Denim Love

Wednesday, 20 May 2015
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Outfit: Mango denim shirt, Mango shorts, Tumi panama hat, K.Jacques sandals, Miu Miu sunglasses, Hermes Cape Cod and MeMe London bracelets.

A few days ago, the sun was out, the birds were chirping, the mercury was hovering around 17˚C and it felt like spring was here to stay. Hence, this outfit. Had I worn this out today, I would've turned into a human ice block. I rarely put away my autumn/winter clothes because the weather here changes in a blink of an eye.

Ever since I turned 40, I is waaaay too short to follow all these strange rules about what "older" women should or shouldn't wear. As long as you're comfortable and the style suits you to a T, who cares?

I've never owned a pair of black ripped shorts so I thought I'd give them a go. These are seriously riiiiiiiiippppppppped which means my upper thighs are well ventilated. I could even strum the purposely exposed threads like a guitar. The thoroughly distressed shorts will come in handy later when I'm off for my summer vacation. They're also remarkably comfy which gets a thumbs up from me. The shorts run big so be sure to size down.

I'm also loving this denim shirt from Mango lately. I sized up to a medium for a slouchier look (I don't like fitted clothes). Another thing......I've finally found my holy grail panama hat to replace my old battered one. I wanted a stiffer  Ecuadorian straw panama hat in bleached white with a wide-ish brim. I've been "blessed" with not only child sized feet (actually, 8 year olds have bigger feet than me. pfffft), I also have a smaller than usual head. Lucky me.

Locating a size 54cm panama hat was a pain in the rear end. It took a while but I found these guys in the UK who sell pretty darn impressive Ecuadorian panama hat for a fraction of the retail price elsewhere. Mine cost £33.95. By the way, they also work with Traidcraft and Oxfam which is great to hear.

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My ever pragmatic self used to pooh-poohed the idea of buying flowers. Waste of money. Or so I thought. That was before I became obsessed with cherry blossoms and wisteria. If you follow my Instagram feed, you'll know that I've gone completely flower bonkers (wow, that rhymes!). An elderly grocer in town has been teaching me the names of all the flowers in his store. The latin words are sinking in.........s l o w l y. This time next year, I'll be able to blurt out the names like a professional florist without stammering but right now.........

"you know that pinkish flower...lots of petals...some leaves?"
"You mean peonies."
" this photo on my phone?"

I couldn't resist sneaking in the last photo of the double rainbow outside my window. The weather has been atrocious lately but we were rewarded with these stunning rainbows tonight. Perhaps it's a metaphor for life. No matter how rough the ride we're on right now, there's a silver lining or in this case, a beautiful rainbow at our destination.

Outfit of the day & Blogging Masterclass

Saturday, 16 May 2015
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Outfit: Isabel Marant Etoile parka, Mango denim shirt, Zara jeans, See by Chloe sandals, Hermes Cape Cod watch, MeMe London bracelets (thank you to Andraya of MeMe for the gift).

The last few weeks have been pretty hectic with me catching the train on most days. For those of you with a young family, you're probably nodding furiously when I say that traveling for work and juggling school age kids (and their activities!) without any family members living close by can get a tad complicated at times. You have to plan everything well in advance - grocery, babysitting, meals etc.... And you look at those who have incredible Instagram feeds with such envy. Hopping on the plane and flying to exotic places on a whim.

Not that I'm complaining. Far from it. I know how lucky I am to be able to change my career and have flexible hours that I can plan in and around my family. I meet talented and entrepreneurial women who inspire me. And meet celebrities that I don't recognize because I don't own a TV and ask what they do for a living. I've managed to save my own butt a number of times when I bit my own tongue at the last moment because days after, I found out that they're stars of certain shows. And they were VIP guests at the event. #facepalm  Time to start being an avid reader of gossip mags or buy a TV.

So.....anyway..... Lil L is 9 now and quite adept at handling the camera. Here are some OOTD photos taken by her just after the school run. 3 minutes later, it was all done and dusted. Just so you know....I still get a running commentary in the morning about my outfit. Every. Single. Morning. God forbid I should turn up to school to pick her up in an outfit she doesn't approve. If she gives me grief ONE MORE TIME about cleaning her room, I may just turn up at her school dressed like Madonna.

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I was honored and touched when Laura of Hero Store invited me to be on the panel of speakers at the Blogging Masterclass recently along with Amanda and Tom who runs his successful online football quiz. Truth be told, I felt rather under qualified to be on the panel with these very experienced but also remarkably warm and down to earth individuals. Those who met Amanda couldn't help telling me how knowledgeable, lovely and chic she is (can't agree more!). Laura was a true professional who navigated the entire workshop with such finesse that left us in awe of her.  Read more about Amanda's account of the day here. I was also blown away when one lovely attendee told me how far she'd traveled to get to the workshop. Thank you to all those who participated in the workshop and for being such a great audience!

Firm Favorites

Thursday, 7 May 2015
Clockwise: Zara tuxedo jacket, Alexander Wang t-shirt, Miu Miu sunglasses, Marni ankle wrap heels, Zara jeans, Hermes belt, Hermes Cape Cod watch (near new and at a bargain!) and Chanel WOC.

I tend to wear the same old things over and over and over and over (I'm guessing you get my drift here by now) that it truly surprises me when someone pays a compliment. My Hermes Cape Cod automatic watch is 5 years old now but still garners attention. I get nods of approval from fellow Cape Cod owners while others ask to take a look. The watch is rather understated with nothing blingy to garner unnecessary attention but what stands out is the thick double tour leather strap which masquerades as a bracelet. I'm no watch connoisseur but I love the idea of buying something that lasts a lifetime.

My 20 year old Hermes belt (purchased secondhand for a song nearly 12 years ago) is slightly bruised and battered from daily use. I may still wear the same belt when I'm bent and shuffle around with a walking stick.

I'm so pleased I caved in and bought the Chanel WOC in caviar leather. J'adore lambskin but any sudden jarring movement and bump cause my stress level to shoot up sky high. Oh, did I mention that I no longer have to worry about dye transfer? Whew!

If you have a flat nose bridge, you'll know what a pain it is to find a pair of sunglasses that do not rub against your eyelashes or slide down your nose. These Miu Miu ones I've been wearing daily have nose pads attached. WHOA! Revelation...!! And they make me look trendy.....which is pretty darn awesome as I tend to be several trends behind.

Over the past couple of years, I've been on a warpath to find statement shoes albeit ones I can walk comfortably in without feeling like I'd undergone feet amputation. The two toned ankle strap sandals from Marni may seem rather overly simple but I was sold on their quirky geometric heels. To sum it up....they're rather ordinary at first glance until you look below the surface. Erm...a bit like their owner  *wink*

I would've loved to get the gorgeous tuxedo from Stella McCartney but the ££££ price tag made me wince in pain. So....I'm settling for this much easier on the pocket tuxedo jacket from Zara. What are your firm favorites in your closet? 

Friendship, travels and outfit

Tuesday, 5 May 2015
ootd-leopardprint Mine: Rick Owens leather jacket (old but here's another option), Isabel Marant leopard print silk top, Zara boyfriend jeans, Aquazzura Christy flats (sold out, similar here and a bargain here), Miu Miu sunglasses and Louis Vuitton Speedy Bandouliere 35cm.

The best thing about an OOTD (outfit of the day) photo is you can take tons and choose the best of the lot. Yes...even when you suddenly remember that you have a blog and you need to take a pic but you've spent the entire day running around like a headless chook (Kiwi slang for chicken), your make up has more or less melted away, you forgot to reapply your lipstick, your carefully brushed hair is so wind tousled, you look like you went on a roller coaster ride before having your photo taken.'ve folded your already cropped boyfriend jeans so much that you look disproportionately dwarf like (see the above photo of me)...... My point is take a selfie or OOTD photo while your make up is fresh and newly applied.  On the other hand, this is how I look most days so I guess if you ever meet me in person, I won't scare you.

Lil L: Zara denim jacket, Zara top, Zara skinny jeggings and Petit Bateau ballet flats

A couple of weeks ago, Lil L and I made a mad dash up to London to see a close friend of mine, Josephine when she came back to the U.K for a brief visit. It's sad having to bid goodbye to friends when they leave the country permanently, particularly ones I'd spent a lot of time with . We had a grand gastronomic adventure in Paris last year where we literally followed our noses as we went in search of patisseries.  We ate so much that the three of us couldn't bear the sight of any dessert for several months. Josephine's one of those incredibly chilled, down to earth, loyal and really considerate type of gal who's a dream to travel with.

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Lil L and I rented a car to explore more of Hampshire. And darn it....we were hoping to see a carpet of bluebells in Micheldever Woods but.....we were a week too early. There were just a sprinkling of bluebells here and there. Pfffffffft.

On a more positive note.....why travel to Japan to see sakura when I have plenty of cherry blossoms in my backyard. Well, not literally but in public places where I don't even need to sweep up the petals nor maintain the garden.

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Little wonder why my dieting is a complete failure. I caught up with my old Kiwi mates recently. My friend, Jen prepared a feast - hotpot complete with crabs, king prawns, octopus, squid along with what seemed like a million other side dishes. I passed out on their sofa from over-eating...... No, I'm not exaggerating here.

Many many years ago, we explored the length and breadth of Crete together and had a ton of fun. The best thing about traveling with like minded friends is that we get to spend time with each other, bond and chill out - an opportunity which is becoming increasingly rare these days as our work and kids' schedules clash. I was really touched when Jen reminded me of our crazy trip so many years ago (more than 4 years ago) and how she had the best of time.

In my 20 years of traveling, I've learned one thing. Grand palaces, awe inspiring scenery and outstanding architecture may wow you but it's the people that leave indelible memories.

The Wardrobe Staple

Tuesday, 28 April 2015
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Isabel Marant Étoile Andrei striped t-shirt, Miu Miu sunglasses, Chanel WOC, Zara boyfriend jeans and Charlotte Olympia Kitty flats.

I should've taken my own advice when I wrote this post (11 Summer Essentials) not too long ago. I figured I had loooooooaaaaads of time to get the much desired Isabel Marant Étoile Aaron striped t-shirt because  1) it's too cold and I'm having a brain freeze  2) it'll be there next month  3) I haven't finished analyzing all the possibilities of pairing the t-shirt with ...........

Let me backpedal a little. You know I was truly nuts about Petit Bateau breton tops. My problem is they're made of thick jersey so I rarely wear them over the warmer months. Secondly, it's hard to layer when I'm wearing the breton tops and you know what the weather in the U.K is like. It's more temperamental than moi when I'm PMSing. So I decided to embark on a journey to find a black and white striped t-shirt made of sheerer natural fabric with a slightly lower crew neck (more flattering on someone who has a moon shaped face). Okay, so I'm fussy and have a million different requirements. My only excuse is that I'm older and I know what suits me and what doesn't these days. It only took me 40 odd years........

The medium sized long sleeved Aaron t-shirt (if you're not an Isabel Marant fan, just so you know....she names every piece of clothing in her collections) is long gone. Poof! Sold out EVERYWHERE. But...wait a minute....there's the equally handsome twin, Andrei with shorter sleeves but long enough to cover most of my upper arms or can be worn rolled up. I decided to size up (medium) because I prefer a slouchier fit. I've tried them with my denim cutoffs, Chanel jacket, blazers......and I'm now convinced this t-shirt is a wardrobe staple. By the way, if you're planning to get the t-shirt from Matches Fashion, use their promo code FREEDEL for free delivery. Be quick though as they're selling like hotcakes.

Girls day out at Bicester

Monday, 27 April 2015
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Before I delve into our girls' day out at Bicester Village, can I just say that we all look like giants next to teeny tiny Natalie who weighed no more than 90 lbs including her massive bag, jewelry and boots. Just so you know, I'm not one of those people who can eat anything and everything and stay model thin. One bite and a bulge protrudes next to my first chin. Metabolism has definitely stopped dead in its tracks. Pffffftttt.........

Anyways.....moan fest over and done with. We spoke for months about organizing a day out at Bicester. The ladies have promised me that it won't be just shopping. I love shopping but by the second hour, the Jekyll and Hyde transformation is pretty darn obvious. We ambled slowly down the tiled paths while surreptitiously ogled the stylish shoppers.

We poked our heads into my favorite French designers - The Kooples, Sandro and Bonpoint. Prada was heaving as usual. The candy hued wallets with strap priced around the £330 (ish) mark,  a slight discount from their £480 retail tag. We obediently followed Natalie who knows Bicester like the back of her hand and shops with a military precision that astounds us. Meanwhile, Michelle, Fiona and I looked slightly lost as the stores seemed to have changed location within the village since our last visit.

All of us left with our wallets intact (whew!) having spent more on coffee than clothes and bags. Michelle's daughter was remarkably patient. Not a word of protest as she waited for us to finish our loooooong chats and shopping expedition. It was such an amazing day out....that I wonder why we don't do this more often.

Summer Essentials: Embroidered Tops

Friday, 24 April 2015
summer tops

1. Vanessa Bruno Athé Charles embroidered top £225
2. Madewell Lace Mix top  $88
3. Mango Open trim lace blouse  £24.99
4. Zara lace top  £39.99
5. Vanessa Bruno Athé chambray top  £148 (available in white £130)
6. Vanessa Bruno Costa Rica linen top  £375

summer outfits

1.  Madewell Biltmore panama hat  $58
2.  Madewell Lace Mix top  $88
3.  Mango ripped shorts  £29.99
4.  Valia Gabriel Lia sandals  £110
5.  Miu Miu sunglasses  $415
6.  Vanessa Bruno Athé Charlenn dress  £360  (in U.S here)
7.  Castaner Rita espadrille sandals  £155
8.  Mango medium denim shirt  £19.99  (in U.S here)
9.  J.Crew vintage hiking shorts  £65
10. Adidas Stan Smith sneakers  (in U.S here)

My obsession for embroidered cotton voile tops began when I bought my very first from Isabel Marant. Since then, I've been slowly adding a few more to my rather meager collection. I've put my two Love Sam tops through the ringer last year, having worn them all summer. They've been washed more times than I can remember and have held up incredibly well.

My personal style verged on tomboy-androgynous so these pretty frilly lace tops add a touch of femininity that's missing from my wardrobe. The tissue thin cotton fabric are airy enough to combat the stifling hot summer months.

You may not believe this but I do not own a single denim shirt. This is something I hope to remedy fairly soon. Denim cutoffs are my staple but I'd like to get a couple more options like these  J.Crew military and Mango ripped black shorts. Thankfully, the prices are fairly decent. I'm also looking to replace my beat up panama hat but finding one in extra small size is a pain in the a$$. I've got a tiny head.....(and small feet. Argh! What luck!) so please give me a holler if you happen to see a proper straw panama hat in size 53 or 54cm. So.....what's on your summer must have list?  


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