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Must-have beauty products for your make-up bag

Written by Andrea Thorne

As you’ll soon find out that I love trying out new products so here are seven of my latest favourites that I’ve tried and tested and are inside my back-to-work-after-the-summer make-up bag (it’s a thing!) #backtoworkaftersummermakeupbag

Read on …

Let’s start with Foundation, and usually this comes with commitment. It means surety on colour, texture, application, season, finish and never mind the whole ‘do I apply with a brush, sponge or finger tips’ debate’. All of these decisions can leave some of us feeling a little apprehensive to try out a new one each season. I, on the other hand, have been a foundation slut for the better part of 15 years, and like a lot of woman, I’m still out to find the holy grail. (But I’ll leave that to an entirely dedicated post!)

For now, I can safely say my all-season but specifically for summer favourite has to be … Drum rollLaura Mercier’s tinted moisturiser, oil free with SPF 20.
It has an silky texture and is super easy to apply – you don’t need any special blending techniques and it merges flawlessly with your skin tone. It leaves your skin with that healthy no make-up look. It leaves a hint of colour that evens the skintone but doesn’t totally hide the skin while leaving a polished-nude look. There are 15 shades, covering most complexions and allowing a little flexibility with going a little darker in summer and lighter in winter, one of the definite must-have beauty products for your make-up bag.

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Next, you can use a powder or translucent fixer depending on your skin type to set your tinted moisturiser, which will help it last longer. I’ve just discovered 100 Finish Line Perfection Powder by Marc Jacobs (doesn’t the name just say it all?) It eliminates shine and leaves a silky texture to the skin, plus the best part is the gorgeous brush for a quick all-over application!

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We’ve heard that it’s all about the eyes right, and if like me you have deep set eyelids that manage to create a serious trench with your shadow by the time you’ve had your second coffee of the day – then you need the best kept secret of all time, Too Faced Shadow insurance. It’s an anti-crease eyeshadow primer and my failsafe. Apply a little dollop over your eyelid after your foundation or tinted moisturiser application. Then apply your favourite cream or powder shadow, eeeasy! It can literally take me from 5am to 10pm without the shadow shifting a notch.

Talking of eyeshadow, you can’t beat a nude palette and with the MJ theme. The palette, aptly called 212 The Dreamer with 7 complementing eyeshadows, is another dreamboat product and it is super easy to slip into a handbag plus you won’t need a degree to apply these very straightforward nude shades.

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I always recommend lash tinting in the summer as it just gives your lashes an added lift, but that doesn’t mean I don’t use mascara. I have found over the years we haven’t evolved with lash protection like we have with hair treatments and in my early pregnancy I felt my lashes took a serious dive – I was losing them in chunks. No surprise that this had me in a state of panic!
But then I discovered Terry Growth Booster mascara – not only does it deliver a luxe, full volume lash look, but my lashes were significantly longer and thicker in just 3 months of using it– lash crisis averted!

What about the cheeks you ask? I have to say I am in love with Giorgio Armani Cheek Fabric blush in Dolci 305. Part of a new colour range, it has a warm hue of light peach with a slight sheen which again makes it perfect for the summer months when we’re a little more bronzed. I especially love that the pigment is translucent so you can layer as much colour as you want.

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And last but never least, the lips. You’ve gotta try the new MAC, Teen Dream lip Crayon. It’s high-impact, high-gloss and an easy one-step magic wand to complete the midsummer look. It’s a lip-pencil and gloss all in one (you can ditch the sharpener as it has a convenient twist-up applicator) and with 14 shades it’ll be hard not to go home with just one – don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Do you have a beauty question that needs to be answered or want some more must-have beauty products for your make-up bag? Drop a comment here and I’ll get back to you!
XO MWAH! Andrea.

Here comes the sun

Doesn’t summer just make us happy? Sunshine, green grass, blue skies, pineapples and one of my favourite places to hangout in – the Luxembourg Gardens (yes… I may have mentioned this before!) And even though the Parisians have a bad reputation for saying ‘non‘ to most things – along with the famous shoulder shrug and ‘bof‘ – it’s trés hard to say ‘non‘ to beautiful summer days in Paris.

By now you may have noticed that I’m a huge fan of the “jean-pant”! and even in mid-summer I can’t let go of my denims fetish, so a pineapple, a visor (the best sun blocker!) and a bright yellow pouch and voilá, hello summer! Oh and the little ditty ‘here comes the sun’ playing in my head.

P.S I have to add that since moving to Hong Kong I realise that the visor it’s a Chinese mid-summer staple and not just a fleeting fashion trend, so I am absolutely embracing the visor – I’ll be the blonde on the beach under the black visor, find me on Instagram!

Leave your comments, share or Pin it – I’d love to hear from you.

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WEARING
Black sun visor, &OtherStories
Denims, Zara
Lace & tassle top, Zara
Leather sandals, Ancient Greek Sandals
Oui/Non clutch, Kenzo
Wooden bracelet, H&M
Ball Hook Gold earrings, &otherstories
Pineapple iPhone cover, H&M

Photos by Jonathan Jones

 

We’ll always have Paris

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It’s been 6 weeks since my husband, two boys and I left Paris and made a new home in Hong Kong. This weekend I saw a Facebook post from an ex-colleague who was visiting Paris and she’d attached a funny image of a quintessentially French moment – a baguette neatly tucked into a briefcase after the ‘statutory’ visit to the local boulangerie. This photo, and its Parisian symbolism made me nostalgic for the city we’ve called ‘home’ for the last three years, flooding my head with many fun, amazing, colourful and romantic memories and knowing that we’ll always have Paris.

The thing about this life is that nothing is permanent and change is inevitable in one form or another, the Buddhist notion of impermanence reminds me that, without exception, everything we know in this world is transient and all we can do to make it last longer is to stay as present, in this moment, as possible to soak up each and every minute – and that includes eating as much baguette and pastries when in Paris as possible!

Today, I thought I’d indulge in my wistfulness for the beautiful city of Paris and the amazing three years I had there by listing my favourite things to do in Paris. So here it is … a few of the real, everyday things I did while living as a Parisian.

And you may not find these in the regular guidebook…
A bientot Paris!

 

Favourite place to enjoy a crepe: There is a little café, with red bistro-style tables and chairs in the Champs de Mars (I wouldn’t be able to tell you the name as I’ve never taken notice of it), but right alongside it stands a manual merry-go-round that kids go crazy for and it’s over a century old. There are also two children’s playgrounds right behind the crêpe stand and right in front of you stands the great Eiffel Tower in all her glory. I’ve spent many days with my kids and some of my best friends in all seasons enjoying a crêpe, hot coffee or ice cream.
While the family-run crêperie doesn’t have the best coffee (You’d be best to stick with an espresso) the crêpes, which are made right front of you, are without doubt the best in Paris (voted over 200 times by moi!)

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Walking along the Seine: Seems like an obvious thing to do right? But in fact, there is so much to do in the city of lights that sometimes this simple (and free) activity gets passed over for the grander museums and monuments. I love the walk along the pedestrianised Les Berges (starting at Pont de l’Alma) and it is by far one of my favourite things to do in Paris! It’s an easy promenade with lots to see as you pass under some of the most famous bridges of the city. You can participate in yoga classes, pilates, TRX training, skate boarding, wall climbing (more for the kids!) or cardioboxing and there are also sparkling mineral water fountains along the way to fill up your water bottle – no jokes!
OR, if you’re more like me you can simply enjoy the food and a glass of wine from some of the cute café’s flanking the path. I especially love Rosa Bonheur, a hard-moored peniche which allows you to enjoy the gentle bobbing of the Seine while sipping on your sunset aperitif.

This stroll will take you all the way to the Musee d’Orsay where you should pop in and ogle the spectacular Impressionist paintings. (See my shoot along Les Berges)

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Best gardens and park: Having small kids means always trying to find outdoor space and there are many great parks in Paris, but my heart belongs to the Jardin de Luxembourg. The original Palace gardens designed in 1612 by Mary de Medici, the wife of King Henry IV of France. Nowdays the French Senat owns the gardens and they meet in the former Palace. Its many designed common areas mean you can find a quite spot on a bench or a boisterous children’s playground. Patches of grass to picnic and tree-lined promenades; fountains and strikingly manicured flowerbeds make this space extremely beautiful. The huge kid’s playground is fenced in and appropriate for all ages, and in summer the sand pits are emptied and filled with water so kids can enjoy a paddle while in the park – super cool!

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Jewellery shopping: Who doesn’t like shopping?! One of my favourite quartiers and a firm Parisian favourite is the Marais, probably the fact the shops are open on Sundays has a little to do its favourite status. The area, especially around Places des Vosges, makes for a very lively, fun Sunday outing, and be sure to include some gelato from Amorino here too.
I especially love all the smaller jewellery boutiques. A general stroll along Rue de Turenne, Rue des Francs Bougeois or Rue Vieille du Temple and you’ll be sure to bump into a few stores that will take your fancy, and I bet you won’t leave empty handed!

Favourite jewelry stores include:
Claire Naa, 45 rue de Turenne, 75003
Anna Rivka, 27 rue de Richelieu, 75001
Harpo, 19 rue de Turbigo, 75002
Corpus Christi, 64 rue du Vieille du Temple, 75003

*Not found in the Marais, but also a firm favourite is My Fashion Lab

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Food, dessert and wine: France’s reputation for outstanding food is pretty obvious, but to relish it everyday and it be on your doorstep is a dream. Fresh food markets are still so much a part of Paris life, as is the baguette-run and morning croissant. Everywhere you look in the city there is food to find and I have never enjoyed cuisine as much as while living there – it always seems such a waste not to try the dessert du jour, non?
I definitely miss the freshly baked whiff of the morning boulangerie, pain au chocolate with an “noisette”*, yes please!
I miss the visual pleasure of the markets, the colours of the fruit, flowers, fish, cheese, nuts and delicious rotisserie chickens all juxtaposed. Every time I visited the markets (which you’ll find any day of the week all over paris), I’d leave with not a cent left in my wallet! There are so many good restaurants in Paris, even the smaller, more common brasserie with their traditional French (though limited menus) are good, you’d be challenged to find something that you don’t like – 0h, and you may as well ditch that diet!

*also known as a Macchiato

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Riding the bus: I know this is a little obscure, (and most of my friends will agree to the fact that I know the buses real well) but one of my favourite things to so in Paris is ride the buses. It probably had more to do with the fact that the metro with small kids is completely impractical with it’s dozens of stairs making stroller usage impossible, but I also prefer being above ground. In a city like Paris where everywhere you go is like taking a museum tour, for less than 2 Euro you can see the city on a bus. My favourite routes you ask?

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  • Bus 69 : Running from the Champs de Mars, through St Germain, over Pont Royal and along the Seine, past the Louvre to the Hotel de Ville, squeezing past the Marais around the Bastille and ending at the cimetiere du Pere Lachaise. If you take the bus in the opposite direction it takes you through the Louvre and you can admire the Pyramid.
  • Bus 92 : From Montparnasse, Past the gold dome of Les Invalids, across the river at Pont de l’Alma (where you can gaze the Louvre) then all way and around the Arc de Triomph and into the busy district of the 17th.
  • Bus 42 : Starting near Parc Andre Citroen with it’s awesome modern lines and sparkling mineral water fountains, through the 15th arrondisement and close to the modern mall of Beaugrenelle, dissecting the Champs de Mars with a perfect view of the Eiffel Tower, passing the Musee Quai Branly, then along Paris’s most chi-chi streets, Avenue Montaigne with her luxury stores, into the Champs Elysees and past the Grand Palais, around Place de la Concorde, up to the Madeleine, around the Opera Garnier with a stop close to Galleries Lafayette, deeper into the 9th district and ending at Gare du Nord (whew! Sit back and enjoy the ride)Labellecrush-Paris12

 Please leave a comment. Let me know your thoughts, suggestions, comments or stories about Paris – I’d love to read them, and be sure to share with your friends who LOVE Paris as much as I do! Bisous. XO

Beauty Tips : Summer tanning sorted

Hey La Belles, 
This post was written by my oldest and proudly beauty-obsessed friend, Andrea Thorn. Ms Thorne was wearing lipstick before I even knew what lip balm was and she has her well-manicured figure tips on all the cutting edge products and how-to’s in the beauty industy (in fact, by day she even works in the beauty world, SO glam!) Lucky for us – she’ll be a regular on La Belle Crush, so look out for her posts!)

Mid-summer is here! It’s the season we’ve all been counting down to, summer sun, longer evenings, rose wine and of course stripping off the layers that winter demands for shorter hemlines and some bikini time!

But if you’re anything like me, the lily whites are seriously unsightly and the unexposed flesh really requires some hard-core prepping. And when you go from 12 degrees one day to 24 the next, you need quick solutions. Nothing too demanding or too time consuming and has instant results – a good exfoliator and some self bronzing and you’ll be ready to show off those pins and have summer tanning sorted.

I have to give credit to my husband here, as this unexpected genius of a product landed in my Christmas stocking last year (probably more than likely due to the wonderful shop assistant in Space NK). But Ren Guerande Salt Exfoliating Body Balm is probably the best moisturising exfoliator I have ever used and it’s sheer indulgence for your body that works wonders. Here are a few tips on how I’ve been using it…

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Step one: Take a dry body brush (available at most pharmacies) and really work your legs from the ankles to your hips and for your arms, from the wrists to your underarms, and don’t forget the bingo wings, give ‘em a little extra love!

Daily brushing is great for alleviating cellulite, increasing circulation and just general skin appearance, I don’t always have the time or remember but when it does come out, I make these times really count!

Step two: Plough your hand into the Ren tub (don’t be shy) and take a large handful of the rich salty mixture, now dry rub this all over your body, and scrub all that dead skin away. Jump into a  shower or climb into a hot bath.
I tend to epilate my legs, but the best finish we all know is achieved with a sharp razor. I don’t muck around with foams etc, I use L’Occitane Almond oil shower wash. And it works wonders, keeps you well moisturised while a further layer is scraped off. Now for the last moisture surge post your renewal, for this I can’t recommend Future proof Mio firming body butter enough – This is caviar for your skin.

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Adding the colour: The trick to faking it is in the product, when you apply it, and how you apply it, so to avoid streaking. My advice is to wait a night after you’ve buffed and smooth your skin before applying your self tan.
I shower again in the morning and then dry off. I grab the Future Proof Mio to cover your knees, elbows, wrists, hands and neck – cause tanned palms and streaky wrists are not a good look!

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Then I take my ever faithful San Tropez Mousse and mit. Apply sparingly and always to the body, not the mit, just use the mit to blend like you would a foundation. Use a hair dryer to set and then you’re ready for the day, and pretty much the whole of summer sorted if you keep topping up with the San tropez everyday moisturiser. Happy bronzing!

Let us know if you have any other beauty tips, self-tan stories or products you love – we’d love to hear your comments below.

 

Love, Loss, Letting go and life in Lagos : Nicole Mansour

In South Africa she’s known as Nicole Fox, however, 7 years ago the vivacious and much-loved radio presenter and ‘it’ girl left her home country and everything she knew to followed her heart further north on the African continent to Lagos. Now wife to Ramzi and mom to Deen, Nicole Mansour explains how giving it all up has helped define who she really is.

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If you met Nicole 7 years ago she was a self-confessed career woman firmly entrenched in her (very successful) profession as a journalist in entertainment media. As with many of us, she was defined by what she did, juggling a full-time radio presenting career as well as freelance television presenting, voice over artist gigs, corporate MC-ing and Club DJ-ing. She describes her past job as incredible and says she loved every second of her career. She was able to travel the world interviewing movie stars and traveled her home country a few times over doing work in a field that she was absolutely passionate about, and giving her the opportunity to meet so many interesting people. But after meeting her husband and after almost a year of dating long-distance they got engaged and they decided that Nicole would make the move to Lagos, Nigeria, as that is where her husband’s business interests are. She laughs saying, “It wasn’t an easy thing to do but was the most logical step to take – the things we do for love right?

Giving up her career, moving countries, leaving behind everything she knew and loved and redefining who she is took some work. But now, after living in Nigeria as a stay-at-home mom she says,”she happily and confidently introduces herself as a fellow human being.”

“I’m a mom passionate about being present for every single moment with my three-year-old son, a wife thrilled to laugh and love with my husband, a friend madly-crazy about my divine friends all over the world and a woman endeavoring to leave my mark of kindness and service with those around me, I no longer define myself by what I do but rather by who I am.”

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On Moving countries
“The move and adjustment was challenging on many levels and it certainly took me a long time to get used to how things work in Lagos. Giving up my career, home, friends, family and all things familiar in one shot was tough. I had a bit of a difficult time at first as my mom passed away soon after I moved to Lagos and then I fell pregnant with my son right after that, so those two events brought about quite an emotional time for me. Of course it was difficult being away from my family, especially then, but luckily my husband has some family here which does help. Having a child as an expat was probably easier for me as it gave me a network to access via playgroups, schools and other moms. Lagos also has its own rhythm and only once you tap into that do you find things to flow much smoother.”

On Lagos
“Lagos really is a hustling, bustling, frenetic city with all sorts of quite unbelievable things coming your way. I spend my days dealing with issues such as power, generators, diesel, water, and other supply issues. I look after my son and the household and make sure everything is running smoothly. Lagos has definitely taught me to roll with the punches because the most inexplicable things happen here that one just has to learn to navigate with grace. I have been involved for many years in a charity organization called Small World in which a group of female volunteers rally support from up to 35 different country women’s groups to stage an annual festival and stage production, full proceeds of which go to supporting Nigerian charities. It’s the most satisfying, rewarding and fun experience working with such dynamic women and I have received the most unbelievable support from these friends. We have a very cosmopolitan society here, a diverse expat community and it’s wonderful meeting people from all over the world. Because everything is so intense, one makes really tight friendships in a very short space of time. I am lucky to have the most awesome tribe of women as my friends; we have become each other’s family. However, Lagos is also very transient as expats move on either to new destinations or back to their home countries so one also has to get used to saying goodbye very often. It is probably a very concentrated lesson in extreme love and loss and certainly in ‘letting go’.”

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On missing South Africa
“I miss my family and friends of course although thank goodness for technology and social media which makes staying in touch much easier. I also do miss the convenience of shops like Woolworths where you can just get pretty much whatever you want whenever you want. Availability of products here has improved a lot however there is still a lot we can’t get and grocery shopping takes a lot of planning and a lot of time as imported items are only flown in once a week. One learns to live with much less and appreciate more – which is a good thing!”

On motherhood
“My son teaches me something new every single day but the most profound lesson I have learnt from him has been to truly understand appreciate and live in the present moment. He is a beacon of light in my life because he always brings me back to simply loving being ‘in the moment’ with him. I sometimes think he is more my teacher than I am his.”

There have, of course, been some first-time mom challenges, Nicole explains, “I suffered quite a bit of post-natal depression after my son’s birth, I think largely due to losing my mom so recently before that on top of the stresses that come with being a first-time mum in a foreign location. Thank goodness I have such a supportive husband who really helped me to heal in a holistic way. I started with exercise and looking after my nutrition and after that I started to socialize more when I joined, and volunteered at, a playgroup with my son. On a lighter side there were some funny moments too, such as me having to walk kilometers home in my trusty pair of Havaianas due to the traffic being completely gridlocked one afternoon so that I could make it home in time for bathtime. Or the three months I bathed him in heated mineral water due to a nasty stomach bug he picked up – never a dull moment!”

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On fashion, style and shopping (all the important stuff!)
“Due to the heat and relaxed nature of life here my style is now almost exclusively casual. I no longer own warm clothes as we spend South African summers in Johannesburg and Cape Town with my family and European summers in Beirut and Dubai with my husband’s family. I do most of my shopping when I travel abroad which we do about four times a year during school holidays. There is a lot of local shopping available here in the markets, amazing fabrics and some incredibly talented tailors to do up whatever you want.” Nicole explains that negotiating is very much part of the deal, “It took me a very long time to gain the confidence to negotiate and I’m still not particularly good at it. I just go in with a price in my mind of what I’m prepared to pay for the item and I try not to go over that.” She has also renovated two of their homes already using local carpenters and upholsterers sating that she’s definitely gravitated towards the colours and and styles of African designs.

Nicole and her husband, Ramzi, are also investors in the African fashion brand Kisua, an online retail environment which showcases the continent’s brightest design talent, She winks saying that, “I would say that if you’d like to do some shopping you should visit our online store!”

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If you visit Lagos …

  1. Lekki Market – it’s the quintessential Nigerian market shopping experience. You can find just about anything here from jewelry to bags to clothes, furniture, baskets, art and other home items plus vegetables and groceries.
  2. The Legacy group’s Wheatbaker Hotel in Ikoyi for a fabulous massage followed by the best cappuccino in town.
  3. The Sky Bar on the top floor of the Eko Hotel next to Bar Beach for a bird’s eye view of Victoria Island plus the new Eko Atlantic development project which is turning part of the Atlantic Ocean into a megacity complete with residential and business properties, schools and hospitals. It’s quite unbelievable to think this land was once ocean!
  4. Alara fashion and design store in Victoria Island which houses fashions, furniture and accessories from all over Africa and the world in an entirely modern and chic building.
  5. Izanagi Restaurant for the best sushi in town, our regular date night resto.

On the Lust-have List ❤ Lace-up flats!

I’m all tangled up over lace-up ballet flats!

I know they’ve been around since Spring when Michael Kors paraded his Kallie leather lace-up flats in a perfect monochrome look, but I was far too wrapped up in airing my toetsies and the lace-up open-toed cousin to give these beauties a glance – well I’m looking with great wide eyes now!
While the classic ballet pump is a staple in most well-curated footwear collections, this season’s version are a fun and chic upgrade with their lace-up detail and a contemporary addition that can be worn with dresses, skirts, shorts and denims – erm, most thing really.
Plus, they are the perfect shoes to continue the walk into a new season, even more reason to get them right?

The most popular of the season seem to be the Aquazzura, (seen on pretty much every blog and intagram account as well as Hollywood’s elite – which must say something) but if you’re looking at a little less of an investment, then there are loads of high-street and online options too. Check out Topshop, Freepeople, Asos, Stuart Weitzman and River Island, you’re sure to find a pair that takes your fancy and suits your pocket too.

Here are some of my favourites… (be sure to let me know if you’ve found some others that you like!)

Daniele Michetti leather flatsAquazzura ‘Christy’ leopard-print flat; Lille Lace-up point, BodenKingdom Ghillie pointed shoes, TopshopFickle Ghillie Flats, Topshop, Aquazzura Belgravia Suede flatIsabel Marant ‘Leo ankle-wrap’ flatsAquazzura Belgravia suede stud flatsLana Lace-up flat, ASOS

 

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Reflecting white

Just before heading east to Hong Kong, I managed a few more shoots in the beautiful city of Paris. With the backdrop of such an architecturally rich city it inspires one to “up ones game” and look chic even if in a pair of denims (did I mention how much I love a pair of denims?)

I also love this summer’s all-white trend and I’ve longingly looked at the white denims in store and lusted after a pair, but each time I’ve slipped them on, they just don’t look right on me. So, instead I’ve found myself a light grey pair that I’m more comfortable in and works with summer’s lights ‘n whites – with the added help of these voguish Spartan sandals from IRO of course (totally obsessed with them).
I’ve been able to mix and match these denims with almost everything and cheat on the all-white look too. So, if like me, you love the idea of summer whites but can’t bring yourself to wear an actual pair of white denims, then go for the next best option!

Be sure to follow me on Instagram, I’ll be wearing them and those cute Spartans loads this month as part of my forced-super-edited-capsule-wardrobe!

Leave your comments, I’d love to hear from you.

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Palais Royal, Paris, June 2015

WEARING
Blouse, Berenice
Denims, H&M
Metropolis Handbag, Furla
Spartan Shoes, IRO
Time Necklace and gold Ring, Aime Bijou
Silver disk ring, Cole Jewellery
Santos de Cartier Galbée watch, Cartier

Photos by Jonathan Jones

Forcing a W’robe Detox

If you’ve been following me on Instagram you may have seen that I’ve moved.

Yup, across the globe. I’ve changed apartment, city, country, continent, culture and time zone and now officially call Hong Kong home!

As a family, this is our third move in under 5 years, and with each move I find myself detoxing my wardrobe! There is obviously a lot of other stuff that goes with moving half way across the world, but this seems like the most relevant for me today, as I sit in the same pair of denims I’ve been wearing for the last 3 weeks already (they have been in the laundry in between of course!) I am really surviving on a super-edited “Capsule Wardrobe”.

At the end of every season I do find myself purging my closet. It’s an opportunity to reinvent your fashion-self, get out of a style-rut and reassess the clothes you own so that you show off your best parts – plus it’s extremely therapeutic and strangely cathartic. (and I ALSO have IKEA catalogue images stuck in my mind of what my cupboard should look like that motivates me!)

And so, in light of my more recent required detox, I’ve decided to blog especially for the style-hoarders out there who like to hold onto the ‘it’s too tight LBD in your cupboard that’s too tight, that sheer blouse from 1996 that might come back into fashion and the scuffed heels that you’ve worn to death but are keeping for sentimental reasons … toss, chuck and ditch them!

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You’ll soon find that there’s nothing better than liberating your wardrobe from the clothing shackles that leave us groaning, “I have nothing to wear”.

Here are a few tips to help you make-over your closet…

You haven’t touched it for 2 seasons: You wore it, lurve it and can’t bare the thought of throwing it out, but every time you try it on it doesn’t feel, look or fit right – Get. Rid. Of. It. As new fashion fills our cupboards and the old items become out of date you’re less likely to every wear it again, ever.

They don’t fit anymore: Really? You’re holding onto those denims that you wore when you were 18, thinking that when you get back to the gym you’ll definitely wear them again, er, as you’ve heard (over and over and over) in those lyrics … “Let It Go” and go buy yourself a fiercly sexy new pair that you’ll actually wear.

They’re sentimental: While there’s nothing wrong with holding on to that sequined tutu you wore to that fabulous party or the fishnet tights and tiara ensemble you sported at your hen’s party – you’re less likely to wear them everyday, so they should be relegated to a special box or draw and kept for the next dress-up party.

Now organize: Once you’ve chucked out everything you’re no longer using, the best thing you can do is to rearrange your wardrobe. How you decide to do this will depend largely on your lifestyle – perhaps try putting all trousers together, shirts, dresses and so on, or divide your items into colours or separate all work attire from weekend getup. When you group things together you’ll soon realize what you have too many of – maybe you’re obsessed with the perfect pair of blue denims or white shirt. I like to use slimmer hangars so I can hang more items rather than folding them – this way I’m able to see more things right in front of me than digging in a draw.

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Compartmentalise and group accessories, belts and even underwear. Take photos of your shoes, stick them on the front of the boxes so you can find them quicker, or I like to group shoes together – park sneakers, every day flats and heels (coz I ain’t wearing sequined heels to the park!) Now, it’ll seem as if you have a whole new selection of stuff to wear (and be closer to that IKEA dream-robe) and you’ll be able to identify any gaps in your collection. Now it’s time to…

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Go shopping: Right, so you’ve ditched and tossed, you’ll need some new buys to feed your famished wardrobe! Through de-cluttering you’ll probably notice what you really love – the pieces you can’t live without. Mine tend to be denims and tops, let’s call these your Essentials, the cornerstones of your wardrobe. They’re the items you’ll always keep buying. Now that you know this, you can build a more versatile and effective wardrobe and from here add some statement pieces.

Let’s talk statement pieces: Quality vs quantity, I’m not saying you can’t be buying those 3 for 1 tees, but when we’re adding statement items then it’s probably best to find items that get you a little tingly, even if the price tag makes you rash a little. The high quality items will stand the test of time and you’ll also think about whether you really want it, which will give you more satisfaction when wearing it.

And remember, as Project Runway’s Tim Gunn’s says “If something comes in, something has to come out!” Good luck and let me know your thoughts or questions below.

On the Lust-have List ❤ Summer Sunnies!

The sun is out and I need a large sunglass draw – one that opens up and displays all your sunglasses neatly in rows, so that I’d be able to clearly see which ones I should be wearing with each day’s outfit!

Instead, my sunnies are dropped into their boxes and dumped in a draw with a whole lot of other accessories that I have to riffle through to find the pair that I want!

All those dreams of my perfect wardrobe, sigh.

In the meantime I’m extending that dream to fit all of these new pairs of delicious shades (this dream is getting more and more grand ain’t it?!)
It doesn’t take too much to zing up a seemingly bland outfit, and yes, I definitely have many of these days. I like to jazz it up with a pair of sunglasses (in fact I’m a sucker for a new pair!). Sunglasses + an accessory or two + a favourite handbag et voila can anyone say celebrity style?!

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Have a little fun with this season’s shapes and colours, most of the season’s shapes will transport you to decades past (think 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and 80’s … Bet you’ll have pics of your mom in the same shades!) and is sure to make you feel ‘high-fashion’ even in your regular denims and Tee! (Also, be sure to click on the highlighted links which will take you to some of my looks with this season’s sunglass shapes).

Here are some of my favourite shape suggestions to get you through those long, *really tough* sunny summer days…

  • Mirrored lenses to get your 80’s Miami Vice on – perfect for a check-me-back selfie! I’m sure Posh will agree with her first Victoria Beckham aviator collection, or get yourself the shape-of-the-season, SoReal from Dior as seen on almost every fashionista!
  • Retro bug-eye 70’s flashback anyone? Get the look with big round shapes as seen at Saint Laurent Paris and Miu Miu, or choose the more rebellious Chloe’s with a slight hexagonal frame.
  • Rimless, semi-rimless or cut-off sunglasses are also an option and I personally love them especially Mui Mui’s black framed ones.
  • The Cat-eye frame. Born out of the 50’s and 60’s when they were teamed with the Beehive – at least we won’t have to spend too long in the hair department to feel a little retro.
  • Over-sized, why not feel like a celeb for a day or two hiding from the paparazzi? Best done with Valentino’s Mask-aviator shades, I love the gradient lenses that soften the look too.
  • Bling it up with embellished flowers seen at Dolce & Gabbana, add an Aperol Spritz and you’ll feel like you’re on the Italian Riviera!
  • Throw a little colour into the mix with a bright frame, or a printed frame like Thierry Lasry’s collection for Fendi (these are certainly on the top of my “Sale-Must-Have-List!)
  • Fendi’s Iridia graphic frame with their embellished tips and Cat-eye shape is the perfect mix of modern and retro and they come in loads of different combinations. Have fun and good luck choosing!

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5 things to do in Palma, Mallorca

Last month my 2 boys and husband spent a few days in Mallorca enjoying the sun, beaches and Spanish way of life. We stayed on the beachy, resort-filled side of the Island but drove south to Palma de Mallorca for one day to see what the capital has to offer.

I was pleasantly surprised to find a beautiful, sophisticated and stylish coastal city bustling with tourists and locals alike. The city sits on the edge of the Mediterranean and overlooks its sparkling azure waters with palm trees dotted all over and is as picture-perfect as what I’d seen in internet photos before arriving.

It reminded me a little of Barcelona with it’s dusty coloured walls, colossal Cathedral (although this one is actually finished!) and narrow intimate lanes of the old city and there is the exciting fusion of relaxed beach life mixed with energetic city life as in Barcelona.

An assortment of Havaianas and heels, a hustle and bustle of the employed alongside cafes brimming with holiday-makers wiling away the time sipping on cocktails in the sun. Our time was very sort in the capital so there was no exploring the night-life for us, but I’ll be sure to go back sometime to experience what I hear is a very vibrant bar scene after dark.

In the meantime, here are my top five daylight (read kid-friendly) favourites…

The Cathedral of Santa Maria of Palma is not somewhere that you’d have to seek out, it’s an immense Gothic structure that sits atop the former citadel of the Roman City and cannot be missed. It is 121 meters long, 55 meters wide and its nave reaches 44 meters tall (which is taller than that of Notre Dame and Reims cathedrals) making you feel pretty small in its shadow. This truly impressive cathedral sits on the edge of the water boasting spectacular making ocean views.
There is lots of bustle going on around the cathedral, horse rides, souvenir sellers and oodles of tourists making it a fun and festive atmosphere to meander around and just opposite the Cathedral is the Royal Palace of La Almudaina. We took an audio-guided tour of the palace learning that it was originally built as an Arabian Fort, and still has Arab bath relics, it was later claimed as the official Royal residence in the 14th century and is still used by the royal family for state receptions and ceremonies when they visit Mallorca – so it is still very much a working palace. The courtyard is great to hang around imagining life as a royal as well as good place for kids to have a small run, jump and climb without being reprimanded by museum officials – whew!

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2. Meandering through the narrow lanes of the old city is the best way to explore. Not far from the Cathedral and Palace is the old Arab Quarter, made up of a maze of streets concealing government buildings, courtyards, galleries and museums. I kept wondering what was behind all the beautifully embellished and huge wooden doors with over-sized brass knockers, I envision secret gardens and beautiful apartments. The streets are mostly cobblestoned and traffic-free making a slow amble á pied the easiest way to experience all the details. There are beautiful examples of Spanish architecture all over the metropolis crossing over centuries from the Arab baths, Gothic churches, Medieval houses, Baroques facades, modernist touches by Anton Gaudí (father of Catalan Modernism architecture mainly found in Barcelona), modern sculptures and a huge mural by Joan Miró at the Parc del Mar. In fact Miró spent 30 years living on the island and you can visit the foundation devoted to his works in the city too. We could’ve spent a few days meandering around the city exploring all the architecture, museums, parks and galleries. The whole place is very sightseer friendly and you can find tourism offices with plenty of information and ideas on what to do and how to explore.

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3. Eat and eat often. We hadn’t done much ‘googling’ on where to go or what to do in Palma, so we randomly chose café’s and restaurants that looked lovely from the outside (oh yes, and kid friendly), although the Spanish in general are very accommodating to children and they are made to feel welcome anywhere. The Capital is swarming with places to eat, some look more traditional than others, but you can find restaurants, café’s and tapas bars – there are even old converted wine cellars specializing in Mallorcan fare and of course Michelin Starred restaurants, basically something for any palette.

I expect that most of the places are as good as the ones we chose. We had a wonderful lunch at Mari-Lin, where we tried a few delectable specialties. Most places serve a lunch menu for a set price, there will be the dish of the day with an entrée and/or dessert – always a good way to discover new dishes and generally a more cost effective way to have a two or three course meal.
My Spanish is not much to write about, however I did learn to ask for two things; an Aperol Spritz (a refreshing mix of Aperol liquor, Cava and sparkling water – okay so the word is universal, I guess not much Spanish needed here!) and a Cortado (a short espresso with milk) – both of which are delicious!
Throughout our day we had lunch, coffees, drinks and ice creams all at different places – just an excuse to try the local cuisine, sit-down to enjoy the view as well as to people watch and soak in the Palma atmosphere. When in Spain right?

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4. Take a walk along Passeig del Borne. The city’s most important shopping hub, nicknamed the Golden Mile of Palma, a beautiful tree-lined avenue creating a canopy from the sun. In the center of the avenue there are little café’s and along the edges you’ll find loads of luxury (Hugo Boss, Louis Vuitton, Caroline Herrera, Mulberry) as well as high street stores (H&M, Zara, Benetton, Massimo Dutti, C&A). I especially loved the hues of this avenue, the buildings that flank the avenue are painted in all different shades perhaps apartments with their flower boxes hanging from the balconies. They look like scoops of sorbet ice-cream sitting beside each other all with contrasting stained shutters. This promenade has been home to many demonstrations and fiestas over the centuries and still remains the heart of city life hosting many music and dance parties throughout the year.

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5. Buy yourself a little souvenir. It might be a little silly and even if it’s something inexpensive it’s often nice to keep or to take snaps and add into your photo album – we found a fan along the way which kept our kids very busy and has made it into the album. There are loads of little stores, boutiques, markets and souvenir shops in the town that sell Mallorcan keepsakes, such as magnets, jewellery, espadrilles and fans. Wooden children’s toys are very popular as well as dried flowers used as table decorations. You’ll easily find artists and artisans selling original paintings and handicrafts dotted around the main sites.
The Island is well-known for glassblowing dating back to the 2nd century and well as pottery and ceramics, leather goods and production of artificial peals – all of which you can find in markets and ateliers. If you’re into local flavours and produce then grab yourself some Mallorcan delicacies such as nuts in honey, herb Liqueurs or packed sobrassada (sausage) or visit one of the many local produce stores and markets to find other local favourites.

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If you’ve visited Palma or are from this beautiful city please add some of your favourite places – I’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions.

 For so much more info on Palma de Mallorca visit the tourist city site http://www.seemallorca.com/palma