My Favourite Gingham Pieces To Shop Now

27 March 2017

I honestly didn’t think gingham was going to be as huge as it is now. I mean, I’m hardly a fashion forecaster (unless you call checking the New In page of Zara fashion forecasting), but after indulging in a little gingham during autumn last year, I really thought the novelty of the print would wear off. Oh, how wrong I was. Gingham has returned with a vengeance, and now you cant breathe for the amount of different shapes, fits and colours it’s popping up in. Best of all, it’s popularity has peaked just in time for spring, meaning we can pull on our midi skirts or rock a bare shoulder whilst, of course, still freezing half to death (it is the UK, after all), but not feeling quite so silly whilst doing so.

I was going to write a lengthy tips post on how to manage full-time or part-time employment with blogging, but I thought, it’s Monday, I’m sleepy, I, myself, am feeling shoppy, so why not round up the best new season gingham pieces on the market so we can all indulge in a little spend? (The time management post will come, though!) These super-comfy and super-versatile New Look trousers are sadly sold out, but panic yet not, I’ve linked a tonne of alternatives so there will definitely be something that satisfies your gingham craving, and these Topshop babes are basically an exact dupe!

Blazer - Topshop (sold out, Topshop alternative here)
Tee - ASOS
Trousers - New Look* (sold out - Topshop dupes here)
Bag - Mango
Shoes - Zara (Topshop alternative)

5 Things That Will Make You A Better Businesswoman

23 March 2017

At the start of this year my boss agreed to let me cut down to 2 days a week in the office, shifting my previously full-time career to a part-time job and freeing up more days of the week for me to focus on blogging. What was once a hobby that filled my evenings and weekends transitioned into the largest portion of my working life, and concerns about workflow and income suddenly became ever the more apparent. On the other hand, however, I realised how much freer I felt. Even though I’ve not yet taken the plunge into full-time blogging, a lot of work has gone into even getting to this point, so I thought it might be helpful to share five things that have made me a better businesswoman over the past year and hopefully, if you’re in the same boat as me or even heading in the same direction, it might be helpful!

1. Networking 

It’s easy to forget when when you’re self employed just how important it is to network. When you’re confined to your bedroom desk or the corner of your local hipster café, it’s simple to become absorbed in your own deadlines and editing and admin and to forget that you’re a part of a much larger industry. Blogging isn’t just made up of bloggers - it’s made up of marketing companies, PR reps, photographers, graphic designers, freelance journalists and every other thread of this tangled web we weave. I used to see bloggers heading into the country’s capital for “meetings” more than I saw my own family, and I could not for the life of me understand what they were meeting about. The irony of that is that I would then head into the office the next morning and straight back out to a meeting with a potential client. Now I find myself heading into London at least once a week, meeting new people and building new relationships every time. Whilst a facet of this is to of course try and stimulate new collaborations, a lot of it is just being an active part of the blogging industry and networking with other’s within it. A good coffee or two a day can’t hurt either, can it?


2. Confidence with money 

When I first started to charge for blog posts and social posts, I was useless with negotiations. I was terrified of overcharging and as such, ended up undercharging for a ~ really ~ long time. Now I’m well versed with the typical email exchanges: “Could you do a package for ‘x’ amount?” “I’m sorry, the lowest I could go is ‘x’” “Okay, would you also be able to include ‘x’?” “Yes, I can do this, this and this.” Finally feeling confident enough to not only negotiate fees but to also state that this is what my work is worth and I won’t do anything for less has allowed me focus more on the work I want to do, rather than the work I feel like I have to do. If knowing what to charge is a blogger bugbear that’s bothering you, then the best thing I can recommend is to confide in other bloggers and share together. Being able to discuss it with other people in a similar position to me has always been extremely helpful, but just make sure you are friends first - there’s nothing worse than a stranger asking you about your income!


Jumper - Stradivarius (sold out - ASOS alternative here)
Skirt - Stradivarius
Bag - Sandro Paris*


3. A Mentor 

Without really knowing it, my boss has been an incredible mentor to me. She started her own business from her dining room table and has now built the company up to an office and a team of four, all from her own hard-work, gumption and ambition. She’s the kind of person to say yes to anything and is always willing to take a risk and ask for more and go that one step further, all of which inspire me to do the same. Whether your mentor is your Mum, your boss or Julie down the road, it’s always good to be able to pick someone’s brains when it comes to running your own business, even if you’re not in the same industry. Oh, and if you know an accountant, hold on to them dearly because they may just become a resourceful pot of gold.

4. Fear 

Positive, right? It may sound morbid, but the fear of failure continues to be a motivator for me. Say I have a good month - well, that’s bloody great, but what happens if that slows down and it doesn’t happen again and oh my god will I be able to pay my phone bill and WHAT DO YOU MEAN MY CARD HAS BEEN DECLINED FOR THIS COFFEE? I never want to go backwards, I only want to progress. The fear of not being financially secure, and actually, the fear of not being fulfilled in my career always spur me on to keep going, to branch out, to push harder. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy a lay in and a lazy day, but I never become complacent. It can always be better, so embrace the fear and harness it to make yourself better.

5. Time 

Time has been my greatest teacher (philosophical, huh?). Becoming a better businesswoman is something that naturally comes from time and experience, in the same way that blog and social growth most often come from time and experience too. As the months have gone by I’ve been able to learn what content I love creating the most and what performs the best, along with what actually makes me feel good about my work. On the flip side, I’ve also been able to experience some lows and well as highs. I’ve had exciting projects given to other bloggers at the last minute, quiet periods of no work and times where I’ve felt really unsettled and unfocused with what I’m doing. In an industry where there aren’t many set guidelines or concrete routes for us to take, we’re all inevitably learning as we go along, but if you’re feeling that you aren’t in the place you want to be then do keep going, but also give yourself time. If you work hard, it will come.

5 Things I’m Saying Thank You To My Mum For - AD

21 March 2017

This post was kindly sponsored by The White Company, but the imagery, wording and Mum are all my own.

Meet Karen. She’s my lovely Mum...

Sunday March 26th, Mother’s Day - a day to say thank you to your Mum or the mother figure in your life for everything from packed lunches and taxi services to unconditional love and unparalleled strength. Some people see Mother’s Day as a gimmick (my brother included, although he reluctantly obliges to send flowers each year), questioning why it is that we need to shell out on cards and presents and experiences when we say thank you to our Mums everyday right?. (Oh, and hands up if you too have been subject to the “well, it’s children’s day every day” retort if you’ve ever dared to bring it up.) As I’ve gotten older, however, I’ve come to appreciate the meaning of Mother’s Day more. Rather than being an excuse for your old hen to bag some gifts and indulge in some guiltless lounging, it’s more about acknowledging the many sacrifices that motherhood demands. And today, in collaboration with The White Company who kindly sent me some beautiful cashmere socks to gift to my Mum, I’m taking the time out to properly say thank you, and in particular, for these five things…

P.S. Before I continue, if you’re at a dead-end with Mother’s Day gifting, The White Company have you covered. Pick something meaningful from their Mother’s Day Gift Guide, and make sure to tell her why. My Mum and I always have cold feet and it seems to be something she’s passed down to me, so it made sense that I opted for some super-soft cashmere socks. It’s luxury with a reason. Mum’s always appreciate the thought more, anyway…

Raising my brother and I as a single parent

My Mum and Dad separated when I was around 6 or 7, and from that point on my Mum raised both myself and my brother as a single parent. Without financial help from my Dad, my Mum worked her little patootie off so we’d never feel like we were missing out, and she still managed to never miss a Parent’s Day or a school play. My wonderful grandparents of course helped out with school runs and babysitting, but for what I took for granted when I was younger, I can now appreciate and applaud my Mum for doing. Raising two children isn’t easy, but doing it alone is even harder. Aside from financial support, my Mum also had to be a shoulder to cry on, an authoritative figure, the one with all the answers, and let’s not even get started on what it’s like to try and parent two warring teenagers.

So thank you, Mum - you were a single parent, but you didn’t need anybody else anyway.

Her sacrifices for our passions

Hobbies when you’re a kid are ever-changing. I went from playing the violin to air-kicking at karate and winning ‘at least you tried’ ribbons at horse riding, and every single time a new flavour of the month came along, my Mum would say, “yep, if you want to do it, go for it”. And hobbies aren’t cheap - horse-riding, especially. As many other little girls are, I was adamant that I wanted a pony, and so my Mum started working at a local horse-yard so I could horse-share and her labour would pay for food and tack and all of the ridiculous clothing bits you have to wear when you enter the equine arena. She sacrificed her weekends, not only for this but to also wake up at 6.a.m. and drive me to random horse-competitions, knowing full well that I would probably just fall off or get disqualified anyway. She never stopped supporting me, and that was only one half of her child batch - the other was off playing football or cricket, and that was a whole other kettle of fish.

So thank you, Mum - cleaning out stables at 6pm in the pitch black snow must have been awful, but you let me sit in the warm car and did it for me anyway.

Having a home with open doors

Our home was a home not only for us, but for all of our friends too. Joe and I always had people over and some even stayed for days on end if they needed to, and this open doors policy meant that we were able to create some of the best memories of our lives, bouncing around on our trampoline or firing up BBQ’s on long summer evenings. My mum never turned anyone away and was a certifiable mother hen - in fact, she still refers to our best friends as her “other children” - and I have to commend her for always being so generous with her space and allowing us to be teenagers with freedom.

So thank you, Mum - your open arms and open doors meant that even our friends formed some of their fondest memories in our home.

Teaching me to be resilient

My Mum hasn’t had an easy life, but somehow, she’s always picked herself up, dusted herself off and kept going. Growing up, all I saw around me was the conventional nuclear family, in most cases with the father being the “traditional” breadwinner and the mother being the “traditional” caregiver. My mum was both of these things, and her demonstrating that it’s not necessary to rely on a man undoubtedly nurtured the very beginnings of feminism within me. She made sure to instil in me the ability to dream big, and out of that was born a determination to find and pursue a career I love, as well as the resilience to persevere when things aren’t so easy. She makes me feel like I can do it, no matter what that “it” is.

So thank you, Mum - for making me believe in myself, dream big and keep bloody going.

For always smelling like home

Mum’s always smell like home, don’t they? One thing I will never tire of is the smell of my Mum’s hair and the scent of her pillow. No matter what perfume she wears, what shampoo she uses or what washing powder she washes the bedsheets in, her hair and her pillow always smell the same, and they are an instant comfort blanket to me. When she’d leave for work on Saturdays I’d make the four-step journey from my bedroom to hers, just so I could slip under the duvet and absorb all of the Mum comfort that lived there. Those smells make me feel safe, no matter how old I am.

So thank you, Mum - for always smelling like - and for always being - home.

Dress For Your Style, Not Your Shape

16 March 2017

Do you remember Trinny and Susannah? Growing up, they were the queens of everyday style (as exposed to me by shitty TV and tacky ‘chat’ magazines), reinventing women by overhauling their wardrobe, spicing up their hairstyle and fondling their tits. Some of their most popular titles were ‘What Not To Wear’, ‘The Body Shape Bible’ and ‘What Your Clothes Say About You’; their key messages, it seems, centered around your body being the priority, and your style being secondary. The main purpose of dressing was for the sake of other people - to communicate a certain message, to impress or entice. Whether you actually preferred what you were wearing over something else was an afterthought.

With this mentality, whether you “look good” or not is a power that is placed into the hands of others. It’s more important to avoid dressing badly than to enjoy dressing well - it’s a philosophy of taking away instead of adding value to. It’s a philosophy of relying on the external, ignoring how you feel about your body and the way you choose to clothe it. In this sense our bodies don’t belong to us, and we’re duty bound to not offend ole’ Roger down the road by showing too much tit or Janet in the office by wearing tight trousers that simply do not flatter our fat thighs.

Dress - Topshop
Sunglasses - Miu Miu*
Boots - Zara

Being petite, I’ve been especially party to this “dress for your shape” way of thinking. I’m told not to wear anything that ends at the ankle for fear of making my legs look stumpy, to never go for boxy oversized shapes that might drown my “small figure” and to wear heels at every opportunity possible. And this is the case for every body shape that doesn’t neatly slot into the ‘regular’ expectation. ‘Tall’ women are told not to wear mini skirts, ‘plus size’ women are told not to wear stripes and god forbid if ‘a triangle’ (a.k.a. a person with broad shoulders but a slimmer bottom half) should dare not to “balance themselves out”. Dressing for your shape essentially means dressing to hide - whether that is to hide short legs, a wobbly belly or a small boobs. Again, it caters to that mentality of taking away.

But we are more than shapes. We are more than an ‘apple’, a ‘pear’, a ‘triangle, a ‘square’ (couldn’t resist the temptation to not rhyme), and what we wear shouldn’t be controlled by the skin that we’re in, but rather by the shit that we actually like. Of course, there is a certain element of body awareness involved in feeling good - if a dress clings awkwardly and you don’t feel comfortable sashaying around the dance floor in it, then it’s not the right fit. That decision, however, should lie solely with you, and the key focus is your comfort. If you pop on a mini-dress - as I did here - and your big thighs keep a’flashing and your calfs do a wobble and your pouch keeps poking out and your boobs aren’t quite big enough to fill it out, but you still love it, then wear it. Own it. Be Beyoncé in it.

Killer Red Dresses

I wore this dress out for dinner with Keiran the night before my birthday, and I feel like it’s one of the most special pieces in my wardrobe; it makes me feel sexy and curvy and like the red dancing lady emoji. Despite all of the reasons that I shouldn’t be wearing it, it makes me feel confident and I love it. The way a piece of clothing makes you feel should always trump what it might make others think, and ‘rules’ for dressing will inevitably box you in to the same few cuts and the same few colours without leaving any room for you to try new things. If I had listened to petite dos and don'ts, I never would have gone through that minimalist phase of wearing strictly oversized jumpers, trousers and Adidas Superstars. I never would have gone H.A.M. with oversized earrings and I certainly wouldn’t be swanning around in a tight fitting red mini dress which shows more thigh than a high street butchers.

Dress for your shape, not your style? No, dress for your style, not your shape.
Pick items that excite you and make you say “actually, would you mind just taking a few more photos from this angle?” and dare to try new lengths and new styles because Don’t feel obliged to “accentuate your waist” just because you’re above a size 14, and don’t adhere to the “no busy co-ords” rule because you’re on the shorter side of life. Fashion should be a creative outlet that you enjoy, not an anchor to way you down every time you open the wardrobe doors.

This year, I’m challenging myself to take more risks. I’m experiencing somewhat of a trouser-less renaissance, where I’ve gone from religiously pulling on a pair of jeans every day to dipping my toe into the dress and skirt pool and absolutely loving it (not to mention my crotch has been well and truly liberated). I’m discovering a new way to express myself and suddenly, getting dressed in the morning has gotten a little bit more exciting. I’m like a painter with a new paint-brush, a builder with a new drill or a musician with a new instrument; I’ve found a new tool with which to feel good and to say “hey world, this is me, chubby body and all - take it or leave it.”

So fuck Trinny and Susannah. Your body belongs to you, and you can put whatever the fuck you want on it. Dressing is not about “hiding your defects” or trying not to look “tarty” as the sartorial duo proclaim, but about making yourself feel good and enjoying the process of wearing great clothes. Self-confidence comes from within, not from the approval of others or adhering to made-up dressing standards - I mean, if we all did that, wouldn’t we all look like the same, accentuated-waist-just-the-right-length-not-too-much-boob-on-show-clone anyway?

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