Style: Delicate Silver Jewellery

I've been searching for some simple silver jewellery for months and I can't believe it's taken me so long to check out the offerings on Etsy. For my birthday last year, I got these gorgeous pieces from Elephantine, and this afternoon, I've added a few more of Rachel's beautiful pieces to my wish list.

I like to wear simple silver jewellery to the office - currently my Links Sweetie bracelet and Tiffany teardrop necklace - but I want to add a couple of rings to the mix. Nothing I've seen has been small enough (I want some tiny, delicate bands) but good old Etsy has saved the day. I now just need to decide which to buy!

FavorJewelry Sterling Silver Droplet Rings (sold separately), £10.47

Oh, and a bracelet for good measure!

What kind of jewellery do you like to wear?


Body: Running

You don't have to go far to find someone whose list of new year's resolutions includes a commitment to exercise more. Over the past eight months, I've steadily built up a running routine which I've grown to love, and last week, I was so looking forward to heading out after work that even the wind and rain didn't put me off! It made me realise how far I've come in such a short time, and for those of you thinking about running in the new year, I can't encourage you more.

The trick is to start gently and build up your pace and distance over time. Although it can be frustrating, you won't be able to run a marathon overnight, so stick with it! There are countless running guides out there but this is a great place to start. I'm not a big fan of training with someone else, but Twitter has proved a great motivator. The fab ladies of the unofficial Twitter running club - @DANRIPEL, @NotesByJo, @LouOHare and @LdBackSecretary - are always there to motivate whenever I feel like skipping a session: thanks girls!

Starting to run outside at this time of the year can be challenging: it's tricky to motivate yourself when it's cold and dark, so a good playlist is imperative! Here are a few of my favourites that keep me going even when the rain's pouring. Saying that, if it starts snowing, just pass the Quality Street...

Drake ft. Rihanna - Take Care

Swedish House Mafia - One (Your Name)

Rihanna ft Calvin Harris - We Found Love

Cygnus X - Superstring

Kaskade ft DeadMau5 - Move for Me

Protoculture - Sun Gone Down

What are your favourite tracks to keep you motivated?


Inspiration: Colour Pop

Looking back on blog posts past, I've noticed a theme: everything is dark and dreary: bad Rachel. Perhaps that's suited my mood a bit this year, but 2012 needs to start with a pop, and to be specific, a colour pop! In future, you have permission to call me out when I slip into my 'but I love wearing black' comfort zone!

So, here goes: whack on your sun glasses for a little bit of my 2012 style and interiors inspiration:

Mary Katranzou's entire A/W 2011 show

Because this woman does colour and clashing like nobody else

Graham & Green and Missoni Home

I really can't justify £295 on a floor cushion, but if I stick to my resolutions, I may be making my own :)

Brights in the Boardroom

Because next year, black just ain't cutting it. This cute Christopher Kane number will keep everyone awake in even the most boring of meetings!

I'd team it with some beautiful blue jewellery like this YSL ring...

And then when the headache kicked in from all that colour, I'd check myself into the Amangiri resort in Utah to swathe myself in the comfort blanket of neutrality!

How beautiful does that resort look? I need to win the lottery...

Images: Christopher Kane dress and YSL ring - net-a-porter.com, Amangiri resort - amanresorts.com, Missoni cushion - amara.com, Graham & Green chair - grahamandgreen.co.uk, Mary Katranzou runway - style.com


Style: Winter Sale Shopping - What I *Hope* To Buy

Boxing day sales. The traffic's a nightmare, the queues are even worse, and the rails are packed with all the things you gasped at in horror the previous season. So what is it that lures me there, year on year? Well, last year, I made a breakthrough and now, I find myself excitedly wondering what I'll get my hands on this time around.

But as we know, the road to hell is paved with good intentions, so this year, I thought it'd be fun to pull together a list of things I hope to buy, and then compare it with what I actually come back with. This could either be a triumph of good planning which will leave me smugly satisfied, utterly depressing when I return with nothing, or a complete eye-opener/waste of money when I buy the opposite of what I thought I wanted.

So, here goes:


Last year, I got a fabulous pair of Goldsign skinnies which I've lived in for the past 12 months. I got them from Selfridges for £100 (down from £265 - bargain). It'll be the first stop for me this year and I'm hoping for a pair from Hudson, Paige, Citizens of Humanity, Goldsign or Mother.

Paige jeans: selfridges.com

A Bit of Leather

I love me some leather. My beloved Theory shorts and ASOS trousers get far more outings than is appropriate for someone who isn't a member of a Whitesnake tribute band, and I'm looking to add to the collection. Zara have a couple of beautiful soft leather jackets at the moment, which I've tried on more times than I can count. Something always holds me back, so if I can pick up one that looks like a good buy, I may just be tempted. A well tailored dress and some studded accessories will never be turned down either.

Leather jacket: zara.com

Some Classic Courts

As I work in quite a formal office, a good pair of black heels never go amiss. They're not especially exciting, but give me enough height on the heel, and I can't argue with a classic. I'm not sure I'll be buying Louboutins, but I feel obliged to give you something pretty to look at :)

Black Louboutins: net-a-porter.com

And Something Showy

Some days, the black shoes just don't cut it, and who doesn't need a bit of Charlotte Olympia in their life?

Satin Charlotte Olympia pumps: net-a-porter.com


My style in the office is generally very tailored. I like an elegant, hourglass silhouette, and tend to favour pencil skirts and dresses, or sharply cut suits. Zara, LK Bennett and Whistles are my favoured workwear destinations, and I'm hoping to stock up on some chic dresses to take me through to summer.

Davina dress: lkbennett.com

A Cute Clutch

I'm desperate for a new clutch that's big enough to hold everything I need for a night out (the older I get, the more I want to take out with me!) Something classic with a bit of an edge is what I'm hoping for!
Alexander McQueen clutch: net-a-porter.com

So, that's what I want. Now let's see what I end up with! What are you hoping to buy?


Beauty: Shopping the Stash

Dear Readers, I'm a beauty blogger in crisis. I'm on a make up purchase embargo. 'How does that work?' you ask. It works when you walk into the Selfridges beauty hall and think that it's basically a better organised, staffed version of your own collection.

A couple of weeks ago, my lovely friends Hannah and Laura came to visit, and after Strictly Come Dancing, a bottle of champagne and several more of lovely wine, I pulled out the make up and commenced the makeovers. It's been years since I've done this, and it was a heck of a lot of fun. What was even more exciting for me was the list of products each of them left with, and that H especially was so delighted with her dark eye/nude lip combo that it became her Twitter profile picture (check her out @Jegon_Scott: and yes, I'm quite pleased with my handiwork, but then she was a beauty to start with!) I tried three very different looks on each of them, and it barely scratched the surface of what I own. It was at this point I decided that I needed to shop my stash, and in doing so, I uncovered some interesting themes:

1. I own seven, seven eyeshadows in what can only be described as 'peacock' shades. I am pale and like neutrals. I have never worn any of these eyeshadows, nor will I. They went straight into the bin.

2. My weakness is blusher. I have copious creams and powders, all in pretty much the same shade. I want to like creams, but the fact that most remain only slightly used suggests that powders are the way forward for me.

3. I'm a sucker for foundation, but since using face oil, I don't need it during the day. I'm therefore left with a lot: all expensive and too pale to pass on to friends. Bugger.

4. If ever I forget my eyeliner, I buy a new one. I like Rimmel's kohl the best. I have eight that I'm half way through, which means I could put one in all my handbags, and thus never have an excuse to forget them. I probably won't do this, so logic suggests I'll have 16 this time next year.

5. I repurchase Clinique's City Block SPF 40 the most of any make up product. Because I always buy a new one before the old one runs out, I have three tubes with a single application left. I'll probably get round to using these once the current tube runs out...

6. I like lipstick, but I never wear it. I own a lot. I think this means I need never buy lipstick again. Maybe.

7. Every lipgloss I've ever bought is exactly the same shade as MAC's Big Baby but none are as good. The only one that gets close is by Kiko which I used to buy in Palma. Thank goodness they've opened at Westfield, as it's a long way for a cute pout.

So, the aim after the initial cull is to work through my stash until it's perfectly edited and contains only the things I actually use. And, future self, trying something once does not qualify as a use: you've been warned! You may remember this, and how I covet a streamlined routine more than anything. It's nice to have a goal, however unrealistic :) And now for my current make up bag!

Clockwise from top left: Rimmel ScandalEyes mascara in Black, Estee Lauder Automatic Brow Duo in Soft Blonde, Estee Lauder Double Wear Eyeliner in Black and Brown (I only use the Black end), Liz Earle Skin Tint in Light, MUA eyeshadow in Matte, Bobbi Brown Creamy Concealer in Porcelain, Rimmel Blush in Santa Rose, Bobbi Brown Corrector in Light Bisque.

Am I happy with the current selection? Hmm, pretty much. The two Rimmel purchases were from a day when - quelle horreur - I forgot my make up bag. The blush, I absolutely love, and will definitely repurchase. It's a gorgeous sandy, peachy shade which looks perfect just under the apple of the cheek. The mascara? Not so much. I tried this on a whim as I used to be a big Rimmel mascara fan, but over the past few years, Maybelline just edged them. I'm looking forward to this running out so I can finally buy Colassal Cat Eyes and rekindle my Maybelline love. The Bobbi Brown concealer and corrector are by far my favourite concealer combo ever (a review will be coming up soon). I'm telling myself I have to use up my old Armani and MAC products eventually, but really, it'll be a cold dead hands situation when it comes to my Bobbi stuff. The MUA shadow is a pretty plain shade, but it's so wearable for daytime and hello, £1?! Sign me up! The Liz Earle Skin Tint I *love* (what a surprise: Rachel likes a Liz Earle product!) and this could be a serious contender for the crown currently held by Clinique City Block. The Estee Lauder brow and eyeliner were both gifts from my Mum, and the brow pencil is a definite repurchase. As for eyeliner, well, I've got all those Rimmel ones to work through...

This has turned into a bit of an epic post, but you can understand how I need to share on the challenging subject of the make up embargo. 'I'm Rachel, and I'm addicted to make up'. Now altogether, 'Hi Rachel...'


Beauty: Slicker Than Your Average

It would be no exaggeration to say that I'm obsessed with oil products. Obsessed. As I'm currently on a make up purchasing embargo - more on that tomorrow - I'm seeking solace in all things skin and hair care. And when it comes to these glistening amber potions, who am I to refuse?

Since introducing an oil to my facial skincare routine, blemishes have become a thing of the past. Yep, even at *that* time of the month. It seems natural to conclude that skin prone to the occasional breakout is oily, and that adding more oil to the mix would be the last thing needed. I can't tell you how many times I'd see an article on facial oils that I'd read, re-read, read again, only to question a friend on it's efficacy with as many high-pitched 'really? Really?' moments as they'd tolerate. Not many, I can tell you. My long term favourite has been Liz Earle's Superskin Concentrate, but I recently scooped up The Sanctuary's Therapist's Secret Facial Oil during a 3 for 2 assault at Boots. So far, so impressive. I'm in love with the heady herbal scent of the Liz Earle version, but The Sanctuary's offering is a bargain at half the price of the full size LE oil (note: the LE oil in the pic is the travel size which is great for those wanting to try without committing).

Hair oil has become ubiquitous this year, almost to the point that I don't know how we functioned before it. I had long been dedicated to my Sunday hair ritual of coating it in olive oil, wrapping it in cling film and hoping that nobody popped over for an unscheduled visit, but the thought of using an oil pre-heat styling had me terrified that my hair would end up dry and fried rather than sleek and silky. In a not-unexpected revelation, hair oil wins my can't-live-without award as it's totally transformed my tresses. I'm a big fan of Shu Uemura, but when this bottle runs out, I have a few products with my name on them. The bottle second from left on the image above is my most beloved oil - Phytonectar - which was sadly discontinued this year. On learning this, I promptly ran to the local chemist and bought their entire stock, begging them to call their supplier to see if they had more (they didn't: sob). Phyto, if you're reading this, bring it back, please!

As for body, I alternate between Neutrogena Body Oil which is a beautifully rich, unfragranced sesame oil, and The Sanctuary's Massage and Body Oil, which is the usual concoction of potent ginger and spices, so perfect for winter. Both are incredibly reasonable, so there's no excuse for dry skin.

Now, I know what you're thinking: that's a lot of oil (and I haven't even mentioned the Rituals and Jo Malone bath ones!) You might be thinking it's enough to keep me greased up for a lifetime, especially now you know about my Phyto stockpile. Predictably, it's not enough, and I have my eye on some beauties to purchase in the new year:

1. Kerastase Elixir Ultime - Featured in The Bazaar Hot 100 Beauty List and that bottle is just what's missing from my dressing table

2. Moroccan Oil - Everyone who's tried this raves about it. It's this or the Kerastase. Or both...

3. REN Moroccan Rose Otto Bath Oil and Ultra Moisture Body Oil - It smells utterly divine and will be perfect for balmy holiday evenings

Do you use oil products in your beauty routine, and most importantly, what our your recommendations so I can add them to my shopping list :)


Reflection: Looking Back, Walking Ahead

It seems 2011 has been a whirlwind for everyone. For me, it began with uncertainty and ends with a desire to put into practise all the lessons of the year. One very significant chapter came to an end, and I feel like this year has been about learning how to be all over again. It's a bit of a surprise when that happens at 28/29 years old, but it's been both a challenge and a huge relief to let go of the reigns and just be.

Reflection comes as standard at this time of the year as resolutions to lose weight, learn a new skill, read more etc are scribbled down with vows that this year, we'll stick to them. I've had enough of setting myself up to fail, so here are my decidedly unambitious resolutions. You know what they say; aim low and you'll never be disappointed! :)

1. Now that I've finally given up my crusade to singlehandedly save books from extinction, I'll be stocking my new Kobo with all the classics I've been meaning to read, but never get around to lugging on the train. My cosy nights with Jane Austen have been a revelation!

2. Late nights with friends at various restaurants and bars across the capital will be replaced with cocktails and home cooking chez moi. I'm aiming for every dinner to look as inviting as the ones here.

3. I will get into a regular Shellac routine.

4. Although she'll need the patience of a saint, I'm hoping my lovely friend Al will teach me to quilt. This will be in exchange for the proposed fabulous food at resolution 2.

5. I'll grow my hair four inches for a summer of beachy waves.

6. I'm going to build the best capsule wardrobe known to man...and spend the savings made from not buying all the time on a bad-ass pair of Louboutins :)

7. Oh, and go on holiday more. The above photograph was taken last January in Palma. I need every month to look like that!

What are your new year's resolutions?


Style: The Alternative Bride

Although Christmas is just around the corner, the invitations for next year's weddings are already starting to land. The first date in my diary will require a bit of sari shopping - something I'm so excited for! The bride is anything but traditional, and will be eschewing the red typical of Indian weddings for something more 'her'. I've always known that, were I to get married, a big white dress certainly wouldn't be for me, but what would?

After spending the day swathed in a blanket and sneezing, I decided this distinctly unglamorous state needed a bit of something beautiful!

L'Wren Scott, £2430

Helmut Lang, £525

Ralph Lauren, £2850

Issa, £745

What would your dream dress be?

All images from net-a-porter.com

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