Lifestyle . Fashion . Beauty . Culture

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

The Sentimentality of Fashion

I have a confession: I’m a hoarder. I hold onto everything from the perfume box a Christmas gift came in to my ‘homework club’ certificate I received when I was 9 (I was a cool kid). And don’t even get me started on makeup. The palette with hues so extreme it’s named ‘Acid’ and has only been used once when I spontaneously thought I could rock a hot pink eye (I couldn’t)? I definitely need to hang onto that just in case I need it someday. Basically, I’m crap at throwing things out.

I’ve always attached sentimentality to inanimate objects. There are just some things in life that we don’t want to bid farewell to because of the emotional connection they have to past memories. But then there are the more trivial relics that are just as hard to let go of; the tacky glitter globes I bought myself when I was 10 or the beautifully designed hat box that my younger, naïve self planned to store love letters in (I clearly didn’t predict the rise of technology/ just how awkward looking a teenager I would be).

My wardrobe’s the worst culprit and I’m not alone; it’s predicted that on average a woman only wears 20% of the clothes she owns on a regular basis. It’s a staggering estimate, especially when you consider the cost of the extra 80% left hanging.

And so, long overdue a clear out, I became inspired by Carrie Bradshaw and invited my three closest friends over, popped open the Moët and made them watch me parade around in every single piece I owned while they faked enthusiasm and held up ‘take’ or ‘toss’ cards. Only joking, I can’t think of anything more boring or self-involved to make my friends do (instead I’ll just write about it and make you all read it).

I'm with Miranda
I don’t know why I’m such a hoarder but I suspect in part it’s due to some subconscious romanticism of what things were in the past or could be in the future. Take, for example, the royal purple, silk dress that I just can’t throw out. It is literally too painful to wear, no thanks to the awkward placement of sequins that scratch your arms. For this reason I’ve only worn it once. I’ll never wear it again but I still can’t throw it away. Why? Because it’s too pretty to throw in a monotonous heap of unloved clothes, I bought it on my 16th birthday and, for me, it represents the person I want to be when I rarely leave the house after 10pm: fun, sparkly and joyous.

“Clothes are much more than just cloth. It’s giving the wearer something more than a garment. It’s transferring emotion,” fashion designer Jessica Ogden once said and it’s a sentiment I fully understand. There’s a reason why our tastes and preferred pieces change over the years; we change as people and this is reflected in our lifestyle choices, particularly what we choose to wear.

Some clothes are easy to throw out because of the memories they hold: that ‘night out only’ bodycon dress that I hung on to for a little too long despite it not fitting for the best part of four years? Gone. The try-hard plaid skirt I bought on a whim when I first became editor of my student magazine after another The Devil Wears Prada re-run? So long. But, despite my impressively ruthless clear out there are some clothes that will stay in my wardrobe indefinitely.

Fashion is simultaneously obsessed with the past and the future. Every season we see a version of a ‘classic reinvented’ or the trend pages of magazines refer specifically to a decade’s archetypal style. That’s what’s so wonderful about fashion: it’s constantly innovative, challenges conventions but is also significantly influenced by the past. It looks back and moves forward: something that I believe is reflected in our own collection of clothes too.

I will never stop pining over minimalist Scandi-style interior design on Pinterest, nor will I ever stop admiring the meticulously organised wardrobe spaces in Elle’s 'Closet Confidential' pages. But sometimes the most eclectic wardrobes featured were the most fascinating to read about because of the dazzling stories behind the pieces. By contrast, I can’t claim that I wore my purple, sparkly dress to the MET gala, or that it gifted to me from my dear friend Karl Lagerfeld, but it makes me happy, and isn’t that what personal style is about after all?

NG <3

Photo Credit: Emily May via Flickr.


Sunday, 2 April 2017

Spring Beauty Wishlist

Spring has officially sprung. I never pay attention to equinox dates, ‘the first day of spring or summer etc…’, because let’s face it, the weather hardly matches. It was only a few years ago that I remember the start of spring was marked accordingly with a sprinkling of snow. 

But now it really feels like spring; it’s noticeably warmer (hello denim jacket- I’ve missed you) and there’s a fresh sense of energy in the air, probably resulting from leaving the newsroom after working on a computer all day and being greeted by daylight. The countdown to lazy summer afternoons spent in the beer garden has begun; I’ve even had my first glass of Pimms of 2017.

Before I ramble on about the weather for a whole post, (it’s possible, I am British after all) I will get to my point, after all Oscar Wilde once said “conversation about the weather is the last refuge of the unimaginative”. Guilty as charged. 

Spring for me signifies change. Time for a refresh. As we move from A/W 2016 into S/S 2017 and welcome tulle, fuchsia and the 80s revival, it’s a chance to update your beauty routine and invest in some spring buys. Here’s my beauty wishlist for the next few months (all donations kindly accepted): 
Left to right:

Revlon Ultra HD Matte Lip Colour, £8.99

I’ve been recommended this lip colour by the beauty pages of just about every magazine going. The promise is velvety, matte lips without the drying effect that many similar products have and there’s a variety of vivid shades available. Top of my list are ‘Flirtation’, a summery coral shade, and ‘Love’, for a more dramatic red lip.

Makeup Revolution 'Beyond Flawless' Palette, £8

I’m a recent convert to Makeup Revolution products after becoming obsessed with their blush palette and finding that their products are just as appealing as their price point. I’ve been lusting over Urban Decay’s Naked Smoky palette since I bought Naked 2 (treat yo self) but now that my student status has been reactivated I’m all about quality bargain buys. The ‘Beyond Flawless’ palette features 32 shades, ranging from dusky pinks to shimmery bronzes to jet black. All you need for the perfect smoky eye. Oh, and it works out 25p per shade. Like more incentive was needed…

A shift has happened over the past few years in my make-up collection and highlighter has become as much a staple in my routine as mascara. I always find myself complimenting my friend Rachel (check out her blog here) on her highlight and she is an avid fan of this Sleek palette. I’ve got a lot of time for Sleek products. I always find they have amazing staying power and I’m so tempted with this palette due to it featuring a mix of cream, matte and shimmery textures. 

I don’t use the term ‘the one’ lightly but when it comes to this moisturiser there was no hesitation. It’s lightweight, oil free, boosts hydration levels and smells incredible. The problem? The price point. Eeeek. Like l said, all donations kindly welcomed. 

Benefit, you’ve done it again. Just when I thought Bad Gal could not be topped I tried Rollerlash. I’ve never got on board with They’re Real, finding it a little too clumpy for my liking, but Rollerlash creates natural, curled lashes that are perfect for daytime. Plus the packaging is soooo pretty. 

Despite the smell I’ve always been a fan of Elnett and I’m so excited to try out the brand’s new release that promises to ‘magnify all types of waves’. I have naturally wavy hair and I can’t resist amplifying it with my Babyliss hair wand and using at least half a can of hairspray to preserve volume so I can’t wait to use this. 

Summer is the time of year when I desperately try to emulate Gisele’s sun kissed beach waves. Sadly I never reach the desired effect but if I start to practice in spring surely I’ll get there by June? Or maybe July? Probably not but regardless, I have faith in John Frieda. 

What's on your spring beauty wishlist? 

NG <3

Photo credit: Camdiluv ♥ via Flickr

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Growing Pains

Something surprising has happened over the past few months; I think I’m finally growing up. At the start of the year I turned 23, hardly geriatric, but truth be told if my younger self looked a year ahead and saw me now I feel that she’d describe me as that word I once dreaded the most: boring. And I’m perfectly happy with that.

 A friend recently asked me on a night out in my hometown and I politely declined. The idea of spending a good hour layering on make-up and agonising over which black dress to wear (I swear they’re all so different) to spend an eye-watering sum of money on radioactive looking shots (drinks should not be acid green), only to wake up next to a greasy, potentially food poisoning inducing kebab did just not appeal to me.

I’m being hyperbolic of course, I’ve had some fantastic nights out in my hometown but of late I just can’t seem to fathom the idea of spending my night sticking to a club floor when I could be in bed indulging in a novel or my latest Netflix find. Bacardi and coke? I’ll stick to a peppermint tea and my book on the Brontës, thanks.

I recently took a walk down memory lane and returned to Nottingham, the city where I spent three years living as a student. It didn’t quite feel the same. During my gap year working I would escape to Nottingham any chance I got to visit my friends there. I suspect a secondary reason to my frequent visits was partial denial at the fact that I had graduated and wasn’t quite where I expected to be in life. I clung onto how walking through Lenton, my former stomping ground, made me feel like a student again, the future still full of possibility while the luxury of not having a definite plan was just part of the package.

I can’t pinpoint the change in my attitude, although I suspect it probably shifted when I began studying at Sheffield. Rather than view my MA as retreating back into a security of student life, I approached it knowing that it would pass quickly and that I would have to consider the future from the minute I stepped foot on campus. It’s daunting but I’ve embraced it. During my gap year I felt stilted; despite having a full time job I was hovering about and didn’t feel quite like an actual adult while I was so fresh out of uni. Ironically, returning to university has made me feel more grown up than ever.

We reached peak Ocean in 2013
During my recent trip to Nottingham I returned to a student club where I spent many boozy nights as an undergrad. I swore I’d never grow tired of the place, from its overpriced VK chasers to the eclectic playlist that jumped from the Arctic Monkeys to Paul Simon to S Club 7 within an hour. “I’m too old for this shit,” I told my friend, barely audible over ‘Lady Marmalade’ (told you the music was brilliant).

The real sour cherry on top of the cake was when the only member of the opposite sex outside the group I was with spoke to me: “So are you a first year then? What hall are you in?” he asked. “No, I’m 23,” I replied. I then gave this very fresh-faced fresher a pearl of wisdom that I certainly didn’t take on board when I was 18: “you’re going to have the best three years of your life. Enjoy every minute. It’ll be over before you know it.”

I felt like I’d moved on from my days in Nottingham, being there felt like I was replaying a happy memory in my mind, in a ‘been there, done that’ sense. And so my friend and I left before midnight, got in our cosiest PJs, had a cup of tea and played a game of monopoly. This ‘boring’ life isn’t so bad after all…

NG <3

Cat photo credit: David O'Hare via Flickr

Saturday, 4 February 2017

February Reads

Ahh, February. You crept up so quickly. January was an intense month full of media law revision and enjoying the subsequent week of freedom that followed said exams. During that week I finally got stuck into a pile of books that have been gathering dust on my shelf since last year and am looking forward to whizzing through these this month (although admittedly they will probably see me well into March).

Q&A a day

Although it's not a novel or a 'February read' as such, this 5 year journal is a perfect way to briefly chronicle your thoughts and feelings each day. Every page has a new, simple question, ranging from trivial topics to more serious matters, with space to write an answer on that same day for 5 years. It's a fantastic way to chart how you evolve through the years while indulging in nostalgia and self-reflection.

Viral by Helen Fitzgerald

I sped through this novel in 2 days. It's about a young girl whose life is turned upside down after a video showing her performing sex acts at a club in Magaluf goes viral. The book follows the toxic chain reaction of events after the video becomes infamous and raises serious questions about misogyny and identity. It's a gripping thriller which had me hooked from the provocative first line.

Girl Waits With Gun by Amy Stewart

I can't wait to start this novel after I finish Invincible Summer. It's a true story based on Constance Kopp, one of America's first female deputy sheriffs. The novel follows the life of Kopp and her sisters and their struggle against a ruthless factory owner in the early 20th century.

The Establishment by Owen Jones

I've been dipping in and out of this book for about a year now but now, more than ever, seems like a poignant time to read it. The Guardian columnist writes about the UK government and the privileged few who are really pulling the strings in this powerful bestseller.

Invincible Summer by Alice Adams

The novel follows four friends, Eva, Benedict, Sylvie and Lucien, as they navigate their lives after meeting and graduating university. Is their bond really as strong as they first thought when they go down different paths in life? As I'm finishing my MA course later this year, the story of friends finding their place in the world after graduating is very appealing.

What are you planning to read in February? Do you have any recommendations?

NG <3


Thursday, 2 February 2017

I Like Your Look #17

I like your look... Michelle Dockery.

A photo posted by The Catwalk Italia - TCI (@thecatwalkitalia) on

Stripes? Check. Bold colours? Check. Michelle Dockery beat the January blues with this striking Elie Saab gown at the SAG Awards 2017 red carpet. Sunshine yellow, fuchsia and tangerine shouldn't work together but somehow they do. Michelle's slicked back hair and off-red lip add a fresh spin to such a dramatic look. Now this is how you do modern glamour...

From left to right clockwise:

What was your favourite look from the SAG Awards red carpet?

And, as always, make it your own...

NG <3


Wednesday, 18 January 2017

A Tale of Two Cities

"We need a break. We need a break desperately," my friends and I thought as 2016 came to a close. Determined to make the start to 2017 unforgettable, (and eat as many local delicacies as we could before our New Years resolutions started) we headed off on a whirlwind 3 day city break across two countries.

The first stop was Cologne in Germany, a beautiful city with spectacular views of the Rhine (the  picture above was taken on a chilly morning walk). An early rise at 4am to catch our flight made for a tiring start to the trip so as soon as we left the tram we headed for a very strong coffee before consulting the guidebook and planning our day and a half in Germany.

Megan on the Rhine bank

We went to the main square so we could explore the city centre and cathedral. 'Impressive' would be an understatement when describing the cathedral. Feeling a bit daring (and in my case overestimating my fitness) we climbed 100m to the viewing platform of the tower, which offered stunning views spanning the city.

Post climb we enjoyed a well deserved Kölsch, the local beer, in one of Cologne's beer halls (an absolute must) and tucked into a traditional schnitzel. We were fortunate enough to stumble upon the Christmas market on our way back and couldn't resist enjoying a gluhwein (mulled wine) while watching people ice skate round the rink at the market. It doesn't get more festive than that...

Cologne Christmas market
Apparently chocolate is a BIG deal in Cologne (not complaining tbh) and so naturally the chocolate museum was on our to do list. If I could recommend any culinary delight from the trip it would be the Baileys hot chocolate we sampled at the museum café. I took one sip and was in heaven, although a word of warning, it's so rich it's a meal in itself.

Next stop, Brussels, the capital city of Belgium. The first thing we did was make our way to the Atomium. It was an impressive structure but sadly it was an extremely foggy day and the queue was huge so we decided against actually going inside. Instead, we explored Brussels city centre, took in the sights of the Grand Place and spent a few hours in the square's museum.

The Grand Place

Group shot...I look like a giant here

Night time soon crept up on us so we stopped off for a carbonnade flamande (a Belgium beef stew) and a local beer before heading to the city's Christmas market to try a delicious waffle for dessert. When in Belgium...With a few hours to go before 2017 we headed back to the hotel to get ready and found ourselves in an Irish bar just in time for the countdown to midnight.

To put it simply, we ate a lot, we drank a bit and saw some beautiful sites. I can't think of a better way to have ended the year...

Hope you had a fantastic New Year!

NG <3

© NG

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