Fashion Challenge; A dress a day!

I love Paula Joye’s Fashion Challenges. It is all about rediscovering your own wardrobe and taking inspiration from other peoples style, not necessarily hitting up the shops to buy new things…

This week it was all about dresses; five days, five dresses in five different styles. And for me this was truly a challenge… Dresses aren’t usually my outfit of choice. Simply due to my slightly pear-shaped body type; I end up having a hard time finding dresses that suits and fits properly; I usually wear different sized tops and bottoms (damn my J.Lo bootie). To be honest I don’t own many dresses, being more of a skirt and top kinda girl, so pre planning here was key.

Day 0. Sunday – Plan of Attack

Rediscover my wardrobe, with the winter weather starting roll into early spring, it is time to put those pants and tights away and frock up. After a good hour and a bit standing in front of my wardrobe I feel a bit more comfortable with a basic style plan for the week ahead. Although feeling slightly nervous that my pale sun-tanless legs are being bared for a whole week!

Day 1. Monday – Black

Thank you P.J for starting off with a failsafe style. The LBD makes a difficult challenge a little more bearable as I ease my way into the week. Classic with a twist, is the look I was going for today. Black on black is an easy win, with a touch of leopard!

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Day 2. Tuesday – Prints

Until recently I was not the biggest fan of prints, sticking with block colours and basic layered tones. But I can proudly say I love prints and can’t stop buying them. Black and white leopard paired with a blazer is work-wear chic. Monochrome is the trend for the upcoming season so it’s time to jump on board.

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Day 3. Wednesday – Short

Done! Short is something I can do, rarely wearing anything that falls below the knee. I pulled this dress out of the back of my wardrobe, having not worn it for a good year or maybe more, continually thinking that I need an occasion or excuse to wear it. So I was delighted with the barrage compliments today, as a sported my nautical look today in my stripes and navy blazer.

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Day 4. Thursday – Long

Hmmm this was tricky, the only maxi style dress I own is the one I throw over my swimwear on the beach. Unfortunately not really work-wear appropriate. My Country Road floaty palazzo pants was my work around… To me this doesn’t count as a fail, as I really did push my fashion boundaries, as my outfit of choice will always fall above the knee! I was pleasantly surprised by the number of compliments on my outfit which converts this rule-tweak into a fashion achievement.

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Day 5. Friday – Evening for Day

This theme required a little bit of research and inspiration as I was a little lost on what to wear. With some inspiration under my belt I was ready for my final challenge. I am a style-comfort kind of girl, so by pairing a cocktail dress, Kookai, with a pair of sneakers it was the perfect outfit choice. Done!

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At the end a successful week completing five days of dresses, I have re-cemented why I love fashion, as my week long challenge became a bit of a game for the girls at work, ‘guess which look it is today’, I challenged my own style assumptions (that dresses aren’t my forte)… and pulled out some old favourites out of my cupboard. Even though I semi cheated on the ‘Long Dress’ day I was proud I wore an outfit that wouldn’t traditionally of been my first choice. I loved that I could hit snooze once or twice more on those early mornings, as my outfits were organised and structured for each day. Now I can’t wait for the next challenge…

SS x

We love: Stripes

There is something particularly thrilling about rediscovering something in your wardrobe that was loved yet forgotten. For me the thrill comes when, for whatever reason, you have selectively held onto something and it suddenly appears as a new season must-have. Finding that hidden gem in the back your closet is like discovering a $50 note in an old jacket pocket… bliss! The fashion industry is known for being notoriously cyclical; fashion trends come and go in waves and designers are known to look to the past for next seasons inspiration (we have all seen the 90s style mid-drift top popping up in stores everywhere this season). Every once in a while my mum will say “I used have ‘insert item’ just like that when I was your age”, which just proves my point more. As I mature the investment in key pieces that will last season in and season out is something I continuous look for. The Breton stripe is one of those key pieces and has been around long enough to deserve its fashion status.

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Clockwise from top left; Topshop, Sportsgirl, Topshop, Seed Heritage

It was originally introduced into French Naval law in the 1850’s as a part of a sailors uniform, to assist in the location of crew members who fell overboard while at sea. Coco Chanel, then introduced the striped design to the world of fashion as a part of Chanel’s nautical collection in 1917,after visiting the French Coast. The Breton stripe became the iconic symbol of French upper middle class chic during the pre-war Riviera years. Coco Chanel designed the piece to be paired the shirt with long flared trousers; which was at the time made popular by Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn and Brigitte Bardot.

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Now and Then: Stripe Trends – Ashley Olsen and Audrey Hepburn. Photo Via: WikiFashion

Today, it is now symbolic of Parisian chic, as the Breton stripe enters into both female and male wardrobes. This style has been sported by celebs including Olivia Palermo, Michelle Williams and Ashley Olsen, evolving from its traditional navy and white boat-necked style.

My wardrobe is now a sea of stripes; mainly in the traditional navy and white, maybe a hint of black and always horizontal (I salute the women who have the confidence to pull off a vertical stripe!). For me stripes represent comfortable chic at its best, and due to its successful fashion history it will continue to be a fashion staple.

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My Mid-Season Stripe

The Breton is the perfect to throw on mid season alongside a pair of cut offs or a pair of black pants and leopard print flats for a more polished look. The striped top has become a staple in my weekly outfit rotation…it is like an old friend casual comfortable style at its best!

SS x

Always Read the (Garment) Label

Standing in the change room trying on what could be the latest addition to your wardrobe, a lot of things run through your mind simultaneously. Fit, comfort, how do I look, occasions to wear, what do I currently own that matches… but that little label with the fine print hidden away inside the seam is the furthest from my mind. It is not until I have handed over my credit card and it is time to wash it do we check and even then sometimes we think about it a little too late…

With an extensive range of clothing materials and styles available; silk, chiffon, wool, leather, beading and the list goes on, each one with its own care conditions and rules, every item you purchase and bring home adds a new set of instructions to consider. So why is it that don’t we read the fashion fine print, you would never start a new job, sign a contract or even enter a competition without a little knowledge of what we are getting ourselves into. This little white label becomes the ‘terms and conditions’ of clothing, containing a series of logos and cryptic text outlining the conditions of your new purchase. ‘Do not bleach, do not dry clean, gentle machine wash, cool water of 30degrees, do not tumble dry, dry flat and away from direct sunlight.’ Apply that to the 100’s of items you have in your closet and it quickly becomes a mine field.

Always Read the (Garment) Label

Always Read the (Garment) Label

But if not applied correctly, that fine print can be the difference between an item that lasts for years and still looks like new or ends up a one wear throw away… It can also result in a whole lot time and money, different washing machine cycles, water temperatures, drying methods or money to pay for that ever growing pile of dry cleaning. I have recently rediscovered the importance of that little tag after destroying two of my favourite items this week through my own carelessness. As the saying goes, bad luck comes in threes … My fingers are crossed that I don’t ruin anything else.

So for the sake of this post, I did a mini inventory of my wardrobes fine print… approximately 15% of my clothes are dry clean only, 10% are whites, 30% are machine washable, 5% are cold wash only and over 40% are hand wash only, which equates to 100% annoying…

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Rules for caring for your clothes.

So I did a little bit of research, and asked my mother, for some of her best garment and fabric care tips;

1. Good quality wooden coat hangers prevents hanging items stretching out of shape. But never hang your woolen items always fold sweaters or jumpers to store.

2. Leather items are to be cleaned by a professional who specialises in leather, your local dry cleaner can damage the material and potentially make the leather crack.

3. Garment bags are a lifesaver, by using a lingerie garment bag on a cool and gentle machine wash cycle you can successfully machine wash some delicate items.

4. Sort out your laundry before putting it in the machine. The last thing you want is that sneaky red, pink or navy item turning all your whites an off white shade.

5. Cotton clothing is not only comfortable but hard wearing. The ultimate material for the low maintenance washer, just throw in the machine alongside any cleaning powder and you are done.

So to try to help prevent all that heartache over a lost love item, here’s my fine print… Always read the label and if heartbreak persists please see your local dry cleaner, seamstress or in worst case scenario shop assistant for a re-purchase 😉

SS x

Book Review: The Light Between Oceans

As a daily commuter, I notice the majority of my fellow travelers are plugged in to the latest device, I use this time to read. Although I may recommend reading, The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman, in a less public a place as it brought tears to my eyes. For me there is something magical about reading an authors first novel, as it feels as though it is the story they have always wanted to tell and I hope it is the first of many for Stedman whose literary tone has me captivated from the first page.

The Light Between Oceans Photo Via: Harper Collins Books

Must Read: The Light Between Oceans Photo Via: Harper Collins Books

The Light Between Oceans, is a thought-provoking Australian story of love, loss and the heartbreaking consequences that follow a single moment. Set in Western Australia where Stedman was born and raised, the story of Tom Sherbourne unfolds, who returns from WWI a shattered man believing he should not of survived when so many good men never returned home. Tom, haunted by his past, adopts the solitary life of a Lighthouse keeper on a remote island off the coast of Western Australia, called Janus Rock. Before leaving the small town of Partageuse for Janus Rock, Tom meets an adventurous and free-spirited, Isabel, whose long-distance courtship blossoms to love.

Tom and Isabel live a quiet life separated from the rest of the world on Janus but their happiness is not complete, struggling with the loss of three unborn babes. Until the cries of an infant child on the wind lead Isabel to discover a small boat washed ashore, carrying a dead man and crying infant. Convinced that the child was sent to the couple as a ‘gift from God’ Isabel persuades Tom to make a choice, that years later, as the baby’s real story unfold,s leads the couple to wrestle with morality, heartbreak and a parents unwavering love.

As a person without children, Stedman makes the reader experience the unrequited love of a parent for their child and their longing to protect them no matter the consequences. Capturing the raw emotions of each character so well that and your heartbreaks for each of them and the pain you feel could be your own. Stedman portrays what I believe to be a true representation of what each individual would each in these circumstances, as a mother, father, grandmother or friend.

As the winner of three prestigious ABIA awards including ‘Book of the Year’ and also, the Indie Awards ‘Book of the Year’, The Light Between Oceans is a must read for any book lover, an absolutely outstanding debut novel. This story will call to question what is right and wrong, and challenge your own moral compass. I am making a big call but if you read one book this year, Stedman’s The Light Between Oceans should be it!

SS x

Fashion rules to break this season

Every season fashion trends come and go, with designers pushing their latest collections and style boundaries. If you are like me and live by fashion rules, don’t ask me to wear black and brown because I just won’t do it, pushing those style boundaries requires a little guidance. So here are my fashion rules to be broken this winter season; tried and test by me…

Winter brights

Winter can be gloomy enough without your wardrobe being a miserable sea of black and grey too. Warm winter days means warm colours.

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Winter Brights; Willing the Warm Weather Closer

Now is the time to combine those big bold colours together in whatever form you like, with bright knits, beanies, blazers or for those who love the black and grey winter combo, a bold lip, as tone-on-tone colour is a big now trend.

Winter White

White in winter often receives a bad rap; I think its predominantly due to the US saying ‘No white after Labor Day’ but as a Southern Hemisphere fashion lover this rule is begging to be broken. My white jeans are a safe winter favourite, while recently helping a girlfriend out at a market stall I saved her white jeans off the sale rack, ‘don’t sell these you will regret it’ and since that day I think I have seen her in them about five times.

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Winter White Denim; Jeans by Glassons

Contrasting white against the traditional dark winter hues or alongside a pastel knit is the perfect way to lighten up your winter wardrobe. My only exception here is white shoes… this is a no-no so please save for the warmer months.

Double Denim

Clawing its way off the worst trends list, Double Denim is still quite a tricky trend and can turn ugly very quickly. When choosing your outfit, apply two of the most universal style rules; 1. Don’t go baggy on the top and bottom, pick one feature to highlight and 2. Don’t do matchy-matchy, choose contrasting tones the key to this trend is dark denim at the bottom and a chambray shirt in a lighter shade at the top to complete the look.

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Double Denim – Chambray Shirt. Photo via Seed Heritage

Add minimal accessories alongside a statement bag and you are ready to go.

Sneakers

This is definitely a trend to try with celebrities everywhere getting comfy in their latest kicks. I blame, Foster the People, with their chart topping single Pumped up Kicks, having sold over 5 million copies in the United States as of January 2013. Although your gym shoes need to remain in the gym, the must-have wedged sneaker is an acceptable street style exception.

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Sneaker Love; Nike

Patterns and stripes

Who made up the rule that you can’t clash patterns with stripes? Clearly, this was meant to be broken.

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Favourite Look; Florals and Stripes

Floral prints and stripes (horizontal only) would have to be one of my favourite combinations this season, as I have been inspired many times with the latest runway trend of contrasting prints, proving that your outfits don’t need to match all the time.

Clashing metals

Once upon a time it was severely frowned upon to mix silver and gold jewellery together, but this season anything goes. Layered wrist wear is the easiest and safest way to work this trend; combine your watch, some metal and maybe a splash of colour. Why not throw in some rose gold while you’re at it?

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Fashion Rules to Break: Clashing Metals

So be daring and break a rule or two!

SS x

For the love of books – Part 2 – Book Lover’s Day

With the increased adoption of technology and the latest ‘must-have’ gadgets; you are bombarded with information and updates where ever you look. Everyone seems to always be checking in and no one is checking out for that me time to relax and reset. So if you are going to ever take a day to yourself and head out to a peaceful spot with a good book, today is that day. August 9th is International Book Lover’s Day celebrating the shared love of literature. Encouraging readers of all ages to grab a book, find a secluded spot and let your imagination take you on a journey.

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Happy Book Lovers Day

Reading for pleasure is one of the world’s most recognised pastimes; offering benefits including expanding your imagination, increased memory and analytical thinking, stress reduction, and improved vocabulary. Whether you prefer fiction or non-fiction, crime or romance, hard backs, paper backs or e-book, today is the day to fuel that passion for books.

So I thought I would use this opportunity to share part 2 of my ultimate book list for all my fellow book worms:

1. Temple – Matthew Reilly. Action packed from the first page with a fast paced plot and twists upon twists.

2. The Happiest Refugee – Anh Do. Funny and inspiring, Anh Do, is charismatic and charming you can’t help but love him. There is a definite reason why this book is still appearing in the best seller list.

3. The Lion, the witch and the wardrobe – C. S Lewis. A children’s classic, Narnia is enchanting making every child wish their wardrobe was a door to another world.

4. 11.22.63 – Stephen King. Not you typical King novel. What would you do if you could prevent the assassination of J.F.K and change history.

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For the Love of Books – Part 2

5. The Light Between Oceans – M. L Stedman. A incredible story of right and wrong, and how sometimes they look the same.

6. The Sandalwood Tree – Elle Newmark. Adapting to a new life in India, 1947 and the discovery of hidden love letters that threaten to consume Evie’s already fragile existence. Two amazing stories from a hundred years apart that become woven together.

7. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – Stieg Larson. Never judge a book by its movie!!!

8. Dracula – Bram Stoker. Before vampires sparkled in the sunlight they were bad-ass!

9. The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Society – Mary Ann Shaffer. A charming novel written exclusively as series of letter correspondences to the people of the small island of Guernsey post WWII.

10. The Five People You Meet in Heaven – Mitch Albom. When Eddie awakes in the afterlife, five people set to explain his life and reveal the answer to the eternal question: “why was I here?”

So please do not disturb me today, and if you must you may find me here…

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My Not-So-Secret Spot

SS x

Read Part 1 of For the Love of Books for more of Must Read Books.

We love: Winter Layers

So as it rolls over into August and I am finally accepting the fact that it is winter and it is very cold. The mornings for me are a struggle; 1. Forcing myself to get up out of my safe warm bed and 2. Spending as little time as possible standing in front of my wardrobe in my under-garments as I decide what to wear. Truthfully winter layering is a skill, it is all about balancing out your pieces with your body shape so you don’t end up looking bulking and 10 kilos heavier than you actually are. Hopefully these layer friendly essentials keep you stylish and warm through the coldest of days.

Here are my winter layering essentials;

The Classic Trench

This item can end up being one of the hardest working pieces in your wardrobe all year round. Once strictly the domain of British military officers, the trench coat is now a fashion staple. The trench is perfect to wear with jeans, light weight knits for the day or tights, a leather mini and ankle boots at night.

Winter Layer Essential: Zara Trench Coat

Winter Layer Essential: Zara Trench Coat

The Light Weight Knit

While it is tempting to choose cheap and cheerful knits, purchase items in wool and cashmere to ensure they are warm while still fitting comfortably underneath a coat or jacket. As you wander the city streets you will only see a fraction of your knit which adds a sense of depth to your outfit. But, once inside and your coat is off, this piece can help make a statement so ensure you have fun with prints, patterns and colours.

The Jersey Dress

Purchasing a dress in jersey material means they stretch with your curves for the ultimate winter hug. Choose a dress that falls slightly above the knee and with a slight gather across the waist and hips to create a flattering silhouette.

Witchery Jersey Dress. Photo Via: Witchery

Witchery Jersey Dress. Photo Via: Witchery

The perfect seasonal must have for winter and the shoulder-seasons; combining with tights and boots or bare legs and heels, when you are feeling confident to brave the cold. Witchery is my place of purchase with lots of great winter tones and fits for all body shapes.

Super skinny jeans

The skinny jeans, trap the warmth close to your body and are the perfect building block for your winter look.

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J Brand Maria High Rise Skinny
Photo Via Shopbop

Invest in a good quality ‘dress jeans’ that are good quality that look smart and polished, not too scruffy when you are dressed down. This winter rock a super skinny dark pair of jeans for warmth and style.

The Scarf

The scarf is the easiest and ultimate winter accessory. The perfect way to trap warmth close to your body and can instantly add style and dimension to your outfit.

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Oversized scarf – Winter Warmth

Wear them all the time and with everything; an oversized woollen scarf, for those cold mornings where you feel the winter chill in your bones or a light weight printed creation to jazz up those dull winter tones. Above is my favourite winter scarf, I bought it in Japan two years ago it is like a giant cuddle.

So layer up and keep stylish this winter season.

SS x