiful but absolutely delicious!

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And then we hopped on the Magic bus and towards the Trafford Centre! This is truly an all-day event and the centre almost feels like you're on a cruise ship with it's Greek decor and fountains.

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The first stop I wanted to make was the new Missguided concession in Selfridges! I'm the world's biggest Missguided fan and order so much from there, so it's a real novelty to check out the latest range in person. I hope the concession travels as far as the Birmingham Selfridges too!

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I didn't actually buy or try on anything at the concession though because I'd already seen the collection on their website and would have ordered anything I liked before! We were however entranced by the Muji storage collection, and I funnily enough discovered there has been a Muji store on New Street in Birmingham for about ten years and I never even noticed it! I'm currently discarding my things (yes I am reading this book) and once I've reordered my room, I really am keen to jump on the perspex makeup drawer bandwagon.

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We wandered around the beauty hall of course and I purchased the MAC LE Fix Plus in Lavender as it was one of the few flavours left but was not as heavy as I assumed it would be. Samples whiz Georgie even bagged some Creme de la Mer samples loving wrapped in tissue!

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The food haul triumphed here and we 'met the maker' of new refreshments Just Bee, with hints of honey of course. We met co-founder Joe who partnered with his dad to tend to the family bee hives and masterminded the brand. A family of bee keepers - so cute! See more of Joe in my vlog below...

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Selfridges didn't have Gucci Bamboo in stock yet but a random cheapie perfume place did! This is SO on my Christmas list as I collect Gucci fragrances; I never find them sickly or sweet.

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A trip around Hamley's, a feast at T.G.I. Fridays with my extra winning vouchers and one Michael Bublé impersonator later, it was getting late and we whizzed back to the city centre to top up our makeup and hit the Northern Quarter! I also like Deansgate, but there are so many bars in NQ to explore and some are open into the wee hours. We indulged in cocktails and '90s r'n'b in Walrus and went onto Black Dog, an old favourite from my Uni days.

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An afternoon tea was the perfect way to treat any slightly heavy heads from the evening before, and Georgie had kindly booked us into 47 King Street West as my birthday present! The experience was absolutely delicious and the area is perfect for people watching so I recommend requesting a table by the window! I love cakes, pastries and sweet treats so this was such a treat and made for the perfect Sunday afternoon before saying farewell for now and boarding our train!

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Thank you to Georgie for a fabulous weekend! I'll definitely be visiting Manchester again - it's one of the most fun-packed cities with the room to shop and indulge as you please. Don't miss my vlog of the weekend below and subscribe if you haven't!

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