Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Paintings Update

A while ago I said that I'd started up painting again, and that I'd post a new painting every day on my blog - that clearly didn't last! Not because I haven't been doing any more paintings, but because I thought it would perhaps clog up my blog a little bit for people who aren't really that interested in art. Instead, I thought I would do a weekly/fortnightly round up of what I've been painting lately.

Gemma Ward

Karlie Kloss

Bridgette Bardot

Kate Moss
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Tutorial: Cream and gold ombre nails

The ombre trend seems to be showing no signs of abating, and one of my favourite ways to wear this trend is on nails! I've been wearing ombre nails for a couple of weeks now in various colours, but this delicate cream and gold version is my favourite - I consider it a sparklier version of a classic French manicure!

1. Collect your tools: cream nail varnish (Rimmel Lycra Pro French Ivory), gold nail varnish (Barry M Foil Effects), clear nail varnish (No. 7 Stay Perfect Top Coat), washing up sponge
2. Paint your whole nails in the cream nail varnish (mine is a couple of days old, hence the chips at the end!) and let them completely dry
3. Cut a small section off the end of your sponge, and paint the gold nail varnish directly onto it
4. Using the painted sponge, lightly dab along the bottom half of each nail to produce a stippled ombre effect. When completely dry, cover in a top coat or two

Monday, 25 June 2012

A-Z of British Style: B is for Burberry

Just a short decade ago, the brand Burberry was languishing in the depths of bad publicity. When Daniella Westbrook appeared wearing head-to-toe Burberry check, even co-ordinating her baby's pram with her outfit, it seemed that the brand would forever be worn by 'chavs' and scorned by fashionistas who were embarrassed to be associated with chav culture.

Burberry is famed for it's distinctive trench coat, invented by its founder Thomas Burberry

However Christopher Bailey - ex-Gucci designer - was appointed as creative director in 2001 and chief creative officer in 2009, and together with Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts Bailey has transformed and modernised the heritage brand.

Watson and Redmayne in their respective campaigns

Burberry's marketing strategy has been to harness the joint powers of social media and celebrity culture: modelling stints from celebrities such as Emma Watson and Eddie Redmayne have exponentially improved Burberry's profile among the youth demographic both in the UK and abroad, and is considered one of the most successful fashion brands on sites such as Facebook (12 million 'likes'), Twitter (1 million followers), and Youtube (14 million views)

Burberry Prorsum A/W 2012 show finale
Today the cohesiveness of the brand has gone from strength to strength, something Ahrendts has credited to Bailey's consistent vision. This month Burberry has been one of the most expensive fashion companies on the FTSE 100, consistently outperforming similar companies: Burberry has now joined brands such as Louis Vuitton and Prada as a billion-pound fashion label, and analysts say that the brand will only continue to grow.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Weekly Roundup

This quote really resonated with me at a time when my friends are discussing internships and adults are asking what I will do when I graduate (I HAVE NO IDEA LEAVE ME ALONE)
Loved everything about this outfit from Kryz U. on Lookbook: the collar, the socks, the clutch!
Can't wait to try out this wall art idea from creme de la craft!
Also super keen to try out this raggedy bunting idea seen on Your Home is Lovely!

And finally: 100 fantastic reasons to get away from the internet from the fabulous Gala Darling!

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Celebrity Style: Keira Knightley

As someone who is fanatical about costume dramas, it's inevitable that Keira Knightley is often on my radar. Although the big, poofy hair and even bigger, pouffier dresses she wears on screen are a tad impractical for everyday wear and the old school Hollywood glamour she exudes at premieres can be just as difficult to achieve in daily life, her stylish casual looks are easy to imitate.

Keira's signature look is mixing simple, preppy separates with shiny, glossy hair and vintage styling. She sticks to a basic colour palette of neutrals and earthy tones with splashes of prints and bright colours here and there. She also appears pretty thrifty, often recycling the same pieces to use in different outfits - this is something I always admire!

one: Miss Selfridge // two: ASOS // three: ASOS // four: Topshop // five: ASOS // six: River Island
one: Uniqlo // two: ASOS // three: French Connection // four: Topshop // five: River Island

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Inspiration: Graduation outfits

It's graduation week here at St Andrews, and although I myself won't be graduating until next year (fingers crossed!) one of my housemates is doing so tomorrow morning and the whole town is filled with fresh graduates in swishy gowns and coffee shops offering afternoon teas!

There are a myriad of different events going on during graduation week with varying levels of formality - from the prescribed dress code of the ceremony itself to dinner with the parents, garden parties, afternoon tea and of course, the long-awaited grad ball!

Different universities have varying traditions and ceremonies but as far as I'm aware each one has a black/white dress code for the graduation ceremony and a formal black or white tie dress code for grad ball. I've come up with some outfit inspiration for each of these events, plus a couple of bonus semi-casual outfits for dinners, lunches, garden parties, or whatever else you might have planned!

one: Topshop // two: Zara // three: ASOS // four: ASOS

one: Zara // two: ASOS // three: Topshop // four: New Look
one: Lipsy // two: ASOS // three: ASOS // four: New Look // five: River Island at ASOS

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

DIY: Storage built from Graze boxes

I've been receiving my weekly Graze box for a while now, and as I hate throwing cardboard boxes away I thought I'd come up with a way of transforming them into some useful storage!

1. Grab your empty Graze boxes! Open a box, and cut the lid off, then cut out the back section of the bottom part of the box - the section opposite the one with thumb hole dents in.

2. Fold down the edges of the lid part, and place it inside the bottom part. Make sure that you line the three edges of both the lid and the bottom part of the box together, to make an opening at the front. Tape down all the edges to make them secure.

3. Repeat these steps for as many boxes as you like (I chose three). Stack them on top of each other, making sure the openings are all facing the same way. Tape down all the edges.

4. Cut out some pieces of paper (I used self-printed brown paper, but you could use plain brown paper or wrapping paper or anything similar) about an inch bigger than each side of your stack of boxes all around. Cut out some strips to cover the visible parts of the openings at the front of the box too.

5. Cover each side of your stack of boxes in your paper. You could use double-sided sticky tape, clear tape, washi tape, or glue. I used clear tape to stick the paper to the box itself, then glued the paper down where any tape would be visible.

6. Cover the whole box and leave it to dry if you used glue. It's now ready to use! I use mine to store papers, bits of stationery and my phone when I'm at my desk.

I'll be coming up with a tutorial in a week or so which uses those little cardboard dividers than come inside Graze boxes, so make sure to keep those somewhere safe too!

Do you have any other ways to recycle Graze boxes?

Monday, 18 June 2012

Wardrobe essentials: Black skinny jeans

I wrote previously about my intention behind what will hopefully become a series of posts about 'wardrobe essentials', the sartorial foundations on which a versatile wardrobe can be built, able to be adapted to any kind of event and situation.

This, the first post, is about the hardest working item in my own wardrobe: the black skinny jean. Since about the age of 15, I've worn a pair of these jeans at least once a week. I wear them to work, the library, restaurants, the pub, to travel in, nightclubs... you name a place, I'll wear my skinny jeans! They're so versatile, and once I've found a brand that suits both my body shape and your budget, I think I'll be sorted for life!

I currently have three pairs in rotation: a pair from New Look last summer, a pair from Vero Moda and a pair from Cheap Monday. My favourite ones are from Vero Moda; the material is super soft and stretchy, meaning they have an excellent tight fit but I can still easily jump around in them. They also don't gape at the back as my Cheap Monday ones do, or slide down horribly when I sit down as my New Look ones do. They're also a great bargain, currently on sale at £19.50 at ASOS!

left: Vero Moda Skinny Jeans // centre: Cheap Monday Tight V Stretch // right: New Look Skinny Jeans
When buying skinny jeans I always check out the fabric components to see how much stretch they're likely to have, but it's much better to try them on to see what the fit is really like. For example, the Vero Moda jeans apparently only have 1% elastene in them, but to me they feel much stretchier than both the Cheap Monday and New Look ones, which both have 2% elastene.

Although the cheapest at a mere £9.99, the New Look jeans have become very faded with wear, and now feel quite hard and stiff even after they've been worn - this makes them really hard to put on and sit cross-legged in, not ideal at all! I have had them for almost a year though, so they're quite good value really. The Vero Moda ones are by far my favourite though, and I think I'll be stocking up and buying a couple more pairs since they're on offer at the moment!

Do you consider black skinny jeans as one of your wardrobe staples? Which is your favourite brand?

Friday, 15 June 2012

Celebrity Style: Miranda Kerr

Miranda Kerr is my absolute favourite Victoria's Secret Angel - she somehow always manages to look fresh and glowing, even when strutting down the catwalk with a face full of makeup! Her beautiful skin and healthy appearance is perhaps down to her own brand of skincare, Kora Organics, a range inspired by her family's homemade beauty remedies. Besides her fresh-faced look and that amazing body - apparently kept in shape with daily pilates and yoga workouts - Miranda is usually known for her private life, her marriage to actor Orlando Bloom and their gorgeous baby boy, Flynn. However, she also has a fantastic sense of style!

Away from the catwalk and the red carpet, Miranda rocks the classic off-duty model look of skinny jeans and sunglasses, but always keeps things on trend with splashes of prints and colour.

one: ASOS // two: ASOS // three: H&M // four: Office // five: Urban Code
one: Topshop // two: ASOS // three: Topshop // four: Jeepers Peepers // five: Vero Moda // six: ASOS

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Review: TRESemmé Split Remedy

I ordered my second Little Beauty Box from Latest in Beauty about a fortnight ago, and found a lovely pink package waiting outside my room when I returned from my visit home last week!

I've blogged about Latest in Beauty's Little Beauty Box scheme previously; the concept is basically that you can choose three different kinds of samples for just £1.50 - I love this because it's such great value and you can get to test some really nice products!

This time I chose a St Tropez suntan lotion with tan enhancer - which I haven't yet had the chance to try out because the weather's been so awful again lately - a Crabtree & Evelyn 'Lily' scented body lotion (this has a very florally smell, but I love it because it's the same scent which my Granny uses!) and the TRESemmé Split Remedy shampoo, condition and leave-in treatment.

These were quite generously sized sachets: there were 2 sachets each of the shampoo, conditioner and leave-in treatment, and as I used about 2/3s of a sachet in one wash, I was able to get three uses out of them!

The Split Remedy formula claims to offer up to an 80% reduction in split ends after just three uses - and I definitely agree with this! My hair is awfully dry from the mid-lengths downwards and is extremely prone to split ends. I trim the ends myself every four weeks but still constantly find split ends on a daily basis: I don't straighten or curl my hair and I use a hairdryer maybe once every couple of months but they still keep on coming! After using the Split Remedy treatments just once I noticed a massive difference in the texture of my hair: the ends were smoother and softer, but this didn't make my roots any more greasy or limp! There were vast improvements after I'd used all the sachets, and I will definitely be purchasing this product some time soon! In fact, the Split Remedy range (shampoo, condition, leave-in treatment, sealing serum and intense recovery masque) is on 3 for 2 at Boots at the moment, so now would be a great time to buy!

Monday, 11 June 2012

A-Z of British Style: A is for Alexa

There's no doubting Alexa Chung's influence as the quintessential advocate of that very 'London' mishmashed way of dressing: she is constantly both prim and grunge, designer and high street, masculine and feminine, simple and variated.

Approached by the modelling agency Storm at Reading Festival when she was 16, Alexa has since appeared on the frows at various Fashion Weeks, featured on countless Best Dressed lists, graced the covers of Vogue, Elle and Harper's Bazaar, seen her eponymous Mulberry bag instantly become one of the most recognisable It-bags, and even designed her own line in collaboration with Madewell.

She consistently wears incongruous items together to create her particularly individual sense of style: ball gowns with woolly jumpers, masculine tailoring with girly bows, smart dresses with quirky accessories. An exponent of the messy bedhead hairstyle, she always wears lashings of eyeliner no matter the occasion which adds to her nonchalant couldn't-care-less attitude.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Recipe: Granny's blueberry scones with blueberry compote

My Granny is the Baking Queen: everything she bakes turns out perfectly, which makes me very jealous! Whenever she bakes scones, I have to force myself to not eat them all at once - plain, fruit, but especially blueberry flavoured, since blueberries are my favourite fruit of all! When I went home last week I had so many blueberry scones; last night I decided to bake some myself since I missed them so much, and whipped up some blueberry compote this morning to go with them at brunch. Here's the recipe:

8 oz / 225g self-raising flour (or 8 oz / 225g plain flour and 3 level tsp baking powder)
2 oz / 60g butter, in pieces (I use Stork)
2 oz / 60g white sugar
handful or two of blueberries

...and for the compote:
handful of blueberries
1 tbsp white sugar
dash of lemon juice

1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees (fan oven).
2. In a mixing bowl, rub the butter and flour together until you get what looks a bit like breadcrumbs. I find this is easiest with butter straight out of the fridge and cut into small chunks.

3. Mix in the sugar and blueberries using your hands.
4. Add milk to the mixture a splash at a time, and mix together using your hands. Be careful not to add too much, you just want enough so that the mixture sticks together.

5. At this stage, my Granny rolls the mixture out and cuts out scone shapes with a cutter. Because I'm lazier, I just grab chunks of the mixture and form ball shapes in my hand, then flatten them out slightly and place them onto a piece of baking parchment, placed on a baking tray.

6. Pop them into the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes. I usually check after 15 minutes; if they look a bit pale on the top or feel too squidgy, I leave them for a couple more minutes.

7. While the scones are cooking, tip all the compote ingredients into a small saucepan, and cook over a low heat until the blueberries have popped and the mixture has a sort of runny jammy texture. Stir it occasionally in case the compote sticks to the pan.

8. When they're ready, take the scones out of the oven. They taste delicious cut in half straight away (be careful not to burn yourself!) with butter smeared on them, or with the compote poured on top!

Celebrity Style: Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift is quite possibly my all-time favourite celebrity style inspiration. She always looks immaculate, whether dressed down casually during the daytime or glammed up to the max for an awards ceremony. Taylor's equally at home in earthy muted palettes, bold primary brights or gorgeous vintage prints. Her looks are fairly easy to copy from the high street as well, here's two of my favourite outfits...

one: ASOS // two: Zara // three: A|wear // four: Warehouse // five: Office
one: Zara // two: Matalan // three: Oasis // four: Zara

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Wardrobe essentials: the premise

I've been reading lots of blog posts lately* about cutting back on spending and building a versatile wardrobe built on adaptable 'foundations' and 'essential' items. This is a topic that I've been thinking about for a while now, particularly in the last twelve months or so where I've been moving around a lot and surviving off the dregs of my overdraft: I can't afford to maintain a wardrobe as extensive as I have in the past, nor do I want to cart around mountains of clothes and shoes with me every time I move.


During this time my wardrobe has become more streamlined. I've dramatically cut down on sartorial spending: where I'd often spend all my free time browsing shops online and snapping up everything I could see in the sales just because it was a 'bargain', I now plan what I want to wear and buy accordingly. Although this has meant that the few purchases I have made have been significantly more expensive than items I would have bought previously, these are pieces that I still love to wear months after purchasing them, and which I will continue to wear for many more months rather than reselling, donating, or leaving them to languish in the back of my wardrobe.


I thought I'd do a series of posts on what I consider to be the 'essential' parts of my wardrobe. These are the items that are completely versatile, that can be worn in a multitude of situations and throughout the seasons. I tend to stick to a palette of three or four colours throughout my wardrobe (red, navy, camel and black) which means that many pieces can be swapped around and worn with each other. This is a massive factor for me when it comes to buying new clothes: I want to know that they will easily fit with everything else that I wear. It also makes packing for holidays and weekend trips super quick and stress-free!


* one, two, three, and four.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Painting of the day #4

I've had the BEST day today! I came to my Mum's house and met the new puppies; they're absolutely adorable and kept jumping up at me, licking my nose and sitting on my lap! Love them! I also tasted my Granny's best ever blueberry scones (too good), some new tea flavours my Mum found and watching the Jubilee flotilla on the TV - my favourite moments were when the royals were bopping along to the philharmonic orchestra and when Kate knocked Wills' head with her umbrella! Love the royal family!

Today I painted the beautiful Blair from Atlantic-Pacific; follow her blog if you love outfit posts because she has the most gorgeous wardrobe and an inspirational sense of style!

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Painting of the day #3

I eventually reached Shrewsbury at 10pm last night, and my wonderful father picked me up with a Chinese takeout and a bottle of wine! My little sister woke me up early this morning and we spent the morning reading Jacqueline Wilson books and watching Matilda on DVD - I'd forgotten how much I loved that film! She was then in the village carnival, and after watching the floats and partaking in the obligatory tombola we went off to a local pub for dinner. She had the biggest ice cream I'd ever seen in my life, I had to help her eat some but even then we couldn't finish it!

Want to make a child happy? Give her a massive ice cream.

Inspiration for today's painting came from the Les Composantes archives. This image immediately drew my eye; I just can't resist the combination of black, white and red, especially when paired with matching lipstick!

Coveting: New in this week #3

1: Charlotte Olympia // 2: Asos // 3: River Island // 4: Asos // 5: Miu Miu

This week I've decided to go with a bit of a theme: basics with a twist. I love the printed denim waistcoat and jeans, and the blouse with pleated shoulders is divine, but my absolute favourites are the glittery cat eye sunglasses and the kitten face loafers. Predictably, these are also the most expensive items and well out of my budget! I'll be scouring ebay for some similar items, but fingers crossed I'll have a job and some disposable income if and when the  originals fall into the net a porter sale!

Friday, 1 June 2012

Painting of the day #2

I'm currently writing this in the noisy, uncomfortable surroundings of Manchester Piccadilly train station - I'm half-way on my way back down to Shrewsbury, but because my train from Edinburgh was delayed I missed my connecting train so have to wait an extra 45 minutes! Just enough time to catch up on some blogs and post this!

I painted this earlier this morning; I'd bookmarked this glorious outfit post from Kaylah of Dainty Squid when she first posted it and have been drawn back to it numerous times since! There's something so beautiful and effortless about the way she mixes bold prints and colours, and I love seeing all her latest outfits.

Source image: Dainty Squid
Media used:
Watercolour paints in Lemon Yellow, Crimson Red and Prussian Blue
Acrylic paints in Indescent Gold