April 12, 2014

The Lilac Pages giveaway: Embellished clutch by Accessorize

I can't believe it's been so long since my last giveaway, I must have been distracted! I hope however the wait was worth it dear friends!

The prize for this giveaway is a gorgeous large size clutch in striped canvas, with fabulous gem embellishment, the perfect accessory for Spring, don't you think? I ordered it from Accessorize the other day, and it is as fabulous as the pictures show, trust me...

I have one of these to give away, so be sure to enter if you wan a chance to win!!

Who can enter?
Anyone can enter, this competition is open globally.

How can you enter?
Step 1 - You have to follow the blog on Blogger/Google.
Only the followers listed on the little widget on the right of this page will be entered in the giveaway. Not a follower yet? Not a problem, follow me by logging on here.

Step 2 - Comment here to tell me what your favourite memory of the seaside is. This clutch does make me think of nautical fun, don't you agree?

When is the deadline for entering?
Sunday 27th of April 2014, at noon London time.

How will the winner be selected?
Everyone who is a follower on here and has commented on the blog post below will get entered into Random.org to select the winner.

When will the winner get their prize?
As soon as the winner emails me their postal address, it will be sent out.

Good luck all! xxx

April 08, 2014

Tuesday's blues... oh, and new hair colour!

Until recently, blue wasn't really my colour... I tolerated navy mixed with my other more traditional colours such as white and grey, and turquoise is a must-have for Summer, but lately I've been putting together all blue outfits, such as this one from last week. I've even been looking for an all-blue Hermès Tigre Royal cashmere and silk shawl from ages ago, one of those pieces I didn't buy when they originally came out and now am desperate to get my little greedy claws on. Anyway, I digress, outfit picture below...

This outfit epitomizes my fashion rules... Anyone who thinks I over-splurge has it so wrong. My fashion shopping is all about: 1) investing in timeless perfect pieces, usually accessories (which I keep for years, the shoes here are almost five years old), 2) mixing said investment pieces with high-street staples (I love Zara blouses, they come in loads of colours and mix in very well for work-wear and off-duty style alike) and 3) I don't take my style too seriously, I prefer having fun and being (somewhat) comfortable.

So yes, my handbag and shoes are big-budget pieces, but everything else is high street. And the whole look is fresh enough not to make me feel like a stuffy librarian, a problem often presented by the typical work-wear styles... I find that cigarette trousers and a zipped tweed jacket usually help achieve a professional but fresh look, much better than a wide-legged suit for instance.

By the way, as you may have noticed I've changed my hair colour... out with the chestnut brown and in with the ashy brown with dark blonde highlights. I wanted a new style, though it's the first time I've changed hair colour in quite a while, so we'll see how long I stick with this!

Outfit details below:
- Minnie trousers in cotton twill, J.Crew
- Tweed biker jacket, from a French boutique years ago, this Inwear one is close
- Blouse, Zara
- Handbag, Sac De Jour by Saint Laurent
- Lace-up sandals, Hermès, AW2009, these Senso ones are similar
- Champagne diamonds necklace, Natasha Dahlberg

April 07, 2014

Monday's What To Wear To Work: Perfect interview style

If you're on the look-out for a job, cash is probably tight, and the last thing you need is someone to tell you that you need to spend money on an outfit to get it right. After all, it should be about your abilities, not what you wear, right? Wrong...  What you wear to your interviews will tell a lot to your prospective employers, and not just about your fashion sense. It's a about professionalism, motivation, knowing what is business appropriate and what not.

In my opinion, you should invest in one good well-tailored suit, and sadly it's impossible for this to come in a synthetic material or from a super-cheap range: if you want tailoring to work, it takes super light wool, and a  cut that you can't get from Crymark... sorry. Hobbs, Jigsaw, J.Crew are all good places to find middle of the range suits, and remember, if you interview ten times with the same suit, it's a well-worth investment! And this outfit will get plenty of wear if you have to join formal meetings, I for one have a few super formal suits that I reserve for these times.

Choose a light shell top with at least a little bit of silk, again it falls better, doesn't make a strange noise when you move, and well it looks a bit more expensive. Same goes for accessories: natural leather is a cut above anything else, a nice business-size classic shape bag is essential to carry your papers (a few copies your CV will come in handy if they forgot to print it), and some closed toe shoes are a good classical staple. You will have plenty of time once you're hired to discover the dress code is a bit more relaxed and wear your fabulous cage sandals... just not on the first interview please.

Shopping list:
- Cigarette trousers in micro ivory and black check, Hobbs
- Matching round collar jacket, Hobbs
- Silver silk mix shell top, Boden
- Crystal necklace, J.Crew 
- Black saffiano leather bag, Atterley Road
- Classic black patent pumps, Nine West

PS: Remember, unless you're interviewing for some special (ahem) clubs, it's probably better to keep your mini-skirt at home for this one. You don't want to send the wrong message from the onset do you?

April 06, 2014

It's time for the Sunday fashion confession

In the past few weeks, I have been contemplating the gorgeously aerial ruffle tops in the Isabel Marant Summer 2014 collection, wondering whether I would dare to spend almost £500 on a cottton top... The truth is, with Little Monsieur's school fees to pay for until well after 2028, and some house maintenance bills coming our way far more regularly than I'd like, well I can't really justify it.

So imagine my joy when I found that Mango had a whole collection of tops that can only have been inspired by the French designer's boho vibe. Enter this gorgeous cotton ruffle and chiffon tee-shirt.

This looks absolutely perfect, with very sweet alternating panels of light-weight cotton, and some sweet ruffles around the sides. At under £20, I ordered the dark grey and the white version... and still haven't spent close to 10% of what the IM one would cost. Fashionomics!

Find it here: Ruffled tee-shirt, Mango

Hélène Darroze brunch at The Connaught for Hubby Dearest's birthday

There are many places for brunch in London, but if you ask me noone does it quite as fabulously as Hélène Darroze at The Connaught. Hubby Dearest's birthday yesterday was the perfect excuse for us to return here, Little Monsieur and his books and colouring kit in tow of course. If you associate Mayfair Michelin-starred dining with stuffy and not child friendly, this is the place to change your mind forever. Our brunch couldn't have been more relaxing, delicious, sophisticated, all at the same time...

The setting is a beautiful Edwardian room with dark wood paneling and sumptuous table settings, complete with Baccarat water tumblers; yes, the first thought that went through my mind was: "Let's hope Little Monsieur doesn't drop his glass!!", but then the super plush carpet looked like it was cushion-y enough to withstand a glass being dropped, even though thankfully Little Monsieur sat through the whole proceedings without dropping a thing, surprisingly.

We were served champagne (for Hubby Dearest), a Mimosa (for me) and apple juice (for Little Monsieur) as we contemplated the options for the main course: I opted for a waistline-friendly (read, one which would allow me to have dessert, he he) crab salad and Hubby Dearest chose the Connaught hotdog, which turned out to be a far more elegant affair than the name indicates... Little Monsieur had a slightly different, more toddler-friendly menu to select from, and he asked for fish fingers.

Choosing our mains was the toughest part of the whole experience. Once that was out of the way, we went up to the starters buffet, three tables laden with the most appetizing salads, cold meats, and delicious smoked salmon. The only thing missing for me were scrambled eggs, I would have loved a little spoonful with my starter; there are eggs on the mains, though. The foie gras rillettes were out of this world, and the salads were so fresh it seemed as if the ingredients were coming straight from the farm to our table.

Little Monsieur got a little bored around the end of his starter, so we pulled out his new Alphabet book to keep him entertained, and as soon as we got to E the main dishes arrived. Small enough to leave a little space for dessert, but perfectly sized for us to sample the incredible taste. Everything at Hélène Darroze seems to have been prepared with the most incredible ingredients. My crab salad was, quite simply, the best I've ever tasted.

After that, it's off to the dessert buffet. Thankfully this was all about yummy brunch-friendly sweets like cookies, cupcakes, and brioches, and no overload of patisseries. I asked for a waffle with a healthy-ish topping of fruit salad (yes, I'm deluding myself, but it's the week-end, and it's just too sad to diet at the week-end), and it was the perfect end to a perfect meal.

Of course we were lucky in that Little Monsieur was not in one of his tantrum-throwing moods for the occasion, in fact he was incredibly soft-spoken and well-mannered. Nevertheless, we were treated to the most high quality service, with a care and perfection that are difficult to find in the lesser establishments. We will be coming back, that's for sure.

Brunch by Hélène Darroze at The Connaught costs £55 per adult, £39 per child, plus drinks and service. All well worth it, if yesterday's experience is anything to go by.

Hélène Darroze at The Connaught
Carlos Place
London W1
0 207 499 7070

April 02, 2014

Sunday: White jeans for mummy duties...

What does any rational mother reach for when she's getting dressed in the morning of a day filled with children activities? If you've answered "White jeans, obviously", well you're as impractical and hare-brained as me, I guess... Just look at the below outfit, which is exactly what I felt like wearing on Sunday morning, on our way out to Italian for lunch followed by a jungle gym toddler's birthday party. How clever, right?

Thinking about it, Sunday's sunny and warm glow seemed like the perfect setting to wear my new off-white jeans for the first time. I found them in NY a few weeks ago, and they are amazing; here's what makes the perfect off-white jeans, for me: a thick material that sucks in every lump and bump (not that I am saying I have any, ahem), a mid to higher waist, and a skinny cut which hits just at the ankle. I love Paige's denim fabric, it's stretchy and strong at the same time, super flattering.

So yes, at the first sign of  a sun ray, I was ready to jump at my brand new white jeans. They feel so perfect for Spring! That, sadly, was without factoring any of what we had planned for that day... First we had lunch  at our new local Italian, and of course Litttle Monsieur pretended he was a "Bébé" again (a strategy he resorts to whenever he has to do something he doesn't want to do!) and demanded to be fed. Within minutes I had managed to send a blob of pasta sauce flying towards my thigh. Ooopsy!

We then moved on to our afternoon activity: a birthday party in a Jungle Gym. Fabulous jeans, Little Monsieur and I ended up climbing frames, sliding down tube slides, and landing in ball pools. He he... Little Monsieur and I obviously had a blast, and the jeans, well, they went straight to the washing machine the minute they got home. I'm sure they'll recover!

Outfit details:
- Off-white skinny jeans with zip detailing, Paige Denim
- Denim shirt, from an old collection at J.Crew, this J.D.Y at ASOS one is similar
- Orange and beige handbag, Hogan, Summer 2003 (!), this one by Marc By Marc Jaconbs is close
- Sandals, Hermès
- Bangles, mix of Banana Republic, J.Crew etc. Accessorize has a good mix as well

Wednesday's beauty essential: MAC powder blush in Harmony

Face contouring... now here's a make-up subject that I've failed most attempts at. See, I love how a good contouring can add volume and shadows and make a face just that little bit more interesting. But, for some reasons, I've never been very good at it so I just steered away from bronzer, sculpting powders etc. Because, if you get contouring wrong, well at best it looks like your kid drew a few brown stripes around your face, and at worst people will think you got asleep in the sun wearing some strange mask contraption. 

But, after years of over-thinking it, I think I finally know what my problem was: the powders are either too orange (hello Tango!) or too brown (eeek!)... A few months ago, I had a little bit of time to spare at Lisbon Airport and I ventured into the Duty Free section, looking for a sculpting miracle to give me those shadows that I really knew would turn me into a Slavic beauty (one can dream right?). And the lady suggested this:

This is a matt blush powder by MAC, not a contouring powder. The colour is called Harmony, and I think it works because it is a warm rosy beige, so it just creates a very natural shadow wherever it is applied. No tango orange, no dusty brown. I just build it up as much or as little as needed, depending on how dramatic a look I'm after. Can't recommend it enough!

Find it here: MAC Powder Blush in Harmony.

March 31, 2014

Monday's What To Wear To Work: Boardroom to bar chic

Client entertainment and business networking means that day to evening style is an essential mix to perfect as we become more senior, even though for a lot of us that  tends to coincide with the toddler years of our little ones, and we would much rather go home after the day shift, pull on some cashmere joggers, and snuggle with our little ones for a few precious minutes before their bedtime... 

I do like client entertaining, as most of the clients I work with are absolutely lovely and fun people, but I profoundly dislike networking for the sake of networking, even though I'm told it's essential for women in business, bla bla bla. So, if I must do something unwillingly like hop to the closest bar for an after-work drinking session, at least I'd like to look good for it. 

Shopping list:
- Dress, Goat
- Intrecciato  bracelet, Bottega Veneta
- Grey 2Jours tote bag, Fendi
- Ipad Mini pouch, Marc By Marc Jacobs
- Light grey blazer, Dolce & Gabbana
- Suede pump shoes, Gianvito Rossi

March 30, 2014

Wednesday: Wine, work, wear

Don't call the closest A.A. centre just yet... I've not taken to drinking my way through research reports and client proposals. The title merely refers to my love of burgundy as a colour to wear for work days. Last Wednesday I did another of my full tonal outfits and interestingly a lot of my colleagues commented on it, and yet come to think of it, if I wear an all  black or all grey outfit it doesn't get picked up as much. Must be the striking hue...

Although my skirt, shirt and shoes are all the same colour, it works well with the charcoal trench coat on top, it breaks the uniformity of tone underneath... and the accessories still have burgundy accents just to make sure I get my fill of this gorgeous colour before Spring relegates it to my storage boxes for a few months!

Under the coat, it's all very monotone indeed, and I expect this outfit will be a bit like Marmite. Some might hate it, it looking a bit too airline crew style for comfort. Others will see what  I saw: the shirt and skirt look like a dress, possibly helped by the fact they are from the same brand helps, and I like the different textures, it makes it interesting. Should I have gone for black or possibly grey shoe-boots? I am not sure. What do you think?

By the  way, allow me to introduce my latest Fauré Le Page acquisition: a little pouch which I use to store my phones in so I can easily find them in my huge handbags. It doubles up easily as a walk out to Pret-A-Manger for lunch clutch, and I adore the scale motif, I am sure this won't be my last piece from the Rue Cambon shop...

Full details on the outfit:
- Trench coat, Burberry (mine is from Winter 2010 but the linke is very close)
- Skirt and silk shirt, Goat (from last Winter's collection)
- Shawl, Arbre de Vie in Silk Cashmere mix, Hermès
- Ankle boots, Christian Louboutin (Winter 2010 collection)
- Pouch, Fauré Le Page

March 29, 2014

I guess it's time for a little closet clear-out...

Every once in a while, I have to face reality: even though I am lucky enough to have quite a sizeable walk-in closet, there are times when I just tend to over-stuff it. Take the recent months, for some reason I've been really keen on new bags, shoes, and jackets, so of course I'm starting to feel a little cramped for comfort... The problem is,when it comes to getting dressed quickly and somewhat stylishly in the morning, I've found that the secret for me to have all of my pieces in plain sight: if I have to look for something, I end up forgetting about it and never wearing it.

So, I'm taking the fashionista hoarder that I can be (at times only, of course... ahem) by the horns and I'm starting a little Spring clean. It usually means dividing items I don't wear into three piles:
- The utter-rubbish-why-did-I-buy-this pile, which ends up in the charity clothes bin on New King's Road;
- The nice pile which doesn't have any resale value, which I usually give to my nanny to sort and choose whatever she wants from before merging it with Pile 1 above;
- The resale-ables, ie any good condition designer piece which can fetch £100 or more in a closet sale.

I've put up photo albums of some of  resale-ables on  my Facebook page, but there's loads more, so if there's a piece you saw me with which you'd like to have, let me know by email, you never know it might be one of those pieces I'm ready to move on from... it's the Spring clean sale!

March 25, 2014

Thursday at the office: time to bring out the Spring accessories!

Let's be frank... for most of us who love style, by the time the calendar pages turn to March we're itching for some Spring fashion. Even though we've had a relatively mild Winter so far, I for one am dying to wear sandals, light colours, and popping accessories. But of course that's wishful thinking given my current home city of choice is London: see nothing guarantees it will ever be warm enough to wear Spring fashion before July, if we're lucky... In the meanwhile, I'll have to dabble into oh-so-tricky half-season mix and matching, not that I enjoy it, but when the thermostat can't seem to find a happy setting, well, what's a girl to do...

By the way, a trench coat is the perfect half-season essential. It keeps the wind and rain out whilst being light enough for the odd sunny day (yes, very odd if you're in London, trust me), it's easy to layer over pretty much any work or casual outfit, it's an all-rounder. The ultimate classic is a Burberry Mac, I have a vintage one (much better value than a brand-new one, if you ask me, and already with that soft lived-in feel that's so nice aboute older pieces). This season I thought I'd go for an oversize trapeze piece, I quite like the oversize coat trend even though realistically it does tend to overwhelm my short frame.

Besides from the trench coat, I'm also slowly transitioning to the new season with popping accessories, such as this fabulous Trapeze bag by Céline: the colour is called Vermillon, it's an orangey red which looks amazing with camels, greys, whites.. this was the first time I took it out, and I love it. I think this bag style is quickly becoming my absolute favourite. The colour pop does liven up a pretty neutral outfit doesn't it?

Find out more about this outfit:
- Cotton twill swing trench coat, J.Crew
- Light camel wool trousers, Boden
- Zipped-shoulder merino knit, J.Crew
- Leopard scarf, from an old collection at Louis Vuitton, this Mango one is close
- Shoes, Rupert Sanderson
- Bag, Céline at Vestiaire Collective

March 24, 2014

Meet me at the barre: Paola's BodyBarre studio

If you've read some of my other exercise posts, you probably know that I'm no work-out addict, but I love my barre and pilates classes at Heartcore. Classes are exactly my kind of work-out, it's efficient, you feel some peer pressure, and it's easier to follow instructions rather than run aimlessly on a threamill, much like a little hamster on a wheel.

Still, after over two years of  loyalty to Heartcore, I wanted to shake things up a bit, and add something different. Enter Paola Di Lanzo, the mastermind behind Paola's BodyBarre studio, just off Fulham Road, a mere minutes from my Parsons Green stomping ground.

There are quite a few types of barre classes to pick from, as well as TRX and Pilates. So far, my favourite has been BodyBarre Fierce with the lovely Tracy: it's punchy and fun and I don't see the hour go by, even though I'm sweating like a little piglet (which is, let's remember, the whole purpose of working out... so a good thing). I've not yet tried a class with Paola, as unfortunately an unexpected health scare got in the way of my usual routine these last few days, but I intend to be back on my feet ASAP!

The studio is beautiful, in muted shades of grey with bright pink and purple accents, and the light pours down from the ceiling windows. It's super easy to get to, and parking outside is a dream, compared to the somewhat more challenging streets in Chelsea...

You can find out more on: Paola's BodyBarre

Paola's BodyBarre Studio
70 Rosaline Road
London SW6

March 23, 2014

It's time for the Sunday fashion confession

Oh, hi there... This is Little Monsieur. I've stolen this blog from my Mamma for a few minutes, she's still a bit groggy from her surgery yesterday, so I have just enough time to tell you about this week's confession. Have you ever noticed how my Mamma loves shoes? No? You probably should hang out here more often, anyone who spends 5 minutes in her presence knows she has an obsession, but of course she doesn't like to be reminded...

I am, as everyone knows by now, the centre of her universe and as such I benefit quite a bit (ok, a lot) from this shoe obsession. It's fair to say my little shoe collection is growing far beyond the no-lace pair for school days and hunter wellies for rainy days.

Mamma is constantly trying to find me cool and fun shoes. For Christmas, she got me some Tiger trainers by MOTR (that's Milk On the Rocks, didn't you know?) for Feiyue and I loved them so much, she just ordered me the Leopard version from the new collection. Aren't they so cool?

Did I mention the little leopard's mouth opens down to reveal a full growl? Perfect to mock-scare all my little friends at the playground! Do you want to check them out for your own little wild trouble-makers? Check them out here: Milk On The Rocks for FEIYUE.

Ok, Paposhka is calling me for my bath... time to go! Until next time...

March 19, 2014

Wednesday's beauty essential: Eve Lom make-up

I've been a fan of Eve Lom's fabulous cleansing balm for years, and I don't travel anywhere without the little travel pack, it's the only way to keep my skin looking somewhat normal after red-eye flights, back to back meetings, and far less sleep than any doctor would recommend. So it's a bit of a surprise that I only recently tried out the new make-up range... but the thing is I like to have finished a product before trying a new one, except of course when we're talking of a  really underwhelming one of course, that goes straight for the bin after a few tries! So it's only when I needed a new concealer that I walked into my local SpaceNK to check out the new range.

I stuck to what I needed this time round: concealer, primer and new mineral powder foundation. It seems very unlikely I ever go back to any other range...

The concealer is sheer and covering at the same time, it blends amazingly into my skin and doesn't looked caked on; any imperfections (not that I had any, of course, hmm) is blurred off, leaving a soft-focus result: bye-bye dark circles and super-sized pores, hello nothing. It's particularly good under the eyes, where the special blend of plant extracts helps skin renewal and micro-circulation.

The primer is another wonder product filled with skincare goodness: vitamins, sodium hyaluronate (that's plumping, didn't you know?) etc. to keep my skin looking dewy and to soften all the hard left-overs from all my stress-filled days.

But my absolute favourite is a bit of a surprise for me: so far all the mineral foundations I'd tried besides Bare Minerals have proved super underwhelming... Not Eve Lom's. All natural, this is super finely milled, it's soft and light and comes in six shades making it easy to choose one that matched mine. I use it with a round kabuki brush, blending and working over the primer to achieve a dewy finish. No matt flatness here. It lasts the full day as well, although the packaging is so pretty it's a shame not to take it off your make-up bag  for a little touch up at tea time.

Find out more here: Eve Lom at Space NK.

March 11, 2014

Lunch for one please: Harrods Pan-Chai sushi bar

Once you go beyond the tourist-filled cosmetics and souvenir halls, Harrods can prove to be a real treasures' cave for London-based  fashionistas: it hosts most if not all of the hottest labels, Céline to Saint Laurent, Bottega Veneta to Dior, has a huge section dedicated entirely to designer denim, has the best Manolo Blahnik selection of all of London, and comes way ahead of any other department store in many departments. And, I have to say, the superior service is unlike anywhere else. Over the years, this is the place I've turned to to order hard-to-find pieces, better prices than elsewhere, and I adore their loyalty programme.

I come here for the fashion, but also sometimes to find exclusive ingredients such as veal escalopes to make a Milanese for friends, and very often to sit down for a lunch date with my Kindle on a rare day of freedom. I know exactly where to head, each time: the Pan-Chai sushi bar on the ground floor is my favourite of all the eateries available at the Brompton Road emporium.

Here, you can eat as much of as little as you want, and I love the met-in-the-mouth super fresh fish. I usually opt for the dragon rolls (delicious prawn tempura rolls covered in crunch tobiko), some nigiri sushi, and, for a little kick, some spicy tuna rolls. It's greatly entertaining to see the chefs work right on the other side of the bar, and the service is efficient and professional.

There are also some non sushi dishes for the non raw food lovers... so you can bring your sushi-hater friends along whilst you're enjoying the Japanese delicacies!

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