October 07, 2015

Wednesday's beauty essential: my super-easy make-up routine

If there has been one common theme in everyone's comments in the last few weeks, it's been about my make-up... Lots of lovely readers have written in to comment on how nice it looked and so I'm finally writing a little post about my make-up.

To be fair, I must give a disclaimer up front: whilst it's true that my make-up smooths my complexion tremendously, I feel my skin is more translucent lately as a result of a packed work-out routine (at least four sessions a week, mixing personal training, reformer, power yoga and swimming) and a very streamlined diet (virtually no refined sugars except for the odd treat). I feel this is key.

Second key point for me: I wake up each morning at 5:30am. I don't have time to spend one hour on my make-up, period. At most, I have 15 minutes to get my face on, and on to my kitchen to pack a thermos of lemon water for the ride to work and my Nutribullet breakfast smoothie.

Now, what do I do during those 15 minutes, you ask? Well, it's all about trying to get as perfect a complexion as possible, one that actually makes people forget I function on five hours of sleep per night, tops.

Step 1: Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize... I use a glycolic acide enhanced moisturizer by PH Advantage, and absolutely no primer, as the silicone particles can make even the best foundations curdle.

Step 2: Bring on the concealer salad. Over the years, I've decided that my skin doesn't like just one shade and one texture of concealer, instead it prefers a mix of concealers. Under my eyes and to smooth out my smile lines, I use either By Terry's Touche Veloutee or YSL's Touche Eclat as highlighter (the latter is more watery so I prefer it for days when there is less sins to hide), and for the imperfections, little stress pimples etc, I dab on a mix of Eve Lom concealers, to achieve the good shade for my skin. By the way, I find fingers outperform any possible tool you can use at this point, as it means you are working everything into the skin, not just painting it over...

Step 3: Foundation time! I've been in love with Bare Minerals' Bare Skin foundation for a while now, it is like a magical film which comes with a little round brush to stretch it to the corners of your face, before settling into a powdery smooth finish. It comes in loads of tints as well, meaning it works for lots of people. The only thing I don't like about it? The bottle is quite fidgety and sometimes it takes a little long for me to manage to get a drop out (one drop is all you need to cover the whole face!) On days off, I replace this by mixing some tinted SPF from Kiehls into my moisturizer, for speed.

Step 4: I said glow, not shine. Some mornings my skin feels like it will turn shiny before I've driven my Smart into Chelsea, so I tend to top up my foundation with a mix of Eve Lom mineral powders (again, I mix for the perfect shade). I don't do it all the time, but it does help set everything.

Step 5: Now, Photoshop! I'm kidding, don't worry. To add glow I swipe some of my Hourglass highlighting powder above my cheekbones (or where they should be), over the bridge of my nose, and in the middle of my forehead. And finally, I pat some YSL blur over the T-zone to avoid any unsightly shine for the whole day, and this, my friends, is exactly like Photoshop, right there in the palm of my hand.

Step 6: Finishing touches. I don't wear eye shadow all the time, but when I do I always turn to muted shadows, and these days I'm loving my Bare Minerals palette. I have a few blushers on tap, depending on how bright or muted I want to go, and same goes for my lipstick or gloss. It's all about having fun, isn't it?

My shopping list:
- Touche Veloutee concealer, By Terry
- Touche Eclat highlighter, YSL
- Brilliant Cover concealer, Eve Lom
- BareSkin foundation, Bare Minerals
- Mineral Powder,Eve Lom
- Ambient Lighting palette, Hourglass
- Touche Eclat Perfector Powder, YSL

So there you have it, my make-up routine during the week... It took a while to find one that works, and it does hinge on mixing and matching, but it's really easy.

September 29, 2015

Friday's sailor stripes and cherry patent stilettos

I'll admit, I'm having a culottes moment. I know this is very 1970s of me, but I love the practical elegance of a skirt-trousers hybrid, it's just so easy to wear. At first I was a bit daunted by the midi length, and maybe some will find I look a bit short in them, but I actually like it, again I find it easy.

Last week I debuted these cream culottes, a find from the Massimo Dutti shop at Barcelona Airport. They are a nice heavy wool-rich material, which makes them perfect for the colder weather we've been having. Cream makes them look a bit sophisticated, but this is a hard colour to maintain: they had to go straight to the dry-cleaners after just one wear, thanks to a tiny speck of coffee I spilled whilst reading the morning news online... (or maybe I'm just clumsy).

Not only is cream not the easiest colour, it is also not particularly slimming... but I love how it provides a perfectly versatile canvas for many different colours. Last week I tried it with quite a Gallic mix of sailor stripes and the brightest cherry patent heels I could find in my wardrobe. This top is quite ancient, I bought it more than seven years ago, but it's a testament to its quality that it still looks impeccable, whilst other more affordable tops from the same period have long fallen to pieces, proof that some brands have a quality well worth paying for.

The shoes have an interesting story. Last year, in the midst of my pregnancy with Little Madame, I suddenly decided I needed red patent stilettos in my life (even though with feet swollen to the size of a baby elephant's leg there was no way I was going to wear them then), but I couldn't find the perfect ones. I needed a deep cherry red, a tint darker than the ubiquitous lipstick red, which I find a bit "common", but not burgundy. Also I wanted a perfect pointed toe with heels high enough to make a statement but not so high that I couldn't walk in them. It took me a good few weeks to track down the perfect pair, but in the end J.Crew came to the rescue.

Outfit details below:
- Off-white wool culottes, Massimo Dutti Limited Edition
- Navy cotton-blend trench coat, Mango
- Off-white top with navy and pewter stripes, topped with gold buttons, Joseph
- Red patent heels, J.Crew
- Navy Sac de Jour in smooth leather, Saint Laurent

September 27, 2015

Whoop whoop, we're having a Halloween party!

It may seem early, but in my household Halloween prep tends to start really early... especially as Little Monsieur is as excited about the celebration as I am, though I suspect he cares more about the collection of sweeties in his Trick or Treat bag than the costumes and the decorations... This year, we'll be having a small gathering of his friends for a Haunted Tea Party followed by a round of the neighbourhood for the afore-mentioned collecting of sweets. 

I'll blog about the party later, with lots of pics and source, but I thought I'd share some ideas of where to shop for some cute supplies if, like me, you have a Halloween-obsessed household.

First up, the costumes. I love going to Pottery Barn Kids for these: they are made of beautiful sturdy material which doesn't come apart the moment the children step out of the house, and the designs are gorgeous and extremely suitable for children. The designs vary each year, and over the years we got some gorgeous costumes, such  Max from Where The Wild Things Are we got a couple of years ago. Of course they offer the ubiquitous super-hero costumes, but theirs are childlike and fun, unlike the monstrosities one can order from the likes of Amazon. The only downside of PBK is that it is US-based, and the orders go through Borderfree, hence I tend to order Little Monsieur's costumes by the end of September to avoid delays in shipping...

More locally, NotOnTheHighStreet is another great website for children's costumes.

For the decorations, I'll be shopping online again, a mix of Etsy, Amazon, The Pretty Little Party Shop etc etc.

September 25, 2015

Friday's treat lunch: Sticks'n'Sushi Canary Wharf

Some weeks start bad, go worse, and then just end up smelling of plain horse manure... for me, this week was just one of those. It started with some losses at work, followed by excessive travel induced illness (I did end up in hospital in Lisbon yesterday, how very dramatic of me), and finished with me so tired of the usual office politics that I've spent today wondering whether I'm right to spend so much time away from my little ones only to bear such a large circus of fools on a full time basis... Maybe the only fool here is me...

Thankfully, for days and weeks like this there is only one answer, good friends, and I am lucky enough to have made a few along the many years of working in the same job. That's quite convenient, seeing as I've moved to London at a very young age and spent most of the first years at my desk, so it's lucky I made such good friends along the way! One such friend and I managed to have today's lunchtime unexpectedly free from calls and client commitments, so we went round to our local Sticks'n'Sushi to try out their fabulous Danish take on sushi cuisine.

Admittedly, I've been on a nutrient focused calorie controlled diet since the beginning of the month, so this much white rice is a little out of the prescribed food list, but, honestly, sometimes a girl needs carbs. In my case, there are no commitment-phobe boyfriends (instead, just one gem of a Hubby Dearest, with me for 14 years, what a saint), no particular material worries, and no pipe leaks... just one pretty stressful job in what can be a very female-unfriendly environment. Bottom line, if there is a day I am going to indulge, it had to be today!

The moment our matcha powder teas appeared, complete with whisking ceremony and bright green foam, I could feel the stress float away (not too far, but still...). We had a real feast of sushi with fish so fresh anymore and it would have jumped off the platters, and a few yakitori skewers for good measure. I haven't had something so delicious in Canary Wharf since the first time I ate at Roka (the other Japanese on the Isle of Dogs, the aptly named).

The food was fabulous and prompt to arrive. It was a lovely Friday lunch, not as quick as I would need for the beginning of the week, when lunch is usually a salad wolfed down above my keyboard in a minute, but just perfect for a day when I direly needed to slow down.

The service was a bit hit and miss, but very friendly. It was just a bit difficult to get the attention of the waiters...

Sticks'n'Sushi has four locations in London, including:
Canary Wharf
Crossrail Place
London E14 5AR


September 16, 2015

Tuesday's feminine take on formal corporate style

If you were to ask someone to describe the typical banker, they would probably cite a suit, pinstripes, a formal shirt,... not sure they would go on to add ruffled raspberry stilettos and a bijou handbag with silk covered handles. Ha!

Maybe the first reason for that is that our biased minds always think of bankers are being mainly male, but also because it can seem difficult to instill some femininity into a very masculine style. Exactly what I decided to attempt a few days ago on a day filled with meetings.

As you know if you've been reading my posts over time, I am a big fan of Theory suits, in fact they are the only ones I seem to own these days, especially for Summer, as they do the best light wool tailoring, in my view. I have them in grey, navy and black, and they are both elegant and easy. I adore the modern collar shape, and I love that the cropped length of the trousers hits just at my ankles, which is the ideal way to showcase my beloved shoes, right?

Talking about shoes... this pair is one of my favourite in my closet at the moment, but I must tell you how I came to own them. A few months ago, half way through my second pregnancy and feeling both miserable and sick, I was asked by a client to go to Abu Dhabi on what we call a non deal roadshow in my job, ie a day of meetings with investors. Alas, there aren't as many active investors for what I had to discuss in Abu Dhabi, so we had plenty of free time. At the end of the short day, my clients went for a swim, something that sounded totally unpalatable to the very grumpy pregnant moo that I was, and so I went to the little mall underneath the hotel (how convenient!) and quickly discovered the most marvelous little gem of a Manolo Blahnik shop. These were love at first sight, although the shop was incredibly well stocked, compared with the ones in Europe, so it was almost tempting to take a few... Seeing how much I adore this gorgeous pair, I now wish I had also bought them in a different colour! By the way, the shoes barely fit my inflated pregnant feet but I decided to take a leap of faith... (that statement just sums me up, doesn't it?)

There you have it, my attempt at feminine business formal:
- Navy light wool suit, Theory
- Striped silk shirt, from last year, but this Equipment one is very close
- Raspberry and grey ruffle stilettos, Manolo Blahnik
- Birkin and silk twillies (around the handles), Hermès

September 14, 2015

A morning at Harrods Moroccan Hammam

I consider myself to be very lucky in life... No just because I have the privilege to live in a vibrant city, or because I have a filling life with a gorgeous family and a job that I enjoy, or because I don't live in one of the far too numerous places where women are constantly threatened and live in fear for their lives and their children's... I do value each and every single one of these blessings, of course, but one of the biggest happinesses in my life is having fantastic friends who are fiercely loyal and know to step in when I need them.

See, I don't consider myself a lots-of-friends kind of person... My close friends are few and far between, but the few I have I would do everything for, and I like to think they would do the same for me.

Recently, just a couple of months after my daughter was born, one of my girlfriends, Little Monsieur's godmother, texted in to check in... I was slightly frazzled and tired at having to juggle a tiny baby, breastfeeding, lack of sleep, and working from home. As if by radar, she guessed I needed a treat, so she promptly booked us in for a morning of treatments at the Harrods Moroccan Hammam.

For the first time since moving to London, I was finally able to enjoy a completely Moroccan hammam treatment, it felt like being back home... only in a far more luxurious setting than the neighbourhood baths my Dada would take me to once every few weeks when I was a small child.

From the luxurious changing rooms to the marble-decked wet rooms, everything here screams luxe, but in a beautiful, almost understated way (I mean this isn't a Balinese spa, by any means... there are copper taps and velvet sofas everywhere, but you get my meaning, this isn't a garish fake-oriental get-up). The marble lattice dividing the open wet areas, creating a private space without stopping conversation with my friend, totally won me over with its beauty.

The treatment is 100% traditional... As soon as we were robed in the fluffiest cotton ever, we moved into the warm resting room, where we sat for a moment, getting used to the temperature whilst chatting away the week (City deals for my friend, baby nappies and conference calls for me...). Then we moved into the wet room, where we were taken by two kessalas who then covered us in black olive oil soap, divinely smelling by the way, not the cheap kind... This was left to sit on the steaming skin for a short while, then brushed off with a kessa glove to exfoliate the skin until it was left gleaming (and slightly pink, but that's a temporary effect...!)

Once all the dead cells were washed away with some warm water, we went off to the relaxation room (home of the super plush velvet sofas), where we had tea, dried fruit, nuts and cue more chatter. Soon enough it was time for our follow-on treatments, a massage for my friend and a facial for me.

It was by far one of my favourite Saturday mornings in the last months. I will be back! A., if you're reading this, thank you again, you are a true friend and knew exactly what was needed, I can't say how grateful I am.

Find out more about the Harrods Moroccan Hammam here: Urban Retreat Moroccan Hammam at Harrods.

September 13, 2015

Little Monsieur's Outer Space party

As my long-time followers will know, one of the many reasons I have been busy over the Spring and Summer season this year is I've been focusing on my little ones, and one of the major things on my to-do list as usual was Little Monsieur's annual party. This year he asked for an Astronaut Outer Space theme... so I spent most of June thinking up cosmic decorations and organizing space-themed delicacies.

Things I made myself included the gravity-defying cupcake stand... That was hard work! Covering six styrofoam cylinders with arts and crafts foam, then decorating it with washi tape, and finally balancing the layers so it looked like it was off-centered. I also made some planets out of styro spheres which I spray-painted to use as stands for the rocket cookie pops. Blast-off guaranteed! (Incidentally the floor stones in our patio remained a bit more colourful than usual as a result of the spray-painting session, but thankfully the relentless London rain washed everything out).

The table settings were easy... Once I located and ordered a whole roll of isolating bubble foil (yes, I did go a bit over-board yet again... now we have 80% of said roll left, I suggested Hubby Dearest redo the isolation in the eaves, he was not amused), it was easy to cut out the chair covers and the place settings. I used the little cut-offs to make water bottle wrappers, for the extra cosmic feel... We sprinkled some silver glitter on the tables to make sure we were up with the stars and comets. The kiddies loved the space station look, and the curly straws in their clear cups were a hit with everyone!

I also made some foam photo props that I was hoping to put on the kiddies for pictures against the starry background or the kid-size rocket we had ordered, but they had such fun with the entertainer we had that those barely got touched... (and this is when my nanny reminds me that sometimes I do a bit too much and really shouldn't have bothered). This is a mistake that I will not do again!

For food we had the gorgeous cookies and cupcakes by Lucy at Vanilla Frost Cakes, she is still my favourite cake-maker in London whenever there is a party to prepare for. I also made Mars pizzas (inspired by the planet, not the candy chocolate bar), some Rocky savoury muffins, and ticked the health box with fresh veggies and fruit (which the children diligently ignored, what a surprise).

For decorations I had ordered a photo scene setter from Etsy, it was so cute to sit all the children in front of it for the entertainment. I laid some of the isolation roll on the floor to make it all a bit more cushion-y. Above the tables, we had some giant agathe balloons to act as floating planets. The little favor boxes were standard take-away boxes filled with Milky Way mini bars, Alien jumpers, Space themed stickers and stamps, decorated with some more washi tape and bespoke stickers.

We had a wonderful entertainer from Bedazzled Events, who kept the children busy with games, songs and balloon sculptures. He and Little Monsieur had almost the same astronaut costume, much to the delight of my little man.

I promise I will add sources tomorrow... Right now I need to go and lay out tomorrow's clothes and catch some sleep before another week begins!

Update: here are the sources as promised!
- Bright Stars 10' by 10' digital printing backdrop, GladsBuy at Etsy
- Silver cardboard rocket playhouse, Paperpod
- Blue stripe party plates and napkins, Cake Girls
- Blue Planet cupcake wrappers, YourlittleCupcake at Etsy
- Wriggly straws, Krazy Straws
- Art & craft foam, washi tape, isolation bubble foil, clear cups, etc., all from Amazon
- Cupcakes and sugar cookies, Vanilla Frost Cakes
- Everything else on the food buffet was homemade

September 12, 2015

Saturday's off-duty look for an afternoon at the playground

I have spent most of this week travelling and working my not so small backside (though I am working on that too... I promise) off and I haven't had much opportunity to write posts or take outfit pictures... hence I was really excited this afternoon when the sun came out this afternoon. I was looking forward to taking Little Monsieur to the playground without braving the elements, but also, I'll admit, this meant I would have the opportunity to coax Hubby Dearest into taking some outfit pics...

Playground styling is totally different from office styling for me. Adios sky-high heels, tailored pieces and heavy totes, hello boho cuts, prints and hands-free bags! Thankfully Little Monsieur is big enough that I don't need to be as much as helicopter parent as a couple of years ago, but still, flats are an absolute must when going to the playground.

Of course, if you know me, you know that doesn't mean just pulling out some old Converse trainers (which I find, by the way, extremely uncomfortable); I do try a little bit harder, even though comfort is the ultimate priority. This is the main reason why I fell in love with these Isabel Marant lace-up ballerinas: they are gorgeous and apparently super hot right now, if I'm to believe the sales assistant at least, but they also fit like slippers.

By the way, allow me to introduce my new Jypsière...  It's my most recent bag, a new baby gift from Hubby Dearest, and it is perfect for days when I'm out and about with the children. The colour is Rouge Hermès, a muted red which only looks bright in full daylight. I had been thinking about getting a bag which would add a splash of colour to my black or grey outfits, and here it is, perfect red. It's the smaller size, 28cm, so for me it's ideal and not too heavy. I am in love!

This is exactly my typical off-duty style: flats, jeans, a cute jacket and hands-off accessories. Of course this one outfit does group some of my favourite pieces together so I thought it was worth a little post. How about you? Do you have any go-to off-duty outfits?

Before I go, some details about this outfit:
- Embellished jacket, Isabel Marant (from years ago)... try Vestiaire Collective for the same model
- Skinny off-black jeans, J Brand
- 28cm Jypsière in Rouge H clemence leather and cashmere silk shawl, both Hermès
- Isabel Marant's Leo lace-up ballerinas are selling out fast, but you can find them at Lane Crawford
- Sunglasses, Sun Buddies

September 07, 2015

Monday's monochrome for back to work week

I've now been back in the office full time for a week... and whilst I love being back in my day-to-day routine and talking more regularly to my clients, I do resent the office politics and endless posturing. That, and having to pull myself every morning into a polished, articulate and somewhat stylish person... not a mean feat having just spent 80% of the last five months in jeans and flats. The only way for me to cope is to just plan my outfits ahead, I find that it really helps me to get ready quicker so I can be out of the door by 6:15am most days...

On my first day back for good last week I thought I'd play it relatively safe in monochrome... after all, I had taken the crazy styling out of the office back in March when I retired to Parsons Green so I have to ease my colleagues into the coo-koo a bit over the top fashion slowly!

A few months ago I'd have balked at the relative simplicity here, but to be honest this pared-down style is really growing on me, and it's dead easy to put together. Keeping everything simple and monochrome takes a lot of the thinking out of getting dressed, I like it. I still love to accessorize, and these snakeskin heels are particularly lovely, I think: classic pointed toe shape, grey white snakeskin print, and a perfect stiletto heel, swoon. So I guess you'll have to expect more of the simple slightly un-styled outfits from me going forward, but still lots of fabulous accessories...

Where to find some of these pieces:
- Black culottes, Whistles
- Ruffle sleeved top, bought years ago, this Love one is a close match
- Celine Tie Knot bag, Céline at Vestiaire Collective
- My snakeskin heels are sold out, but these by Salvatore Ferragamo are near identical

September 05, 2015

Saturday's shopping list: Easy tailoring for back to work week

If your household is anything like mine, Saturday often coincides with grocery shopping, visits to the dry cleaners, seamstress (a must for me, almost nothing fits off the peg!), the paediatrician, etc. Saturday is the ultimate errands and lists day.

So, in the spirit of making light of this chore-filled day, I thought I'd start a weekly series with my shopping lists. And what better week to start than today, after my very first full week in the office after leave. I personally love September: it calls for new, fresh beginnings, and this year more than anytime before I am lusting after crisp and easy tailored pieces for the office, in beautiful classic shades. Here's my selection...

Some links:
- Sleeveless belted coat, Reiss
- Purple Ipad case, Valextra
- Black culottes, Whistles
- Tailored tweed jacket, The Fold
- Blue striped shirt, Adam Lippes
- Contrast wrap dress, Atterley Road
- Black leather top-handle bag, Allegra by Meli Melo (comes with a shoulder strap)
- Black square frame sunglasses, Whistles
- Colour-blog suede sandals, Jigsaw
- Monogrammed blue saffiano asymetric clutch, The Daily Edited

Happy Saturday everyone!

September 02, 2015

Wednesday's beauty essential: Sunday Riley skincare

"Juggling. Multi-tasking. Balancing..." If my name came, Mary Poppins style, in the dictionary, I can only hope that these would be the words in the definition. Alas I suspect that one would actually find the words "Stressed. Sleep-deprived. Unbalanced" instead. That's how I've been feeling lately. There are never enough hours in the day for me to do everything that I have on. And of course, my skin insists on acting as the display window of whatever is going on inside. Urgh!

Am I frazzled? Here comes an angry zit on my chin. Did I get less than my minimum 4 hours of sleep last night? Look, my washed-out complexion will tell you all about it. Thankfully, the SpaceNK ladies in the Parsons Green boutique seem to be seeing lots of harassed mammas in dire need of some bathroom vanity TLC. I walked in a couple of months ago on the way back from the park and, having taken one look at my skin followed by a circumspect up-and-down at my hyper toddler and my angelic-in-appearance-only baby, promptly directed me to the Sunday Riley shelf.

Ok, I'll confess, I looked at the price and balked. This is not a cheap range. In fact, slathering my skin in caviar daily might be in the same price area. But then, I convinced myself that good skin makes me happy and hence it was totally worth it (I am really good at negotiating with myself, it would seem). I started with Good Genes, then followed with the Ceramic Slip and Artemis oil on my next visit, once I'd run out of my usual cleanser and evening oil. And, two months later, let me tell you, I'm not looking to go back, or at least not until my next skin crisis demands another change of skin regimen!

I hear you, so far I've not told  you much about what this is all about, so here is the scoop... First, Good Genes: quite simply the best overnight exfoliating treatment I've tried in years. It's all about the lactic acid, which delivers a tingly sensation to the skin upon first application, meaning a little pump goes a loooong way! Literally from the first morning, I could see a smoother, plumper version of me in the mirror, no photoshop required. So far, so worth it.

Next, the Ceramic Slip cleanser. I chose it because of the clay which means that it really removes any nasty residues from my face, but also because it foams a little which means it is easy to use with my Clarisonic. Clear pores in a minute. Awesome.

But the biggest surprise for me is the Artemis oil, not because I didn't know that combination skin likes oil. That I knew. But really this oil, applied in teeny-tiny quantities just after Good Genes, means that my skin goes to bed nourished but not oily, and wakes up happy and, most day, glowy.

So, all-in, this range is a bit of a splurge, but think of it as an investment, especially as some of the Sunday Riley products tend to have a double function. For instance I use 3 pumps of the Ceramic Slip mixed with 2 pumps of Good Genes for an instant glow facial for those evenings where my stress is really getting the better of me. In fact, I think I'm due one today, it has been quite the long day in the office and I didn't make it home in time to see Little Madame before she went to bed... so I'm feeling pretty sorry for myself and reaching out for some ice cream isn't an option right now, what with the new diet and training programme and all (more on that very soon, I promise); indulgence at home, here I come!

Enough on me, here is a link to the fabulous Sunday Riley range: Sunday Riley at SpaceNK.

Enjoy your evening and happy hump day!

August 27, 2015

Grey and pinks for a layered look

After a long hiatus which was used to focus on juggling motherhood and a busier than expected Summer at work, I finally decided it was time to regain some blogging discipline...

First thing I did was look through the old comments to see if any of my long-time readers (now friends, really) had written in to enquire about the drought in posts, and what was my surprise to find a truly mean-spirited comment from a very courageous "Anonymous", commenting on how bad I look and how I should sell my pieces to fund a facial to look better instead of showing off (this is not a joke...). Now, I don't usually give this kind of silliness any more than the one second it takes me to press the spam button, but this time I thought I'd address it.

Dear Anonymous, I am sure that you are both classy and beautiful, especially when six months pregnant and working around the clock; let's not forget also how brave you are for voicing your opinion of my blog in such an open manner... I will just say this: I am in my mid-thirties, I have an actual life which is very busy, a real job and two small children which all keep me awake at night, and I don't use a professional photographer or indeed Photoshop like so many full-time bloggers. My pictures are rough, usually taken in less than five minutes between meetings, and my style is my own, I don't take it too seriously, and I certainly don't give it the importance that you think I do. Given the gazillion websites out there with similar topics as this one, I am surprised you have wasted some of your evidently precious time looking at my posts and forming such an elaborate opinion. I hope you have now found better blog posts to admire somewhere on the Internet, where you are, hopefully, leaving nicer messages.

Now for those of you who actually come here for a bit of reality, please read on... These last few months have been busy, and I did go into work and client meetings much more often than during my first maternity leave, trying to keep the relationships with clients alive and kicking! A few weeks ago I pulled myself out of my jeans and ballerinas at-home uniform to go to Paris, and this is what I wore...

Summer business travel usually means navigating between the sweltering outside and the over-conditioned air of the offices and airplane cabins, hence the layered look works quite well. I wore my low heel rockstud pumps, and you will notice something interesting about them: I cut the top strap! I know some of you will scream at this sacrilege, but really the three buckle straps didn't really work for me with my shorter than average legs, and I wanted to use these more, so cutting the top strap was the solution, really...

Another thing I like about this outfit? The off-white vest. It's the perfect alternative to a suit jacket for Summer days, and it looks quite modern, don't you think? I like that the trend is continuing on for Autumn 2015, I can't wait to find one to wear over fine knits for the new season!

More about this outfit:
- Grey wool tailored trousers, Theory
- Grey silk blouse, Iris & Ink
- White linen mix vest, Mango
- Intrecciato cabat bag, Bottega Veneta
- Rockstud pumps, Valentino

May 04, 2015

Monday's Mamma uniform for a family day out at Cliveden

An adopted Londoner, I adore the concept of a Bank Holiday... it means that the often ominous Monday suddenly becomes something else altogether, a day out with the family and an opportunity to replay Sunday all over again.

Today, Hubby Dearest took us out of London to the gorgeous Cliveden (I confess, I had never visited, in more than 11 years here...), where we walked around, had brunch, and enjoyed the sunshine and fabulous gardens.

Now, I know just a couple of days ago we all saw a new mom take to Choo heels and a four-digit priced dress to take her newborn baby home just hours after giving birth, so I look like a total slob in my jeans and trainers in comparison, but for me nothing beats practicality when it comes to being around my little ones, especially when we're out and about in a park.

So for me today, no heels, not even wedges... Instead, I wore comfortable trainers and a grass stain proof jacket that I've had for years. Not picture worthy? Maybe... But as you know by now if you've been reading my little blog for a while this is an account of real life, not some fairy tale story or some five minute outfit posts created just to get the picture taken. Plus, the day was too beautiful not to post pictures!

From the light strech in my James Jeans skinnies to the opening in my breastfeeding top, everything in this outfit screams comfort and practicality. I think you'll see me quite often in this type of outfit in the coming weeks, as I enjoy a leave from the office (certainly not a leave from the emails and the calls though, as much as I'd love to get one...), and I hope it won't be too shabby for you!

Back to Cliveden, it is gorgeous, huge, which means even on a busy day like today it didn't feel overcrowded, the Orangerie offers some extremely acceptable food, in fact much better than anything we've had when out in similar parks, and the views are, well, quite unbelievable for somewhere so close to London. I'll definitely be coming back!

Some outfit details:
- Jeans, James Jeans
- Breastfeeding top, Envie De Fraises
- Jacket, Barbour by Anya Hindmarch
- Metallic high-top sneakers, from an old Tory Burch collection, these Balenciaga ones are very close 
- Scarf, Louis Vuitton, this Feather & Stone one is similar
- Bag, Lindy by Hermès
- Monogram discs necklace, Sonya Renee

April 29, 2015

Celebratory tea at The Connaught's Espelette

Hi everyone! Before I start, I want to send a heart-felt thank you to all of you who were kind enough to comment on here, send me emails and PMs on Facebook to wish me well towards the end of my pregnancy. I apologise for my silence, but let's just say the last weeks were, to say the least, challenging, between complications, tiredness, and the frantic rush that seems to accompany most of my weeks at work before a holiday or a leave.

I am delighted to write that we welcomed a perfect (if I say so myself) little baby girl about a month ago now, and though she and I spent a little longer than we wanted in hospital around her birth, we are both doing well now. I expect I will be a far better blogger going forward, especially given I have lots of post ideas that I want to write.

Going back a few weeks, let me tell you how we feted our new arrival. Despite the chaos that ensues any birth (or, more likely, as a means to distract me from it), Hubby Dearest arranged for a celebratory tea for the four of us in one of my favourite London hotels, The Connaught, just days after Little Madame and I returned home.

Though things could have gone horribly wrong had she needed a feed half-way, it was a relief to everyone (especially the other guests who saw us arrive with a toddler and pram with that look of dread child-less clients pull whenever they see kids!) that both munchkins behaved like perfect little angels throughout the two-hour seating and we all had a wonderful time... And whilst I can't take credit for the baby's impeccable behaviour, and I'm definitely not branding myself as an parenting expert (smirk!), I would say taking children from an early age to all types of places, not just the so-called child-friendly ones, means they know how to behave in different situations and settings, and don't embarrass themselves, or you. At least that's been our strategy with Little Monsieur and it seems to work. Ok, I'll stop boring you with my thoughts on child rearing... On to cakes now!

The setting of the afternoon tea at Espelette is a winter garden style gallery overlooking Carlos Place, which happened to be gloriously sunny that afternoon. The whole place has a gorgeously sophisticated feel without being stuffy, with some of the most perfect floral arrangements I've seen... Service also exceeded any expectations that we had; think "make clients feel like uber VIPs" and dial it up a notch.

Having suffered from gestational diabetes during my pregnancy, it is fair to say I would probably have been happy with the most average of cakes at my first glucose-filled meal after being given the all clear. But Espelette's cakes are way way beyond the average. The tea cakes were so filled in flavours and textures (hazelnut, pear, chocolate, vanilla etc.), they ended being my highlight of the whole afternoon.

Whilst I'm not a fan of patisseries, I loved the pear and sesame tartlet and my two guys relished in the mousse inventions on offer. Little Monsieur particularly enjoyed the apple-shaped caramel and apple bomb. Yum.

What I liked a lot about this tea compared to others in London is that everything is special and unique to Espelette, the food is afternoon tea food that you recognise, but it's unlike anything you can have in other restaurants in the capital. Even the sandwiches... I can still taste the egg sandwich, which here comes glammed up with a little bit of truffle. Delicious!

Overall, Espelette offered us a magical interlude in our first few days as a family of four, and I will definitely rank it top of my favourites for afternoon tea. 

Espelette at The Connaught
Carlos Place
London W1
0 207 499 7070

February 16, 2015

Monday at the office: when all else fails, grab a fabulous coat!

Yes, I know, I've been a rubbish blogger these last weeks... Mea culpa. Truth is, I'm feeling fat and tired (seriously, my bloating is so bad I can't even say I have cankles anymore!) and it's been hard to enjoy this favourite hobby of mine lately, when all I want is to put my feet  up in front of the latest episode of Scandal. I hope you will forgive me...

In the meanwhile, I've decided I'd make a little effort today and do some pictures for an outfit post... I must write a more complete post about my "pregnancy style" (if we can call it that), but in the meanwhile here is my moto for today: when you're limited to a few black and grey maternity pieces and flat shoe (!), throw a fabulous coat over everything and hope for the best.

I fell in love with this coat months ago... all the lace application detailing over the gorgeous tweed, yum! And, given my sales purchases this season were rather limited, it felt ok to indulge it what will certainly become a treasure piece for years to come.

Of course right now I am wearing this amazing coat with what is quickly becoming my staple pregnancy outfit: black trousers (these are incredibly comfortable even though they are tailored), a ruched side top, and, evidently, flat shoes... I do try to wear my heels a little bit but with my feet now a full size bigger than usual thanks to bloating, it's not easy!!! That said, I'm sure I'll have plenty of opportunities to wear this beauty with some sky-high heels, next year.

Outfit details:
- Lace applique coat, Dolce & Gabbana
- Tailored slim-fit maternity trousers, Seraphine
- Maternity turtleneck top, Isabella Oliver
- Flat studded slingbacks, Christian Louboutin
- Trapeze handbag, Céline at Vestiaire Collective
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