Friday, 28 February 2014

Cheltenham Ladies Day #CheltFashion

I love any excuse to get dressed up so putting together a dream outfit for Cheltenham Ladies Day at the Cheltenham Gold Cup was a lot of fun. I've been to a few race days in the past and its always a great day - I definitely think that there are not enough opportunities in life to wear hats and headpieces. I can't say I'm an expert at racing or a good gambler but picking your winning horse based on the jockey's shirt colour, placing a little bet and cheering it on is fun all the same (I'll have you know that the last horse I bet on actually won its race although unfortunately it had lost its rider at around the halfway point and was unfairly robbed of its victory).

I've picked out a smart but simple dress as I want the accessories to be the star of the outfit. This dress would work well for formal occasions for the rest of the season (who's counting their wedding invites already?) and is the perfect length to keep the outfit and out-there accessories classy. As it does get a bit chilly paddock-side, I love this tweed jacket to bring a British touch and keep you warm. I love minimalist sandals this season and these are perfect. "Go anywhere" is an overused label but I think these really are - perfect for work or play once the weather gets a bit warmer. On to the accessories - I feel that hats are a little too K-Middleton for my style, I don't think I'll ever feel like enough of a proper grown-up to wear one but this cupcake headband is cute without being too ridiculous. I'd tie my hair up in a sleek pony tail to not distract from it and keep my make-up fresh and natural with lots of blusher to fake a healthy country glow. The blues in the outfit are complemented by my final touch, a beautiful clutch bag masquerading as a book - well, a girl's got to pass the time between the races somehow, right? Oh, wait, that's what the champagne bar is for and this book-like clutch is the perfect size for my race-day essentials.

Have you been to the races?

This post is a competition entry - you can enter and vote for my entry here.


Thursday, 27 February 2014

Back To Work

It's always sad when holidays are over and reality beckons again but discovering an unworn dress in the wardrobe definitely makes the return to the real world a little easier!

I purchased this before Christmas and found it lurking in my wardrobe, tags still on - a sure sign that I never really need to shop again. Although my work wardrobe is definitely in need of updating after having a "grown-up job" for nearly two and a half years now so maybe I just need to focus my purchasing a bit rather than stop altogether....

Dress: Dorothy Perkins
With spring almost on its way I'm looking forward to updating the "work" section of my wardrobe with a few more dresses so any shouts of where currently has nice work wear would be much appreciated. I'd also like to start wearing separates again as it definitely makes for more work wardrobe options so nice skirt/top pairings also welcome!

Do you have any clothes with the tags still on in your wardrobe?

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Insta-Updates: February

I'm still on the slops but by the magic of scheduled posts, February has looked like this so far:

1. Dinner at Wholefoods with my friend L - Mexican salad bowl and a big catch-up on the menu.

2. Zalando Lounge at the W Hotel with Elodie and Aisling...

3. ... followed by Wolf of Wall Street (second time for me). Such a good film - see it right now if you haven't already (but not if you don't like swearing because there is plenty of it).

4. Nutritious and delicious cinema dinner - Popchips, Pretzel M&Ms and the obligatory un-pictured Diet Coke.

5. Chinese New Year.  I will be unusually successful in business.

6. Got my hair cut at the Aveda Institute - so happy with it, even though it is not that different from how my hair was before it was a lovely hour out of the real world catching up on Grazia and the Aveda Institute smells absolutely amazing (definitely the correct basis for picking a hairdresser).

7.Some little treats from Victoria's Secret because, you know, it's been really cold and grey and when do you not need pretty new underwear?

8. Blurred Lines at The Shed with Hannah and Sarah. Great performances and good food for thought on feminism and popular culture today.

9.Spring florals at the Love Fashion blogger event.

10. Krispy Kremes get a Valentine's make-over at the Love Fashion event. 

11. Martin Creed exhibition at The Hayward Gallery with Hannah. One of the best exhibitions I've seen in a long time. The balloon room is immensely fun. Maybe one to avoid if you are easily offended or disgusted though... Some of the exhibits are hard to un-see once you have seen them...

12. Afternoon tea at The Sanderson (nail polish is Barry M) as featured a couple of blog posts back.

How has your February been so far?


Monday, 17 February 2014

Off Piste

Right now, I am probably up a mountain wearing trousers. Yes, that's right. Trousers. Don't expect any holiday outfit posts any time soon but the above picture is probably a very accurate resemblance. Having not skied for ten years I'm hoping that it's just like riding a bike and will all come back within the first hour on the slopes... Failing that I'll be wearing a helmet (safety over helmet hair, folks) and giant goggles so no one will recognise me anyway. In true blogger style, I've packed every moisturiser I own in a bid to stop the mountain air drying my skin and the idea of a week away from the city, tube strikes, constant pouring rain and the little flashing red light on my Blackberry is more worth the style sacrifice of having to wear trousers.

Back with apres-ski tales and, I'm sure, some holiday purchases (can't take a blogger anywhere) soon!

Friday, 14 February 2014

Down The Rabbit Hole: Alice In Wonderland Afternoon Tea at The Sanderson

The Alice in Wonderland afternoon tea at The Sanderson is hardly new to the London afternoon tea scene but my friend L and I had been planning on going forever and finally got booked in on a Sunday for a strictly girls-only afternoon. The Sanderson is just a quick hop from the Oxford Circus Topshop and while it looks quite non-descript from the outside as soon as you step through the doors the vibe is definitely "quirky" making the hotel itself the perfect backdrop for an Alice-themed tea.

The afternoon tea area is actually outside - well, it would be in the summer but for winter there is a tent like covering and patio heaters. I would still recommend bringing a cardi though. The hotel has a strict "no fancy dress" so no dressing up as the Mad Hatter but it's probably for the best.

The menu is printed inside a vintage copy of the book. The server came by to check if we were allergic to anything or wanted to swap anything on the menu which is great if you're a veggie and don't want the ham sandwiches going to waste.
We were given samples of the tea to smell and chose from. We both chose Apple Pie which was lovely. Coffee and hot chocolate are available too and our teapot was re-filled many times throughout the afternoon (tea always seems like a wiser choice than coffee in these situations).
The sugar bowl / box.
Our tea arrived to gasps of "ooooooh". Everything was explained and everything is edible, even the pea shoots should you so choose.
Working from the bottom up we started on the sandwiches - ham, egg, cucumber and salmon. The fillings were all quite simple but the different breads and pinwheel shapes were a nice touch and I think traditional sandwich fillings are what afternoon tea is all about (when would we eat cucumber sandwiches otherwise?). We also had a mini quiche each and a sweet and savory scone. I think the savory layer was a good balance to the sweetness of the next two layers but personally, I think afternoon tea is all about the sweet things - quiche and savory scones are a little grown up for my tastebuds!
This layer also featured the "Drink Me" potions famous in the book. While not quite as potent as their fictional inspirations, these were fun and we could really taste the different layers of sweetness. The sandwiches and scones are replenished as you wish and you can pick your favourites to have more of and skip any that you didn't like first time around.
Moving on to the cake layer, the standout by far was the clock face Victoria sponge. It was moist and delicious and perfect. If only it came in full size! The candy striped white chocolate cheesecake definitely suffered from style over substance - we weren't big fans of the creamy filling and the mango "yolk" inside was a little odd. The green tea mousse in a dark chocolate cup was better although the mousse-y texture was quite similar to that of the cheesecake - I do like green tea flavoured things but L wasn't so keen!
The final layer featured meringue carrots hiding in the pea shoots and toadstall marshmallows. Just the right amount of sweetness to finish you off!
Finally, we remembered the help yourself jelly table which was looking a little depleted by the time we got to it. Not really needed after all the cakes but a fun touch all the same.
It was then sadly time to leave Wonderland, although we were not rushed to leave our table for the next booking - something that annoys me no end! The Alice in Wonderland Afternoon Tea is not cheap but it's all very well thought out and has a lot of special touches which make it a step up from a standard afternoon tea. I'd definitely recommend a trip for a birthday or, like us, if you just want some girly catch-up time.

Are you tempted?

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

A Tale of Two Mascaras: Topshop False Lash and Clinque High Lengths

Way back when I started this blog "find perfect mascara" was pretty high on my to-do list. That quest (and the amount of make-up I purchase and wear) have fallen by the wayside of late so I thought I'd go back to blog basis and turn my attention again to what really is an important issue in life (worrying about your sugar addiction and credit card bill can wait until you've read this). 

The Topshop make-up range didn't even exist when this blog started out but its gradually becoming one of my go-to ranges for affordable but good quality products. Its just a shame that the packaging of the range seems to attract every bit of dirt and dust lurking in my make-up bag.

The "False Lash" mascara is around £8 and has a plastic-y bristle brush (contradiction, I know). The brush never comes out the tube clumpy so its nice and quick to apply a couple of coats. For me the brush is a perfect size - great for upper and lower lashes and it hardly ever blobs onto my eyelids which is a key gripe with larger brushed mascaras.

I wouldn't say it really gives a "false lash" effect - its more an everyday mascara which doesn't need much time or effort to apply and lasts the day well. I wore this when I went to see The Wolf Of Wall Street and it didn't budge during that steps scene where I had silent tears of laughter running down my face. It comes off quite easily with my trusted Bioderma.

Clinique High Lengths mascara comes dressed in an unusual white tube and has a brush which I think resembles a palm tree. The long, curved comb looks scary so maybe give yourself an extra five minutes if using for the first time but after that it is so easy to use. The brush makes it really easy to comb the mascara onto lashes while it fans them out and separates.  I have not tried to apply it to my lower lashes and I wouldn't recommend that anyone does really. Clinique do sell a "bottom lash" mascara to get around this issue but I'm sure we all have other mascaras in our collections that would suffice for lower lashes (I hardly ever put mascara on my lower lashes anyway).

I love how this leaves my lashes feeling soft and fluttery. This doesn't flake during the day although after subjecting it to the ultimate mascara test and make-up sin (sleeping in make-up) it had mostly transferred to underneath my eyes by the next morning (lesson that you should never ever ever sleep in your make-up). At £16.50 it is double the price of Topshop's offering but I always fall into the trap of buying two Clinique products and getting the free make-up bag of mini products so I'll forgive it for being more expensive, even if I never actually use those mini freebies.

What mascara are you using at the moment?

Friday, 7 February 2014

Pandering Around - brunch at Kopapa

Or should that be panda-ing? I couldn't resist this skirt from Pretty Little Thing (sadly out of stock now) despite it being slightly impractical for most life occasions. There probably are some occasions when having a panda's face on your bum is a good idea but I can't think of that many. Life is all the worse for that. I am obsessed with pencil skirts at the moment, they feel elegant and grown-up, even with a panda's face on.

Skirt: c/o Pretty Little Thing, Top: New Look
Trying to do a Kim K in the last picture. Failing badly.
I wore the above ensemble for brunch at Kopapa. I'd heard a lot of good things about it - its on Time Out's Best London Breakfasts, after all and last time I tried to visit without a reservation it was quite obvious that a reservation was definitely needed. The restaurant is tiny and seems constantly packed.
I started with a "long black" with soya milk on the side (why is everyone calling it this now?) while I waited for my friend P. True fact: half of my friends names begin with P but it's ok, I can be friends with you if you have a non-P name too.
Our booking was for 10.30 so more breakfast-y brunch type things were in order. I did consider the burger and a cocktail for about 10 seconds regardless of the early hour. P had the avocado toast which came in a really generous portion and looked delicious.
I had the hot smoked salmon with poached eggs and yuzu hollandaise. The poached eggs were perfect. Cutting into a perfectly poached egg is up on the "best things in life ever" list and now that I have "given up" the white stuff (bread) then a slice of really good bread is just, well, really good. 
I had another coffee while we chatted and P had a tamarillo and kiwi smoothie which tasted like it would definitely be very good for you. Despite the restaurant being super busy we happily chatted away for two hours until we were politely asked to make way for a lunch booking - fair enough as this restaurant currently seems like the place to be. The menu changes seasonally so I will definitely be back. There is a lovely sounding Valentine's day menu at the moment if you are that way inclined. I will not be at all envious if you go.

What's your favourite brunch food?

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Meat-Feast: Barbecoa

It was my friend P's birthday last week so while thinking of ideas for a January birthday treat the obvious thing that came to mind was: MEAT. Meat is still a popular and on-trend thing to eat, I think. Before meat was so fashionable I barely ate it but I'm starting to appreciate it more. The burger trend has definitely been my "gateway" meat and by the end of this year I might even progress to eating steak. We'll see.

Back to P's birthday - I made a booking at Barbecoa, Jamie Oliver's restaurant at One New Change for birthday lunching. Before going any further, if you're a vegetarian then this is definitely not the restaurant for you. If you're not, then you must go. It's amazing.
We started with the Puglian Olives - giant green olives served on ice.
Peach Tea-Ni. Something about green tea infused Hendricks makes daytime drinking seem almost good for you. That's a lie, daytime drinking is good for you regardless of what you are drinking but this was very nice.
My child tastebuds still haven't graduated to steak just yet. The brined and roasted chicken breast was a good beginner meat - chicken can often be a bit dull but this was so tasty and the southern fried banana was an interesting touch.
P had the BBQ pulled pork with cornbread and winter slaw.
Duck fat chips and winter slaw on the side. I am a thin chips only kinda girl but I tried one of these and it was pretty good. Must be the meat coating. The slaw was nice and had apples in it so more health points there. I really like slaw at the moment. It's come such a long way from back when it was only served at the Pizza Hut salad buffet.
The dessert menu was tempting but we were too full. Next time... Had I noticed that Apple Pie cocktail at the time then I would have ordered that.
The star aspect of the restaurant is the amazing view of St Paul's. I love the interior - despite being a city restaurant it didn't feel at all corporate and the leather  benches and rustic wood decor makes gives a nice relaxed atmosphere. On a Saturday the restaurant was busy enough to have a buzz but not be packed. The loos have Cowshed handwash and handcream so extra points for that. I imagine its a different story on weekdays and that the £70 steaks on the menu are probably popular with city folk having expensed lunches here. There is also a weekend brunch menu which is more affordable if you can bear to be awake before midday at the weekend. Another time...
The afternoon's entertainment (aside from my musings about whether cats and dogs to go heaven) was the sky gradually darkening over the dome of St Paul's, followed by an epic thunder storm. Not wanting to venture outside, our waiter left us to enjoy the warmth of the restaurant and didn't rush us to pay up and leave. Which was nice because it looked really, really wet out there and there was some pretty cool forked lightening happening which would have been less cool had I been outside to witness it.
 What is your favourite restaurant for meaty meals?


Monday, 3 February 2014

January Empties

The first month of 2014 was a good one for empties:

Radox Shea Butter and Ginger shower gel - I love ginger-scented things so this smelled good, did the job and was probably on offer in Boots.

Batiste Blush Mini - Batiste is probably in everyone's staple haircare product choices, definitely a godsend on lazy days (i.e. every third day when actually washing my hair is too much of an effort).

FC5 Handcream - This came in one of the first ever GlossyBoxes, great for keeping in my handbag and it had a lovely fresh scent.

Benefit They're Real Mini - One of my favourite ever mascaras. This mini came with Elle magazine and I loved the cute little tube!

Benefit The Porefessional Mini - Again, one of my favourite primers. I had just finished a full sized tube when I started this mini but even this tiny bottle (free with Glamour magazine) lasted a couple of months. Definitely one to try if you haven't already.

Seventeen Miracle Matte Powder - Another favourite ever product, I get through so many of these as I use it everyday without fail and also have a bad habit of dropping it on the floor when its around half full and it shattering everywhere. I will cry if Seventeen ever stops making them.

Elf Cuticle Pen - A desk-side staple for moisturising cuticles with minimal effort. I find Elf products very hit and miss and actually haven't bothered to order any for a while as my make up collection is so out of control but this was pretty good.

Bulgari Omina Perfume Mini -I love trying different perfumes. This one was quite  "grown up" smelling but a nice everyday scent for work.

Eyeko Skinny Liner - Another magainze freebie.  I wear flicky liner everyday and did like this one despite it drying out quite fast (my L'Oreal Superliners seem to last forever and everything else gets judged by reference to them).

Lancome Hypnose x Lanvin Mascara - I almost wanted to keep this due to the packaging but realised that that probably indicates Problem Hoarder tendencies. This was a birthday gift from the Dream Team and such a lovely present combining two loves of mine. The Hypnose mascara is quite iconic, I did like it but was a bit disappointed with how fast it dried up although I wear a lot of mascara!

What have you used up this month?
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