Personal style and fashion blog

Wednesday, 3 October 2018

The TOAST Japanese Jacket



Wearing: ASOS Sunglasses, TOAST Japanese Jacket (gifted), COS Trousers, ST. AGNI Slides

Whenever I go home to visit my parents (which, admittedly, has been a while what with now being on the other side of the world), there's almost always a TOAST catalogue lying around on the kitchen table. One of the first things I'll do on arrival is plonk myself down with a huge cup of tea and leaf through said catalogue as my mum and I point out our favourite pieces and build a fantasy wardrobe, complete with commentary on when and how we'd wear each piece.  


TOAST is an incredible British brand I associate with quality and longevity, creating boxy, slightly mannish clothing that I love and always manages to transcend seasons (their homeware is beautiful too). So when the team asked me to get involved with the launch of their new Autumn collection and A Creative Practice campaign, it's safe to say it was one of the most exciting emails to land in my inbox for quite some time.  


This season, TOAST has joined forces with six illustrators who have created six 'half done' postcards. These illustrators have started off the drawing, and TOAST is inviting customers and followers of the brand to complete them in any way they wish. 


You'll find these postcards in that aforementioned catalogue, in stores or packed with orders and you can share your creation on Instagram using #acreativepractice, send them back to TOAST to be included in an in-store installation, or simply keep them for yourself (I'll be using mine to decorate my new flat and have actually loved the excuse to get out a pen and paper and do something creative that hasn't involved a computer screen and a keyboard). You can find out more about A Creative Practice and see other people's postcards here


As for the Autumn/Winter collection, expect wool gabardine trousers, sturdy leather lace-up boots, cord jackets and matching trousers, button-down needlecord shirts and thick cashmere knits that will make you glad of the colder months (I'll be admiring from afar as I enter the Australian summer). 


My pick though, is this Japanese Indigo Cotton Jacket. Featuring a mandarin collar and three knot buttons to the side, it's the kind of thing I can wear buttoned up and create a makeshift suit with navy trousers, like I've done here, or loose with boxy layers once it starts to warm up. 

Shop the new TOAST collection here


While this jacket was a gift from TOAST, all views and styling are my own. 

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Monday, 17 September 2018

My (Near) Lifelong Love Affair with Second Hand Clothing




I go through distinct phases when it comes to second hand clothes shopping. I can date my first experience back to circa 2001 on a family holiday somewhere up in Scotland. I don't remember much about the trip except it being cold and damp and we stayed in an old flat that had something to do with Charles Rennie Mackintosh (which, of course, I completely didn't appreciate at the time).  

What does remain a vivid memory, though, is the guestbook in said flat. In one of the previous entries, one woman wrote that she'd picked up a Burberry trench coat in the local charity shop for £5 (and a genuine one at that, not the many knock offs that were circulating at the time). Five pounds! I was 11 at the time, I'd just started to take an interest in fashion that went beyond Tammy Girl and well, even I could afford £5 with my monthly pocket money. I hot-footed it to said charity shop, ignoring the pleas of my parents to go and experience the local culture and spent a great deal of time searching the racks. Alas, the Burberry trench was a one-off but I had been fully introduced into the world of second hand shopping. My quest for cheap but genuine branded clothing continued into my teens, with most of my Saturdays spent in Liverpool's TK Maxx, my best friend in tow, each of us eager to find the ultimate bargain.


Then came 2008, the start of my university years in Newcastle. Like most other students at the time, my frugality led me to the many vintage shops in the city (no idea if they still exist but the best were around High Bridge) and clearing the date in my diary when the vintage fairs rolled into town and took over the student union. I couldn't get enough, my wardrobe was filled with off-beat, pre-loved oversized jumpers, old silk scarves and reconstructed shirts (as you can probably tell, I was a lot more adventurous in my wardrobe choices back then). 


The trouble is, I overdid it. July 2011 marked my graduation and after the ubiquitous gap year in South America, I was thrust into the real world with my first proper job in London. I was earning above the minimum wage (well, just about) for the first time in my life and armed with my overdraft and the recklessness that comes with being a young twenty-something in the capital, I didn't care for what I started to think of as other people's cast offs. I wanted new, I wanted shiny, I wanted exciting. 

I'm now 28 and I don't think I've gone near second hand clothing for a good seven years. That is, until now. If I haven't harped on about it enough, earlier this year I moved out to Australia and after a bit of travelling, I've been calling Melbourne home for the past two months. Of course, I've been sampling the shops as much as I have the incredible brunch spots, restaurants and rooftop bars and while the high street offering isn't as strong as the UK (yup, I said it), this city does a bloody good independent. 


I've spent quite a bit of time in Collingwood, an inner northern suburb that has some of the best cafes in the city (plus there always seems to be a sample sale going on). Early on in our arrival in Melbourne, I walked past an unassuming shop front on Johnston St but something immediately caught my eye: on one of the mannequins, lo and and behold, was a Marni coat. I looked up at the sign: Recycle Boutique. My forgotten love of second hand shopping and sheer enthusiasm for a bargain came flooding back and I stepped inside. 

Turns out, it was a consignment store and they only accept quality, well looked-after pieces from great brands (I'm talking COS, Acne, 3.1 Phillip Lim, Solace London). I was immediately drawn to these tailored, navy COS trousers that I'm wearing here - in great nick and a steal at $38 (about £20) - and have become a core piece of my wardrobe. This past weekend I went back, expecting my great find to have been a one hit wonder, and then these adidas Originals Deerupt trainers happened. Rather than pre-owned they were a bit shop-soiled on the sole...essentially they were as good as new, and less than half the price. 

Two incredible buys. Maybe it was a fluke, a lucky strike. Or maybe this is a sign to reignite my passion for second hand. 






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Tuesday, 21 August 2018

The Perfect Grey T-Shirt



Wearing: ASOS Sunglasses, Acne Studios T-shirt (similar), H&M Trousers, Converse Trainers, Thomas Sabo Watch

Ahh, the sample sale. A feeding frenzy for fashion lovers and label whores alike who can't resist the idea of a one-of-a-kind, so-good-you'll-be-telling-people-for-years-to-come kind of bargain. I've frequented a few in my time and left disappointed more often than not but they still draw me in (seriously, there's normally a lot of crap). So when Acne promised up to 80% off a whole bunch of pieces from the past few seasons, I naturally blocked out an entire day and allowed my fantasies of a size 4, scuff-free pair of Pistols and the ultimate leather biker to run wild. 


I headed to Collingwood on that fateful day, full of optimism, only to find half of Melbourne was already queuing for those same pieces I desperately coveted. But I persevered (I wasn't working at the time, so I needed to fill my hours and wardrobe somehow) and I'm so glad I did. As you can imagine, it was a free for all and some of my fellow bargain hunters were ruthless but I still came out with a couple of great pieces that were even better than high street prices (I. Know).


Alas, the biker jacket of dreams wasn't meant to be (apparently they're not as heavy-handed with the discounts as I so wishfully thought) but I decided to stock up on some high-quality basics instead, one being this grey t-shirt. Not exactly exciting, I grant you, but the loose boxy shape and soft, fine fabric makes it the perfect plain tee that I know will be hanging in my wardrobe for a long time to come. And all for a mere $30 (or £17 to my fellow Brits). 





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Thursday, 2 August 2018

The Uniqlo U Trench



Wearing: ASOS Sunglasses, Uniqlo U Trench Coat (similar), H&M Jumper and Trousers (similar), Ganni Trainers

Anyone who knows me, or has been following this blog for a while will know that I'm a big advocate of Uniqlo. Their fine merino knits are some of the best and most affordable on the high street (I go for the men's for a looser fit, plus the women's seem to sit quite short on the body) and they do a great tailored trouser.


It's the collabs and special collections that really do it for me though. Loose-fitting Hana Tajima tunics and trousers have been a staple in my wardrobe since the first collection was released a few years back, and I felt like I'd died and gone to high street collab heaven when Uniqlo teamed up with Lemaire. Then of course, there was the recent JW Anderson collection (which I now look back on in longing and wishing I'd invested in a few pieces), and offerings from Tomas Maier and Marimekko for those with a bolder approach to style. 


It will come as no surprise then, that I eagerly anticipate the new Uniqlo U collections released each season; an ongoing line designed by Christophe Lemaire following that original collaboration (in fact, I've just been earmarking a few bits from the upcoming AW18 collection, due to launch mid-September). It's Lemaire style but at Uniqlo prices - what's not to love? This trench coat is the most recent Uniqlo U piece to enter my wardrobe. It was on sale, the only one left and came in a large, giving it that oversized fit that I love. It's also light and waterproof, so has become my go-to when that chill hits Melbourne or the rain clouds descend on us (yes, unfortunately, it does sometimes rain in Australia). 

*Not an ad or sponsored in any way, just a love letter to Uniqlo, the unsung hero of the high street




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Tuesday, 24 July 2018

A Weekend on the Mornington Peninsula



Dress: Ganni
Trousers: COS
Boots: Dr Martens
Coat: ASOS (similar)

Before arriving in Melbourne and becoming reacquainted with city life, we headed to the Mornington Peninsula for a weekend of food, wine and pure relaxation by the sea. It's the kind of place where you can do a lot or not much at all, and our weekend fell somewhere between the two. 

Like most visitors, our first stop was the Hot Springs, which unfortunately didn't quite live up to our expectations. Admittedly, we didn't pick the best time to go (unbeknown to us, it was school holidays and the place was packed with kids and families. Having to queue up to use the baths, only to have people jumping in next to you and a load of teenagers taking selfies wasn't exactly the peaceful experience I had in mind) so word to the wise: choose an off-peak time to go and opt for the Spa Dreaming Centre rather than the general Bath House. 


Apart from the incredible beaches, the main attraction for us was the wineries that are dotted around the peninsula (and the food, of course - the Winey Cow and D.O.C were our favourites in Mornington). There are loads to choose from and you could probably spend a good week sampling them all but one of the most impressive has to be Port Phillip Estate. 


Architecture fans will love it for its bold, sculptural concrete shape that manages to incorporate both smooth curves and sharp lines, and huge windows that offer unobstructed views of the vineyard below, as well as the sea in the distance. The wine offering is good, as is the food (although a bit on the pricey side - they do a great lunch deal though so go for that if you want to sample the good stuff without spending a huge amount) - my best bet would be to rock up for a tasting at the cellar door and enjoy a glass of your favourite out on the balcony.


Because one winery is never enough, next on our agenda was a visit to Polperro, about a five minute drive down a tree-lined road from Port Phillip Estate. It was a lot smaller and less formal but the perfect place to while away an afternoon. They offer food too, which we didn't try but looked good, and the wine was some of the best Australian wine I've tried since arriving here back in February. Go on a sunny day and plonk yourself on one of the deck chairs overlooking the vines (they provide blankets in winter), or go to the intimate cellar door for tastings. 


Pictured: Port Phillip Estate 






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Friday, 6 July 2018

Carriageworks, Sydney



Dress: COS
Ring: COS
Bag: MM6 Maison Margiela (in black)
Shoes: Zara 

We're fully into winter in Australia now (although at 14 degrees and bright sunshine most days, it certainly isn't winter as I know it) and we're about to move to Melbourne - Sydney was our original plan but having spent our time so far travelling around (some of) the country, we've decided that Melbourne is going to be a better fit in terms of job opportunities, living costs and, well, the food and coffee options are second to none. 


I'm excited to truly get to know the city - there seem to be a lot of exciting events coming up in the next few months and there are some local brands that I'm ready to spend some serious dollar on. That's not to say I still don't love Sydney though, and I'm looking forward to having some weekends up there. These snaps are from a couple of months ago (yup, my blog updates have been a little s l o w of late) when we spent the day at Carriageworks, an arts centre that's home to exhibitions, a farmer's market, events and the like, plus it plays host to some of the shows during fashion week. 




The building itself is a mix of a former railway carriage and blacksmith workshops, and that industrial nature has been retained in much of the redevelopment - expect lots of concrete, big open spaces, plenty of steel and original features. 


I wore a white COS dress that ended up becoming one of my go-tos during the balmy Sydney autumn - simple and light, but with slightly voluminous sleeves that fought off the chill that arrived come sundown. All in all, worth the trip if you're ever in Sydney (plus it's free and there's a great little cafe). Take a look at what's on at the Carriageworks website and stay tuned for Melbourne finds. 







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Wednesday, 6 June 2018

A Travel Guide to Byron Bay


The Pass

During our five week road trip up Australia's east coast, one of my favourite (if not the favourite) stops was Byron Bay. It had pretty much everything I look for in a relaxing beachside spot: a beautiful unspoilt coastline; an abundance of great cafes, bars and restaurants; independent shops; and a completely unique personality. We stayed for four days which would suit a great little mini break, but you could probably stay for a couple of weeks if you wanted more of a holiday.

Hat: ASOS
Biki: Solid & Striped
Dress: Mango
What to Do 


Main Beach
One of the best things about Byron Bay (for me) was how laid back it was, forcing (yes, forcing) you to do not a lot but relax on one of the many beaches, swim in the sea and try out a bit of surfing. There's Main Beach at the top of the main street, which although has great views of the sea and distant mountains, can get a bit busy so keep on walking until you reach Clarkes Beach for a less crowded spot. Along from Clarkes is The Pass, which is popular with surfers, while further around the coast lies Wategos and Little Wategos beaches which are smaller and less spacious but still beautiful. There are a few more too that we didn't have time to visit, but would be well worth exploring.



One rare day when we weren't on the beach, we made our way to the Arts and Industry Estate just behind Belongil Beach. It was a bit of an odd place - half car mechanics and industrial park, half hidden gems of shops and coffee shops. One such gem was Comma, a small modern day spa tucked away in minimal, laid back, heaven. The space was full of neutral shades, raw concrete and touches of natural wood, making it look more like a stylish interiors store than a spa - and all the better for it. There are a few different treatments on offer depending on what you're after but I can guarantee that you will have one of the best spa experiences you've ever had. Plus, there's a coffee shop outside serving Allpress coffee and the Stone & Wood brewery across the way which offers tours and tastings.

Comma

Comma

Comma

Where to Eat and Drink




A quick walk around Byron Bay and you'll soon fall over the many cafes, bars and restaurants that line the streets. Of course, we didn't have time to sample them all but these were some of our favourites:

Bayleaf Cafe, 2a Marvell Street - This was actually recommended to me by Brittany Bathgate and soon became a firm favourite. The food was delicious, the atmosphere relaxed and unpretentious, and the coffee (of course) impeccable. This place is popular but you shouldn't have to wait too long for a table - if you do though. it's worth the wait. Beware though, it shuts at 2.30pm.

Byron Fresh, 7 Jonson Street - Another cafe just minutes from Main Beach, which is open from breakfast through until dinner. We stopped in for lunch one day and ended up going back almost every day to buy pastries (they're freshly made each day and all go down to $3 after 5pm).

The Mez Club, 85-87 Jonson Street - It was my birthday while we were in Byron and this was the restaurant we chose to spend the evening in. Mediterranean-inspired, it has great mezze share plates (I'd recommend getting a load of these rather than opting for the main dishes) in a white-washed, rattan-filled space.

Miss Margarita, 2 Jonson Street - This Mexican spot always had a queue of hungry punters outside the doors and while we didn't go, I'm told it's worth the hype...think nachos, burritos and cocktails in a colourful cantina. 

Where to Shop


ST. AGNI

One of the great things about Byron for me was the number of independent boutiques. You won't find many on the main street but walk through the side streets and you'll stumble across a lot of gems. Citizen Nomade (1/30 Fletcher Street) was a standout for me, full of simple, floaty linen pieces you'll want to fill your holiday wardrobe with.

ST. AGNI Yuka Slides

Back to the Arts and Industry Estate and you'll find Design Twins, a furniture and homeware store filled with pieces from Australian designers and ST. AGNI, which has the best selection of handmade leather flats and sandals I've seen in a long time (also available on Net-A-Porter). Just behind the estate is Habitat, a live/work/dine/retail space which is also well worth a visit - here you'll find clothing and homeware stores filled with a carefully selected range of brands and one-off collaborations.

Shirt and Trousers: Oysho




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Saturday, 19 May 2018

One Black Wrap Skirt, Three Ways



Top: Saturdays NYC
Skirt: Zara
Sandals: By Malene Birger

One of the hardest things about moving to Australia (aside from leaving family and friends, of course) was the wardrobe situation. I had just one suitcase with a weight limit of 30kg plus a carry on which, if we're being real here, is essentially what you'd take on a long holiday. The clothing cull before I left was hard but it was actually a great process - whatever I didn't love or need didn't get a coveted spot in the case (well, there are a few pieces that I couldn't bear to permanently part with so  an exception was made and they've taken up residence at the house of my ever-patient and accommodating parents). 

It's a mentality that I've stuck to during my time in Aus too and I've only bought one new item of clothing since I've been here (the Saturdays NYC top above, which is actually men's but I saw it in a sample sale in Sydney and it was boxy linen heaven). It's been three months, which I think is a record for me. Maybe I'm the new Marie Kondo?


Top: Zara
Skirt: Zara

Anyway, aside from quality, longevity and timelessness, one of the key elements of choosing the pieces I did take was versatility. Will it work with the rest of my absolute must-takes? Will it suit different occasions, climates, footwear? This wrap skirt from Zara was one such piece that ticked all the boxes. It came in my favourite colour (black), had enough detail to make it interesting (the wraparound style, the big white button) and unlike a lot of skirts I come across, was actually a shape that I liked.


Top: Rick Owens
Sunglasses: ASOS
Skirt: Zara
Sandals: By Malene Birger

These outfits are just a few ways I've been wearing said skirt over the past few months. It came with a matching top so that too made its way into the virtual basket (natch), and that's made an easy co-ord for going out to dinner or for those times when I want to look and feel a bit smarter. For a streamlined look in the hotter parts of our trip I paired it with a simple Rick Owens vest (thank youuu The Outnet) and for giving it a boxier, looser silhouette, the aforementioned Saturdays NYC top has been the perfect accompaniment. 



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