The wonderings, ponderings and other 'ings' of me. Lifestyle, review, news and opinion posts. Chic with a hint of sarcasm... hopefully!

Wednesday 26 November 2014

Facebook: Like for Like - why it's a bad idea.

When I was a kid I used to prepare for 'the Christmas card situation' with military precision. Large bumper pack of 50 cards bought by 0900 hrs 1st Dec.  Sorted into good, very good, OK and bad designs by 2nd Dec. Written and delivered by 3rd Dec.  Everyone would get one, classmates, teachers, dinner ladies.  Not because I was a kind giving girl looking to spread some Christmas joy but because I wanted to ensure I'd get that many back.  You see to the 9 year old me self worth was measured in cardboard and glitter, the more cards I got the more important I thought I was.

Today I got another 'like for like' request on Facebook for my blog.  Campaigns have been popping up for the past month or so where if you have a blog you can like someones page and they in turn will like yours. And I get the temptation, you both get your stats up enjoying that happy little glow you get when you see your followers reach three (or even four) figures.  A win-win right? Except it's not.
You see, it's a bit like me with all my Christmas cards.  I didn't have 145 friends, I barely knew half of the names scrawled at the bottom of cards bearing robins and trees, the caretaker didn't really care that I have a jolly holly day. Like for like campaigns don't mean our blogs are successful. 

Don't you want the people that 'like' your blog to find it interesting, go back to it regularly and basically ya'know like your blog rather than just be a number? Isn't your work worth more than a quick and dirty popularity fix? So while I understand those that are, I'm not getting involved with the like for like campaigns.  I'll just stick to writing about things that interest me and make me laugh or think while taking photographs that I find artistic.  And I'll be looking for blogs that do the same. 

Hopefully I'll see yours there.

Monday 24 November 2014

Trend Interpreter: Solid Clutches on the High Street

The high end fashion magazines would have us believe we are slap bang in the middle of fab clutch season.  Which isn't much of a stretch, we all know that once the Christmas lights are switched on the firework sparkly clutches come out in all their glory.  However the bucks you pay for these bags are more than a tad expensive - Bottega Veneta £1,610, Louis Vuitton £2,940 we'll have 2 of each eh, let me just get rid of this pesky kidney!  I walked the high street looking for their high end, middle ground and seriously affordable alternatives:

For the high end high street, Reiss and LK Bennett's selection ticks all the boxes.  John Lewis also have a fair few worth perusing.
John Lewis £99
LK Bennett £225
Reiss £110


For the mid range we're still in John Lewis (who says I'm influenced by seasonal adverts!) with these 'oversized old cigarette case' offerings but Coast have a little art deco inspired number for you to ponder as well.

John Lewis £59
Coast £85

Let's be honest, if you're just looking for something to throw your lipstick and phone in for one season spending a wedge of cash is annoying so Warehouse have a range for less than £30.  True they do feel cheaper than the others and have less of a reassuring 'click' when it closing, but on first glance do look just as chic.
Warehouse £26
However, if the idea of possibly having the same bag as the rest of the UK fills you with dread there are boutique stores to investigate.  Boudoir Femme here in Cambridge have this vintage 1950's clutch that will add more than a little glamour to any outfit.
Boudoir Femme £125
Let me know if I missed anything...

Friday 21 November 2014

Boudoir Femme Christmas Event

Cost: £25

Last night saw my style soul mate and I attend an evening at one of the most prestigious boutiques in Cambridge.  One of the many independent stores in our fine city Boudoir Femme, had their annual Christmas event and it's become an evening we wouldn't miss. Kir royals and macaroons from Fiona Patissiere were on hand as we entered, and every corner of the store had goodies for your Christmas wish list.  

While some of the garments are pretty expensive the quality of the pieces, coupled with the fact they don't seem to be available elsewhere in town, makes Boudoir Femme one of my favourite "if money were no object" stores.   I would like their website search function to be updated as it's not all that intuitive for online customers.  That said a browse around the shop itself never fails to build up my pintererst boards. Here are just a few of the things I'm hoping my husband has seen.  

Cost: between £20 - £49
I discovered Hultquist a few years ago at Boudoir Femme and have never looked back, as my jewellery box would contend!  These designs are right up my street in price, appearance and individuality.

Cost: £145
Ankle boots to live and die in, I just hope they fit my feet as I'm hoping to get them in any colour they are available.

Cost: £99
Faux Fur
This over sized stole was one of my favourite pieces in the shop, adding a touch of glamour without harming any animals.  Beware, if you get one you will spend your time constantly stroking yourself!

Cost: £169
Cute Evening Bags
If you're looking for that perfect evening bag then Boudior Femme is definitely a place you should check out.  Small and functional these bags won't set you back as much as a mulberry but are just as chic.

Let's go shopping! Shall I just meet you there?

Saturday 15 November 2014

Kiss and Grip: MAC & Max Factor Cosmetics Review

So I'm not a mega beauty blogger but recently I've been inspired to write about a couple of products that have come my way.  Of course by 'come my way' I mean I went in a shop, reached in my pocket produced my card and in exchange they gave me some killer colours to stick on my face and nails.  Some are a tad expensive others are softer in your salary. Neither of these makes are new or unheard of I just hadn't used them much before, though this is something that I will rectify in the future.

MAC Heroine £15.50
Honestly I used to think of Mac as overpriced but my initiation into their world has changed my mind. Mac's heroine lipstick used to be a limited edition colour but was so popular it made it to the permanent line.  Not for the faint hearted the purple of all purples is more than a tad in your face - I've had people stop talking mid sentence when they see it - but the intensity of the colour is what this lipstick is all about.  Better yet it just doesn't bleed but gradually fades after a few hours to a really cute pink.  The fade is one of the things I love, the colour pigment lightens but in a flawless way, not patchy and doesn't wear off in the middle the way some lipsticks do.
MAC Pro Longwear lipcream £18
MAC's Pro longwear is just that, a lip cream that lasts and lasts and this one is the best red ever.  I've never been able to wear a true red before, mainly because of the little vains of bleeding colour that seem to occur with most.  But with MAC now I can as the bleeding doesn't happen, being a cream rather than a lipstick means its softer and less sticky than other products can be as well.

I hope this isn't coming across all 'adverty' they haven't paid me honest - though that said if MAC want to send me any cosmetics I am sure I could find a way to test them. 

You know those varnishes you buy, shelling out between £5 and £25 (hmm Tom Ford?) that look great for a while and then next time you go to the bottle it's all gloopy and manky? Well these aren't those, Max Factor mini varnishes are the antidote to wastful nail paint.  Perfect pinks, ridiculously cool rouges and party purples all go on smooth as a babies bottoms and gleam the way gels do.   
Obviously they don't last as long but a decent top coat should get you a good few days before you need to top up or swap them for another colour.  As the bottles are so small there's a good chance they will run out before they ruin your look with stringy sticky brush application.  And being so dinky they are literally what your stockings are crying out for this Christmas.
£2.00 - £4.50 (depending on where you go!)
One of my sister's favourite jokes makes a fair amount of fun at us for our interest/obsession with cosmetics but seem a fitting end to this post, if you have a sense of humour about yourself that is.

Why do girls wear makeup and perfume?
Because they're ugly and they smell.

'til next time!

Thursday 13 November 2014

Your New Favourite Jeweller - Nude Jewellery

Ultra Pink Radek Contemporary Ring
Sometimes something happens when you're a blogger that looks like it's going to cause you a massive issue.  Like the pictures in your camera all crash or the template keeps shifting the text.... or you delete a draft on your app and it deletes your actual post, which is what has just happened to me.

That said maybe its a blessing in disguise as now I get to upload my interview with Nikki Galloway again.  Nikki is the owner of Nude Jewellery which is based in Mayfair and has been going for 12 years.  Nikki's items caught my eye a few months ago and I loved her take on conflict gems, her prices (some totally affordable and some that will be going on my Christmas wish list) and her unique designs.  Introducing to you Nude Jewellery.

1. Tell me about your designers?
Most of the designers are British, but we also have 3 polish designers at the moment and are due three collections from Greek designers any day now. We have over the years had designers in from all over the world. The main thing is that the designers are independent, their work is not mass produced, with many of the pieces being unique and individually handmade and that they are passionate about design.

2. Where did the name Nude originate and what is the concept behind it?
The name was thought up by two close friends of mine over a glass or two of wine.  We had discussed a few options but I still hadn't decided on anything. When I received the text from them I did think about it for a day or two but it seemed to fit. A nude painting is a piece of art therefore the nude reference is not smutty or rude, it's a refers to art and it also has a cheeky reference to the colourful history of the neighbourhood of Shepherd Market and the "working flats" which can make for an entertaining area to work. Although they are very, very discreet - this is Mayfair after all!

3. Describe the type of person that wears Nude jewellery?
Stylish, quirky, independent, detailed, confident.
Contemporary Silver Bracelet by designer Lucy Q
4. Your stance on conflict diamonds is really inspiring, what percentages of your customers request this information is it a growing concern and how closely do you monitor this?
It's a question we are asked more and more, we always source our diamonds and gemstones from reputable sources, this means that sometimes the prices of our diamonds are maybe not as competitive as some of the online jewellers but that's one thing I'm not prepared to compromise on.

5. There are many jewellers emerging in recent years, how does Nude stand out from the crowd?
If you want normal run of the mill jewellery then you have come to the wrong place, we are renowned and love unusual jewellery, but not unusual for the sake of it there has to be an edge to the design, a certain flair and sophistication to the piece along with excellent quality. At Nude we are continually refreshing the collections that we stock as many of our customers are returning and are always looking for something individual, therefore we have to keep our collections fresh and innovative. Our USP is that in central London we are a small independent boutique with a wealth of British talent that is genuinely usual and unique something that's actually quite hard to find (so I'm told).

Splat Cuff contemporary silver
6. You have such a wide range of designs, materials and price range with your items, how do you achieve such a range and who is your target audience?
As I mentioned before, I love unusual and innovative jewellery, I'm not such a fan of blah! (Can I say that?) so sometimes when a designer approaches us if I love their collection (when I say love, I mean slightly annoyed that i didn't think of it) I simply cant refuse, even if we don't really have space I will do everything to fit it into the store. The passion and love for a collection always comes across with a customer.

Being in central London in the privileged area of Mayfair means our customers are extremely varied. We have many business men and woman who visit us when travelling from overseas maybe once or twice a year, them there are the tourists. Alongside these customers we have some very wealthy and sometimes famous customers. Our jewellery is priced from £50 to several thousand. With the majority of our customers being men buying for their partners, I find that if they love a design or style then that is the main thing, if its priced realistically and they can afford it then they will buy it.  Our jewellery is priced fairly for the material, craftsmanship and design, and most appreciate that.

7. Where do you gather your inspiration for the next collection?
I need to have blinkers I think as its hard not to be influenced by other designers especially when part of your job is to find the best jewellery collections out there. This is probably why it takes us so long to launch new collections, and makes it tricky. I do have a new collection that is being launched in the new year. At the moment we are in the prototype stage which can be fun and a little like play school at times. I love sixties style, Mary Quant, Bibba and I have recently found clothes designer Ossie Clark from the same era this style does influence me somewhat, the sixties style is just so super cool, I love Jane Fonda in the classic film Barbarella. I also love edgy and alternative with a little grunge thrown in for good measure!

8. Do you actively encourage and look out for new talent?
Always, New talent is what keeps the industry fresh, it's necessary.  Every year at Nude Jewellery we run our "Graduates in the Spotlight" competition which is open to any jewellery designer/maker who has graduated within the past 12 months, the competition has grown in status over the years and each year we receive more and more applications. From the applications we work through them and narrow the selection down to our three favourite designers, we then launch it on Facebook for anyone to vote for their favourite. The winner then gets a chance to exhibit with us for three months, a space in our store window and  featured on our website and within our social media.

9. Which celebrity would you most like to dress?
I think I would have to go old school and chose somebody like Madonna, an icon and somebody that has longevity within their industry. It would have to be somebody that I truly admired, that was strong and individual with there own sense of self.

10. Where do you see the jewellery trade heading in the next 5 years?
That's a great question, it has changed so much in the past ten years some aspects are barely recognisable. The internet and social media has made such an impact as it has with everything. The one good thing that works in the jewellery industry's favour is that there is a limit to what people will buy online and jewellery is such a specialised and personal thing that most people will see the item online, but many will call in to see it in person before they buy it, especially when it comes to the more high end pieces.

Ethereal acrylic cuff by Joanna Bury
Peaked your interest?

Nude Jewellery
36 Shepherd Market
020 7629 8999

Listed in Retail Jewellers Inspiring Independents Top 50 - 2014
Shortlisted for "Boutique of the Year" by The UK Jewellery Awards 2013
Listed in Retail Jewellers Inspiring Independents Top 50 - 2012

Sunday 9 November 2014

#MRWritersClub Entry - Moran, Fielding, Kinsella & Khorsandi come to tea!

For those that don't know Man Repeller is one of those supermodel bloggers who's posts have been worshipped for many a year.  While I've not been as enamoured with her uploads as some I do love that she started Man Repeller's Writers Club, a weekly essay of 500 words or less on a topic of her choosing.  The one that was given last week was fan fiction, now I've never tried fan fiction before as it congered up images of sad losers in their rooms pretending their life is better than it really is, which was my bad.

My first attempt inspired me, got the writing juices flowing and made Thee Middlesister's world all happy.  Who knows, maybe I am one of those sad losers now but that's a title I happily embrace and I've uploaded it here for prosperity.  Hope you enjoy it.


I’m early.  But I always am, it’s like I still can’t believe I’m a part of these lunches even though we’ve been meeting like this once a month for over a year now.  It’ll sink in one day I’m sure.
Through the doors of the Sticky Beaks cafĂ© in Cambridge (they’re all coming to me this time) I see our table has been reserved.  Five seats, tea and cake, several different newspapers, note pads and iPads are laid out in organised splendour.
Shappi is there first after me.  Ms Khorsandi is fresh off of her comedy tour and writing her next book. She always was warm and inviting from the first moment we met but now time means there’s strength to the sparkle in her eye.  We are still saying our hellos, love your dress, where’d you get those earrings? How’s the book going? when we hear a crash.  A table has gone over and there is creamy coffee and scones everywhere, so we know that means Caitlin has arrived.  
Mrs Moran whirlwinds her way to the table and takes up two chairs, the waiter kindly brings a sixth to save the fuss of ‘last time’.  Cat starts in with the drama of the morning involving kids, a rock star that slept over and a pot of jam that ended up on said star’s foot (we don’t ask how) and then turns to me and from nowhere imparts the kind of advice or insight that people travel miles to ancient Indian gurus to hear.   I normally write down a lot of what she says, sometimes I just record the whole meeting and play it back picking out the gems (inbetween the jam).
Helen and Sophie come in together and round off the committee, these ladies have smart and sassy all sewn up.  Your first impression may be they’re ‘mean girls’ due to their outfits and outlandish language but if so then shame on you.  Never have I found more kind hearted, funny and generous people than Kinsella and Fielding.
I’m the protege.  The latest in a long line of unknowns these four ladies have taken under their wing and guided towards their dreams (Caitlin hates it when I talk ‘all gushy’ like this).  It’s something they started many years ago and turned my world upside down when they picked me to be the next HSCS girl (Helen, Sophie, Caitlin, Shappi in case that wasn’t clear).
We go over newspaper reports, articles, blogs and images and they help, encourage and cajole me into writing more of my book as half way through and I've hit a diamond wall - brick would have been easier to crack.  We get a break through and I rush off to get writing while they say their goodbyes and make future arrangements, texting me the details.
I wonder how my life would have turned out if they hadn’t read that man repeller post I sent in?

Monday 3 November 2014

Fluff and Tickle

I'm not a posh girl (by a long shot) but I do so love a look through Tatler magazine. This time around as well as naked toffs in castle type abodes there was a page on fuzzy jumpers.

In my opinion these are the best autumn saviours.  A guardian piece by Alice Fisher advised teddy bear style tops were on the up which I'd agree with.  Not wanting to add too many layers too early in the season, especially as we have just experienced the hottest Halloween on record, fuzzy tops are... well tops.

Having access to less than your usual Tatler gal's credit card limit I checked out what the high street had on offer with this trend.  For those of us with a fuzzy fetish but a not so extravagant expense account here are a few options that may well go to the top of your Christmas wish list.

Gilet Topshop - £65
Available in black, white and light pink this faux fur gilet has that chic yeti vibe.  So far I resisted as I'm not sure its for those of us over a certain age but it's fairly possible my obsessioion with this look may well soon take over.  Which means I'll cave, buy all three and then spend the next few months hiding them from my husband unitl I can say 'What this? I've had it ages'.

Scarf LKBennet - £225
OK so this isn't all that cheap but I had to include it as this item has the ability to transform jumpers, tops and coats and give each one a classy cosy feel.  Plus its so soft it feels like the back of a baby owl's head.

Image taken from New Look Website
Pussycat red Jumper New Look - £18.99
This one is a true bargain though why its called pussycat red is anyone's guess, If you've seen a cat this red and fluffy there's a good chance you need to get yourself down the hospital for a check up.  If you like it you can pick one up here.

Fuzzy tops rule.  FACT!

Unless advised otherwise all images taken by moi!

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