September 17, 2014

Favourite hotels: The Mark New York

Finding a favourite hotel in New York has taken me years... I went there as a child but can't remember much of where we stayed, and then I've been to the Big Apple time and time again for work, and never found a place that I really enjoyed staying in.

Most hotels I've stayed in in New York either boast a lobby which turns into a nightclub come 7pm (nice for some I am sure, but not so nice if you have to spend the evening reviewing presentations and a 5am wake-up call). Some have the smallest little rooms with the noisiest air con units which seem to belong in the 1970s (yes, W Lexington, I'm thinking about you)... And lots are located in some unpleasant neighbourhood such as Time Square.

Then, one of my colleagues mentioned The Mark to me, and I thought I'd give it a try on a recent  trip to New York. Let me tell you, I'll never be able to ever stay anywhere else in the city again. It is simply magical.


This little gem is located just off Madison Avenue on one of the leafy streets in the 70s, it looks like a little bijou hotel particulier from a gone era, and the monochrome colour scheme throughout the hotel screams of elegance. The location is incredible, a stone's throw from Central Park, at the beginning of Musem Mile and a few steps away from my favourite NY shops...

The bedrooms are big and comfy, the wardrobes well thought-out to aaccommodatea fashionista's suitcase belongings and more, and the mini-bar is gorgeous and stocked with some seriously tempting goodies as well as healthy munchies and drinks. The bathroom is so beautiful I want to refurbish mine at home to match... The food is delicious and arrives promptly when ordered via room service, even at just gone 5am which is when I ordered the above breakfast!

But what's great here (besides of course the location, straight in the centre of Gossip Girl central, if you want a reference!) is the service. Staff is lovely and attentive, trying to ease every guest's stay and ensure comfort throughout. On my way to the airport on the day of my return, I asked if there was a bathroom somewhere where I could get changed, and the bellman promptly escorted me to a suite on the business centre floor where I could not only get changed but also take a shower, leaving me with a "Take as much time as you need"; I can't say this has ever happened to me in any other hotel I've stayed at in New York. My only teeny tiny criticism? Breakfast isn't served until 7am, but then again this isn't a business hotel so that's not entirely surprising... I just ordered room service and went next door to the local St Ambroeus outpost for early breakfast.

Bottom line, my ever-so-patient assistant has now been told that now there is only one hotel I'll ever consider for New York trips, making her job of booking my trips at the last-ish minute and on budget even more of a challenge, in exchange for my eternal gratitude. If you could just see her rolling eyes ... LOL.

The Mark Hotel
Madison Avenue at 77th Street
New York NY 10075
http://www.themarkhotel.com/

September 16, 2014

Tuesday's cool tones and culottes for a new take on suiting options

It's almost the end of Summer here in London, but not quite... it's time to go back to the far too long days at the desk followed by the far too short nights in my bed, but also the time to start thinking about new fashion, and my most favourite season of all, Autumn. I have always had a fondness for September, ever since school, it does represent new beginnings and a fresh start, far more than January which is packed with dark days and detox diets... So, I'm busy, exhausted (more on that in a few days...) but delighted with the new season.

Having hit a bit of fashion mess a couple of weeks ago, I'm now trying to pick myself up again and find my fashion for the next few months, something a little more formal than my usual, but still fun and fashion-inspired. This is all in an attempt to fit in with a few more responsibilities, but also to keep my style different.


Today I tried a different take on a suit, with culottes instead of the classic cigarette trousers that usually go with this blazer. I love culottes, it's the best of both worlds between trousers and a  skirt, and though the length probably looks neater on girls blessed with gazelle-worthy pins, I think it is still flattering for the less lucky ones like yours truly.

The only difficulty is that, like A-line skirts, culottes look very messy with longer jackets, so I chose to go for a short lapel-free blazer from Theory, over a silk tee-shirt for that touch of casual that I crave these days. It makes the silhouette a little less bulky, and in my case, well, let's just say I'll take any small amount of "less bulk" I can get!

It's getting a bit chillier in the morning (but turning quite muggy around lunch!) so I'm bringing back the shawls, yeeey!


Outfit details below:
- Navy wool mix blazer, Theory
- Culottes in soft grey crepe, ASOS
- Navy Sac De Jour, Saint Laurent
- Suede pointed toe heels, Gianvito Rossi
- Shawl, a couple of seasons old, Hermès

August 12, 2014

Tuesday: White with a splash of blood orange

It's the middle of August... and I'm still office-bound (when not flying to see clients!) until Friday. Urghh... Waking up in the morning is unusually difficult right now for some reason, and getting dressed, well, let's just say it's very tempting to just rock up to my desk in my night-gown. So, I'll forgive you if you comment that this dress is pretty close to one. Because that's exactly one of the reasons I picked it! There, I said it, I love comfort,  and some days it's ok if that comes in the form of  a drop waist dress which doesn't really highlight any of my good features.

The other reason I loved this dress is because I saw a picture somewhere of a Victoria by Victoria Beckham dress in blue textured fabric with the simplest drop waist and cap sleeves shape, but I didn't really like the darker stripe at the hem. Or the price... (before you comment that I own a couple of Victoria by VB dresses so clearly I don't mind their price, I don't mind when the structure and fabric warrant a superior quality and when such quality comes discounted courtesy of TheOutnet, here we're just talking about a very slouchy summer dress). Enter ASOS and its marvelous stylists... ta-dah! Super easy to wear drop-waist, check! Textured light-weight fabric, check! Summery colour, check again!


You have to admit that this outfit does come with some pretty punchy redeeming features once you go past  the fact that the dress does indeed make me look a bit (ok, a lot) straight and tubby up and down. First, the sandals... I am a bit of a fanatic of Nuit sandals by Hermès, they have a low heel which is great to walk around, and the open cut means that whenever I get swollen feet flying off to Madrid or Athens, these don't feel tight or hard to walk in. I adore them... I have them in taupe and light gold, and whilst most people prefer to confine metallic shoes to evening-wear, well you know I like to break the little boring rules, so I wear mine for day and work. And guess what? Nothing happens when I do... just goes to say it's ok to break the rules sometimes (this doesn't apply to the one about leaving plexi platform sandals out of the office, and if possible out of your shoe collection all together, unless your office is, ahem, a dancing table: this rule is very much written in Vogue lobby marble for all of us fashionistas to abide by).

Then, please can I get a little pat in the back for bringing my Vermillon Trapeze Céline bag out today? It's a pretty fabulous baby that doesn't seem to get a lot of air time on this blog... It's not that I don't love it, it's just that I tend to use it as a popping piece for the less interesting outfits, eg. blue jeans and a white button down. But today I figured it was worth a photo! Definitely one of my favourite bag shapes, together with the Birkin and the Cabat by BV. In fact I think I prefer the Trapeze to the Luggage.


Outfit details:
- My drop waist texture dress is  this one at ASOS (almost sold-out), but this one is near identical and comes in mint and orange as well as white!
- Vermillon trapeze bag, Céline at Vestiaire Collective
- Mid-heel light gold sandals, Nuit by Hermès, these J.Crew ones are close
-  Preppy bangles, J.Crew

August 09, 2014

A beautiful Omani vacation at the Barr Al-Jissah Resort & Spa

I know this is a very overdue post, but I absolutely had to share some pics from our last family holidays... we had such a fabulous time!! Last May, Hubby Dearest, Little Monsieur and I flew business class BA (why would I have all these airmiles from work travels if it's not to indulge a little bit with my two guys, and this way the holidays do start a good ten hours earlier than when we fly economy!) to the beautiful country of Oman. I'd heard so much via friends, and our expectations were quite high. And yet, this is one of the first places that has managed to exceed them for quite a while.


First, our hotel. At first, I was a bit reticent about such a large resort, with Barr Al-Jissah boasting not one but three different hotels catering to different customer bases on the same grounds, and yet we loved it. We stayed in Al-Waha, which is family friendly of course, and includes the Splash Pad which Little Monsieur adored cooling off in, as well as the Lazy River, a canal where he could hop on a giant floating ring and let the current take him (and us of course, his fateful helicopter parents...) around the resort. One of my colleagues had advised taking our breakfasts at the next-door hotel (Al-Bandar), which is included in the B&B package anyways, and we followed his advice: a gentle stroll away from our sea-view room, we found a breakfast that was far more diverse and delicious, not to mention quiet, than the one in Al-Waha.


The beach is really the highlight at the Barr Al-Jissah resort. White sand covered with a little carpet runway to avoid burning little (and big!) feet, turquoise water at a perfect warm temperature inviting you to linger in... and, not 100 meters from the beach, a gorgeous sea bed filled with the most colourful fish and a couple of resident sea turtles, which don't really mind you snorkelling behind them.

One of the big advantages of a big resort is that you can't get bored easily. From the multiple restaurants (we loved the Lebanese and the Fish restaurants) to the Hammam spa and the kids play zones, we had a great long week.

And, for that extra magic touch, the beach just happens to be a favourite nesting area for sea turtles, so on both Saturday afternoons of our holiday at Barr Al-Jissah, we got to witness the beautiful hatching of little eggs and the race to the sea of tens of little baby sea turtles. This, is right up there in my memories book with seeing a family of  elephants right outside the door of our banda during our honeymoon in Tanzania.


We  did venture out a few times of course... First to the Muscat market. Think colourful potteries, opulent incenses, iridiscent lamps, and of course, the world famous gold market (I might have succumbed to the temptation of a little sparkly trinket, ahem). It's just a little drive away from the hotel and a really lovely way to get away from the afternoon sun. And that's where the other amazing discovery about our Omani holiday: the locals are impossibly nice and charming, genuinely so, quite unlike some of my previouos experiences in the Middle East. Everywhere we went, people were lovely, even more so around Little Monsieur.

One morning, we took a speedboat to go see the dolphins, and our captain was the nicest possible man. After following a pod of dolphins and admiring their somersaults for quite a while, Little Monsieur proclaimed he had had enough (whereas I would have been very happy to stay all day!), so our captain took us closer to the coast for a sea tour, and even stopped in a little creek, very much off the original plan, and gave Hubby Dearest and me the opportunity for a quick snorkel.


We also took a day trip to visit the Wahiba Sands and a nearby oasis, where Little Monsieur loved walking in the water in his new Cars-themed Havaianas (bought at the hotel's beachwear shop) and going for a swim on his Papa's back in the cool waters of the wadi. Obviously what he did enjoy most was the drive in the sand in the SUV... Not really my cup of tea (I was feeling a bit, hmm, sick, by the end!) but well worth it once I got to take in the fabulous view of endless orangey sand.


So, if you're planning your next holiday with the kids, definitely include Oman in your list of possibles. This is an amazingly child-friendly destination, the food is easy for their little tummies, Muscat is as modern as cities come, complete with state of the art hospitals should you need them (we didn't, thankfully). Just because you are now a parent, doesn't mean you have to give up on interesting destinations, you just have to pick wisely! And the final Oman bonus? The time difference with Western Europe means the little ones don't get too jet-lagged, yet wake-up just late enough in local time to allow everyone a little lie-in. Perfection!

Find out more about the resort: Shangri-La Barr Al-Jissah

July 26, 2014

Satuday's off-duty boho, en route to the garden centre

Week-ends are such a blessing these days... after a week travelling Europe, sitting in meetings trying to make sense of what the market will bring for the remainder of the year, working double shifts thanks to people around me taking the concept of the Summer break, ahem, quite literally; come Saturday I'm so exhausted and stressed all I can do is send thanks to whomever invented the concept of a week-end.

The week-end is not only the time to unwind from work, it is also the opportunity for me to relax my style dramatically. With the sweltering temperatures of the last few weeks, I've been wearing almost exclusively Summer dresses, and at home I just go for jersey maxis which are super comfy and keep me fresh (aren't you glad this outfit post is about the former and not the latter, yikes!!!)


This afternoon we made our way to the garden centre, and whilst I stayed make-up free (something I've been doing at the week-ends since last year, I find it really gives my skin a rest if I don't slap the paint on every day), I did get out of my jersey maxi. I like a put-together boho look like today's. Boho because of the casual shape and the raffia bag, but put together because these are hardly homemade pieces one would find on a hippy commune... I adore this dress, with its rustic cotton 'bourrette' fabric embroidered in vivid blue patterns, it screams Summer days on a Greek Island. Yes, I know London is no Santorini, but a girl can dream, right?


The bag is another one that I definitely wouldn't naturally associate with London... This was my go-to bag during our holiday in Oman, and I'm looking forward to taking it to the market every morning during our holidays in Brittany next month. It's the perfect little raffia basket, made 1000 times cooler by Gérard Darel. This is the straw version of the French brand's iconic 24h, also aptly called Woodstock.

I know what some of you are thinking... why not get a market basket from some Italian town market or  even a Morroccan souk. Yes, of course I could, but then it wouldn't be lined in the softest cotton, or have some adjustable leather straps that can be swung over the shoulder or handled tote-like. And it would definitely not have the little intricate details that this little baby has, from the little pom-poms pattern to the knotted sides.


The studded Balenciaga sandals are the only very urban touch here... but this is perhaps the detail that makes it all work for London. These are super comfy, I have them in grey as well, I love this model so much.

By the way, I know some of you will be thinking how ugly my feet look in t-straps, and I agree 150%, but the truth is I did a lot of ballet when I was younger, and it just left me with gnarled toes, but please be kind and don't comment on them, just be pleased for me that I love shoes so much my ugly feet don't prevent me from wearing fabulous footwear.

Find out more about my outfit:
- Embroidered Daryl dress, Isabel Marant (Summer 2013), this one by Iris & Ink and this Mango one are very similar
- Giant stud flat sandals, Balenciaga
- Woodstock 24h bag in raffia, Gerard Darel

July 23, 2014

Wednesday in the office... it's a wrap!

As  the temperatures continue to soar in London (not to mention the even warmer cities I get to travel to... yesterday I was in Lisbon and gosh was it hot...), I continue to give my Summer dresses the season they've never had before. In just over 10 years in Britain, this has got to be the warmest and sunniest Summer I've seen, and though it's a bit tough sleeping in our insulation challenged Victorian house and getting up in the morning to get dressed somewhat elegantly is a struggle, I'm loving every single second of it. Let's all remember this is going to last another couple of weeks at most, and then it's back to freezing weather faster than we can say 'New season fashion'...


This is the second cotton wrap dress I bought from this season's collection at Diane Von Fustenberg, the other one is the blue ikat "Patrice" print one. I am loving these 100% pure cotton dresses, they have a flowing quality that's simply impossible to get in the silk jersey ones, and they look just a little crisp-er (if that's even a word). This dress is actually the same one as the one I included in my Work Wear blog on Monday; I love the safari details of the buttoned pockets, though looking at the pictures it is a bit, ahem, low cut. Oh well, next time I will probably fix the little pin further up to avoid showing so much... te-he!

By the way the dress didn't look that low-cut on the model, which just goes to illustrate, once more, that garments look very different from one woman to the other, and  it's more a question of shape than size... Here's to seeing more websites offering different shape model pictures!


Admittedly this is a very neutral outfit, but it didn't seem like it would work with bright shoes or a colour splash handbag, I was just drawn to beige accessories. Now that I think about it it all looks a bit bland, but I did feel comfortable in this, so it was working for me, decollete and all!


Find out more about this outfit:
- Kaley wrap dress, Diane Von Furstenberg
- Phantom bag, Céline at Vestiaire Collective
- Suede sandals, Sexy Thing by Aquazzura

July 21, 2014

Monday's What to Wear to Work: Summer office chic

Have you ever left the house one hot Summer morning looking elegant and put together, and yet arrived less than half an hour at your office looking like a flustered crumpled mess. Obviously we all know hot weather is really made for long floating dresses and breezy fabrics, but try turning up in a formal office wearing your favourite beach moumou and don't be surprised if a HR consultant turns up at your desk asking if you are suffering from post-traumatic stress or, worse, trying to inflict it on your colleagues...

That said, wearing a wool suit in the Summer isn't that great an idea either. Not unless you are trying to faint from the heat and be sent home. Instead, summertime asks for a re-write of your office chic style book. In mine, cotton wrap dresses and fabulous sandals abound, and I wear lots of light neutrals: whites, beiges, camels... The one thing I don't compromise on though is fierce heels and gorgeous handbags, they lift any outfit up, don't you think? (Whatever you do, please don't wear clumpy cork or espadrille wedges in the office, those are strictly for the week-end!)


My Summer work chic shopping list is here:
- Cotton wrap dress, Diane Von Furstenberg (also in khaki green)
- Python pointed toe heels, Gianvito Rossi
- Bathurst bag, Anya Hindmarch
- White pleated linen dress, Hobbs
- Laser cut tote bag, Warehouse (very Alaia, don't you think?)
- Beige suede sandals, Aquazzura

July 16, 2014

Wednesday's beauty essential: Sisley Global Perfect Pore Minimizer

After over ten years in my job, I have become extremely used to travelling for work... I have a pre-packed plastic toiletries bag filled with 100ml mini sizes of my key products, my adorable assistant knows which ones are my favourite seats on flights and on the Eurostar, and I even have a list of preferred airports. Still, this doesn't make it better. I still hate travelling for work. It kills my sleep schedule, I miss my son's bedtimes more often than not, and my ankles always look a bit bloated due to all the flying. 

All that being said, there is at least one perk in all these trips. I'm not talking about air miles... that's nice, of course. But no, one thing that is quite neat about all the travelling is that I get to spend a fair share of time walking through duty free shops (have you noticed how it's now compulsory to walk through duty free to get to any gate, there's no other way!). And sometimes my flights are late, so I walk a bit leisurely, and, once in a while, I discover a little gem.


On one of my Spring trips to Lisbon, I stopped by the Sisley shelf and decided to test their Pore Minimizer, seeing as I'd heard about it in some many magazines. One thing I hate about most pore and skin perfecting products I've tried so far is that they feel full of silicone and don't really get absorbed, instead sitting on the skin like a slimy film. Also most come in a tube so you have to squeeze it into your hand before application. 

What I like about Sisley's product is that it comes in a pump which means the product stays safe from bacteria until it's all used up, and it dispenses just enough in one dose for a full face application. Of course if you need more coverage nothing stops you from going for two pumps, but given the ahem slightly elevated cost of just one little bottle of this product, I prefer to use it sparingly. One pump delivers a bit of nude cream with the typical Sisley herbal scent, and the product gets absorbed really nicely, leaving the skin jut smooth enough to look perfected, a bit like soft-skin blur on photoshop, but not as artificial. Pores are definitely smaller, and wrinkles are smoother. I like to use it under make-up during the week and alone over SPF during the week-end. I find my skin doesn't need much in terms of topper product after this. 

Downsides? Not much honestly, just the price... but I guess all good things in life etc. etc. Check it out: Global Perfect Pore Minimizer by Sisley, approx. £120

July 15, 2014

Tuesday's blue prints with a zest of Goyard

Flash  news: Summer 2014 continues in London!!! Soon it will turn out to be longer than your average Kim Kardashian marriage! Great news for week-end fun with Little Monsieur (park outings and brunches on terraces are our favourites), not so good news for the week: sleep is a bit of a challenge in our stuffy Victorian house. That said, installing residential air conditioning just because we get a couple of warm months every few years seems a bit of an extravagance (ah, to live a life where money is no object). The other thing about urban Summers of course is any sartorial choice is ultimately driven by comfort and the need to stay fresh fresh fresh...


Usually I'm not a big fan of straight shapes, I find they do nothing for me, but I like the modern micro check print of this dress and its optical illusion silhouette. The shaped print down the middle does create the illusion of a waist despite the cut. And that is definitely better (and quicker!) than Mermaid sit-ups on the pilates reformer for sure! The only question is can I wear this dress in lieu of a bikini at the beach?

The shows are also interesting... the heel is a bit lower than what I usually go for for work, but they are super comfortable and I love the Pucci-esque print. Go J.Crew for creating them!


At first I almost took our my navy Saint Laurent Sac De Jour handbag, but then I decided a pop of colour was better, so I brought out my bright yellow Goyard cabas with the navy and white monogram. It just brightens the whole outfit, exactly what I need for a day at the office: an outfit that's conservative enough for the morning meeting, accessorized with fun pieces which pop.


Outfit details:
- Dress, Whistles (Spring 2013 collection), this Karen Millen one is close
- White jacquard coat, COS (Spring 2013), this ASOS one is close
- Printed canvas slingbacks, J.Crew
- Monogrammed Saint Louis cabas, Goyard

July 14, 2014

Monday's floral fresh in the office

Ah... Summer office chic. There's a concept that doesn't really strike me as intuitive. See, Summer beach chic, I can do, yes: linen shirts, navy shorts, flat sandals, sunglasses. Summer country chic also works: flowing dresses, espadrilles, straw hats. But Summer office chic, well that's a slightly harder endeavour.

Assuming your office is air-conditioned you need not go too skimpy, thankfully, but it's important you get to the office in some degree of freshness, and if you commute in, that means no stockings, no heavy wool suits... Summer in the office means it's time to bring out sophisticated linens (one caveat: linen creases really easily so it's fine for one day at the desk, but if you have travel in mind best stick to less wrinkle-prone fabrics!), beige tones, sandals and their must-have friends, pedicured toes (don't even try the sandal look without fully groomed feet, please).


Today marks the third week of almost uninterrupted gorgeous weather in the British capital, and I've been making the most of my one of my Spring Summer 2014 investment pieces, this dog rose print linen top by Dolce & Gabbana. I've worn it with jeans at the week-end, khaki trousers and now this beige skirt with flouncy pleats. It is super sophisticated yet so summery and light, it's my new favourite top. The roses look literally hand painted on, the sleeves are a super flattering shape, and the neck fastens on the back with the prettiest embellished clasp. If only it didn't crease so!!!


Today I decided to wear it to the office, with a mix of beige accessories and my Red Valentino pleat skirt from a couple of years ago. I never really thought beige-khaki tones would work with pink, and yet it seems it actually doesn't clash as much as I feared. The best thing, this outfit ended up being super fresh for yet another warm day in the City.


Find out more about this outfit:
- Skirt, Red Valentino (2012 collection), I'm looking for a lookalike
- Rose print linen top, Dolce & Gabbana
- Handbag, Céline,  there is the same one on Vestiaire Collective right now!
- Suede sandals with platform, Yves Saint Laurent (old collection) again will post lookalike soon!

July 06, 2014

Little Monsieur's Farm party

Last year, with twenty little guests and assorted parents in our house for Little Monsieur's Vintage Airplane party, we decided we had to find a larger space for his annual Summer celebration. With everyone growing up, our little patio garden is hardly up to the challenge.

Alas, it's difficult to find a spot in London that's cute and fun at the same time, big enough for a party, and safe for toddlers. Many birthday parties end up taking place in hire rooms at pubs (a bit cold and grown-up, in my opinion), or the soft play room of the local clubs, which can feel a bit loud and claustrophobic for the poor parents who have to accompany their little ones and listen to the squeals of their precious offspring echo-ed again and again...

So, after thinking long and hard and asking some of our friends for advice, we found the perfect location for this year's party: Bocketts Farm. Little Monsieur loves animals and the outdoors, so this was the ideal find.


Just off the M25 in the South of London, it is perfect for days out with the animals, mixing playgrounds and animal pens, and offering the cutest barns for private hire for celebrations like ours. We settled in the Cherry Orchard barns for the afternoon, bringing two-trolleys worth  of food, drinks, and decorations from our house in Parsons Green... The staff was quite bemused (or maybe a bit scared... I couldn't tell) when they saw us arrive with enough to launch a celebration to be remembered!


I'd ordered lots of bits and bobs to set the scene over the last few weeks... Hessian and gingham fabrics from Amazon, wooden cutlery and plates from Pipii.co.uk, mini hale bales and mason jars for grown-up drinks from the US, burlap favour bags and milk cartons from Etsy... If there is a website selling farm and barnyard inspired goodies that can be used for a party, I've scoured it and found everythig I needed, without a cartoony plastic cup in sight, thankfully. And, given my work schedule has been totally silly lately (cue the lack of posts...), I'm quite happy with the result!


With the help of Hubby Dearest and our fantastic nanny, I'd prepared all the good and drinks in advance, and packed everything in plastic lock containers: iced tea, freshly cut watermelon, plate of  fresh vegetables, spinach quiche, little sandwiches... everything homemade, just like I like it!

As always, we had delicious cupcakes and cookies by Vanilla Frostcakes, which were, again, firrm favourites with the children. We had the coolest animal cupcakes (check out the fluffy sheeps!) and some adorable tractor and hatch shaped cookies, which almost didn't survive the monsters' appetites long enough for the pictures. The little hatching chicks and chicken pop cakes were almost too cute to eat, but that didn't stop our little guests!


The weather was fabulous and we set up the munchkins' table just outside the barn, complete with a faux grass table runner and red bandanas for the little ones to wear on their heads to shield them from the sun... It obviously looked a little different after the assault of the munchkins!

Making the favour bags farm themed as easy: a little bouncy egg, a puzzle animal, one farm special sticker and colouring booklet, some crayons, and of course the obligatory party bubbles! We also handed out little customized milk cartons filled with fruit gums... delicious!


The coolest thing about Bocketts Farm is that it is not only a super pretty farm, it is also a great day park for children, with tractor rides, animal handling, not one but three playground including one indoor, pig races etc. We all had a blast! Little Monsieur thoroughly enjoyed everything, holding hands with his favourite friend on the tractor ride and almost attempting a fluffy bunny kidnap!


Here are some additional details if you want to throw a little farm party for your children:
- Location, Bocketts Farm
- Cupcakes, pop cakes and cookies, by Lucy at Vanilla Frost Cakes
- Little milk cartons, by Wonky Owl on Etsy
- Burlap favour bags, by Man Crochets on Etsy
- Off road wagon, and other goodies, Amazon
- Wooden party tableware, Pipii
- Fake grass table runner, NotOnTheHighStreet

June 05, 2014

A month of delicious dieting... hello there Pure Package!

Dieting... urgh... Alas, after the comfortable months of Winter, a few too many client lunches, a little health glitch which meant I overindulged a bit to make me feel better, and just one too many chocolate-coated rice cakes, well it's either that or embrace a burkini for Summer. So, here's a thought for you bikini designers out there: instead of focusing on a cool design or a great print,  how about a material that makes everyone look two sizes slimmer... now that would be novel.

Whilst we wait for this wonderful innovation, well Spring will still mean diet, for a lot of us not blessed with an impossibly quick metabolism. And, for those of us who juggle weekly travel, children, endless work hours, etc etc, there's the added complication of finding a practical diet which works. And, I just happened to have stumbled upon it, it seems.


Pure Package is a London-based diet delivery service which offers no less than 9 diet options to choose from, including a fabulous Mommy and Baby one for breast-feeding mammas, all delivered to your door (or, in my case, that of my office!) in a super cute ice bag, perfectly packaged for a full day of delicious meals and snacks which feel, frankly, nothing like a diet.

It begins with ordering online, then agreeing via email what works for you and what doesn't (no papaya for me, thank you very much...), then your little packs start arriving at the crack of dawn, day after day, and the most surprising is first how yummy and colourful each plate/box looks, but then also how filling the diet is.


There is the possibility to adjust portions a few days into the programme, I opt for less dinner, more breakfast, which I often eat in front of my Bloomberg screen. My menus include the coolest salads (never thought I'd write this,and I like salads as much as the next woman), yummy Muesli creations, spelt pasta which I actually enjoy munching on, and snacks like fruit and nuts and the odd no flour choccie brownie which keep me going all day.


I took it on trips (that was surprising: as long as your food is not liquid and is in a clear pack then airport security won't bat an eyelid at it whilst the tiniest lipstick is cause for some serious terrorist-defeating body search, ha ha), it allowed me to say no to Hubby Dearest's delicious bolognese without even feeling left out! It's not cheap but the programme delivers ALL the food you'll need for a day, no need to order sushi or pop down for some salad from Pret. Super practical for the impossibly busy ladder climbers and swomped mummies alike!

Before I finish, one word on... results, obviously. After just over three weeks on the programme, I dropped a dress size within a few weeks, and I'm back to my comfortable self, wearing my favourite trousers and dresses without feeling a pinch around my waistline. Who knows, I might do another little spell before going off to Brittany in the Summer.

Find out more: http://www.purepackage.com/, from £35.95 a day for three meals and two snacks.

May 28, 2014

Wednesday's breton stripes for a rainy day at the office

Guess what I discovered a couple of weeks ago? Working and travelling non stop for weeks on end brings you only one thing... Happiness? No. Time with the family? Nope. Praise from management? Meeh, not really. It brings you burn-out, that's what. So, if you've been wondering where I've been hiding all this time, at first I was trying to close a few deals, and then I took myself off my busier than busy life, off to beautiful Oman with Hubby Dearest and Little Monsieur.

Of course I did get a few snide comments on how did I dare go off on holidays in May, such an important month for my business, well it's simple, I needed it, and sometimes it's better to pull the foot off the gas instead of crashing in a little pile of worked-out ashes.

Fast-forward a few days, I'm back, feeling rejuvenated, with new energy for more work, more blogging, and more outfit styling. It's that awkward time of the year again, it's not cold enough for Winter clothes, but it's been raining non-stop since we flew back, so a bit of imagination is key.


Half-season styling can be a bit of a challenge for me, but my wardrobe is full of little box jackets which not only keep me warm on days like today but also help pull together office-appropriate looks which are still original and different from what everyone else is wearing.

I like this mix of nude, navy, white, and some pink gold accessories. The accessories are all about Spring, whilst the cropped trousers, a staple of mine as you know, are fun yet tailored, perfect. This outfit just goes to show that breton shirts shouldn't be reserved for the week-end, as there are many many ways to dress one up!


More details on this outfit:
- Cropped tailored trouser, J.Crew
- Tweed jacket, sold out at J.Crew, this Maison Scotch one is similar
- Breton tee-shirt, Boden
- Rockstud navy and nude heels, Valentino
- Double zip saffiano tote, Prada

May 05, 2014

The wedding special, 2014 edition (2): Gorgeous, yet child-proof

The other day, one of my lovely readers reached out, and asked if I could incorporate in my wedding special some outfits that would work when you take your children along... I figured that it was a great idea: let's face it, not all of us live the luxurious lifestyle of the ultimate trophy wife, complete with 24/7 travelling, face wiping and non-sleeping nanny. Plus, isn't the world a thousand times more fun when children are allowed at weddings? I for one take Little Monsieur along anytime I have a chance, except when we have to travel too far for a short period, then I spare him the hassle and call my ever loyal parents to the rescue, all the way from Casablanca.

That being said, it's not easy going to formal events with little ones... unless you're the one in a million lucky (and impossibly smug) mom whose offspring eats everything and sits prettily at the table for hours on end, the odds are, yours is more like mine, ie an all running, all singing, mini circus on the road. Which means, instead of sitting prettily yourself, you'll be running around, keeping them entertained and fed, visiting the bathroom, etc.

So, in summary, you'll need a little destruction tsunami proof outfit. But that doesn't mean you have to show up to a big society do wearing shorts and some blah top, as I once was told one of our friends' wife did. The perfect child-proof wedding outfit is one that doesn't flash your Hanky Panky or your Spanx when you crouch to retrieve the fallen cuddly bear, maybe one that tucks in your mummy tummy (not all of us have a dietary chef on call, or a surgeon): a jumpsuit is perfect for both, so long as you don't pick one that ressembles a babygro. The Vivienne Westwood dress in crinkled taffeta below is also amazing, it is already crinkled so no amount of tugging by your toddler will make it look out of sorts!

How about an outfit that flatters a pregnant tummy? See, going to weddings a bit pregnant is also one of those tricky moments, when your 4-5 month pregnancy just translates into a bigger cup (great..) and a cheeseburger with beer belly (not so great); I love the light blue dress from DAY below for that, the draping works wonders for a slightly expanding silhouette.

Whatever happens, don't compromise on the accessories, high heels transform any shape into va-va-voom, and a gorgeous clutch is always a good conversation starter. Make your significant other carry a large LLBean tote for all your little ones essentials, or better still, hook it to the baby stroller.


- Navy chiffon jumpsuit, Max Mara Elegante
- Boussole clutch-bag with wrist strap, Olympia Le-Tan
- Blue high-heel sandals, Dune
- Navy knotted sandals, Charlotte Olympia
- Draped silk dress, DAY Birger et Mikkelsen
- Blue print clutch, ASOS
- Navy linen clutch with elephant clasp, Wilbur & Gussie
- Silver crinkled taffeta dress, Vivienne Westwood Anglomania
- Silver and crystals strappy sandals, Miss KG

May 04, 2014

The wedding special, 2014 edition (1): Pretty pastels

By now, the wedding invites have been sitting on the mantel for a while now, and some of the dates are getting very close for comfort, especially if, like me, you've been too busy with work and other commitments to think about fashion. Lately life has been all about debut issuers, documentation hurdles, and roadshows... fun fun fun. Ahem.

Thankfully, the May Day long week-end is here, so I have time to not only think about outfits, but also to blog about it. This year's trends incorporate a lot of floral prints, pastels, lace and overall prettiness, which are all perfect for a religious wedding ceremony or cocktails. For a super formal affair, add a hat and a summer coat, although these days most weddings will have a dress code which doesn't require such strung-up etiquette.

If you are taking children along, maybe this is not the best trend to opt for, though the French Connection dress below will easily camouflage grass stains and the odd vanilla ice cream pint-sized finger print. And the Dolce & Gabbana chain bag is a far better choice than a normal clutch, as it leaves both hands free. Remember, kids get bored from sitting around for hours on end so maybe sit at the end of the church so they can wander out (supervised by your no doubt bound-to-be bored better half, after all not everyone gets enthralled by chantilly lace ruffles, emotional vows and other intricate flower arrangements!).


- Gorgeous apple green sheer layers dress, French Connection
- Mint green clutch, Jimmy Choo
- Metallic strappy heels, J.Crew
- Pink slingback heels, Gianvito Rossi
- Fabulous pink lace dress, Valentino
- Envelope clutch, Givenchy
- Straw hat with plumetis veil, Siggi at Harrrods
- Cross-body bag, Dolce & Gabbana
- Oh-so pretty almond blossom print dress, Dolce & Gabbana
- Nude ankle-strap sandals, Dune

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