Sunday, 31 January 2016

Colour Me In

I always find that the most productive thing you can do whilst visiting museums is rope your friend into taking outfit photos of you. You might have had a bit of a hunch of this already, but I'm actually an East London gal, so visiting the museums at South Kensington on the other side of town is quite the day out for me. My lovely best pal Luke bought me a V&A membership for my birthday, which is just so exciting for me as I've never had a museum membership before! It means I can just swan in to any darn exhibition I like, maybe they'll even let me have some of the artefacts (they haven't confirmed this yet but I'm sure this is the case). We took this VIP opportunity to visit the exhibit Shoes: Pleasure and Pain currently showing in the fashion section. I'm more a bag lady myself (both metaphorically and literally) but being able to see all of these amazing shoes and understanding how they are perceived as works of art and status symbols was so fascinating. 8/10 would recommend! topshop v and a 5
And this is the outfit I wore! This is the debut of this shirt on the blog, I've had it for a few months now and it's become a firm favourite of mine. I bought it from Depop on a whim because I love the pattern, it reminds me of Hawaiian shirts which typically get a really bad rep, probably due to being associated with 'dads at a barbecue' chic. However, I think we should truly celebrate a man who isn't afraid to wear a loud print! I really want to build up a little collection of Hawaiian shirts for next Summer, and this is a pretty good start!
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Coat - Topshop
Shirt - Vintage via Depop
Scarf - Vintage
Skirt - Topshop via Ebay
Shoes - Primark
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This skirt is one of my favourites, it's sort of old Hollywood glamour and wannabe mermaid wrapped up into one silver garment. I love dressing it down as day-to-day wear with trainers, because it has such a flattering silhouette and it is super comfortable. I tend to like quite stretchy yet bodycon clothing (I really don't like denim or constrictive dresses) so it is perfect for me. I've paired it with these yellow brogues, a Primark purchase from many moons ago. I'm really into the concept of combining smart wear with neon colours, and I guess these are a smart version of my treasured Adidas Supercolors. You know, the sort of thing I can wear to job interviews to convey that I'm dynamic, wacky and I think outside the box.
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You might have also noticed that my hair is yet another colour! I like to channel Ramona Flowers and conduct hair experiments on my long-suffering locks, and this particular job was the result of a mixture of Directions Apricot and Pastel Pink. I think it's a little too reddy-orange at the top (I look a bit like Leeloo in The Fifth Element in certain lighting), but I really adore the peachy colour at the ends. I'm really tempted to dye my hair with a sort of rainbow effect now but I imagine that would take a lot more time and effort! Still, it would definitely go with this shirt.
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Thanks for reading, and check out Luke, my willing and patient photographer!

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Friday, 22 January 2016

Melt Dress

I don't know about you, but when I read blogs I often am drawn to them because of their seemingly perfect veneer. Maybe it's just the problem of comparison and the 'grass is always greener on the other side' approach, but I often look at my own #content and think 'why doesn't it look quite as seamless and perfect as everyone else's?' I guess writing blogs and putting photos of yourself out there makes you aware of your own body, and though this is something I'm generally relatively confident about, I do sometimes feel insecure. I like to wear quite odd clothing that is often hard to get away with unless you're extremely wiry, and I gotta say, this dress below was a bit of a CHALLENGE. Imagine me off camera trying to hoist the thing down every 50 seconds because it kept riding up my legs (safety shorts are a godsend, ladies am I right??) and feeling a little, well, vulnerable about how it showed off my post Christmas curves (I like to think of it as extra fat for warmth and not just a sad inevitability of chronic mini eggs addiction). Also, bonus points to anyone who noticed that I'm wearing odd socks.  unif adidas 4
Anyway, sorry for the slightly negative introduction, it's just something that's been playing on my mind when I've been deciding whether I want to post these pictures or not. This is actually my birthday outfit that I wore on an outing to Brick Lane with my most treasured pals. I had a brilliant time wandering around the market, going to the Spitalfields city farm and being reunited with Watson and Holmes, the on-site pigs (I really like pigs). Also, Brick Lane's super cool graffiti made the perfect backdrop for my outfit (way to make art about me).
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Hat - H&M
Dress - Unif
Harness - Etsy (This particular one isn't available but there are loads of others)!
Shoes - Adidas Supercolor via Ebay

This dress is from one of my favourite labels Unif, and I've been lusting after it for ages. Annoyingly Unif is difficult to get in the UK so I got my most wonderful and kind pal Lucy to bring it back from America with her. It's made from a sheer material and has a big ol' slit up the side, which as I've mentioned doesn't make it the most practical of dresses, but I absolutely love the print, and being a tall lady means that longer dresses tend to work better for me.

Now I know what you're thinking - a harness? That's a bit fruity Bel. Well, underwear as outerwear was rather on trend a while ago and I really loved the way harnesses look as accessories, so I picked up a couple. I don't really wear them a lot as they can be hard to style, plus I get some considerable side eye ('that girl has probably read 50 Shades of Grey' they think to themselves) but this went perfectly with the dress. I'm not a big jewelry person so wearing the harness makes me feel like I've made a bit more of an effort to style my outfit up.
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Accessories wise, I wore my trusty Supercolors, which are now my favourite pair of shoes in the world (look at them, they're so bloody sunny and bright)! I've also been wearing this beanie constantly since I bought it, because the pastel colour goes really well with my hair.
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Thanks to Luke for taking these snaps of me!

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Friday, 15 January 2016

Multicoloured Winter

So, I haven't done an outfit post for a long time. Maybe because I've been a bit conflicted about what I want this blog to be, and whether I have enough enthusiasm for fashion to keep trying to write about it and recording my own personal style. Plus, I have become just a little too comfortable in a jumper and my black jeggings. But recently I've been rekindling my love for creating more interesting outfits, particularly as it's getting super cold, meaning I can wrap in up in coats (my absolute favourite item of clothing). When people think of Winter they usually associate it with dark colours such as maroon, burgundy and navy, but this outfit incorporates multicolour into a 'freezing my tits off' aesthetic.
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Coat - Topshop (sold out)
Scarf - Charity shop
Jumpsuit - Charity shop
Socks - Hotsox
Shoes - Adidas Supercolor via Ebay
Bag - Kanken via Oliveclothing

I have been eyeing up this coat for a while, but at £95 it was completely out of my price range. Imagine my joy when I saw that it had been reduced by 50% in the Topshop sale! It's become the replacement for my orange muppet coat which regular readers will probably remember, because it is tired and sad now, plus orange fluff balls keep falling off it and the lining is totally screwed. I've left it at home in Oxford, but it has such a strong sentimental value to me that I've instructed mum not to throw it out (she helpfully suggested making it into a cushion, but I just don't think I could see my baby all cut up and changed like that).
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The jumpsuit is from the charity shop around the corner from me, which is excellent and I now raid it on a daily basis (I mean I do pay, I just come out of there with about 15 items of clothing a time). I've paired it with my Adidas Supercolor trainers, which I've wanted for so long, but they sold out quickly and I had to trawl ebay to find this pair! My dream is to have them in every colour but it's not looking likely, but at least I have them in one of my favourite colours. I love the pairing of yellow and purple in this outfit as I think they really set each other off, and it felt good to be able to still be as colourful as normal even with the threat of snow. Colour isn't just for Summer, kids! Although speaking of kids, as I mentioned on twitter, I left the house wearing this outfit and bumped into a toddler wearing a very similar ensemble, but I guess dressing like a crayon is just more socially acceptable at that age, whatever...

I hope you all have a lovely weekend! It's my birthday on Sunday so you might hear from me again with a birthday girl outfit, complete with a sulking expression and probably a tiara.

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Friday, 8 January 2016

Figuring it out 002 - On Valuing Friendships


*Takes up the mic* this one is dedicated to all my chums out there! You know who you are.

This post is about how friendship truly is the greatest thing. Innovative stuff I know. Yes, it may seem very obvious, but recently I have been considering how easy it is to take friendship for granted and not see how significant it is in our lives. Or at least, I have been worried that I do this and I thought there might be some of you who could relate.

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Maire and I, 2011

I read a lot about romantic relationships, but not nearly as much about the other relationships we develop over the years. It is assumed that romantic relationships are more intense, more deeply felt, and I don’t think that is always the case. When you lose a friend the sense of grief you feel can be similar to losing a boyfriend or girlfriend.  You can feel love for a friend that eclipses that of a lover.

It’s easy to take friendship for granted. It’s that constant thing in your life, the people you sit at lunch with, go to the pub with, sometimes live with. It doesn’t necessarily have the intense quality of the start of a romantic entanglement, so we see it as something ‘everyday’. This means we perhaps don't put all of our efforts into it, to keep things interesting, go on friend dates, ask them how they are generally. 

Friendship can be intense and ridiculous, and a good friend can immeasurably improve your life. My friend Luke and I bonded when I posted something on tumblr, lamenting my inability to keep up with the difficulty of university assignments, he responded and came round to my flat with a pot of tea and a set of build a burger sweets, truly the stuff of a romantic comedy (except in a context of a totally platonic, brother and sister style dynamic). As a result, we’ve become a huge part of each other’s lives, and I’ve learnt a lot from his generosity, enthusiasm and intelligence. I can always count on him to build me up and give me the most invigorating, academic theories on Lady Gaga’s new album.

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Bradley, Luke, Dan and Maire and I, 2015

Friends are the people who you grow up with, they see the best parts of you and the worst, and you see each other grow not just in numbers but as people. Often you lose touch with schoolfriends, but that doesn’t make their impact on your life any less significant. I’ve known Emily and Lucy since I was in early secondary school, and we’ve truly been through some embarrassing haircuts, crushes and mood swings together. I’ve seen them grow into kind, strong, successful, beautiful people and we’re just as close now as we were then. It is those people who you can talk to frankly and honestly, even when you’re sober, sitting on the floor in one of your houses at 3am in the morning eating pasta and cheese, just talking about your fears for the future, and knowing that you’re always going to have those people to talk to when things get tough.

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Lucy, Emily and me in Sedona USA, 2015

Friends can help you see new perspectives. Often we are attracted to people romantically and platonically due to the similarities we perceive in them with ourselves, but some of the best friendships I’ve had have been with people with very different personalities. Laila, who I met through blogging, is incredibly confident, with her own business and lots of different hobbies. We don’t really agree on many things but because of that she’s helped me see totally different perspectives and opened my mind a bit. She’s sort of my Tigger if I were Eeyore, always seeing the good in things and with a total love of life, something I have really learnt from.  My other friend Maire is one of the most intelligent and thoughtful people I know, and certainly not someone who sugar coats what she says. Having those friends who are absolutely honest with you is so valuable.

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Jess, Laila and I, 2015

Friends make you cry with laughter, and see the humour in so many things. My chum Dan often has me in hysterical laughter, even when he's not actually there and I'm just imagining something ridiculous he's said whilst I'm walking to work in the morning. When I first met him I often didn't really get his sense of humour, but a few years down the line I'll see something funny and think of how hilarious he'd find it too. Likewise, I've spend many school lunchtimes rolling around the school field in paroxysms of laughter with Lucy, who is undoubtedly one of the funniest people I know.

I read something on twitter the other day from twitter user Teddy Bless: ‘pursue friendships so strong that they make you raise your standards in romantic relationships.’ This is such an interesting concept to me, because many of the qualities of friendship are similar to the ones you would hope for from romance. Do your friends listen to you, are they there for you, can you talk to them openly and honestly? Do they make you laugh and generally just make your life that bit better?  In many ways, cultivating strong friendships is more important than finding romantic relationships, because it helps you understand what qualities you look to in people, and indeed, how to be good, kind and compassionate, how to be there for someone and how to have deep, meaningful conversations.  As young people, many things are going to change over the next few years for my pals and I, but one thing should remain constant, and that is the presence of us in each other’s lives. That’s something to be cherished and appreciated.

I want to make a real effort in 2016 to become a better friend. To text first, make plans, meet up for coffee with people who have their own lives going on and who I haven't seen in a while, check up on people, take ridiculously flattering candid photos of them, make them as many cups of tea as they've made me in the past. Not everyone has the opportunity to make strong friends, some people get lost along the way and end up with the wrong people, and some are isolated for whatever reason. It's so important to value the friends who are always on the end of the phone, who are dedicated to favouriting your lamest tweets. There isn't one type of love out there, it extends to so many different parts of our lives. 

And to play us out, this extremely relevant music video by Kris Jenner...


Other reading:

This post is inspired by my pal Laila's post on Friends
Anna from By Her Mirror on Friendship Breakups


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Monday, 28 December 2015

Thoughts On Reinvention

Where would we all be if we weren't constantly encouraged and reassured by the notion of reinvention, of creating a new image for ourselves? I always associate the time after Christmas with the warm feeling of being able to start afresh, making the most of new gifts given and making promises to yourself about how you'll learn Russian, finally become a vegetarian and start volunteering. As a child I would make a list of hundreds of things that I wanted to do in the New Year, no, that I had to do in the New Year, otherwise I would stay the same unimpressive me. Though it seemed motivational at the time, I think that kind of behaviour encouraged a sense of self-loathing in me, scrutinising every part of myself and wanting it to change. This frustration with myself would often lead me further away from my goals, rather than closer, because I didn't feel good enough to achieve them.oxford eve 3
Jumper - Rotita
Jeggings - Uniqlo
Shoes - Hunter via TK Maxx
Beanie - Commando (out of stock)

Usually I write a post at the end of every year analysing it, and concluding about what I want to do in the next year. I'm not sure if that will cut it this time. Every year is ups and downs and this one has been no different, but the one thing that seems significant about 2015 is that both my world view and perspective have really changed.

This year has opened me up to everything, to the importance of friendship, to the importance of showing vulnerability and showing yourself kindness as well as others, both of which I have written about here and here. 

Next year I am 23. I don't know whether I thought I would be in this place aged 23 a few years back, and there's still so many exciting projects I want to work on and things I want to do with my life. Your early 20's is a confusing and overwhelming time and it's one I imagine I will look upon fondly in the future, and I want to be able to enjoy it, and live fully in it, without being constantly hard on myself and putting pressure on myself to be better.

Better can be a really vicious concept. I see this quote kicking about the internet: 'Life isn't about finding yourself, life is about creating yourself'. I ate that up a few years ago, thinking I could mould myself into the shape (not just physically but mentally) that I wanted to be. To some extent I think that is true, but it's also exhausting. One of my favourite songs, Two Step by Dave Matthews Band (don't roll your eyes) includes the lyrics: 'Celebrate we will, Because life is short but sweet for certain/We're climbing two by two/To be sure these days continue/These things we cannot change'. I really relate to these lyrics, because I think in the pursuit of perfection, and with a grass is greener mentality, we sometimes forget to just enjoy what is there. You can jump from goal to goal, from university to job, ticking boxes, and forget who you are in the process, and forget that life itself is incredible and overwhelming at times.

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In the past I have forgotten to truly appreciate the fact I have a stable family dynamic, that I have wonderful, hilarious and supportive friends, that I am from a city that I am basically in love with, that I work at a job that is stimulating. I have put my work out there and lamented how it didn't get the response I was hoping for, instead of just being proud of the fact that I was actually making stuff and writing something, just putting something of yourself out there is enough. 

I have written about learning to accept myself before, but I really had no idea what that entailed until now. I accepted myself conditionally, on the basis that one day I would learn to stop being so emotional, that I would fit into a size 8, that I would achieve specific goals. These kinds of thoughts don't cut it, and they just leave you hollow. It sounds clich├ęd, but you don't live in the now because you're always hoping the future is better, that you will be better.

Before the clock strikes 12 on NYE I'm going to sit down and consider what I really want for myself next year, other than learning swahili and eating more kale. I'm going to set myself realistic goals but also tell myself that my life doesn't depend upon those goals being reached. It's been hard to learn, but ultimately your worth is intrinsic and not based on exterior successes. You should go after goals because you're passionate about them and want the best for yourself, but be mindful that life is more than goals, whether they be relationship or squad related. 

I'm going to take this opportunity to be excited about the year ahead and what I could be getting up to, but I don't think it's about reinvention anymore. Its about embracing life as it comes, realising that happiness is not an end goal, and that it's all just part of a process. This is just a reminder to be gentle and not be hard on yourself, and that sometimes acceptance of the good and bad parts of you is better than reinvention.

What are your hopes for 2016?

Thanks for reading!

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