I have a big soft spot for little black dresses - I have a rail full of them and they always catch my eye when shopping. Classic, versatile and elegant, I like to dress them up with statement earrings and a bold lip, wearing with opaque tights and heels in winter, or bare legs and ballet flats in warmer months. Every girl needs at least a handful. Quiz Clothing sent me some pieces a few months ago and I've been wearing this LBD on nights out, at my friend's hen party and tonight for New Year's Eve in Camden.
30 December 2016
Discovering the ancient Angkor temple ruins at Siem Reap is undeniably magnificent, but the crowds are not. On our last day in Cambodia, we wanted to go off the beaten track and get away from other tourists so went on a tailor-made day trip with Backyard Travel to explore the nearby mountain Phnom Kulen and the lost city of Mahendraparvata.
21 December 2016
Last Friday was Christmas Jumper Day so I got out my new favourite festive knit, this soft grey mistletoe intarsia jumper from the casual chic Weekend collection at John Lewis. It's a cosy blend of cotton, acrylic and wool with a classic round neck and dropped shoulder seams for a relaxed silhouette - I like to wear it with black jeans and flats, or tucked into a high-waisted skirt.
I attended a crafting event a few weeks ago with John Lewis and customised my own DIY stocking with materials from their haberdashery department. After chatting with fellow bloggers over a couple of glasses of fizz in front of a sparkling Christmas tree, I went back out into the freezing cold feeling very Christmassy indeed in my new warm sweater... Browse the John Lewis Christmas jumpers and some favourites below.
19 December 2016
King's Cross has been totally transformed in the past couple of years: it's gone from being one of the worst stations in London to the best, with plenty of stores, restaurants, cafés and bars housed in a 19th century listed building brought to life with 21st century modern architecture. The nearby Lewis Cubitt Square is the new home of Central St Martin's and has a pop-up market space, hosting concerts, cinema screenings (and streaming Wimbledon during the summer) and colourful fountains. One of the new restaurants in the area is Drake & Morgan situated between King's Cross and St Pancras and the giant neon birdcage designed by French artist Jacques Rival.
15 December 2016
Marks & Spencer is possibly the most-loved British brand on the high street. Founded in 1884 in Leeds, M&S is cherished as a trusty resource for good quality underwear, classic homeware, gifts for mums, an excellent huge beauty offering and their food halls by millions of people up and down the country and around the world. We always have lots of M&S food at Christmas and this year will be no exception. A few weeks ago I spent the evening with the in-house M&S wine experts at a round-the-world regional food and wine pairing dinner and tasted two wines from England, two from France, two from Spain, two from Argentina and two from South Africa. Each wine was paired with complimentary food from each respective region and we heard from the experts about why they chose each wine, tasting notes and the delicious food combinations.
13 December 2016
The latest fragrance in my collection and in heavy rotation is Donna Karan's new Liquid Cashmere Black Eau de Parfum. It's a dark, sensual scent which lingers on the skin for hours; I always prefer EDP to EDT as it's more long-lasting and this one really is. Opening with ripe black cherry, a floral heart of sweet rose and jasmine and a rich base of musky patchouli, smooth sandalwood and nutty praline, it's indulgent, alluring and makes me smell my wrists all the time. As it's quite heady it's perhaps best for evenings, but the rulebook's gone out the window and I'm wearing all day long. Gorgeous.
8 December 2016
A few weeks ago I attended a performance of the English National Opera's Tosca at the Coliseum as part of their series of Opera Undressed events. It's a great inclusive initiative to encourage those curious about opera to give it a go - the seats are only £20 for good seats with a pre-performance talk explaining the context of the production and post-show drinks with the cast.
I love classical music and attending ballets and operas ever since I was little; I'm always surprised to hear someone say that they've never been, it's not their cup of tea or that they feel it's intimidatingly fancy, too expensive, or worse yet, boring. There's a massive variety of stories and styles, there are great ticket offers and Tosca is definitely not boring. Full of drama, Puccini's opera centres around three main characters: the diva singer Tosca (played by American soprano Keri Alkema), her lover, the painter and all-round good guy (Welsh tenor Gwyn Hughes Jones), and the evil police chief Scarpia (American bass baritone Craig Colclough). It's a gripping story of passion and politics, love, lust, torture and murder with intense music led by Italian conductor Oleg Caetani and a tragic ending. We joined CEO Cressida Pollock for interval drinks and a post-performance reception, where we chatted with the charismatic Gwyn Hugh Jones over Sipsmith and Fever Tree G&Ts to finish a fantastic evening.
29 November 2016
I'm currently trying out Lancer skincare from the acclaimed Beverly Hills dermatologist to the stars Dr Harold Lancer. The go-to doctor in Hollywood created a skincare range so his specialist anti-ageing treatments would be available to everyone, and the celebrated three-step Lancer Method promises improvements in skin tone, texture and appearance.
17 November 2016
You can't go to Vietnam without hopping over to Cambodia, and you can't go to Cambodia without visiting Laos - but following that same logic you can't go anywhere for less than a month. (This is why Japan has been top of my list since I was a teenager: I want to spend a couple of months there, so I still haven't been.) In an ideal world, we would have spent at least eight weeks in Asia this spring, but with only three we had to prioritise and went with four places in eleven days in Vietnam and two places in six days in Cambodia before heading up to Hong Kong. Whilst in Cambodia we wanted to visit the laidback city Battambang, see Irrawaddy dolphins in the freshwater Tonlé Sap lake and visit the isolated, unspoilt southern islands (one day I'll stay at the Song Saa private island in the Gulf of Thailand - it looks beyond idyllic), but instead covered the essentials, packing as much as we could into three days in the capital and three days in Siem Reap.
8 November 2016
Isn't this the prettiest packaging ever? Chocolate and Love is an award-winning luxury chocolate company created by husband and wife team Richard and Birgitte in 2010. Made in Switzerland using some of the world's finest organic ingredients, Chocolate and Love bars feature more cocoa and less sugar than most chocolate bars on the market, plus they're Fairtrade, gluten-free, GMO-free and totally natural with no additives. Most are dairy free too.
The collection features seven different flavours; my favourites are the sea salt and caramel, orange and the melt-in-your mouth single origin pure dark chocolate Panama, each wrapped in beautiful hand-painted designs. When ethical, quality chocolate tastes - and looks - this good, Cadbury's just doesn't cut it anymore.
available at Sainsbury's, Ocado and Whole Foods | see more food & drink features
3 November 2016
Introducing... my new favourite dress from my new favourite brand. Lost Ink is a London-based label launched in 2014, creating accessible, wearable statement pieces. I discovered the Autumn/ Winter collection and fell in love with 90% of it - how often does that happen? - full of chic clothes and shoes with pretty ruffles, delicate lace, fun bold prints, sequins and coloured faux fur. I have not one, not two but three dresses to share on the blog, and they're all just as fabulous as this one.
31 October 2016
Some weekend mornings you can't even be bothered to scramble eggs for breakfast. This weekend was one of those weekends. In the past six weeks I've started a new job, had a friend over for a few days, had my nephew's Christening and my Dad stay with us, went to a wedding in Burgundy, a wedding in Devon and a hen party in Somerset; all back to back. On top of that I've been getting used to a long commute (a difficult adjustment after three years of cycling to and from work through my beloved Regent's Park, sob), and I've had two colds in four weeks. My boyfriend was away so after a hectic September and October, a nice quiet weekend at home to recuperate - and an extra hour in bed on Sunday - is just what the doctor ordered.
29 October 2016
Agent Provocateur is one of my favourite brands. I love the swirly vintage-style wordmark logo, iconic powder pink and black branding, chandelier-lit boudoir-inspired stores and, of course, beautiful, luxurious lingerie. The British brand launched its first perfume, Signature, 15 years ago and celebrates this year with a new limited edition version called Lace Signature which came out this summer.
The bottle shape is the same as the original, only this time it's wrapped in a hot pink lace pattern printed on the glass, in black packaging. Inspired by provocative leather and delicate lace, the fragrance is floral, fruity and woody: it opens with bergamot and saffron, with orange blossom, wild orchid, bitter orange and evergreen at its heart, finishing with a lingering base of amber wood, musk and black cedar. It's heady, sexy and very AP.
Lace Eau de Toilette, £39 for 50ml
26 October 2016
This summer I went to the large, newly-opened Atrium Kitchen overlooking the buzzy Stables Market in Camden for dinner and drinks. The food is casual, the decor is modern and the cocktail list, devised by the award-winning mixologist Tony Safqi, is impressive.
19 October 2016
BareMinerals is one of my favourite make up brands - I featured the original mineral cosmetics brand on my blog back in 2010 and have used many products over the years from the mattifying mineral veil finishing powders (swirl, tap and buff) and silky foundation primers to the creamy eyeliner pencils and intense eyeshadow palettes, so I was excited to try out the new skincare range. The Skinsorials range launched this summer featuring nine products promising healthy, glowing skin.
13 October 2016
Last week I attended a performance of Mozart's comic opera Cosi fan tutte at the beautiful Royal Opera House in Covent Garden. The two act Italian opera was first performed in 1790 in Vienna with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's music and Lorenzo Da Ponte's libretto and is the third and final opera they wrote together. Its name means 'Thus do all', which translates as 'women are like that' (charming) and it's a twisted tale about two couples, a bet gone wrong and the nuanced nature of love.
10 October 2016
Ahhh summer. It already seems like months ago... One of my favourite things to do is going to my favourite place in London, Regent's Park, with some food, fizz and friends for a couple of hours in the sun. We spent a lot of time in the park this year with friends and family, including with my adorable baby nephew, as well as walking home from work with my boyfriend catching Pokémon, watching sports teams, birthday picnics, frolicking dogs and little kids playing.
7 October 2016
It's new winter coat time! The temperature's really dropped in this past week so I'm going through my knitwear and coats to see what needs updating and I'm on the lookout for a new statement coat to alternate with this one. This gorgeous Kate Spade wool coat with a soft faux fur collar, menswear-inspired plaid tweed and classic A-line shape is perfect, although at £900 I'm looking at alternatives; here are some of my favourites.
5 October 2016
The Undressed exhibition at the Victoria & Albert explores the history of lingerie from the 18th century to the present day, charting its role in shaping the silhouette to the fashionable body ideal, design innovation and evolution of cut, fit and fabric trends as well as the changing attitudes towards gender, sexuality and morality.
There are over 200 examples of women's and men's underwear from 19th century home-made whalebone stays and everyday garments to custom-made bridal, silk stockings, satin suspender belts and modern-day delicate lace sets. Lingerie-inspired outerwear is on display like Gwyneth Paltrow's Antonio Berardi trompe l’oeil corset dress, the iconic 90s see-through Kate Moss dress and the lilac lace Elie Saab dress Mila Kunis wore on the red carpet, along with old advertising posters and interviews with Agent Provocateur's creative director Sarah Shotton and the fabulously eccentric Parisienne designer Fifi Chachnil. This glittering canary yellow corset made by Mr Pearl for ultimate girl crush Dita Von Teese was my highlight. If Undressed doesn't inspire you to go home and get out your most beautiful lingerie, I don't know what will.
Undressed: A Brief History of Underwear is on until 12 March 2017 | V&A Museum, Cromwell Rd SW7 2RL
3 October 2016
I should have posted these photos early September as there's something slightly schoolgirlish about this outfit. This bright orange Petit Bateau dress is one of those items you love so much you go back and buy in other colours (the navy one came first): it's easy to throw on, comfortable cotton and feeds my breton stripe addiction nicely.
28 September 2016
The tea dress is one of my all-time favourites. The nipped in waist and skater skirt is a feminine, flattering shape for everyone, the prim and proper look is just asking to be dressed up (I sometimes go all-out Betty Draper with pearls, statement earrings and a chignon) and the 50s/ 60s is my favourite style era.
23 September 2016
Tucked away from the Covent Garden hustle and bustle in the colourful, quirky Neal's Yard sits a brand new foodie gem. Native is an informal, intimate restaurant run by the lovely Imogen Davis and River Cottage alumnus Ivan Tisdall-Downes serving wild British food.
15 September 2016
You know those easy throw-on-and-go dresses you always reach for in your wardrobe time and time again? This is one of those. I picked it up from Alexa Chung's first 'Archive by Alexa' collaboration with Marks & Spencer and I'm sure I'll be ordering some pieces from her second collection launching in November too.
5 September 2016
After a few days in the Cambodian capital, we drove north to Siem Reap to explore the ancient temples, Angkor ruins and the unspoilt Phnom Kulen mountain, staying at the beautiful jungle oasis Angkor Village Resort. Situated between the city and the temples, this luxurious five star hotel is set in private landscaped gardens, featuring 80 wooden villas and a 250 metre swimming pool which winds through lush vegetation like a river.
1 September 2016
After a few months of physio and recovering from knee surgery, it's time to hit the gym. I tore my meniscus in January, had a meniscectomy in May, used crutches and a leg brace until mid-June and only started feeling comfortable walking properly in July. I won't be able to run for a while or be back out on my bike over the coming months either, but I'm trying not to focus on 2016 being a bit of a washout and instead work on strengthening exercises so I should be fighting fit by the end of the year for a busy 2017. I hope to go skiing in January, walk the three peaks in summer and take part in RideLondon again in August so there's plenty to work towards. Here are my top five tips for getting back into the swing of things again...
Superdry Sport Core Gym Sports Bra, Nike core motion Tr 2 trainers, Sweaty Betty skipping rope, Sweaty Betty leggings (as seen here) and Frends silver Layla headphones
30 August 2016
Luna is the fresh new floral fragrance from Penhaligon's, inspired by the mythical love story between the Ancient Greek goddess of the moon and Endymion. The luxury British perfume house was founded in 1870 by Englishman William Penhaligon who opened a barber shop on Jermyn Street and created original perfumes made with fine, rare ingredients for a sophisticated clientele in the decadent Victorian era.
25 August 2016
When we were over in Los Angeles last November for a friend's wedding, we took the opportunity to drive up the California coast on a road trip to San Francisco via the wonderful, magical Big Sur. We spent four days in San Fran, staying at the iconic Fairmont Hotel and squeezing in as much as possible before taking the red-eye back to London after ten days in the Californian sun.
22 August 2016
Off the shoulder dresses are everywhere this summer. An exposed décolletage and bare shoulders is one of the most elegant ways to show off glowing, sun-kissed skin so they're perfect for this time of year. From dramatic ruffles, lace frills and puffy sleeves to cold shoulder cut-outs, slouchy boat necks and ruched peasant-style necklines, there are so many different styles around at the moment. Here are eighteen of my favourites.
17 August 2016
Occasionally - just occasionally - I wear trousers. I've always been a dresses kinda gal, often skirts, but rarely trousers and when I do wear them sometimes I feel like going all out and pairing with an androgynous top, trainers, a leather jacket and little make-up. This is my kind of casual, boyish dressing.
15 August 2016
Last weekend I wandered into Fitzrovia in the sunshine for brunch at the Scottish restaurant Mac & Wild with a friend. Founded by Scotsman Andy Waugh from The Wild Game Co. after five years of Borough Market stalls, supper clubs and pop ups, Mac & Wild is famed for its 100% wild venison and seasonal game straight from the Scottish Highlands.
Tucked away in a quiet street in the 9th arrondissement of Paris is Hôtel de NELL, a beautiful five star in a restored 19th century building where we stayed for my birthday. It's a chic, minimalist masterpiece surrounded by historic architecture near the gothic Saint-Eugène church and Grands Boulevards stores, only a ten minute cab ride away from Gare du Nord.
8 August 2016
One of those wardrobe big hitters in permanent rotation this summer is this printed jersey dress from Joules, which I've been taking from the drying rack to wear again straightaway since I got it. It slips on, the navy print goes with everything and has a nice swirly full skirt so feels elegant even with white trainers. Here I'm wearing it with red accessories and bright red lipstick for lunch with a friend in the sun.
4 August 2016
I love dim sum. When we were in Asia, I was delighted to see various steamed, fried and baked dumplings, buns and rolls on offer for breakfast at most of the hotels we stayed at so - when in Rome - we had breakfast the Chinese way most days. Last weekend I headed over to Liverpool Street to visit one of the best places in London for dim sum: Yauatcha City. After the success of the Michelin-starred Soho restaurant launched in 2004 by Alan Yau, this second all-day branch was opened last year and offers a Supreme Saturdays set menu serving contemporary, signature and classic dim sum created by Head Chef Tong Chee Hwee alongside cocktails every Saturday afternoon.