Friday, 26 November 2010

Going Geldof...

Without meaning to sound too preachy, Christmas is a time for giving as well as receiving - not only to those closest to you, but to those who need help most. It's the ideal time of year to take a moment to realise how lucky you are, and to recognise that not everyone is so fortunate, especially in the light of World AIDS Day yesterday.

So I don't want to get all Geldof on you, maybe they don't know it's Christmas time at all and no, despite global warming's best efforts, there probably won't be snow in Africa this Christmas time (although, once in recorded history, it has snowed in the Sahara desert - random fact), maybe the greatest gift 'they'll' get this year is life - but you can give them something else.

Aside from my own selfish wants and needs (see here), this is what I'll be asking for:

Gifts from Oxfam Unwrapped.

Please please please if you do anything today, follow this link and at least have a look at what as little as £5 can get. You can spend that last fiver of your budget for a family member on buying food for a family or health check-ups for those in need, instead of the obligatory Terry's Chocolate Orange/Toblerone (although I do love those and will cry if I don't get at least one!)

60 bars of soap Hygiene kitGoat Education for all
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Every single one of these gifts is a great idea to ask for or to give, even as a side-gift to something more personal - who doesn't like to know that they've done their bit?

I'm not exactly acknowledged worldwide as a successful philanthropist but it's important to help improve the lives of others. After all, we only have the money we do because we were fortunate enough to born into a situation where we have the opportunity to work and earn like we do in the West. Money is a privilege and we should share it wherever we can to make sure other people have their basic rights and needs met.

So before I get too political (ew), I'll finish with this...

I hope that whatever presents you buy, they put a smile on someone's face. After all, that's the best, best, best part of Christmas! (Well, that and the food...)

Ciao for now,

All I want for Christmas is...

The start of December means one thing - (aside from a guilt-free daily dose of chocolate)... My Christmas list has been submitted to my mother and other loved ones (at their request that I do so, not my insistence - promise!)

... so I thought I'd share it; maybe it'll give you ideas for what to ask for for yourself or what to get for others.

Fearne's Favourites Hat box, £26.66 by Fearne Cotton for Boots
Fearne Cotton always looks polished but not overdone, and I always love getting a selection of new make-up for Christmas. Day-to-day I stick with a tried and tested formula but I love experimenting. I especially love the presentation case for this, the make-up bag (of which I need a new one), and the leopard-print puff - the perfect finishing touch to a great Christmas prezzie at a very reasonable price!
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Reiss Sweetness Dresses

Sweetness Crochet Lace Dress in Cream, £195, Reiss
I am so in love with this dress; especially since seeing Taylor Swift looking so gorgeous in it at the BBC Teen Awards in our very own London town. It's a bit steep price-wise but I believe, very versatile. A great neutral dress for layering in Winter, tea parties and picnics in Spring (watch out for the grass stains) and dressing up for dinners, parties and dancing.
Pretty, pretty please Santa?
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C2 Platinum Zebra

Corioliss C2 Platinum Zebra Hair Straighteners, £119.99, Corioliss
One of the more practical items on my list; my hair straighteners died recently and need replacing. I have to stop borrowing my flatmates GHDs sometime soon. I think GHDs are great but these Corioliss irons are supposedly the next generation. They also allow a little more scope for styling, which is great for me as I don't suit the dead-straight look and need a bit more movement to my hair than I've found GHDs afford me.
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Chanel glasses, approx. £138, any good opticians
My glasses have been broken forever, because I don't look after them properly. I figure if the rules of sunglasses (see here) apply and I get myself a pair of specs I actually care about, they'll last a lot longer.
I'm a fan of thick black, square-ish frames because they define the face so well and don't look weird with black eyeliner on underneath as some styles do (in my humble opinion).
And of course, Chanel do this style best. Obviously the price of prescription lenses will have to be factored in but glasses are back in a big way and no one can argue with those intertwined Cs.
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2011 flash floral flexible linen A5 diary

2011 Flash Floral Flexible Linen A5 Diary, £10, Paperchase
Many people ask for calendars for Christmas - I'm much more of a diary person. I like to use them as a diary/scrapbook/journal (not for writing who my crush is, but for sort-of... documenting life and stuff). I prefer not to go by academic year because it's too depressing planning your life based on when you study, and I like to have at least half a page per day (this diary has a page per day and half for each day of the weekend) to have enough space to get creative.
I like to get a pretty diary for obvious reasons. This year I had a plain black one (trying to be professional, was actually just depression-al) and it didn't bring me half as much joy as my 2008 or 2009 diaries. Shallow it may be, but give me pretty every day of the week.
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Diana F+ Clone Camera in Mr. Pink

Diana F+ Clone Camera in Mr. Pink, $104.99 (approx £70), Modcloth
A vintage classic, always sells out quickly on Modcloth. Produces beautifully flawed photographs; my dreeeeaaaam camera!
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Lomography Black & White 120 mm Film

Lomography Black & White 120mm Film, $11.99 (£7.60), Modcloth
For the camera above. I also need more film for my Polaroid camera (SO grateful they decided to keep producing it in the end)
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A top-up on my favourite perfumes. (available at all big department stores)
From top: Chanel Allure (for going out and lazy summer evenings, dusky yet light, sexy yet soft), Cacharel Promesse (for day-to-day, sweeter than sweet), Cacharel Amor Amor (for evenings, kind of sensual and distinctive), DKNY (for day-to-day, fresh and crisp like an apple).

Charms, Thomas Sabo
I got a Thomas Sabo charm bracelet a couple of birthdays ago. When I was first given it, it had one charm on and I've been building it up ever since. Because the charms are pretty reasonably priced (they're all sterling silver and range from about £15 to about £50), they're a great thing for me to ask for for Christmas and birthday presents.
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Necklace in Wonderland, $24.99 (£16), Modcloth
So yeah, there's like a thousand things from Modcloth that I could put on here, but this necklace makes me squeal. I love anything Wonderland-related; it's always been one of my favourite novels and one of my favourite stories in general.
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Near a Gnome Mushroom Candle Set

Near a Gnome Mushroom Candle Set, $16.99 (£11), Modcloth
Modcloth's homeware is always so adorable; these candles are just the right amount of whimsical without having the vom-factor.
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Philosophy Holiday Greetings Mailbox Beauty Gift Set, £18, John Lewis
Yummy yummy yummy. I love philosophy shower gels, I use them loads. These ones sound particularly tasty (not for eating).
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Topshop Underwear Set

Bralet, £20, and Briefs, £6, Topshop
Definitely a fan of silky undies.
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ASOS Set Of Two Vintage Style Metal Hair Pins

ASOS Set of Two Vintage Style Metal Hair Pins, £8, ASOS
I SO wouldn't mind finding these in my stocking. Expect to see a lot from ASOS over the coming weeks, I went a bit mad adding things to my 'saved' list.
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Other than that, I like to get a decent amount of chocolate and a good book or two. I'll be asking for one of the coats from my 'Like, Coat-ally Adorable' post and maybe another pair of gloves from my 'It Must have been Glove' post.

Of course, there are more things I want - that's human nature - but I've learned to keep Christmas requests mostly practical, with a range of prices (for a range of budgets) and put enough on my list that I know I won't get everything, leaving an element of surprise.

Luckily my family know me really well and know that if they buy me something pretty that's not on the list, I'll probably love it - so I get lots of little gifts, rather than one or two big 'uns.

I'll let you know all about the exchange of gifts when it happens on the big day!

Ciao for now,

Remembering Movembering

So, November is coming to an end, which means we get to start eating chocolate every morning in the name of 'Advent' - hurrah! But it also means the end of Movember, wherein charitable and game-for-a-laugh guys worldwide leave their top lip, their philtrum, unshaven for a month to raise awareness for men's health issues, especially now for testicular cancer.

So say farewell to the funny facial fluff of your friends and bid Movember adieu for another year.
Spare a moment for the fact that all over the world, clumps of hair - from downy bumfluff to bushy, braided beards (or so I like to think) are fluttering to the ground to the droning symphony of the electric razor.

Seriously though, well done to everyone who raised money and awareness for a great cause. I for one have seen some particularly impressive specimens paraded about, especially at work (I'm a receptionist at a football centre - not as WAG as it sounds, I swear).

As a female, I am unfortunately unable to grow a moustache (Movember is the only time it's acceptable to call that unfortunate) - so instead, I showed my support by making-over my flat's Kermit the Frog poster in our kitchen:

Our Kermit poster, all Movember-ed up.
(dead proud of my efforts tbh)

The other day, I was approached by a girl in the student union who is shaving off her amazing dreadlocks for charity - a drastic but selfless act that I hope she's raised a lot of sponsorship for; appearances may well just be superficial but changing a part of our day-to-day identity for the benefit of others is a really cool thing to do.

My friend Emily recently completed a poverty challenge wherein she wore the same outfit (and no make-up or accessories) for a week to raise awareness for the fact that people living in poverty don't have that choice. See her progress on her blog (you may need to scroll down a little for the relevant posts).

So the moral today is to be charitable and be fun - much as looking good feels good, doing good feels better still. Show some compassion, donate your money and your attention to those willing to make these sacrifices for the sake of others.

I for one am going to be thinking about what I can do to make more of a difference around here.

Ciao for now,

(PS. Stay tuned for the continuation of my posts on warm Winter dressing! ...Yes, that's right - they're not over yet)

Thursday, 25 November 2010

It Must Have Been Glove

The view from my bedroom window, 27/11/10.

Nothing is worse than frostbitten fingers. And there's only so many Toffee Nut Lattes you can buy from Starbucks to heat them up before you're bouncing off walls. Which is why gloves are a super-important Winter accessory.

My favourites are soft, pale-grey, vintage leather handed down to me by my lovely Nana, the most glamorous woman I've ever known.

My Nana-gloves (pictures here with a leather Jane Shilton clutch, also from my Nana)

Leather gloves are great - they are slightly easier to text with (though not so much on my BlackBerry, and I'd imagine, touch screens) - and are absolutely timeless, making a huge comeback in recent years. There are numerous great styles at Topshop and Debenhams, but why not look for a bargain pair of genuine vintage ones in, say, Rokit or Beyond Retro?
I also like these from my old friend, ASOS (who, incidentally, are offering 20% off at the moment - just enter the code 'ASOS20' at checkout):

Image 1 of ASOS Leather Bow Glove
ASOS Leather Bow Glove, £16, ASOS
Bows are a great addition to any look in my opinion, and if you're a shade braver, why not get these in red instead?
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The only problem with leather gloves is that they aren't necessarily the warmest, providing less insulation than other styles. In terms of wooly gloves, I love these from Topshop.

Camel Bow Cuff Gloves
Camel Bow Cuff Gloves, £8 Topshop
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These are super-practical for texting yet provide full coverage too:

Green Convert Gloves
Green Convert Gloves, £12, Urban Outfitters
I love the combination of the green colour with the bronzed button, though they are available in a range of colours too. (I loved the berry ones most but they've sold out! Sad-face!)
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Which brings me to mittens. Probably the warmest have to be from UGG Australia.
Ugg Logo Mitten Gloves, Chestnut, L
UGG Logo Mitten Gloves in Chestnut, £85, John Lewis
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But I might even prefer the less pricey option from Urban Outfitters. When I was little I remember trying on my Mum's sheepskin coat (before realising just how literal the term 'sheepskin' was) and finding it to be the warmest thing in the world, so these definitely appeal.
Shearling Mittens
Shearling Mittens, £20, Urban Outfitters
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For the nostalgic, amongst you, Outfitters also have a range of mittens on strings. My personal favourites are these:
Knitted String Mittens, £16, Urban Outfitters
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Not strictly gloves, but you've gotta love the muff (weird sentence), making a huge comeback. This one from Topshop is just the ticket (though, again, Urban Outfitters have a similar style here). Wear with an on-trend cape, an ushanka and killer heels for high-octane glamour (the ultimate in classic Winter elegance), or dress down with your biggest, comfiest 'don't-care' cardigan and cable knit leggings for comfy, warm, student chic. Another bonus of the muff (strange sentence again) is that, if - like me - you can text without looking (both ashamed and proud of this), you can hold your phone safe and warm inside and text without having to expose your pinkies to the elements.
Faux Fur Hand Muffler

Faux Fur Hand Muffler, £20, Topshop
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And finally, these sweethearts make it onto the list for being the most fantastically ostentatious gloves I've ever seen - from the satin bow to the leather palms, they take glamour to new levels.
Don't Mind If I Do Gloves
'Don't Mind if I do' Gloves, $79.99 (£50), Modcloth
A bit pricey, granted - but I'm sure the quality is high.
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Keep those digits cosy!

Ciao for now,

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Don't do Scarves by Halves


I'm a bit of a fascist when it comes to my scarves - like hoodies, I like them to have a story behind them. My three favourites for Winter came from Prague, India and Hong Kong. Having said that, I can still be tempted by a great scarf in my hometown or in a high street store, make no mistake about it.

My three favourite scarves this winter; (L-R) navy and gold patterned from Pražský hrad, neutral combination from a market in India, and florals from Hong Kong.

It would take me forever to recommend you all the nice scarves I've seen about, so instead here are some general pointers for buying that great all-round scarf.

1. Neutral colours - or colours that you know you wear a lot. Like a handbag, you want a scarf to be a cohesive part of your outfit, not look randomly plonked on as an afterthought. Therefore, make sure it also co-ordinates (not necessarily matches exactly) with your favourite coats/jackets, gloves and hats. One idea is to have a few 'sets' of scarves/gloves/hats that go great together. Makes Winter mornings (the kind where you dress under your covers because it's so cold) that bit easier, giving you time for a nice hot cuppa before you brave the outdoors.

2. Patterns - I honestly believe scarves look a bit better with pattern to them. Block colours don't tend to 'gel' with your outfit quite so well. Bold patterns can be difficult to match, but a nice subtle, 'swirly' pattern is normally just the ticket. Look at the famous (admittedly not exactly Winter-some) scarves of Fendi andHermes; pattern, pattern, pattern!

3. Size/Weight/Thickness - if you're really, really little, maybe a massive scarf isn't best. Everyone wraps their scarves differently (I'm a graduate of the put-it-on-backwards-wrap-it-and-bring-the-ends-forward school) so it's hard to give set-in-stone rules on this but always try scarves on and figure out how you would wear them. You want them to be warm enough, flattering to your face and figure, and practical - if it keeps coming unwrapped you might want to re-think how you've tied it.

Keep your throat warm; it's the best way to avoid a sore throat.

Ciao for now,

Hat's all, Folks

Woodhouse Moor, Hyde Park, Leeds (Winter 2009)
The scenes outside my window currently are very similar, but I'm too lazy to take a picture!

I know, I know, I keep going on about it - but it's COLD. And I want to be WARM.

So, a few posts about hats, gloves and scarves in the coming days. No beating about the bush, here we go:

In Winter, I mostly wear berets. I lived in Paris for a while and while I was there I totally bought into the whole beret thing; bought several wool specimens in different colours. Of course, I didn't wear them in Paris (waaay too 'touristy', darling) but when I got home in November 2008, boy was I glad of them.
Berets look great jauntily to one side (if you can pull that off without looking too faux-French and stereotyped), or - as I wear them - pulled back slightly to show the front of your hair but cover the back of your head (and your ears if you so wish).

But you don't have to go to Paris to get a beret - a lot of high street stores and department stores stock a great range. Try Accessorize in particular, they're always great for winter warmers, with a whole section dedicated to cold weather accessories on their website.

And of course, there's a whole range of other great warm hats out there; quirkier knitted 'Peruvian' or furry 'trapper' styles with 'ear flaps' are SO effortlessly cool (wish I could pull them off without looking like a munchkin):

Columbia Navy Peruvian hat
Columbia Navy Peruvian Hat, £22, Debenhams
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Faux Fur Pom Pom Trapper Hat
Faux Fur Pom Pom Trapper Hat, £15, Marks and Spencer
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For (faux) fur with a little more high-octane glamour, a Russian 'ushanka' is a great call and something many celebrities have been seen out and about in recently. These, too, often have ear flaps that can fold down. When I went to Russia a lot of my compatriots bought genuine Russian ushankas - I was tempted, but when I learned that they were real rabbit fur I lost interest somewhat. Luckily for us, there are a whole range of options available. This Kangol version is certain to be a hit:

Kangol Wool Ushanka Womens Winter Fur Hat - Black
Kangol Wool Ushanka Women's Winter Fur Hat - Black, £35.01, at Urban Excess
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Of course, since Katy Perry famously wore River Island's Panda hat, there's been a wave of recent styles featuring all kinds of animal ears too - gotta love a bit of quirk. River Island still have numerous similar styles.

The day Katy Perry famously wore River Island's adorable hat, sparking infinite copycat styles from every high street store.
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And - as always - there's the reincarnation of a vintage darling, the cloche.

Bow Trim Red Cloche
Bow Trim Red Cloche, £26, Accessorize
(Also available in black, with similar styles in purple and pale pink with corsage)

Remember, a great deal of heat is lost through your head - but with so many varied and gorgeous hats on offer, that never needs to be a problem again.

Ciao for now,