Wear It At Work: H&M workwear

While we may not be too excited about returning to work, the prospect of the new collections hitting the stores is something that definitely adds a bit of sparkle to the post-festive period. Updating my winter wardrobe with those first spring pieces is something that never fails to transport me to the time when the evenings are mild and light enough for post-work drinks by the river. A little way off, I know!

H&M have once again hit the perfect note with their tailoring: sharp and sophisticated with a bit of an edge. I'll be wearing this selection for the office with some chunky jewellery and a soft, smokey eye. For the weekends, the courts will be swapped out for ankle boots and the leather skirt paired with some soft, luxe knitwear. 

Clockwise from top left:


The Beauty Lite: what's in my makeup bag that I *love*

*disgruntled noise*

I can blame poor planning, indecision and hastiness (who knew they came together?), a peculiar life view on 'what's right for me' and a lack of technical savvy, but all bring us to the same point: I have been without the internet for three weeks, and look set to extend this for numerous weeks to come.

*frustrated noise*

So, I must embrace the Blogger app. On the train.

*fear of effort spent and wasted following potential failure of app, the possibility of which seems likely given the proliferation of average Blogger app reviews noise* (whatever that sounds like)

Anyway. I need to post and it needs to be now, so it's falls to writing about what's on me that I love.

1. Maxfactor Lipfinity lip tint in 01

This is the exact shade my lips should be and gets around the fact that all I've ever sought in life (lip-wise, at least) is a natural looking lip that's just a bloody great colour. Great for pale girls and anyone seeking a rosy pink pout. Will repurchase!

2. Nars American Dream eye shadow palette

L.O.V.E. This was a gift and I would *never* have picked a palette with a bluey-grey, brown, gold and pink yet I can't get enough of it. Maria V knows me better than I know myself! Get it!

3. Maybelline Colossal Cat Eyes mascara

If it's mascara and it's not Maybelline, I'm sceptical. For me, nobody does it better, and each new release is better than the last. Happy to admit I'll be selling out to the next brush/formulation but there's no maybe about it: it'll definitely be Maybelline!

4. Molton Brown Cheek Bloom in Peach

Another Maria V gift and love the natural glow. I don't even know if they still make this, but as I'm running out, it may be a good time to check!

And I called the 'The Beauty Lite'? *aching typing thumb noise*


Beauty: Birthday Presents

Apologies in advance, but this is a slightly gratuitous selection of makeup. Two of my very favourite people - Hannah and Maria - thought that my 30th birthday present couldn't be anything other than makeup, and boy, did they spoil me. Maria's weapon of choice was Nars - a brand I always find myself cooing over but one I've only ever bought foundation and lip colour from. Hannah surprised me yesterday with a trip to the Chanel pop up store in Covent Garden, where I had a manicure (my nails are in autumn colours: Frenzy to be precise), my makeup done by one of the artists and £45 to spend. I loved what was done so much that I spent an additional £50 to get my favourite things, and believe me, I could've spent more!

So, for your viewing pleasure, here are my birthday makeup treats. I've never had this many boxes all at once, and looking at it all lined up makes me feel very lucky indeed!

The beauty haul (see what I did there?) in all it's resplendent glory.

The compacts. Nars American Dream eyeshadow palette and Chanel bronzing power in Desert Coral

From left to right: Nars American Dream, Chanel Safari and Ivory

How beautiful are these colours? I can't wait to do a smokey eye with these shades. This is also my first Nars compact and I can't stop touching it: the rubberized packaging is divine.

Next, the Chanel monos. I was stunned at how beautiful the two looked together. The artist washed Ivory all over the lid and put Safari along the lashline from about half way across my eye and up through the crease about the same distance, then blended out. It's such a stunning day look, and one I'll be testing in the office tomorrow.

Now for the essence of luxe packaging. Hannah rightly noted that this bad boy is exactly what you want to pull out for touch-ups on the go!

This is perhaps the stand out product of the lot for me: the Chanel bronzing powder in Desert Coral. I asked the artist to concentrate on contouring if possible, as being very pale, I can never find a powder light enough to look natural. This is absolutely *perfect*, and has single-handedly revived my passion for Chanel makeup. Love the beautiful sand-scape on the powder, too.

A change from my usual black eyeliner: Chanel's Berry Precision Eye Definer.

There's a tiny bit of shimmer to really enhance the rich plum shade.

Moving on to nails with Nars' Storm Bird nail varnish. I adore the colour (it looks much more shiny on) but am sadly struggling with the texture. Three coats before it's opaque and it feels a little chalky. I'll persevere as it's too beautiful not to!

The final product has slipped very easily into daily use already: Nars' Velvet Gloss lip pencil in New Lover. This is a perfect natural, everyday pink and lasts really well, with all the shine of a gloss and none of the goop. I was stunned that this kind of texture could come from a pencil, and it's so handy to toss into your handbag. I anticipate many more purchases in various shades!

There are a few more skin products but these are the prettiest to behold. Thank you, girls, for making this a very beautiful birthday!


Beauty: Shavata Brow Tint and Shape Review

What is it about going on holiday that makes it so difficult to get back to your normal life? Two weeks of sun, sea and er, sleep (settle down: this isn't Fifty Shades of Grey, you know!) have somehow rendered me incapable of doing little more than wafting between work and home with the occasional stop-off for dinner somewhere delicious. It was my first two week summer holiday in years and the stress has been well and truly blitzed: hurrah to that!

Anyway, on to matters beauty, which is what I assume you're here for :) Last week, after a particularly brain-numbing meeting, after which it was clear that only something beautifying would soothe me, I wandered by House of Fraser on Oxford Street and spied the Shavata concession in its new spot by the window. I've been toying with tinting my brows for months, but given that I could lay my hands on nothing lighter than dark brown, I felt it was a task best left to the professionals. So, in I went!

The staff, as you'd expect, have immaculate brows, and I felt confident that they'd pay heed to my desire to keep my brows looking slightly fuller than the usual emaciated caterpillar that certain brow bars leave me with (*cough* *cough* Benito). The whole tinting and threading process took no more than 20 minutes, was pretty much pain-free, and although I thought they looked a little intense to start with, I'm completely delighted with the result. What do you think?

Excuse the serious face: I still wasn't quite sure how much I liked them when I took this!!

A shape and tint costs £30, and you can find your nearest counter here.


Style: A Cute Top, Skull-studded Ballerinas and a Pearl Ring

I love it when I have lots to write about and the time to write about them. There is nothing better than typing away, scheduling posts for the next few days, and generally feeling like maybe you're not as crap at this blogging lark as you suspect you might be *contented sigh*

So, what have I been buying? It's fair to say I've been on a serious purchasing sabbatical of late, and I can't quite pinpoint the reasons why. I've been trying to be less frivolous with money, and combined with what's seemed like a total lack of time, getting back into the shopping groove has proved challenging. All this changed when Mum took me shopping this weekend and insisted on helping me rediscover my mojo. Here are a few of my favourite new things:

I'm obsessed with skulls, and after I featured these Zara pumps in my 'Must Haves', well, I had to have them!

My birthday is fast approaching, and this gorgeous grey pearl ring from Links of London will mark the occasion. Hurry up, 17 August, and then I can wear it!

And finally, this adorable 'Little White Tank' from H&M (worn today for work with a little black pencil skirt!)


Nailed: Mavala The Elle Orange

I got this polish free with Elle magazine last year and I've never tried until this week: how had I not?! For some reason, I just didn't think it'd look great on, and yet here I am admiring my nails as I type, which means I'm having to go back and amend lots of poor spelling!

The reason for trying it now is that I'm on a bit of Mavala bender at the moment. I've fallen hook, line and sinker for the cuticle remover, and now I'm trialling the hardner in the hope of combating my slightly flaking tips (damn you, Seche Vite!)

The Elle Orange was created alongside the Elle Grey and Red to celebrate the magazine's birthday last year. I remember hoping for the grey, but as a subscriber, the choice was out of my hands. Maybe bitterness and resentment were factors in not trying it!

The Elle Orange is an intense red-orange, almost tomato-ey. It's the perfect summer pedicure shade.

Mavala's polishes all come in dinky 5ml bottles, because seriously, when have you ever run out of nail polish?

It's finished with Seche Vite, as always, which dries quickly and leaves your nails super glossy. The downside is that it does dry your nails, and some people have issues with Seche Vite's use of toulene. I won't reinvent the wheel as there are plenty of bloggers who've covered this issue at length.

Absolutely love this!

Unfortunately, as Elle Orange was a limited edition, it's no longer available. That said, it looks like their Nice polish would be a good substitute.

I'm so excited to try more of Mavala's shades. What are you favourites?


Style: The Friday Edit - Warehouse

Well butter my bottom and call me a biscuit.

(That's what I like to say when I'm pleasantly surprised by something)

Why the surprise? I've spent half an hour scanning websites to decide which brand I should feature for this week's TFE. I went to Topshop, Miss Selfridge and River Island, and found myself completely uninspired by clothes photographed against a white background and not on a model. Asos and net-a-porter.com have set the bar so high (I know they're only online so they need to make the most of the platform, but it works so well), that I have to question why other brands don't at least get a model to actually wear what they're trying to flog. I'm sure I'm not alone in feeling like this.

Anyway, that's not the point of this post. I ended up on the Warehouse site, and the frenzied click, click, save of so many images is what led me to the bottom-buttered biscuit situation (rest assured, the butter remains in the fridge: it's just an expression). I have not been into Warehouse in forever, and yet in my absence, it seems they've designed everything I've ever wanted. For example, I love leather. Hardly anyone on the high street has a decent selection of leather, yet Warehouse have some of the most beautifully stylish leather pieces I've seen since the world went cow-crazy a couple of seasons back and I spent months looking like something from an 80s tribute band.

So, this is something of a bloated edit. I'm telling myself that because Warehouse don't do shoes, you need to see double the amount of clothes. The rules have been broken, and I don't care. Warehouse: I'm in love.

Belted shirt dress, £65

Cross back leather top, £75

Floral shorts, £25 reduced from £45

Fringe panel leather skirt, £90 
Leather full skirt, £80

Long biker coat, £95

Micro pleat shirt, £48

Pleat panel leather dress, £140

Silk Ikat print jacket, £45

Simple clean shopper, £50

Stud front t-shirt, £40

Tejal scarf print skirt, £45

Zip back dress, £48

Zip back dress, £48

Zip pocket t-shirt, £18
I can't wait to go into Warehouse on my next shopping trip with my very long shopping list!


Haircare: Percy & Reed

How often do you find yourself wanting to change your hair but you just don't have the products to do it? Step forward, Percy & Reed and their mini Trend Kit!

From left to right: Volumising No Oil Oil, Bodifying Cream, Volumising Mousse, Texturising Spray, Dry Shampoo, Finishing Polish

The Texturising Spray and the Volumising Mousse aren't available in the kit, but there is a hairspray, which I used so quickly! All the products are available in full size, so you can buy the biggies if they're not included in the kit. 

The illustrations on the products are fabulous. I want to be her:

 And her on weekends:

Cute marketing ploys aside, how do the products perform? The Volumising No Oil Oil is by far my favourite product in the range. It says it's for fine hair, but it copes pretty well with my thick locks, boosting volume and leaving my hair lovely and glossy. I use this with a ball of the mousse and there is no stickiness at all: just great height.

I love this photo - the packaging really is just beautiful.

What I've loved about these products is that they're so easy to use, and so portable. I've had the Finishing Polish in my bag since day one and whip it out whenever touch-ups are required. The dry shampoo has been used in the same way, but it isn't a challenger for Batiste's crown. The main selling point for me is that this kit is the perfect introduction to salon-performance products, that you may not use on an everyday basis, and all for £20 (see note above: not everything photographed here is in the asos kit). It's perfect for holidays, and perfect for when you just fancy a bit of a change.

Percy & Reed have also produced some brilliant demo videos to help you along in creating your new 'do. Here's the perfect blow dry made easy:

The kit is available here for £20 and you can view the rest of the videos here.


Style: Best of Autumn/Winter 2012

It's coming up to that time of year when I start fantasising about next season's wardrobe. I always get most excited about autumn/winter which generally means gorgeous tailoring, luxe layers, and happily for me, monochrome is everywhere. Here are a few of my favourite looks from the shows.

Slouchy cream sweater and embellished trousers from Balmain

I love this Burberry Prorsum quilted velvet coat, and the boots are to die for

Celine's winter white cocoon coat is my idea of heaven (and I could even be tempted to a bit of colour with the blue scarf!)

Beautifully elegant pencil dress from Erdem. Wouldn't be surprised to see the former Ms Middleton rocking this one at some point

Dear High Street: please do capes again this season. I'm still kicking myself for missing the Zara beauties last time around. This one's by Gucci

You can tell a Lanvin show just by the lighting. Love this futuristic 50s look

Theysken's Theory: one of my favourite labels. Only he could make a double breasted coat and sheer black tights so covetable

Theory again: love this skirt

More Theory. Drop the hem on these shorts slightly and I'm there. Adore this look with the gloves

Valentino went crazy for leather this season. Again, I'm hoping the high street picks up on the capes!

Victoria Beckham. Just look at that belt. So perfect

VB again. I'd do bad things to have this dress in my wardrobe!

All images courtesy of style.com

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